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January 21, 2013

When Your Audience Hates Your Content Marketing Plan

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Any good decision-maker knows that it’s not what he or she likes when it comes to making sound business decisions. Sure, we know what’s in our gut, and we should trust that voice, but decisions are to be made with trusted data, too — whether it’s counsel, research or something else.

Businesses and their marketing tends to have a bandwagon mentality. We see and trend or a buzzword or a way of doing something, and if enough people talk about it, then it it so. This is why I love it when a target audience reveals something totally unexpected about what we’re doing — that we’ve got it all wrong.

Over the weekend, the Content Marketing Institute published a slide from recent research at ExactTarget. The slide shows the differences in what marketers want for their target audience and what the target audience wants from their brand. Check this slide out below, taking note of the data on email marketing, content about products and content about related topics.

ExactTarget Research Slide

While those initiatives were among the top by marketers, the audience was singing to a different tune. Plus one for email being both a top marketing initiative and the desired form of communication from the audience  But, at least for this audience, content about products and related topics were not on their must-read list.

And even though the survey choices seemed a bit misleading (some are related to content and some are related to channels the content is featured in), it got me thinking about what people want in content from a brand.

To me, the data paints a story:

  1. People don’t have time to go searching for the content they should care about — they want the brand to do the work for them.
  2. People want meaningful, personalized content delivered right to their “front door.”

So what does that mean to our content marketing? The more we can learn about our customers over time, the more data we can gather — whether it’s transactional data, survey data, interviews with our audience — the more we can tailor the content they really want and deliver it to them with a bright shiny bow.

When you think about all the noise we have to sift through every day, it’s mind-numbing. Don’t discount how special it is when you get that opt in from someone to receive communications from your company. This person is saying, “I trust you, and I’m willing to hear what you have to say.” So you better deliver the very best you can.

So how do you do that? Use as much data that is available to you to start understanding your audience. In an interview with Sundeep Kapur late last year, we talked about some of those tactics.

But here are a couple more tips for you:

  • Explore the conversion process inside and out. Get to know what that process actually looks like from initial inquiry to the close. No business is going to have the same path, so I can’t tell you to just go talk to sales or just go talk to marketing or just look in your analytics. But if it’s helpful, start from the end and go backwards. Whether you have a CRM tool or just Sally the office assistant — start mining data, start having conversations to understand what the engagement and conversion cycle. The information you uncover in this process will reveal a lot about your audience and the opportunities for improvement in customer service, marketing and more. These are the opportunities where content can really matter.
  • Understand the audience to the best of your ability. Who are these people? Why do they buy this product or sign up fro this service? Who is the extended audience — who is influencing the primary target’s decision? Who is funding it? Is it a personal purchase? Do they need a family member to make the decision for them? Does their company pay for it out of an annual budget? When you understand the circumstances around the conversion, your content can better speak to all of them, and better offer a solution in the form of content that matters.

Above all, I think what this particular data from ExactTarget illustrates is that we need to get personal and get to the point. Don’t make your audience work too hard for the content that will be meaningful to them

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3 responses to “When Your Audience Hates Your Content Marketing Plan”

  1. Thomas writes:

    Hi Jessica, yes the bandwagon mentality must be avoided, I’ve seen wafer thin posts that should never have seen the light of day, liked and retweeted to oblivion.

  2. Tyler C writes:

    Thanks Jessica, I find this data very interesting indeed. It amazes me that there’s such a divided understanding of where to focus resources.

    Consumers order of priority: EMAIL -> Website -> Facebook ..

    Managers and business owners should probably share this information with their staff Monday morning.. I know I’m going to bring it up in our meeting. Thanks again.

  3. Egot writes:

    Jessica, you are right about looking at conversion ratios. People just jump in and think automatically Facebook when reality is different! Thanks for the post.



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