Take the time to discover more about your prospective customers
Hopefully last weeks post convinced you that Blogging is nothing to be worried about. If you are going to spend time and resources maintaining a blog you need to be sure it’s covering what your customers are interested in. In his book Youtility Jay Baer argues that:
For your marketing to be so useful that people want it and would gladly pay for it you have to understand what your prospective customers need to make better decisions.
This is just as applicable to blogging in addition to content marketing and is the theme I will examine in this weeks blog post.
The Sales funnel influences the questions your prospective customers are asking. Your blog content should reflect this and ensure that the complete funnel is covered. Failure to do this will mean your customers go elsewhere for answers. Bryony Thomas argues that your message needs to appeal to both the emotional and logical needs of your customers, now we’ll focus on the sales funnel and examine the different types of content, which are appropriate at different stages of the funnel.
Top of the Funnel Content
Blogs are associated with this stage of the sales funnel; the prospective customer has not made their mind up and is looking for information. This will enable them to make informed choices, and your blog content needs to reflect that. Your blog content needs to be informative.Moz.com suggest the following types of content for this stage
• Blog Posts
• Long form Content
• Comprehensive guides
If in this stage of the buyer’s journey you can become a trusted source of information, you have an excellent chance of securing a sale. Searchenginepeople.com argue that your content should fulfil the following criteria
• Honest opinions, your experiences, tips and tricks – the kind of stuff that made them sign up in the first place.
• Give your expertise freely. Focus on helping the lead with resourceful content.
• Create personalized content where possible. Certainly do address them by their first names.
• Encourage them to follow you on social.(source:searchenginepeople.com)
The chances are at this stage that the prospective customer is using a search engine to look for answers. This means that keywords are a factor. Your content should entertain, educate or inspire (digitalmarketer.com).
At this stage of the journey your blog content should give prospective customers the foundations they need to pass on to the middle of the funnel. The customers become more informed the further they go through the sales process.
How can I discover what sort of content people are after?
For more established blogs there is no need to guess what sort of content your readers what. Make use of search data or create a survey to discover what sort of content they find most interesting. If your blog is just starting out the Keyword research or tools such as Google trends will show the sort of content people are searching for. Literally.
How can I identify my most popular posts?
There are two main ways to identify the most popular blog posts, these are:
Google Analytics will enable you to examine the post traffic on your website. Showing the posts, which have attracted the most readers.
Analyse Social Engagement
This examines the impact of your blog posts on social media. How many comments, shares and likes the posts attract.
Once you have found your most successful content, then continue to pursue this theme. From the Data you have analysed you’ll know what sort of questions your readers’ want answered.
Forums and sites such as reddit.com and quora.com are an excellent source of information about the problems, which face your potential customers. Use this knowledge to answer their problems you will have a popular and respected blog that generates a lot of traffic.
Why is this important?
Content takes time and resources to develop. You need to be sure any content you develop will appeal to your prospective customers. This is where customer profiling and personas come in handy. These enable you to develop a detailed picture of your different types of customer. Then you can develop blog posts and content, which will really help them to overcome any problems. Lee Odden argues
‘Content Marketing often starts with doing a better job of connecting with customers in more relevant ways. But how can you connect with customers if you don’t know who they are or what they care about?’
Odden calls for¬ a more sophisticated customer profiling that just using keywords making the point ‘Keywords don’t buy products and services–Customers do.
I agree with Odden’s emphasis on the need to go beyond keyword research, by gaining a real understanding of your customer’s needs. You can go on to achieve real blogging success. This is where personas come into the picture.
What are Personas?
Personas are brief character sketches of your prospective customers. Personas provide the following: demographics, technology used, what the customer has have problems with and how they attempt to look for answers to their problems. An example persona would be:
Terri, Female, 42,Artist.
Terri uses an iPad for most of her web browsing and she’s a keen user of social media. Terri struggles to use search engines effectively and is interested in Shopping cart technologies for her small online artwork business, especially connectivity to the PayPal network.
Armed with this data I can create blog posts specifically to address Terri’s concern, that’s the advantage of creating personas.
Good content is useful and informative. It answers the problems of your readership. To develop good content you need to know exactly what problems your potential clients face. Keyword research and other keyword tools such as Google Trends are only the start of this process. You need to go beyond this and develop a selection of fully fleshed out personas. Then you can be confident your blog posts will hit the client’s sweet spot. This is more effective than taking risks and hoping your blog posts and content will answer their questions. Personas are a popular and effective way to visualise your prospective customers. This means it’s well worth taking the time to develop a selection of personas. Ensure that all of your prospective customer types are captured.
Further Reading & Bibliography
- Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype(2014)
- Jay Baer
- Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing(2012)
- Lee Odden
- How to Find and Engage Your Target Audienceaddthis.com
- How to Identify Your Online Target Audience and Sell More conversionxl.com
- The Importance of Knowing Who You’re Targeting coalmarch.com
- How To Create Better Content For Your Customersneilpatel.com
- 50 Blogging Benefits that Will Change Your Business Forever/thesaleslion.com