Faculty, Grand Canyon University
Content marketing has become a major buzzword within digital marketing and for good reason. It is through content marketing that businesses are able to amplify their content and raise brand awareness. The most effective content marketing campaigns start with a strategy that outlines goals, voice, style and ideation, but most importantly it addresses the audience. That leads to two important principles:
- Great content marketing means knowing the audience.
- Knowing the audience means listening to them.
How to Listen to Your Audience
Content is defined as anything that communicates a message to the target audience, such as articles, landing pages, social media posts, videos, images and podcasts. These are all effective ways to reach prospects and customers. However, without knowing what the audience wants or needs, there is a risk of focusing on topics that they just don’t care about.
Below are ways to determine what the audience cares about through listening:
1. Engage with Existing Customers
One of the best ways to understand topics customers are interested in is to engage with them. Focus groups, surveys and interviews will provide insight into customers’ desires, needs and even concerns or fears. In addition, customer service and sales departments are great resources regarding current customers. Find out how customers describe their situations and problems. Those are all possible topics that can be developed and promoted through content marketing.
2. Use Social Listening Tools
There are many tools available that make it possible to listen to potential customers in a non-intrusive way and most involve social media. Social media makes it possible to discover what people are talking about and how they are saying it, not to mention their feelings and opinions. Social Mention, BuzzSumo and Mention are some of the many tools that aggregate discussions about topics, competitors, brands and industries. These tools provide a real-time view of what customers are sharing and discussing, which can be incorporated into content development.
3. Move from Listening to Understanding
After listening to the target audience, the final step is applying that knowledge. With the new-found information, there are now solid answers to such questions as: “What does the audience want or need?” “What do they expect?” “How can the business help solve their problems?” “What are the objectives of the content?” Knowing the answers to these questions result in content that resonates with the audience.
In addition to identifying appropriate content topics, listening also uncovers how and where the content should be delivered. For example, some people prefer watching videos while others prefer reading articles. Determining the way in which the content will be developed, as well as where it will be located (i.e. YouTube, company website, iTunes, Instagram, etc.), is critical. This type of information can be uncovered while researching and listening to the audience.
Digital marketers must take the time to listen and closely recognize what the audience is trying to communicate. That means taking the time to see the world through customers’ eyes. Every message that is created and amplified must show empathy and an understanding of the target audience. That is how content today stands out from the thousands of messages customers are bombarded with in the digital world.
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