Between demands from clients or managers and a busy editorial schedule, sometimes content marketers forget to take a step back and consider why we’re creating content in the first place.
Primarily, you’re creating content for your audience—your potential customers, your buyer personas—and ultimately, you should answer the exact questions they’re asking. This is a fundamental element of creating intelligent, authoritative content that people will keep consuming.
So let’s examine how you would go about creating content that answers customer questions.
Why do you need to answer your customers’ questions?
There are several reasons you should focus on providing answers:
Answering your customers’ questions with content is an effective strategy for optimizing your SEO. Your customers aren’t just keeping these questions to themselves. Most of them are headed straight to Google, and you should be there to capitalize on their searches.
This will help more people find your business and start potential customers on their buyer journeys. Improving your search rankings can also give you an edge on the competition—75 percent of people never make it past the first page of search results.
Creating a smooth experience for potential customers is important during initial interactions with your brand. Research has found that 76 percent of customers say they expect businesses to understand their needs and expectations.
If people can’t find the information they need or don’t feel understood, they’re just going to move on to a competitor that can provide what they’re looking for.
Additionally, creating a positive customer experience has tangible economic benefits. According to Bain and Company, businesses that excel at customer experience grow revenues 4 to 8 percent above the market.
Your potential customers have a pain point, problem or need that leaves them searching for a solution. You need to be able to convince them that your product or service is the solution for which they’re looking.
You can do that by answering their questions. Thus, effectively communicating why you’re the best person for the job and, in the process, building trust. As Adele Revella of Buyer Personas put it in our latest eBook, The Intelligent Content Playbook:
“Effective messaging emerges at the intersection of what your buyers want to hear and what you want to say.”
Admittedly, sometimes buyer personas can be tricky, but they’re the first step to creating content that answers your customers’ questions.
Rethinking the Buyer Persona
As we note in our eBook, in the world of the buyer personas, there can often be a lot of filler and little substance.
At one point, buyer personas served a very real marketing purpose: understanding your potential customers. That’s not so much the case anymore, though. Creating buyer personas has evolved into a superficial exercise that gives creatives something to do.
If you’ve worked in marketing at all, you’ve seen these fluff personas: “This is Suzy, she is a soccer mom, this is what her room looks like and where she does yoga…”
But what does that actually tell you? Not much other than that Suzy likes to keep her chakras aligned. Sure, there are plenty of details, but there’s nothing about how she might actually buy your product.
The problem is that many marketers just guess at what their customers want and need. They guess at what questions customers are asking. As in many other areas of life, the best solution to this problem is the simplest: Interview your customers.
By asking them what was going on while they were considering their options, you can really drill down to what questions they have and what they want. This is how you can start to build a buyer persona that actually tells you something.
With this in mind, you can start the process of creating content that truly helps your customers.
The Buyer’s Journey
The starting point for your content is considering the buyer’s journey. Different questions are asked at different stages before a customer commits to a purchase. The stages and questions differ based on the industry and the product or service.
Below we’ve broken down what this might look like:
However, no matter what industry you’re in, these questions can only be identified through interviews or surveys from current customers and prospective customers.
With the interviews, the newly identified questions and the buyer’s journey, you can create an easy, paint-by-numbers way to produce extremely relevant persona-based content.
Step by Step: Content That Answers Questions
At a base level, the idea is fairly simple. Once you’ve interviewed your customers, you have to map out their questions. From there, it’s a matter of creating pieces of content that answer those questions.
By answering those questions distinctly for each persona, you’ve just created an editorial calendar that will supply you with content for weeks to come! Align your persona journeys (matching your questions with stages) side-by-side. If the questions that the personas are asking aren’t distinct (i.e. they match each other perfectly) then you don’t need separate personas.
For each persona, the goal is to answer the questions with appropriate content throughout your customers’ journeys. If you want to map it out, this is what it might look like:
List your personas on the y-axis and then put the buyer’s journey stages on the x-axis across the top. For each field, develop content topics that answer the corresponding questions.
In our above example, we’ve listed the content types, but not the topics, that might work for each stage. Your topics will depend on your industry, product or service and what questions you gather from your interviews.
Finally, you just need to prioritize what pieces you need to create first.
The Final Word
By being thoughtful and thorough about addressing your customers’ needs, you can create a mutually beneficial relationship. They get the information they need during the buyer’s journey, and you start building authoritative content that sets you apart from the competition.
Are you interested in going against the grain and building better content for your audience? Be sure to check out our eBook, The Intelligent Content Playbook for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.