In Part 1 of this multipart series, I examined the challenges that retailers have when they align marketing channels. And in Part 2, I showed you how to develop a buyer-centric philosophy and a content marketing strategy.
Extract the customer value
Last time, I asked you to develop a hypothesis on why your customer would purchase your product (leggings in our example) and interview consumers to see if you were right. How did the hypothesis stand up? What’s important is that you just discovered the true value of your product to your customers. It’s not that they want to look good and feel good—you knew that already. You learned that leggings save people time and that your target customer wants to have more time. Who knew that? Nobody is writing about the amazing, time-saving benefits of leggings.
You now have some initial feedback needed to begin building your content marketing strategy, but don’t start writing yet. First, repeat this process until you’re confident you have uncovered all the motivational factors for why people buy your product. Whatever the true value is, make it your priority to extract it. Keep asking “why” until you uncover all reasons to buy. This becomes your messaging.
Develop personas and messaging
Now that you’ve done your research, developing your buyer persona is the next step. Create it to be a reminder of who your target audience is. Include findings from your research. To make your persona more effective, consider adding buyer scenarios. Map out situations where the buyer wants to solve problems. This makes the persona document more practical across business users.
Next, develop your messaging and emphasize the value you provide. Be very thoughtful when crafting this. Again, it’s about your target audience. Your customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves and what they believe. Show you align with them. It’s easy to say something like:
“Our clothing saves busy women more time because of X, Y, Z …”
The problem with this approach is that you’re talking about your business. Any brand that sells leggings can make the same claim. Instead, create messaging that aligns the beliefs of your target audience with your own but also builds an interest to learn more. Something like:
“Boundless, attractive clothing options are preferred by more productive women …”
This statement hits on the findings in this hypothetical situation. If you’ve done your research and understand your target audience, the market will respond. If it’s built on assumptions and untested hypotheses, you don’t know how effective it will be for future content and campaigns.
Develop your content architecture
One of your goals is to build content so valuable that users will not only want to purchase your leggings but also subscribe to your content about leggings. You want to create loyal customers. You want to build the architecture needed to communicate all the customer values you’ve derived and build an organic web footprint. You want to become the authority for leggings. Again, you should see how this concept expands to encompass your entire product catalog.
You have your target audience and have built at least one persona, so you’re off to a good start. The next step is to develop something worth subscribing to —become an accurate source of information or a resource for solving customer problems, for example. Do this in a unique way, knowing that differentiating your content is the hardest part. In a sea of competitors, you must produce content that rises above. For many businesses, this happens by leveraging the collective knowledge of their staff. For others it’s taking advantage of their customer data and reviews. For others still, it’s about expanding on their brand story.
If you’re stuck with this part of the strategy, consider what your competition is doing. Here’s an exercise to perform on Google to do just that:
You may not agree that the companies Google found really are your direct competition. It doesn’t matter. Part of content marketing is understanding organic share of voice. Who is producing the most valuable content that's earning the most organic rankings? This is who you have to beat. Analyzing the organic search footprints and social media coverage for these sites and brands is crucial. Get your SEO and social media team involved at this point to identify high-value keywords and topics to cover with your content production. Often you'll get immediate content ideas from this effort. But mostly, you'll be looking at high level topics that will require a thoughtful content strategy to effectively cover and earn organic rankings and social coverage.
Take this one step further by researching your topics on Buzzsumo. Note what content earns the most social shares on the most important social networks. Think you could create something better?
Stay tuned for the next part of this series, when we’ll go through the process of applying all this information and begin mapping your content to the buyer’s journey. I’ll also cover how to best utilize your digital marketing resources and complete your multichannel ecommerce marketing strategy.