Content marketing success hinges on the value you build into the content you produce and value is determined by how much effort you put into ensuring your content is truly aligned with your customers and the questions they have.
How does this alignment occur? It occurs through strategic research and analysis of your customer and competitor conversations, as well as, an in-depth look at the overall web presence of your customers and competitors.
This article is the first in a series of four examining approaches you can use to obtain valuable content strategy insights. In this article, we will focus on researching the conversations and online engagement of your customers.
Customer Conversations, Defined:
When we talk about online conversations, we don’t always mean the full-length back and forth between two or more customers. Consider it as the individual pieces of those conversations, which will yield valuable information you can use to help solve their problems and answer their important questions.
What’s also important to note is your search for conversations should extend beyond your typical digital channels and reach in to areas of the web where, even though your brand might not be present, your customers are. Be sure to explore all available options to obtain the greatest amount of insight.
Let’s take a look at the steps in the process to help you use customer conversations to inform your content strategy:
Step 1 – Examine & Understand Their Conversational Language
When crafting a content strategy it is important to understand how your target audience speaks. Do they use slang? Are they professionals? What level of education do they have?
By examining the language your customers use in their online conversations, you can learn the terminology and inflection they use to talk about your brand, products and services.
By crafting your content using the same terms and inflections your customers use will result in your content appearing more relevant to search engine algorithms.
In addition, when customers are looking for answers or information, the content you have created aligns better with their perspective, which will resonate and elicit more engagement.
Step 2 – Deconstruct The Conversations
When you scan through customer conversations, you should be looking for three key elements to help nail down the underlying questions and issues your content can speak to. These three key elements are:
Sentiment Flags – These are the ‘passion’ indicators helping you identify how customers feel about the topic being discussed. Words like love, hate, best, worst, etc. clearly identify the sentiment of the poster. Sometimes things aren’t so clearly defined, whether they are being sarcastic or just a bit aloof, Some conversations require a bit more analysis to ensure the true sentiment is understood.
Topic Identifiers – What exactly is it they love/hate? Is it a brand, product or service? Location, employee or environment? These identifiers could be things like brand names, product names, locations or other specific details to let you know what the focus of their sentiment is.
Triggers – Once you know what it is they’re talking about and how they feel about it, look closely to determine the cause of their sentiment. Do they love your product because of a feature or function? Do they dislike your employees because of bad service? This qualifier gives you insight into what it was about their experience, which led them to feel the way they feel.
Step 3 – Craft Your Content Focus
Now that you’ve got a handle on the language you should be using and you’ve broken down some of your customers’ conversations to their core components, it’s time to put some thought in to how you can speak to their questions.
For example, a customer may have tweeted:
“Best Buy? More like Worst Buy. Customer service in home audio totally sucked today.”
On the surface, not a great win for Best Buy. However, by breaking down the tweet, we can see the following:
Sentiment Flags = worst, sucked
Topic Identifiers = Best Buy, home audio
Triggers = Customer service
Based on this breakdown, Best Buy could address this particular issue with a piece of content targeting each key element. The title of the new piece of content could be:
“How to Make Sure Your Home Audio Shopping Experience Doesn’t Suck”
It could include helpful advice such as the right questions to ask, what specific terminology means, things to look for and things to avoid, and more.
Another example of a customer conversation, which could provide content focus, might be:
“Yay! Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back! A cup full of Thanksgiving!”
Starbucks could take this message, deconstruct it and craft a piece of content titled:
“Top 5 Starbucks Beverages That Taste Like Thanksgiving”
Here’s the complete formula:
(Sentiment) + (Topic) + (Trigger) = Tactical Content Focus
Customer conversations provide a lot more than just an understanding of how your brand is faring. They can inform your content strategy and provide a deeper level of resonance for your customers. By strategically using the information contained within your customer conversations, you’ll never run out of relevant, timely and targeted content ideas.
There are many tools available marketers can use to help identify and dissect customer conversations. The gShift web presence analytics platform has many keyword analysis tools enabling you to research popular keywords and terms in search and in social, as well as identify related terms, active users and popular hashtags, which can provide insight for your content strategy.
In addition, setting up Google Alerts for relevant terms, or Twitter alerts using tools like TweetAlarm can provide up-to-date information on the most timely discussions and conversations taking place online.
Another method is to identify backlinks to your site or your competitor’s sites originating from social media, forums or review sites using tools like those built in to gShift. This can reveal even more sources of conversation data you can use to inform your content strategy.
• Look at where your customers are engaging.
• Intelligently analyze their conversations.
• Use this information to help craft valuable, relevant and timely content, which truly resonates with your customers and speaks to them in the language they prefer.