A lot of self-centered corporate marketing is giving way to customer-centric ways of communicating the value of doing business. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of online marketing and have been sharing these ideas through client content marketing strategy. At the same time, more companies are actively seeking expertise with a customer-centric approach to content.
One area of change is search engine optimization and going after the most popular keywords (relevant to products & services) and optimizing to attract customers. The assumption is that the search result will compel users to click and the destination page visit results in a conversion.
Before search, there are many other behaviors to consider that influence the consumer’s confidence in what they find. It’s a lot more complex than needing something, searching, finding & buying with no other influences. I believe you can optimize for those influences.
To that end, here’s an approach to better understanding how consumers/buyers move about the web and opportunities for marketers to connect, engage and inspire commerce.
(Searching, Asking, “Social Surfing”) – How do consumers, especially the audience or customer segments you’re after, find new content? How do they seek information? To what extent do they search for resources in combination or instead of tapping into knowledge within their social networks?
Getting a handle on your customer’s discovery behaviors is an important step in meeting their information needs. This is a fluid thing, it’s not static and marketers need to maintain their knowledge of these customer preferences.
(Reading, Watching, Listening) – To what extent do your customers use computers vs tablets or mobile to consume content? What formats of information do they prefer? Are there media or content types in favor such as long form text vs. nuggets, or video vs. images or audio? Which content formats do they respond best to at the varying stages of their relationship with your brand?
The value of knowing information formats and consumption goes far beyond lead generation, since brands and customers communicate for a variety of reasons throughout the life cycle.
(Authoring, Developing, Any Kind of Media) – Are your customers part of the elite minority that create media and content online? How can the brand recognize that effort? How can they empower it and facilitate it towards a mutual end benefit?
Creation of content is also an important consideration for the brand marketer of course, since content marketing provides a solid base for SEO and blends well with social media marketing efforts. Creating content of relevance by understanding consumer interests, pain points and needs is essential. Co-creation with a brands social community can reveal tremendous mutual value.
(Aggregating, Collecting, Mash-up, Repurposing) – If your target audience curates information, where do they collect content? What tools to they use? What topics are they curating and how can your brand become a favorite? What formats are they prone to save, share and mashup?
As with creation, content curation is an opportunity for brands as well. Thought leadership efforts through news curation can be very effective and the sheer volume of new content being published online (5 exabytes of data every 2 days) means there’s opportunity to be a lighthouse of useful signal amongst a growing sea of noise.
(Commenting, Rating, Reviewing, Promoting, Asking/Answering, Connecting) – How do your customers engage with the content they discover and consume? Do they interact with it and how? Do they share? Which social sharing services, buttons and bookmarking services to they prefer?
Understanding consumer engagement preferences will help brand marketers plan and promote content in ways that will inspire interaction and sharing. Engagement is also an invaluable source of feedback for ongoing social content management as well as ideas for content.
I’m a firm believer that Discovery, Consumption, Creation, Curation and Engagement are essential components for effective Online Marketing programs. I think you’ll see a lot more strategic discussion about these concepts as they related to online marketing channels like SEO, Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing. Thinking of things more in terms of the varied ways consumers interact with and are inspired to act by online content also best reflects our current point of view at TopRank Marketing.
I’ll be digging deep into strategies and tactics associated with these 5 concepts in an upcoming book I’m writing called “Optimize“, that will be published by Wiley early next year. Once the Amazon and BN pages are up and online, I’ll be sure to share them here.
I’d love your thoughts on this model of approaching Content, Social Media and SEO.