Most organizations are constantly creating content for their customers. From emails to e-books, marketing and communications teams produce a wide range of materials to help customers better use products and services, understand industry trends, and stay connected to companies.
Despite our best intentions, we sometimes fall into the trap of writing for ourselves and not for our customers. We get myopic and assume we know what content they want. This wastes time and benefits no one—certainly not our customers. Here are five best practices to help you stay focused and create the content they want.
1. Don’t treat all customers the same
Unless you have a very niche customer base, it’s almost certain that your customers differ from each other—what they buy, how they use your products and services, their job function (investor relations, marketing, etc.), and a variety of other differences. If your customers aren’t one-size-fits-all, then your content shouldn’t be either. Cater and customize your content for different segments of your customer base. For example: create how-to guides for customers who are users and administrators of your products and develop different webinar series for your investor relations and marketing customers.
2. Answer the questions they’re asking
Your organization likely has multiple touchpoints for customer feedback and interaction—support lines, email, front-line sales and service teams, Twitter, etc. Your teams provide real-time response and answer questions on demand. However, what about the questions that customers ask through different channels—such as comments on blog posts, customer satisfaction surveys, and emails sent to general inboxes? Having teams routinely and proactively monitor these channels and provide customer responses is essential.
It’s also important to not overlook social media! If you’re not monitoring your brand across social, you’re missing conversations customers are having about you (that might not always be positive), and they might be asking questions that need answers. If you’re not there to answer them, your competitors could be doing so instead. Media monitoring not only helps you listen to what customers are asking, but allows you to provide quick, even real-time support, while serving up content with greater relevance.
3. Anticipate the questions they might have tomorrow
Answering the questions your customers have today is important—but staying a step ahead to consider what they might ask in the months and years ahead is important, too. What industry trends will affect and drive your business, and how will that impact your customers? What is your product roadmap, and what service enhancements will you introduce? What’s the strategic direction of your business and how will that benefit your customers? By creating the right kinds of content, you have a great opportunity to address these questions―even before they’re asked. (You might even gain competitive advantage in doing so.)
What types of content help address the questions of tomorrow? Here are a couple examples:
- Surveys and trend reports: Tapping into industry trends and diving deep into relevant issues can provide a wealth of information for your business, but it can also help position you as forward-thinking and innovative among your customers.
- Roadshows and management tours: Putting business leaders face-to-face with customers (in person or virtually via online events) provides an excellent opportunity to have in-depth conversations and answer questions.
Once again, social listening and media monitoring can help you uncover questions and conversations among your customers and keep up with what your competitors are doing.
4. Produce and provide content across multiple channels
Where are your customers most active and responsive to your communications? You likely use a variety of channels to share information with your customers:
- Customer newsletters
- Webinars (live and on demand)
- Customer advisory boards
- Roadshows and management tours (see #3 above)
- Customer events and focus groups
- Social media
- Tradeshows and conferences
Whatever channels you choose, it’s important to remember two things. First, talk with your customers, not at them―don’t forget to involve your customers in the conversation. Second, cater your content to the channels you choose―for example, don’t send PowerPoint decks via email; present them in person or through virtual video.
5. Ask your customers what content they want
This might be the most overlooked practice of all: ask your customers what kind of content they want, and what they find most useful. How you solicit this information can be formal or informal, but without asking, you’re creating content in a vacuum and likely wasting time and valuable resources. At any customer touchpoint you have an opportunity to ask, “What can we create that’s useful and relevant to you?” This can be through any of the channels mentioned above in #4, and through post-webinar surveys, feedback buttons on your website, user-group feedback, etc.
These are just a few of the best practices you can adopt to help you create content for your customers that’s relevant and useful. By doing so, you not only infuse your customers’ voice into your content, but you also strengthen the relationships you have with them.