Let's go ahead and reveal this one "source" early so we can get to the really important stuff -- why the data is so valuable, how to collect the data and how to use the data to absolutely crush your content marketing goals.
The source I'm speaking of is customers. Well, to be more clear, customers and prospects. "Hey, that's two sources," you exclaim! Fine...two sources. You got me!
However, we can group them both into one easy category: buyers. Now, let's dive into why your buyers are the greatest source of data and the details of how to leverage this wonderful fountain of data goodness for killer content marketing results.
Why is Buyer Data Critical to Content Marketing Results?
More specifically, all buyers possess some or all of these three things that make the world of commerce go 'round:The short answer is...buyers buy from you. This makes their data undeniably important to virtually every aspect of your business.
- They have questions.
- They have desires.
- They have pain.
If buyers didn't have these things, they would not be buyers at all. There would be no impetus to purchase anything in an effort to improve their condition. Ever try sell or market to someone who had absolutely no need for your product or service?
So, the data we collect from our buyers grants us the opportunity to be the answer to their questions, the satisfaction they desire (especially as it relates to status) and the cure to what's causing them to feel financial or emotional pain. Well crafted content is perfectly suited to address all of the above. We just need to know the specifics for each.
Thus, our approach to gathering buyer data should specifically focus on uncovering these three elements so that we can determine where we can best leverage content marketing.
How to Gather Buyer Data for Use in Content Marketing
The general concept is so simple it's easily overlooked...just ask them.
The most common methods used to ask buyers questions are online surveys and good old fashioned phone calls. Both are great options and have the capacity to deliver qualitative and quantitative data. I personally use a mix of the two - about 80% survey and 20% phone call - primarily because there are only so many hours in the day and I like buyers to feel that they have the ability to respond anonymously if they wish.
Overcoming Common Barriers to Data Gathering
In my experience consulting with professional marketers, owners and sales professionals, many of them fail to ask their buyers questions for three common reasons:
- They don't want to "bother" them.
- They're not sure what to ask.
- They're afraid of the results.
Let's talk about these real quick...
1. Not wanting to "bother" buyers.
Like any other type of survey or feedback mechanism, you must experiment with what frequency works best. But in order to test frequency, you must engage, because doing nothing gives you zero data. You MUST gather data. Most find that quarterly client surveys are reasonable in frequency, plus you can line this up with your quarterly business goals, quotas, etc. For prospects, many companies engage at strategic times within the buying cycle. Either way, you must "bother" your buyers if you are to gain any real insight and I think you'll find them more willing to voice their opinion than you think.
2. Not sure what to ask.
Think about what you want to learn from your buyers beyond just the general (and often worthless) satisfaction questions. You have to get a bit more granular so that you can determine exactly which aspect of your product or service is weak. This will help you determine what content topics to address. Focus on specific items like service, expertise, value, etc. Just remember to keep the questions to a minimum, asking only what's needed.
* Bonus: Don't forget to include a well placed question asking them if they have any business needs outside of your expertise. This is a great source of referrals you can deliver to your partners while increasing your value to the buyer.
3. Afraid of the results.
This is so silly. It's like someone never traveling for fear of getting lost. Get in there and get that buyer data! Train yourself to revel in the negative feedback because that's the data that most valuable. Aside from doing nothing at all, the worst thing that can happen is getting unanimously positive feedback. It's absolutely worthless.
How to Use Buyer Data to Skyrocket Your Content Marketing Performance
If you've gathered this data correctly and consistently, your content marketing strategy is practically laid out for you!
The data exposes where you're weak, what potential differentiators may exist and what's missing overall. This beautifully parallels the three things all buyers possess (mentioned above): questions, desires and pain. All can be directly addressed with great content marketing.
You'll find your content topics will be easy to identify, so all that will be left is choosing the proper format, promotional methods and aligning them with your SEO strategy and growth goals. Your growth goals will help you to prioritize the procurement or curation of the content.
Now go - gather that glorious data and produce the most epic content your buyers have ever seen!