It offers a significant change from traditional marketing strategy, which focuses on creating marketing initiatives based on their organization’s needs over customers’ needs.
If you wish your business to be truly customer-first, you will need to do a lot more than some talking. Often, companies have to rebuild their entire structure and create a single-minded focus on their customers.
In short, you will have to take numerous moves so your business can impact your customers positively (2).
Here are some common characteristics of a customer-centric business (3):
- Customer-first businesses don’t hesitate to seek customer feedback and use it in their business strategies, from marketing, product roadmaps, and much more.
- Businesses successfully discover, understand, and fulfill their customers’ requirements early and often based on feedback.
- Collecting customer insights is a company-wide initiative and a regular priority, with marketing teams often being at the forefront, putting customers first.
Of course, taking on customer-first content marketing is not an easy feat. However, it is essential for the growth of your business. Therefore, we have laid out an ultimate guideline that will help you kickstart your customer-first marketing strategies.
There Difference Between Traditional Marketing and Customer-first Marketing
If you only focus on creating outbound marketing, you will miss a bigger opportunity, offering value to your customers. Millions of people search for your solutions every year, but how would they find you?
In today’s era, customers are empowered. As a marketer, you face a new generation of customers who are empowered to skip any content or ads that don’t empower them.
To know more about the latest trends working for GenZ and Millennial consumers, read our previous stories, GenZ Marketing: Brands Need to Go Beyond Advertising and The Best Customer Acquisition Strategies For Startups.
Consumers no longer look for a business; they are looking for solutions. If you offer them the value, they will come to find you.
Here is how traditional marketing works:
- Finding the target audience to sell products
- Convincing people to make a purchase
- Getting consumers to repeat their purchase
In contrast, here is how customer-first marketing works:
- Listing problems you can solve
- Finding people facing these problems
- Allowing people to find our solutions via multiple channels
As we mentioned, people are looking for value. Consumers want you to help them make decisions. They want you to offer relevant information that will help them solve their problems. And they want 24/7 support throughout the stages of their purchase journey (4).
“Don’t interrupt what people are interested in and be what they are looking for,” stated Craig Davis, CCO of J. Walter Thompson Global (5).
The algorithm most essential is the mind and heart of your business. Consider Google; its algorithm is simple; it strives to surface content that offers timely and relevant value for people coming to Google to search.
“We can’t have a marketing program if we don’t have any customer insights. We need to understand them intimately. We can not be self-serving; we need to serve our customers,” said Brendan Anderson, the former Vice President of Marketing at Char-Broil (6).
Here are three keys to creating successful customer-first marketing:
- Finding opportunities to solve problems for your customers
- Build or modify to address content to address gaps where your customers look but can’t find you
- Empower your team to make better decisions as per the available customer insights
Why Do You Need to Plan Your Customer-first Content Marketing Plan?
If your content marketing plans fail to align your business goals and accurately send the message to your customers, you will miss your targets by miles.
In other words, you will need to build a content marketing plan that fulfills your objective and your customers’ expectations and needs.
Part 1: Research
- Set your business goals and consider how your content can help you achieve your short and long term goals
- Get to know your customers via surveys, interviews, and other data
- Discover your customers’ pain points, challenges, and what they are looking to achieve
- Segment your audience, collate and analyze their feedback
- Create profiles of your ideal customers and readers, and consider them to be your target for all content and marketing collateral going forward
- Deliver the right content at the right time, in a way your customers want to interact with you
Set Your Business Goals
Even though content marketing strategy needs to revolve around a customer-first approach, there is no question that your business comes first.
Ensure that you have a realistic strategy and firm objectives (7).
The first step is to conduct an audit and look at where your business is now. It can include finding out:
- your revenue and profit margins
- marketing budget
- the success rate of your current marketing efforts
- differentiating your business
- how are you winning new customers
- current customer retention rate
- skillsets of your marketing team
Know Your Customers
Once you have set objectives and know where your business stands, focus on who you target and how your offerings can solve their challenges.
Gather Quantitative and Qualitative Data
You can conduct different surveys to find a range of data on your target and current customers. It can include anything you may want to know, from location, usage habits, demographics to professional or personal goals.
You can also find other hidden or unexpected information that may be relevant to your marketing efforts.
In addition, you can arrange interviews and focus groups if you have an engaged audience to take personal takes.
Group Your Audience
Once you collate and analyze the feedback you receive, you can gain ideas for content topics and also about your brand’s voice and tone.
Remember to uncover your target audience’s pain points and challenges during your research. It will further assist you in creating content that genuinely resonates with your target audience.
Lastly, define your audience group. It is common to have more than one type of customer or audience. You can categorize them based on budget, goals, challenges, location, or how or why they use your offerings.
Segmenting your audience will allow you to personalize the way you communicate with them, creating more impact.
Creating Profiles for Your Ideal Customers
Now that you have a good understanding of your target audience and segment them, you should start creating a range of customer profiles; it includes the type of people who ideally purchase your offerings.
In businesses, they are called buyer personas, and in content marketing, they are often referred to as reader personas. However, note that reader personas are broader as it also includes people who can be your brand advocate and share your content with their networks (10).
Consider these profiles from now on.
Once you find your personas, you can create content marketing statements that answer the below questions:
- Who are you trying to help?
- How do you plan on achieving it?
- What do you want to offer value to them?
Build a Customer Journey Pathway
A customer journey path will allow you to understand how your customers want to interact with your brand. It will also help you deliver the right content at the right time.
It uncovers how your customers first find a problem, how they search for different solutions and finally purchase your product or service.
Your entire business and team can benefit from a comprehensive understanding of this path. It is a valuable tool for the content marketing team as it helps create a strategic plan (11).
Part 2: Content Planning
- Build a content funnel and find out details about your customers in different stages of the funnel
- Decide on content marketing budget allocations
- Find out the search intent of your potential customers
- Making the most of your content on different social media channels
- Define content marketing goals and KPIs
- Keep on tracking and optimizing your progress, content production, and other strategies
Create a Content Funnel
Finding an Issue
Your audience has found that they have an issue or a challenge in this stage. Notably, each buyer may look at the issue differently.
For instance, they can conduct a Google search, look into forums or groups on social media platforms, or ask a friend or family member for advice.
Consequently, they are likely to find a range of different solutions, some of which may resemble your business’s offerings, others may be entirely different.
The key is to find out how each potential buyer is discovering that they have an issue to solve and their next move.
Considering Available Solutions
Once customers find a range of available solutions, they will start to narrow them down.
Here are some common criteria most customers would consider:
- Ease of use
- Brand reputation
- Reviews and recommendation
- Service or Comprehensiveness
- Product quality
- Customer support
- Previous interactions with the brand
The key is to figure which criteria are most important to each buyer.
Position Your Brand as the Right Option
In this stage, show your customers the features and benefits of your offerings. Once you know which points of reference are most important for your potential customers, you can create appropriate content effortlessly and position your brand as the best solution out there.
You can find different methods to show how your offerings are the best per your customers’ needs.
Once your leads become your customers, it is beneficial for you if they keep coming back. It will reduce your customer acquisition costs and consequently increase your margins. But, how would you stay in contact with your customers?
Get their feedback and create content accordingly.
The key is to find out how your leads converted into your customers in the first place and how their experience has been.
Encouraging Word-of-Mouth Marketing
One of the key ways to make the most of word-of-mouth marketing is finding and engaging with future brand advocates. Define what your customers want in terms of customer service.
Once you know, you consistently deliver according to their consistently, you can create shareable content, discounts, and referral deals for recommending a friend.
The key is to find out what values you can keep on offering your customers post-purchase and how you can make content shareable.
Planning the Quarterly Output
Your output will be effective and focused when you align your content ideas with the need of your customers and your business goals in each step of the funnel. Hence, plan your content and map it to the customer’s journey you outline in the last step with a budget in mind.
Remember to use keyword research while finding a theme for your target audience to determine the importance of topics.
A higher volume of long-tail search terms would indicate that a content idea is strong. It will also allow you to find additional queries and topic areas that interest your target audience.
Once you compile the list of target keywords, you will need to find out the search intent, what your customers are trying to achieve in their web searches. You can conduct a Google search using particular keywords and see the results (14, 15).
Build a Content Calendar
Put your topics and title ideas into a content calendar. It will help you batch content ahead in advance and publish it regularly.
You can consider using topic clusters, a body of interlinking content that offers a complete and thorough treatment of the theme you cover.
Depending on your process, you can include the below areas in your calendar:
- Target audience
- Topic area
- Funnel stage
- Publish date
- Responsible team
- Writing, editing deadlines
- Distribution channels
- Other supporting collateral
- KPI, metrics
- Promotional copy
Read Also: 12 Keys to Grow Your Small Business
It is essential to get as much as you can out of your high-performing content. If you have a guide or blog doing particularly well, it is ripe for diversification. In other words, transform your high-performing content to other types to reach the widest group of people possible.
There are multiple ways you can diversify your content so that it can work on different media platforms. For instance, your written guide can effectively become a:
- Live AMA, ask me anything on Instagram
- Series of social media posts
- YouTube video
Simultaneously, you will also need to determine the most appropriate distribution channels for your business goals. Consider your audience and places they are most likely to hand out on the web. It will help you find out which of your content will do best on different platforms.
At first, you can also test sharing or sponsoring your content on different channels. Once you start getting results and a set benchmark, find out where you are getting most for your investment and move forward from there.
Track Your Progress
If you don’t set your content marketing KPIs, you won’t run an effective marketing campaign (18). Use your business goals and set specific metrics to track and optimize your content, themes, and distribution channels.
Lastly, you will also need to remember to conduct audits regularly. It will help you avoid losing rank and traffic and ensure that your content remains relevant and up to date.
As discussed in this story, creating a pathway for your content is one of the most effective ways to develop goal-driven customer-first content for your marketing campaigns.
While we hope you found this guideline helpful, let us know if we missed anything, how do you plan your content marketing strategies, or any feedback or comment you may have. Is there something you would like us to write about? Let us know in the comments.
Stay tuned for more updates.