Many of our customers attach a great deal of importance to benchmarking their product and assessing their market performance every few months. Customer surveys and competitor analysis are among the main methods they resort to.
Useful as they are, they can’t replace the research undergone before setting up a proper content marketing and digital marketing strategy. A content audit or the tracking of a customer’s complete journey in the online medium is essential before actually starting the creation process.
Digital marketing research is a must. In spite of the loads of materials you may have accumulated over the years, an efficient content strategy will always be elaborated based on socio-demographic data that is relevant and, most importantly, recent. According to a study by Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers whose strategy is well-documented produce considerably more content than those who don’t invest too much effort into initial research. How does this work?
1. Know your buyers
Redundant as it may sound, this hasn’t been stated enough. Know your target audience and what their buyer personas look like, in the most literal sense possible.
How old are they?
What is their cultural background?
How do they spend their free time?
Where do they travel?
Where do they work?
How much time do they spend online at work? What about at home?
How much money do they spend on books/clothes/entertainment/education?
These may seem simple questions, but the truth is compelling copy (yes, that type that gets numerous shares) always speaks to someone in particular. Bearing in mind all of these questions before starting to write actually ensures your work isn’t in vain. Just as the publisher writes his novel for a specific audience, the content writer needs to make sure each of his posts reaches the right person.
How do you know what your actual (or potential) buyers look like?
Hubspot defines the customer persona as
“a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Once you’ve started to attract vistors to your website, one of the best methods for getting to know them is diving into Google Analytics and checking the demographics of people spending a significant amount of time on your website. Google does a great job of splitting your website visitors into categories, depending on their interests; whereas this isn’t the holy grail for your marketing segmentation, it can still give you a few hints on how things look like for the world out there.
A consistent analysis via Google Analytics would also involve making connections to the website content: what type of pages attract the most traffic, what social media channels are the most successful, etc.
You can’t seem to figure out a lot from Analytics and already have a consistent pool of clients? You are among the lucky few. Send them a survey using Survey Monkey or any other survey service out there. You probably won’t get as many answers as you expect, but you’ll still be closer to understanding your client better.
[Image credit: PanelSwitchman cc]
2. Audit your website content
You can’t know what you’ll be getting into unless you know how the previous digital marketing strategy worked out. Articles, videos, news posts, all that has been done – if there has been done anything whatsoever – has to be thoroughly reviewed, to find out what needs to be repeated or avoided. This is how we start working on every new account.
Neil Patel has an article on how to conduct a proper content audit of a website. It’s basically an in-depth exploration of every website page reccurring in Google Analytics. Different columns expand on the number of views that page/article has had, the keywords used, as well as the alt tags for each image.
Here’s an example of how we do it.
After mapping out all possible types of content you and your team are good at doing, try and see which of them works for every buyer persona envisaged. Once you start publishing, repeat the audit and adapt further marketing efforts accordingly.
3. Start creating your editorial calendar
Once you have portrayed all your customers and listed all the potential content types they may be interested in, it’s time to get to work. Having a detailed editorial calendar will help you better structure your content, as well as prevent you from experiencing an abrupt writer’s block before writing each blog post.
Although sometimes it’s close to impossible to keep up with a scheduled rhythm of publishing/producing content, it’s a lot easier to work according to plan than to kill yourself struggling to find the proper topic a few days before delivering a new piece of content.
Nothing is set in stone, of course. Content types in the editorial calendar may shift once in a while, in light of significant events or according to certain trends that are worthy of coverage.
Research is almost as important as the content creation itself. Not knowing who your ideal customer is leads to poor content performance and, implicitly, to lower ROI. Never neglect the benefits of thorough research prior to embarking on the content marketing journey.