Content marketing secrets revealed by reading your customers’ minds

Carrie McIlveen

08 November 2017

What would you give to read your customers’ minds? How much better could your content marketing be if you could tap into the wants, needs, and annoyances of your target audience?

This capability may be more accessible than you think.  

It’s no secret that consumers are tired of carpet bomb marketing that can be viewed as invasive, because they don’t have a choice between being marketed to or not. Content marketing is one approach to communicate with your target audience without outright selling to them. The brands that provide answers, remove obstacles, and encourage progress along their customer’s journey are the ones that earn repeat visits, purchases, and word-of-mouth referrals.

Too often, marketers who are tasked with creating content don’t spend enough time trying to understand if the content will resonate with the interests of the target market. They tend to focus on what they want to say, rather than what customers want or need to hear. If you start with an understanding of your target audience, you’re well on the way to creating something relevant, valuable, and genuinely useful. Here are three ways to bring the possibilities of mind-reading into plain sight.

Internal Customer Intelligence

Many companies don’t take advantage of the valuable information they already have—begin by looking internally, into the wealth of operational information. Comb through your support inbox. Review customer profiles. Examine the touch points your customers have with your business. Every detail plays a role. The gap between customer expectations and experience spells the difference between customer delight and disappointment.

Search your database or customer relationship management system (CRM) for valuable data. Investigate this information to look for patterns when your customers make orders. Delve into the details of individual interactions to understand the relationship and the value it delivers.

By harvesting this internal information, content marketers can determine what kind of content to produce, when it will be the most relevant to deliver, and the impact of the distribution.

External Data Source

Companies can gather information from customer interactions across online, mobile, and social channels and transform it into insights that can be acted on. Collect behavioral data—either through primary research or social listening to discover what is being shared and commented on, and how active your customers are, the devices they use, their reviews, and positive or negative mentions of your brand (sentiment).

Language-processing tools in combination with data visualization technology also make it easy for marketers to identify key emotional moments, reveal prospects’ challenges, and truly understand customer behavior in real time. The knowledge gained from these consumer insights help marketers stay ahead of the trends by identifying themes, content stories, where there are opportunities on any specific subject area, and approaches to deliver useful and engaging content solutions that improve your customers’ quality of life.

Ask Your Customers What They Think

Customers have diverse needs, preferences, motivations, feelings, and behaviors. Rather than make assumptions about what people think about your content, ask them directly. Customer feedback can uncover discoverability problems or an untapped opportunity to expand your target market because you have a new understanding of who your readers are and why they like your content (or why they don’t).

Qualitative techniques can be adept at revealing human emotions. Utilize focus groups, online qualitative communities, ethnographic studies, and customer interviews. They are easy to implement and can tell you how people perceive your content and can help you learn what type of content those readers gravitate toward. Ask them what they think of your current plan for content marketing and see if and where there’s room for improvement.

But it’s important to use these techniques wisely so you don’t waste your time and resources or disturb customers with unnecessary questions. You’re reaching out to people who probably are busy, so it’s best to make it as easy as you can for them. This information can provide conclusions about what your audience doesn’t understand, what they do and don’t like, and how you can create a stronger customer experience through content.

The Outcome

With the right combination of data and resources, you can understand what your readers want more— or less—of. Stop trying to push what you want at your customer and instead provide what they’re asking for—by applying your mind-reading skills. And for that you’ll be rewarded.