people in conversation
PHOTO: Samuel Zeller

Let’s face it — content is at the core of modern marketing communications. Content that is useful, helpful or entertaining will win mind-share and wallet-share as we move ahead into a marketplace where multiple parties are competing for the attention of potential customers.

In order for your content to connect, you first have to learn what’s important to your potential customers. Only then can you show how your product or service can help ease their pain, grow their businesses, protect their interests and solve their problems.

How do you learn what’s important to your customers? What really matters? 

You must listen to them. These days, people talk not only with words, but also with clicks and swipes. They comment, they like, they rate, they write reviews and they chat — and they’re increasingly transparent with their vendor relations.

Rethinking the way you listen to your audience will help you create a successful content marketing strategy.

Here are six tips to help you incorporate the voice of the customer into your content strategy.

1. Manage Customers’ Expectations

First and most important, you must manage your customers’ expectations and set clear limits about what your product is capable of doing for them. If there is any uncertainty about the limitations of your product, customers may imagine all sorts of unrealistic possibilities. And if you don’t meet their unrealistic expectations, they will be disappointed and disgruntled.

When you manage expectations, you can influence how your customers perceive your company and your product or service.

2. Solicit Online Product Reviews

There are a number of Yelp-style review sites for B2B companies. Focus on the few that are right for you. Invite your customers to write reviews about your business. You may be surprised by the stories they share and the feedback they give you. With the help of those reviews, you will be well positioned to incorporate customer input into your content plans.

3. Host Interactive Webinars

There is something magical about live online events. You provide free education. In exchange, attendees are often willing to share their thoughts and opinions in response to polling questions.

For example, during the latest webinar hosted by my company, Canto, a provider of digital asset management (DAM) software and services, more than 60 attendees answered this simple question: What is your top digital asset management challenge?

top DAM challenge

We discovered that overwhelmingly the top challenge is “Have trouble searching for assets we need.” We can use this information to write blog posts about how to make it easier to search for assets with the right processes and tools in place.

Using the results of polls conducted during webinars, you can use your customer’s input to drive fresh content, rather than inventing content topics based on assumptions.

In addition to conducting audience polls, you can live-chat during webinars to gain additional insights about what’s top of mind among attendees, and those conversations can provide richer feedback than answers to standard multiple choice questions.

4. Dig Into Your Data

Look in new places to find customer feedback you may already have. Most marketers are pretty good at checking website analytics to see which webpages perform best. Look for seasonal spikes and dips. Take a look at your email marketing performance to learn which campaigns are most effective with which audiences. Check your DAM system reports for top search terms and most frequently downloaded content. If you have a press or client portal connected to your DAM, you’ll see the type of content most frequently being requested and you can create more content of a similar nature.

5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Industry Conferences

On-site, face-to-face discussions can provide deeper insights than the ones you can get via online channels, and you will get those insights more quickly than you would online. Before you head to your next conference, prepare some good leading, open-ended questions to uncover what’s top of mind for people in your audience.

6. Set Up a Customer Advisory Board

Customer advisory boards are typically developed at the executive level to give a company’s leaders a chance to discuss strategies, product road maps and other big-picture topics with customers. If you already have an active customer advisory board, ask the executive sponsor if you can debrief with them after the meetings. Or, better yet, ask if you can attend from time to time. 

If you do not yet have an established advisory board with representatives of some of your top customers, maybe now is the time to start planning for one. A customer advisory board can be a powerful avenue for planning content that will cater to the C-suite.

While not a conclusive list, these are just six tips that you may not have considered. There are many more ways to amp up your content marketing program by incorporating client feedback, such as social media listening, analyzing the most common support questions and holding user conferences. Please share what works uniquely well for your organization in the comments below.