According to statistics from Content Marketing Institute, 70 percent of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016. This is a good step towards the right direction but how do you know what type of content your customers actually need?

Most content marketing efforts yield little or no ROI because the content was created without the customers’ feedback or a good understanding of the target customer. Understanding your customers’ content needs require soliciting feedback from your target or present customer, monitoring social media for trends and conversations and monitoring website analytics. Finally using search queries and related search queries customers punch into search engines.

Giant steps to better understand your customers content needs.

#1: Surveys and Feedback

5 Giant Steps To Better Understand Your Customers' Content Needs

Using surveys or forms to solicit feedback from customers is an effective way of knowing what type, length and ideas of content your customers expect from a business like yours.

Effective content marketing requires data-backed research which can be acquired through communication. Don’t forget people get cold feet when it comes to surveys but adding an incentive at the end of the survey will get them to give you the answers you want.

For a business trying to understand its customers content needs, surveys can be included in email campaigns (Act-on), at the end of blog posts (polls), social media updates (Facebook and Twitter polls, tweets) and landing pages (Google forms and full surveys).

This should be done strategically, you don’t want to spam your audience. For a business with a small audience, using ads to reach a lookalike audience can yield amazing results since they fall into your target demographics and will most likely convert into your customers.

Another way of understanding your customers content needs will be through the use of polls at the end of every blog posts (for a set period of time) asking for their opinions and if they want more of such content or specific alternatives.

For example, Youmoz (Moz UGC) ran a survey of its audience to understand their content needs and the information gathered was used to build blogging guidelines for the blog which increased engagement, traffic, and conversion ratio.

Best practices when conducting surveys or polls on customers:

  • Avoid open-ended or vague questions, ask questions with concise responses.
  • Include surveys at the end of blog post not before.
  • Keep it simple and succinct avoid questions with yes/no responses.

 

#2: Monitor Social Media for Questions, Tweets, and Updates

5 Giant Steps To Better Understand Your Customers' Content Needs

Understanding your customers’ content needs is required to improve the quality and type of content you deliver to them which yields more revenue, customer loyalty and referrals. Using social media can help you research your customers easily, social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn provide businesses with opportunities to interact, monitor and listen to trends, conversations, and complaints.

Using social media listening tools such as:

  • Hootsuite
  • Social Mention
  • Klout
  • Mention

Businesses can track conversations and create information/articles addressing customers content needs. Social listening to hashtags, keywords, and phrases from leads to your competitors’ customers should give insights into what customers need and expect in content.

 

#3: Monitor Analytics

5 Giant Steps To Better Understand Your Customers' Content Needs

Within your Google analytics dashboard lies valuable information on your customer preferences, behavioral traits, and demography. Expand and review your “Audience Overview” tab in Google analytics to understand your visitors and create content using that information to convert them into customers.

The following tabs under “Audience Overview” contains information on your website visitors:

  • Demographics – the age, the gender of your website visitors.
  • Interest – behavioral traits include hobbies, employment, etc.
  • Geo – the location and language of your business visitors.
  • Technology – the type of browser and operating system your visitors use.

Information from Google analytics coupled with a concise buyers persona will bridge the gap between your business goals and your customers’ content needs.

 

#4: Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis allows you to see which piece of your competitor’s’ content have captured the most engagement, this is not to steal your competitor’s strategy but compare to yours and fix what is missing.

Things to look out for when conducting competitors analysis:

  • Topics to cover
  • Blogging frequency – every 3 days or every week
  • Type of contributors – multi-contributors or a single contributor
  • The length of blog posts – 500 words, 700 words or 1500 words and above.
  • Type of content – Podcast, videos or articles.

Several tools can be used to run a competitors analysis and they include:

  • Buzzsumo
  • SEMrush

Using the tools above including things to look out for, you should have a good idea of things to fix to understand your customers’ content needs and preference.

 

#5: Related Search Queries in Google Results

5 Giant Steps To Better Understand Your Customers' Content Needs

Finally, when creating your buyer’s persona, you had a good understanding of the kinds of search queries, your customers input into search engines.

Google search results offer robust ideas on your customers content needs with “Searches related to” when you scroll to the bottom of the page. The phrases or ideas in that box are search terms your customers also punched in when searching for solutions or information.

Picking content ideas from the related search query can have your content and blog page ranking for such search terms resulting in more traffic and an increased customer base.