Regardless of whether you spend five minutes or five hours each week reading up on marketing trends, you’ve probably heard many times by now that content is important. There are millions of blog posts and articles out there insisting your company needs, “quality content,” and prophesizing that, “content is king!” However, the majority of these articles seem to overlook the fact that coming up with a constant stream of interesting things to write about is much easier said than done. No matter how interesting your products are, you’re bound to run out of ideas at some point.
So what should you do when you think you’ve exhausted every possible topic? Look to the people who matter the most: Your customers.
Why you should write for your customers
Many businesses make the mistake of using their blogs and websites as extensions of their traditional marketing tactics. They showcase their products and talk about what makes them great – a strategy that works well for print, radio, and TV ads, but not so much on the Internet. With any inbound strategy, you need to create content that potential customers are actively searching for and will actually want to read.
Instead of writing blog posts that are basically just extended sales pitches, you need to provide something of value. So why should you look to your current customers for ideas? You may think that you don’t need to create content with them in mind, since they’re already familiar with your company and interested in your products, but look at it this way: Your current customers likely have a lot in common with your potential ones.
That means that if you get ideas from your current customers, there’s a good chance that what you create as a result will be relevant to potential buyers. Plus, addressing customer concerns can increase customer retention – it’s really a win-win situation.
How to create customer-driven content
It’s easy to see that writing for your customers can be beneficial to your business, but it might not be quite as easy to identify possible topics. Here are a few ideas for customer-driven content:
If you don’t already have an FAQ on your site, you’re missing a great opportunity to address common customer concerns. And even if you do have an existing FAQ, there may be room for improvement. The questions you answer should be determined by the people in your company who work directly with your customers.
Get together with your sales and customer service teams (or send out an email) and ask what questions they repeatedly hear. Odds are that you’ll be able to identify a few that are asked by the majority of your customers, and those are the ones you should focus on providing quality answers for. If you take the time to write well-thought-out explanations, you can help potential customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
If the questions require complicated answers, you may need to take an approach like Fitbit and create an FAQ page that links to other articles: These questions all lead to longer, in-depth answers, which is much more useful than trying to write quick answers for the sake of keeping them on one page. Just keep in mind that you should only include questions that people actually ask. Don’t use your FAQ page as a place to make up fake questions like, “How can I learn more!?” Use it to address real concerns, like pricing, limitations, and any confusing potentially confusing aspects of your products.
Article pages about common problems
The goal of every product or service is ultimately to solve some sort of customer problem, whether that problem is serious (ex. My house just flooded) or relatively inconsequential (ex. I need a birthday gift for my sister).
Identify what problems your products can solve, then create pages explaining how. If you can figure out why people become customers in the first place, you can typically determine what problems your product solves. For example, PepBoys has an entire series of car care how-tos on their site: These are likely very useful to both current and potential customers, and it’s certainly not a coincidence that the “things to keep in your car” all link to product pages.
Some of these ideas may even stem from the questions you identified while collecting questions for your FAQ. Not all commonly asked questions can be answered in a paragraph or two, and the more complex ones may be able to stand alone as entire article pages.
Another effective way to show how your products can be beneficial is highlighting your current customers in the form of case studies. If a particularly happy customer reaches out to you about how you’ve helped them, you may have the perfect candidate. Depending on the nature of your business, these case studies may take many forms.
A B2B software company may go with something along the lines of, “How [Client] Achieved [Result] with Our Software!,” while a residential contractor may share a before and after gallery of a completed project. Regardless of format, these case studies should show how working with your business improves the lives of your customers. For example, PNC does a nice job of showcasing customers who have improved their financial situations by using Virtual Wallet: By highlighting customer success stories, they’re able to show how the service is beneficial.
That not only provides an interesting page full of content, but also adds credibility from an actual user. If your business has other ways of generating content ideas from customers, I’d love to hear about them! And if you try any of the above methods, please let me know how it works out in the comments below.