Working on your 2023 content strategy? Start – and finish – by thinking about your audience.
Follow these five customer-first tips for nailing the what, how, why and where of content creation and distribution.
Put your content where your audience wants it. Start thinking about your website as an In-N-Out rather than a Target. Your audience isn’t there to browse aimlessly or discover some unexpected treasure in the home goods aisle; they want transactional information quickly. How much does this cost? What does it do? How does it work? Can you serve a business of my size? How do I get in touch with someone?
On social media and other content-specific platforms, like YouTube and Spotify, you have the opportunity to grab their attention unexpectedly with content that speaks to a problem they’re facing, a challenge they can’t figure out, the impact of news or market trends, or a new way to think about how they do their jobs.
“But SEO” – Okay, publish the educational blog post on your website. But then do more than just link to it on social media. Pull the most important concepts into a text post, a slideshow, a short video, an audiogram or an infographic that they can view right in the feed itself without leaving the platform.
Thinking this way frees you from the traditional whitepaper and blog shackles and creates new avenues for communicating your message that don’t necessarily translate to your website, including podcasts and videos.
It also enhances shareability. Your reach on social media, for example, gets exponentially greater when your audience interacts with your content, making it visible to their connections as well, which is impossible to achieve on your website.
Focus on what you want them to know, not what you want them to do. Shift your top priority from getting your audience to click, like, register, sign up, subscribe, download, or buy, to helping them understand something they didn’t know before.
Making your message the main attraction and treating the CTA like a nice-to-have changes the kind of content you create to be more about what they need and less about the numbers you need to hit.
Even if a potential buyer never clicks on your link, if they’re continuously consuming valuable, educational information from your brand, your content is doing its job (and it’s 2023. When they want more information, they know how and where to find you.)
Use your customers’ words. Not just in testimonials and case studies (although you should be doing that too). Use your customers’ words everywhere: In your messaging, in your ads, in your videos and articles, in all the ways you speak about your brand, your product or service and your value.
They know best how to talk about the work they do, their challenges, and how they use your solution (or a competitor’s solution).
First and foremost, talk with your customers – regularly – not just about your company, but also about what their days look like outside of what you offer.
Read your reviews and your competitors’ reviews, not just to inform your product roadmap or upcoming enhancements, but to understand how your audience talks about what you do, and how it helps (or doesn’t help) them.
Spend time where they do. This could be in online communities, at trade shows or virtual events, at seminars, the list goes on. What questions are they asking each other, and how are they phrasing them? Keep a running list or document that you can reference easily.
The words they use should inform the words you use so that when they consume your content, making a connection becomes effortless.
Figure out why your content matters to them. This isn’t the well-worn features vs. benefits argument (both are important, by the way). It’s a question to keep front of mind every time you create a new piece of content: Why does this matter to my audience? If it doesn’t, how can I change that?
Press releases, for example, tend to be largely self-promotional. But you can take a press release, strip it of its traditional jargon, and promote the news yourself (in your audience’s language) in a way that speaks to the impact it will have on them.
Client case studies, too, tend to focus more on the product or solution and less on the actual experience of the client. Shift the frame to make your client the story’s hero so the rest of your audience can more easily see themselves in the outcome.
Make it actionable. Whether it’s a new way to think about a problem or a practical takeaway they can execute on their own, the majority of your content should enable your audience to learn or do something.
When they put what you’ve taught them into action and it works, you build trust and brand affinity while encouraging word-of-mouth referrals from people who aren’t even your customers yet.
TL;DR? In 2023, we are:
- Thinking strategically about what channels to use for content based on what our audience needs and where they want to be.
- Prioritizing content consumption over clicks.
- Eliminating friction in both logistics and language.
- Putting the audience first.
- Making content that matters.