Use analytics to see how helpful customers find your content marketing. Look for:
- Which pages are most well-read on your website?
- Which pages are read by people who spend the most time on your site?
- What’s the path through the site for readers who look at 5 or more pages?
- Which social media posts generate the most traffic?
- What forms of content are being consumed most – videos, infographics, webinars, articles, white papers, posts, magazines, podcasts or other?
- Which gated content gains the most registrations?
From this analysis, hypothesize about which content is most valuable, and over time, you’ll create even more content that works hard.
Talk to customers to learn their questions as they consider a purchase. Take into account the way that buyers’ questions vary at each stage of the buyers’ journey.
For example, in highly considered BtoB purchases, buyers ponder different questions at each step. Here’s an infographic of the buyers’ journey.
Early on, buyers ask:
- Do we have a problem?
- How serious is it?
- Do we need to change?
Many customer questions resemble these. Tag them as step 1 questions. Formulate answers that prompt customers to take action.
Customers often get stuck in step 1 because they prefer to stick with the status quo. Help customers see why the status quo is unacceptable by magnifying the problem:
- Show how big the problem is today and how much it will grow over time.
- Calculate what the problem costs, including the hidden costs such as wasted time and money.
- Dramatize the consequences of not addressing the problem. Paint pictures. Tell stories.
- Connect fixing the problem with improving key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Reveal the benefits of addressing the problem now vs. later.
- When possible, tell customers something they don’t know about a problem or opportunity they don’t yet see. Position your company as a guru or guide that customers can come back to.
- Prove that the status quo is a lousy option.
Bring buyers back as they move into step 2. Expect customers to ask questions like these:
- Which product or service performs better?
- What’s the right way to compare performance?
- How should we compare price and value – based on first price or lifetime value?
- What really makes the difference between available options?
Tag these questions as step 2. In developing answers, focus on differentiating your product or service. Make it easy for buyers to compare alternatives side by side. If you don’t make it easy to compare, customers go to Google and you miss up to half the revenue opportunities.
Lure back buyers again in step 3. Now it’s time for customers to resolve concerns and verify your claims. Buyers will seek third-party verification through customer case histories, testimonials, news media, social media and analysts. Expect questions like these:
- How many case histories or testimonials come from customers like me?
- Are there relevant customer reviews on your website?
- Are there relevant reference customers on your website?
- Can we mingle with customers at events or visit their sites to talk about the application first-hand?
Customer questions that seek to verify your claims fit into step 3.
In step 4, buyers make a purchase. Customers still need content marketing, but now their questions turn to how best to put the purchase into operation and optimize it. Most customer service questions fit into step 4.
Offer customers a full set of questions and answers to address all 4 steps in the buyers’ journey. This kind of content appeals to customers, addresses their whole range of needs and keeps them coming back for more.
Break down the buying process into discrete steps, identify the questions that fit each step, and work to provide better answers than customers can find anywhere else. That’s the key to successful content marketing.
This question came up at my Content Marketing World presentation on How to Speed the Journey from Content to Cash. Other questions in this series include:
- How to find the right clients ready for a content marketing journey?
- How does a B2B company start content marketing?
- How to deliver consistent content marketing messages to all buyer personas?
- How to keep content marketing always on message?
- How to link specific content marketing activities to sales?
- How to speed the buyers’ journey to a purchase?
- How to help buyers take the first step in the buying journey?
- How to measure meaningful web traffic and give content marketing the credit for it?
- What content marketing appeals to customers? What brings them back?
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.