How to Use Customer Insight to Create Better Content
Today, the world is run by data. With almost everything in the world being done on digital platforms, every single interaction your customers have with brand produces some kind of data.
According to 6th Edition of the Data Never Sleeps Report by Domo, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were produced every single day in 2018.
In 2019, for every single minute on the internet, people viewed over 4.5 million YouTube videos, spent $996,956 purchasing products or services online, watched 694,444 hours of content on Netflix, downloaded 390,030 apps, performed 3.8 million search queries on Google, sent 1.8 million emails, and 1 million people logged onto Facebook.
In 2020, we can only expect the amount of data produced to increase as more people get access to the internet, and as more services go digital.
The good news is that a lot of businesses have started realizing that data is an important resource, and many of them have started collecting data from and about their customers and audiences to learn about their target audience.
The sad news is that despite collecting huge amounts of data, businesses are not taking advantage of this data.
According to an article on MIT Technology Review, only 0.5% of the data available is getting analyzed or used. This means that much of the data being collected by companies and businesses is going to waste.
Data is very important today, and can be the difference between a floundering business and a successful one.
From the data they collect about their customers, businesses can come up with insights that they can use to more effectively acquire, engage, satisfy and retain their customers.
One of the areas where customer insights can really make a difference is in your content marketing efforts.
The chief purpose of content marketing is to build and nurture relationships between your business and its customers.
However, here’s the thing: it is impossible to create content that builds and nurtures relationships with your customers if you don’t understand them.
And to understand them, you need customer insights.
WHAT IS CUSTOMER INSIGHT?
When a lot of people hear about the term customer insight, they automatically think about data.
While data is an integral part of customer insight, there is more to customer insight that data points.
On its own, data is not very useful. For instance, if you track the performance of your content on a monthly basis, data might tell you that your content is attracting more traffic this month than it did the previous month.
However, this is not very useful. If someone asked you to help them replicate the same growth on their site, you can’t really do it, because you don’t understand why your content attracted more traffic this month. You have the data, but it is not really helping you.
With insight, however, you go a step further and analyze the data to try and understand what is happening behind the data. Did traffic increase because you used better keywords on your content? Is it because you adopted new methods of content distribution? Is it because you switched to a different kind of content?
Insight allows you to transform data into something useful, something you can apply again and again to achieve similar results.
Customer insight, therefore, refers to the deep understanding of your customers that you gain after analyzing the data that you have collected from your customers.
Whereas customer data tells you what your customers are doing, customer insight helps you understand why they are doing it. It helps you understand the motivations behind customer behavior.
You can now tell why customers are visiting a certain page more than another, why they are purchasing one product more than another, or why they are responding to one piece of content more than another.
Once you understand the motivations behind their behavior, you can then predict their future behavior, and you can create content that gives them what they are looking for.
Knowing how your customers and audience are going to respond to your content beforehand takes the guesswork out of content marketing.
You stop producing content hoping that your audience will find it engaging. Instead, you start producing content because you know they are going to engage with it, because you know that is the kind of content they want.
You can also make sure that this content gets to your audience at the right time, when they are most likely to consume it.
USING CUSTOMER INSIGHT TO DRIVE YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
Today, almost every marketer knows the importance of content marketing. It is impossible to build your brand online and forge relationships with your customers without content marketing.
This is why 86% of B2C marketers consider content marketing to be a core aspect of their operations, according to a report by the Content Marketing Institute.
Despite the high number of marketers engaging in content marketing, however, many of them are not enjoying its benefits.
According to the same report, only 5% of marketers rate their content marketing efforts as ‘extremely successful’. Only 23% believer rate their content marketing efforts as ‘very successful’, while 50% consider their content marketing efforts to be ‘moderately successful.’
In other words, only a small fraction of marketers are seeing the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.
One of the reasons behind this is that many marketers are using a spray and pray approach when it comes to content marketing. They are trying different approaches hoping to stumble upon one that works.
If only they used the intelligence gathered from their customer data to drive their content marketing strategy, these marketers would see better results from their content marketing efforts.
Below are some ways through which you can use customer insights to create better content for your audience.
Know More About Your Audience
Great content goes hand in hand with the right audience. It doesn’t matter how good your content is, but if you are sharing this content with the wrong audience, you won’t see any results.
To put this in perspective, I am going to use an illustration.
Let’s assume you are a forty five year old man shopping for a car. You make about $80,000 a year, and you have a wife and two kids.
Your family loves going camping every so often, and your two kids are involved in competitive cycling – which means you are often required to drive them and their cycling gear to nearby cities hosting cycling competitions.
So, you walk into this car dealership and a sales representative greets you cordially and after a minute of chitchat, the sales representative says, “So, you are looking for a car? I just happen to have a car you will really love.” With that, he takes you to this shiny Lamborghini that looks like it belongs more on a movie set than on the street.
Now, a Lamborghini is a great car that most people would love to own.
However, this is not the right car for you.
Since you are a family of four, you wouldn’t all fit in the Lambo. You can’t go camping on a Lambo. You can’t carry your kids cycling gear in the Lambo.
And finally, on an $80,000 salary, you probably can’t even afford the Lambo, even if you really wanted to buy it.
This is exactly what it is like creating content without knowing who you are creating it for. Your content might be as good as the Lambo, but to the wrong audience, it is meaningless to them.
When creating your content, it needs to be highly targeted to your audience. They need to see that you are talking to them as soon as they start reading your content.
To create such content, you need to have a good understanding of who your audience are. You need to know as much about them as you can.
To have such a deep understanding of your audience, you have to analyze the data you collect from them and create a highly detailed buyer persona of your audience.
Some of the information that should be included in your buyer persona includes:
- Age: You need to know the average age group of your audience. However, age by itself is not very useful. Use their age to determine at what stage in life they are. Are they college students? Are they new parents? Are they retired? Content that works for a college student will not work for a forty five year old mother of two.
- Location: Understand where your audience lives and what this means for you. Are they in a different time zone? Do they speak a different language? Do they have a different culture? All these affect the kind of content that will resonate with them.
- Gender: The kind of content that applies to men will not apply to ladies. Similarly, products geared towards women will not sell if you are marketing them to men.
- Job title: The way you speak to an engineer is not the same way you will speak to an accountant. Similarly, the kind of language you’ll use when speaking to a junior manager is not the same you’ll use when speaking to the CEO. Understanding your audience’s job title allows you to tailor your content to them.
- Income level: Knowing your audience’s income level will help you gauge their spending power. After all, you don’t want to end up trying to sell a Lambo to someone who can only afford a Kia or a Fiat. Sometimes, you can tell your audience’s income level from their job title.
- Interests: Knowing what your audience is interested in will allow you to create content around topics that are more likely to catch their attention.
- Pain points: Of course, your product or service is trying to solve a certain problem, and unless you can really articulate this problem from their perspective, you will have a hard time convincing them that you can solve the problem for them.
Once you have all this information, it now becomes easier to create content that is highly relevant to your audience.
If you have a wide audience, it might be difficult to fit them into one buyer persona. In this case, you need to segment your audience and create two or more buyer personas. From there, you can create different content targeted at each segment.
Create the Right Kind of Content
The same information presented in different formats will achieve different results. For instance, your audience might not be reading your blog posts because they don’t have time to sit and read through your blog.
However, if you turned these blog posts into podcasts, they would listen to the podcast while driving to and from work, or in the gym as they work out each evening.
To know what kind of content works best for your audience, you first need to analyze the performance data of all the content you put out and try to gain insights into why some pieces of content are performing better than others.
Once you understand this, you can then focus on producing the kind of content that works best for your audience.
For instance, Cassy Aite from Hoppier says that at one time, they noticed that one of their posts was converting at double the rate of the other pieces of content on their site.
They analyzed the user data from this blog post and realized that the reason it was converting so effectively was because they had used a different content framework. The company decided to test this framework on other pieces of content, and sure enough, their conversion rate soared.
Some of the different content types you might consider using as part of your content marketing campaign include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Interactive content
- Case studies
- CTAs (micro-content)
- Product reviews
- Email content
- Online courses
To find what kind of content works best for your audience, you will need to derive data from your website and your marketing campaigns, and then perform some testing until you figure out which content type works best and why.
Alternatively, you can also use tools like Cortex to collect insights about the kind of content and subjects that your audience likes.
Determine Ideal Content Length
What is the average length of the content on your website?
For several years now, more and more marketers have been leaning towards long form content, that is, content that is about 2000 words and above.
There have been two major reasons behind this. First, marketers believe longer is better. The longer the content, the more detailed it is, and the more information it contains.
This is obviously better, right?
Second, for some time now, Google have given preference to long form content, and therefore, marketers had to go with long form content to rank better and drive more organic traffic.
However, what many marketers forget is that determining the ideal content length is not so straightforward. It depends not on Google or the amount of information in the content, but on your audience.
For instance, when reading content on mobile devices, people are more likely to get distracted. They could be reading during their commute to or from work, and of course, there are plenty of distractions when you are reading on the bus. People boarding and alighting, the views outside the moving bus, and so on.
Alternatively, someone reading an article on their smartphone might be doing so in the evening when they are relaxing at home. Once again, there are plenty of potential distractions – kids, spouse, the television, and so on.
For people reading your content on mobile devices, the concentration span is shorter, which means shorter content will work better on mobile compared to desktop. What’s the point of creating long content if your audience won’t read all of it?
The ideal content length will also depend on the audience you are writing for.
For instance, if you are writing content for CEOs who are trying to increase profits in their company, short content will come off as shallow and meaningless. These people want detailed, highly informative content, and they won’t have a problem reading a 5,000 word article if it will help them increase their profits.
On the other hand, if you are creating showbiz content aimed at college kids, asking them to read a 5,000 word article will be too demanding.
Most people aren’t going to read through an article for 20 minutes just to know what Kim Kardashian wore to the Grammy Awards. For such an audience, shorter is better.
What these examples show is that to create the right content length, you need to have a good understanding of your audience. Who are they? What kind of information are they looking for? Why are they looking for this information? From what devices are they consuming your content? At what times are they consuming your content? Having the right customer insight can help you answer these questions, which will in turn help you determine the ideal content length that will have your audience consuming your content to the end, not abandoning it midway.
Determine the Right Time to Deliver Your Content
If you look closely at your email inbox, you might notice that a lot of marketers send you emails on weekday mornings.
Have you ever wondered the reason behind this?
During morning hours, people are more likely to be actively checking for work emails, and therefore, there is a higher chance that your email will be seen and get read before they settle for serious work.
Now imagine sending a marketing email on a Friday afternoon.
By this time, your recipient is already tired from the entire work week and is probably looking forward to relaxing over the weekend. People don’t want check their email on a Friday evening, or during the weekend.
Therefore, this means they will probably check their emails on Monday morning. By then, they will have received several emails, and your email will get lost between all these emails.
The point I am trying to make here is that great content doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t get read, and for it to get read, you need to make sure that you are sending it at the right time. Question is, how do you know the right time to deliver your content? Once again, customer insight comes to the rescue.
The right timing for content delivery will depend on your audience, how their typical day is scheduled, and the platform you are using to deliver the content.
For instance, a compilation of various studies by CoSchedule reports that the optimal times for posting on Facebook are at around 9 p.m. and 4 p.m. On Instagram, the time varies greatly depending on the audience you are targeting.
The optimal time for B2C audiences is 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and 9 p.m. For B2B audiences, this changes to 12 – 1 p.m., 5 – 6 p.m., and 8 – 9 p.m. For audiences in the healthcare business, the optimal time is 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. On LinkedIn, the optimal time for B2C audiences is 12 p.m., while the optimal time for B2B audiences is the whole morning section.
To deliver your content at the right time, you need to dig into your customer data and come up with customer insights to help you understand your audience’s online habits.
What times are they likely to be online? What platforms are they on at different times? What devices are they using to access these platforms? Most importantly, why do they behave this way? Once you answer these questions, it will be a lot easier to ensure that your content gets read.
In a world that is full of data, it is a surprise that majority of businesses are not using this data to derive insights to help them serve their customers better.
And even for those who do, many are not using these customer insights where they would have the greatest impact – in their content marketing efforts.
Your content marketing efforts will hardly be effective if you are not producing the right content for the right people at the right time.
Using customer insights to drive your content marketing efforts allows you to do exactly this by taking the guesswork out of content creation.
Customer insights allow you to know more about your audience, use the right content type that your audience is more likely to engage with, determine the ideal content length for your audience, and determine the best time to deliver your content.
The result is that your content will have a higher ROI compared to those who are creating content with no customer insights to guide their efforts.
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