"What exactly is my audience looking for?" That's the million dollar question. Knowing exactly what your prospects want might sound like an impossible task, but there are a few key things you should be including in your content that are sure to boost your popularity.
Regardless of who you're trying to target with your marketing efforts, you have to ensure that people who read your content really value it. Establishing an emotional connection with them by creating quality material in a time where quantity is in overdrive is what you need to be aiming for!
Need to brush up on content marketing before we start? Check out our blog on 9 steps to the ideal content marketing strategy.
How Do I Find Out What Prospects Are Looking For?
While there are a million different angles to use when attracting prospective clients, there are some definite ways to know how to appeal to your target market.
Define Who You’re Targeting
Before you can find out what your audience is looking for, you need to first pinpoint who they actually are. But rather than centering your content marketing efforts around broad demographics, the key to successful B2B marketing is creating a hypothetical buyer persona to focus your content on.
Choosing a buyer persona means you can tailor your content to a very specific type of viewer, allowing you to connect with them on a much deeper level than if you were just pumping out generic posts suitable for, for example, all women aged 18 to 50.
Laying out a clear content strategy will help you pinpoint precisely what kind of traffic you want on your business' website.
Learn Their Preferences
Once you’ve defined your ideal buyer persona, you want to narrow down their potential pain points, preferences, and general online behaviour. Keyword research tells you exactly how well certain phrases are performing, for example how frequently they help your website land at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). In this way, using keywords is insanely helpful in developing your search engine optimisation.
Similarly, running analytics on your posts can show you the medium and platform your content performs the best in. Looking at the quantitative data of your blog posts, newsletters, and more will give you insight into the way your audience most prefers to receive their information.
The thing to keep in mind when employing new strategies and trying out new formats, though, is to not lose sight of the nature of the product or service that you're offering. You want to make sure that your content still makes sense in the context of your business.
What Does the Modern Buyer Persona Really Want?
Now with a concrete buyer persona in mind, there are a few essential elements to consider when you’re building your content strategy.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, whitepaper, or newsletter, the first thing your content needs is a strong title. The headers that perform the best are often specific, including numbers or detailed insight into what the content is about (for example, HubSpot’s How to Craft a Sales Page That Generates Revenue [+Example]).
The actual format of the title can vary and may address a specific problem your buyer persona experiences, or provide a solution for this problem. These are the most common types of headlines you'll see online today:
- The "How-To" format
- The question format
- The "Negative" format, where the reader is said to be doing something incorrectly (for instance 10 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Social Media)
- The "the secret of" format
- The "little known" format
- The "you should know this" format
- Quick tips
Now that you've gotten a prospective lead to click on your link, setting the scene and connecting with them is the next step. However, you want to find a way to reel them in and still get to the point.
If you don’t pass on all the information that needs to be said right away, your readers will get bored and give up very quickly. In this sense, being efficient in establishing a connection with them is the essence of valuable content.
For more guidance on writing headlines, check out these 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines.
To continue building your buyer persona's user experience, use an appropriate (and consistent) tone throughout. Depending on what you're marketing, being too formal or too casual can be off-putting to the reader – know your audience, and choose your register accordingly.
The structure of your content is next on the list of importance. Make sure not to neglect spacing, because a surefire way to scare a prospect off is by bombarding them with a giant block of text!
List formats, bullet points, or shorter paragraphs in general are usually the most effective in that sense. It’s always good to throw in a call-to-action throughout the body of the text and summarize the main points in a conclusion at the end. In essence, you want to be concise, and to the point.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, is editing. Poor spelling and grammar is an instant way for your audience to think that you don't care enough about them or your business. Spend the extra 20 minutes looking over everything again and ironing out any mistakes to maintain a high level of professionalism.
For more tips on making sure you're being creating effective, valuable content, here is an excellent article all about how to be a professional content writer.
A Compelling Story
Now that people are looking at your content, you want to keep them coming back for more. You want your prospective clients to value the content you release!
The way to do this is by telling the story of your brand. This isn’t just your business’ history or a list of facts – it’s you explaining why you're doing what you’re doing in a way that grabs the reader. Skip the biography and instead, elaborate on what makes you unique (whether it's your motivation, the services you provide, the way you engage with customers, or something else).
While information and logic are important too, people remember most how you make them feel. Your readers want to feel like you care about them, so it's helpful to start with the "why?" before you introduce the details of what exactly you are offering. This is done more effectively if you humanize yourself, or in layman’s, being personable.
Introducing a tangible character such as yourself for viewers to connect to when introducing your business can make your lead generation efforts sound more like a regular conversation. Naturally, this means using the first person perspective and addressing the audience as "you". This way, a potential lead feels more directly addressed and is more likely to establish an emotional connection with you.
Avoiding over complicated language and sticking to a colloquial vocabulary is also sure to score you some brownie points.
Lastly, incorporating a story arc (introducing a problem or pain point, exploring the subject, and then giving a resolution) will take the reader on a journey that leaves them ready to engage with you and become a client.
To see just how crucial connecting with your prospects is, check out these 12 statistics on why personalisation is so important.
A Strong Connection
Unlike someone who’s dropping by the drugstore to buy shampoo, a prospective B2B client’s buying behaviour is very different. They’re seeking more rational, long-term solutions, so something that they look for when making these decisions is content that relates to them on a personal level.
While writing effectively and capturing your brand's essence are the place to start, nurturing your relationship with potential leads is just as important to keep your audience invested. This can be achieved through:
- Individualised feedback and other interactive content
Providing comments, infographics, and other elements that are tailored specifically to anyone that stumbles across your website increases your chances of securing a lead, because it provides people with information that is valuable to them.
Personalised content is sure to build your relationship with prospects; HubSpot’s ROI Calculator is a really strong example of an interactive feature that draws viewers in closer.
- Testimonials and data from existing clients
Another way to convince your audience of your business is by showing feedback from like-minded people. This method of maintaining full transparency increases trust among your future clients, which in turn increases your chances of converting them.
Moreover, positive quotes and statistics will only further convince website visitors of your services and make them want to engage with you.
Struggling to figure out how to ask your clients for a testimonial? HubSpot provides a lot of useful tips on how to go about requesting feedback.
- Keeping up the quality of your content
It’s easy to start neglecting blog posts or other whitepapers as their quantity grows, but upholding a strong standard for your content is essential if you want your leads to stick around.
To find out how your current content is doing, running analytics on their performance will give you direct insight into what aspects of your content strategy are working and what requires some modification.
Doing quality research on your audience and their preferences (i.e. the number of comments and shares, or the click-through rate) will allow you to nurture your relationship with prospective clients.
A Balance Between Quantity and Quality
There’s a fine line between producing a high enough quantity of posts to keep people interested and still spending enough time on creating quality content; posting too often can lead you to neglect your work, and agonizing over every post for weeks without uploading anything can make prospects forget about you.
The way to find the perfect middle ground is by spreading your work across different segments, each one addressing a new topic (individual products or services you’re offering, tips or calls to action for different groups within your demographic, and similar).
In other words, pillar content and topic clusters are your best friend! In essence, a pillar post is based around a broad topic, such as content marketing. Using this as a springboard, you can then link to smaller content that discuss more specific subjects, for instance generating valuable content.
This structure introduces variety, satisfying the quantity that your readers demand, without sacrificing quality. The clusters should of course still correspond to your content marketing strategy and relate to the services you’re offering. Sprinkling in some evergreen content on top of that will keep you more relevant than ever.
Check out our more detailed explanation of pillar content here.
Overall, knowing exactly what potential clients want to see can sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be an impossible task. By putting your heart into your work and letting your customers see that not only can you provide a solution to their problems, but you truly care about doing so, you're guaranteed to drive up lead generation.
Have any questions? Let us know in the comments section below or head over to our Inbound Marketing Audit for more!