In a world where content marketing has become king, every business is standing on its head to push out enormous amounts of guides, blog posts, emails, and ebooks. But isn’t it not about the quantity of guides, but their quality? Why? Because good content is like a reliable customer support representative!
Have you ever encountered a problem using a product or service, and taken it upon yourself to turn to the guides, FAQ’s, and numerous blog posts that company offered? Did you find help right away? Or did you end up getting frustrated at the amount of words and lack of actual help. Most of you would probably raise your hand – I know I would!
According to research by Jeff Bullas, 40% of content marketers don’t actually have a defined content strategy. They create, they post, they advertise. But they don’t reach people and they certainly don’t have conversions. That’s because their content is not created for people, it’s created for the sake of being.
A while back, there was an excellent post on Mention about creating a customer-centric culture with customer support, and in it was a thought that has stuck with me to this day:
“Our content person is now a whole lot more familiar with how the tech behind the product works, which is important when communicating on behalf of the company.”
Be that kind of content person!
How? By getting to know your audience through content marketing personas.
Hello, is it support you’re looking for?
Besides ROI, lead generation, and great results – content should first and foremost be created as a source of valuable knowledge for customers.
So, how can you make your content marketing strategy an effective customer support tool?
Easy! By listening and by being the voice of reason, like your friendliest customer support representative. Create an actual strategy:
- Don’t assume everyone is an expert who’s been using your product for years. Divide your content into levels – beginner, intermediate, and expert.
- Work with your customer success team. What questions do they hear most often? Instead of slapping together a few answers in your FAQ, you could create a handy guide with in-depth answers, examples, and case studies pertaining a particular question.
- Survey, survey, survey. How else are you going to know what people find helpful and what makes their heart ache?
- Follow up and talk to your customers, they’re people too. Personally, I find that the best brands are the ones that send a follow-up email after I download their ebook or sign up for their service. This is a great way to get feedback and show that you care. Send an email asking how people like your service or product, asking if they need help with anything, a week after they have signed up.
As you can see, these are very customer-centric ideas. Amy Thibodeau had a great presentation at MarketingProfs Writing Bootcamp, she spoke about how content is better when it’s written with purpose. Human-centered design, she called it, and within it she pointed out two very important factors:
- Qualitative research
- Customer personas
The personas are strong with this one.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge Star Wars fan. So when I think of customer support or content marketing, I see them as Yoda and a great Jedi. But they wouldn’t be as great if they didn’t know the character of their young Padawan. You can’t shape someone into a masterful Jedi without knowing their background, character, lifestyle, needs, and habits.
How do you tackle such a “problem?” With content marketing personas. Here’s what makes up these personas:
- Background (age, lifestyle, habits)
- Education and career info
- Identifiers (work hours, availability, tech preferences)
- Goals and aspirations
- Challenges and issues
At GetResponse, we used the power of interviews and surveys (Amy’s human-designed approach) to get to know our customers. Our surveys consisted of 30 questions, some open-ended, that covered our services, features, support, and what kind of brand communication users expect. Over 1,048 people responded, eager to help us out!
To get even more feedback to build upon, a GetResponse Community Manager conducted a series of interviews with select customers. This included both those satisfied with our service, as well as those who for some reason cancelled their account. During the interview there were a couple focus points – customers’ company role, goals, challenges, personal background, purchase habits, and areas of interest.
Yes, it’s a lot of work. You may be asking yourself “why go through all that trouble?” The answer is simple:
Different people have different needs. Customizing your approach enhances customer-brand relationships.
Knowing what people do on a daily basis, how they work, and what they need to help them work is essential in creating personas. With the right knowledge and by grouping your customers into 3-5 different personas, you can create targeted content.
Using personas to create targeted content
Focus your efforts on working with your customer support team. Train your content team as much as you can, and create a flow of communication between each branch of your business. Make sure that data, feedback, and questions (plus possible answers) travels through every department.
Every piece of content is an opportunity to educate your customer. Not “just enough” to get them off your customer support’s back, but “totally enough” for them to feel confident in why they chose your services. Content isn’t there to fix raging fires (I mean, it can), its purpose is to set the path to success using best practices, provided by those who think like their customer and know their business through and through.
There are 6 questions that every we should always answer before writing:
- Who are you speaking to?
- What problem are you solving? / What are you trying to teach?
- What are your best practices in that subject?
- How will people use those tips? / How do they work in real life?
- What is the end goal of your content?
- How can the success of that goal be measured?
If you’re able to answer, get detailed, and find a solid response to each question – you’re on the right track. You know your audience, you get their problems, and you have the tools and smarts to help them solve it.
Teamwork is what will help you gather the information and solutions. But knowing your customer is the key to proving top notch service.
Content is nothing without a team focused on making the customer’s life easier. We all need to think like the customer to personalize our content marketing to suit their needs.
So, forget all you know and see things from a different perspective, the Padawan’s perspective, and may the force be with you!
How do you create your content marketing personas? Let me know in the comments!
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