How to leverage consumer online behavior and get customers, clients and donors coming to you
Customer buying behavior is drastically different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. Long gone are the days of cold calling and trying to convince prospects that your product or service is “the best.” Today, consumers are saturated with information on their mobile devices, on their way to work, on their television screens. They don’t have time to answer your cold call!
Because there is so much content “out there,” businesses struggle to stand out above the crowd. Instead, customers are paving their own paths and actively seeking out information that meets their needs instead of trying to capture all the messages out there.
Facebook, Google and other digital platforms now have filters that allow users to customize content they want to see, and hide content that they don’t. They are in control. Now is the time for your business to prove its value—and creating content should be at the heart of your marketing efforts.
Leveraging Content Marketing
Creating and promoting original content is one of the best things you can do for your business, from a marketing perspective. You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” and now, more than ever, given consumer’s purchasing behaviors and growing digital presence, it is true. Content creation is more aptly coined “content marketing,” and is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Let’s flesh this approach out a little more with an example.
Let’s pretend you are a software development company trying to encourage your target audience to purchase your product. A prospective customer types in “software development” in their browser. What they’re likely to find in the results is a list of the top products available, followed by a few big name brands. This search tells us that when people are looking for software products they want a list of products to research, review and choose from. They may not looking for brands necessarily—they’re looking for resources to help them make an informed decision.
Here’s where your content strategy can come to life: provide valuable content that answers the questions people are searching for. Maybe your company writes a blog on “advanced features to look for in your next software upgrade” or creates a downloadable guide on how to install complex software. That content immediately provides value for those seeking information and will show up in search results when Google or Bing deems it relevant to user searches.
It seems simple right? It can be…but it can also take a lot of time and energy to create the right kind of content and there is a lot of research that goes into identifying what your target audience is really searching for online and where they get their information about products and services like yours.
In summary: Don’t spend your energy fervently writing a blog post every week or posting to Facebook every day (unless your audience is engaging on those platforms).
Our best recommendation: Create value-added content that speaks to customer’s pain points and offers informative, educational data and stories about your industry. Frequency of content generation doesn’t matter in the online world—it’s all about relevancy. Is your content relevant to people looking for answers to their questions online? If so, customers will read your content, view you as an expert and be more likely to knock on your company’s door.
Examples of value-added content:
- White papers
- How to guides and manuals
- Informative, instructional video series
- Speaking engagements/speeches
- Blogs with a call to action
Why Value-Added Content?
Beyond the reasons listed above that mention consumer’s digital buying behavior and information saturation, value-added content that speaks to customer’s online queries positions you and your brand as experts in the industry. It starts building thought leadership among your target markets and builds credibility for your products or services. Producing and promoting content that informs, educates and offers takeaways for the reader builds authenticity and trust. Customers want to know your brand understands their pain points and you want them to think of your company next time they’re faced with an issue. Value-added content bridges that gap so you and your customer can build a trusting, solid relationship based on a genuine need for one another. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Rhiannon Hendrickson is the founder and CEO of Orapin Marketing + Public Relations, which helps purpose-driven businesses increase visibility, expand the reach of their message, and become sought-after industry leaders. She has worked with organizations of all sizes across myriad sectors to develop memorable and effective communications programs that generate awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for those that are making a meaningful impact.