At BrainRider, we’re always evolving our content planning tools to follow lead generation best practices. The following tip is one of of our favorites from Marketing Sherpa and how we apply it.
Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“. While you likely agree that you should be focused on your customer it is hard work to get it right. Just think of all the “about us” content that is sent your way every day!
Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is the strategic question we ask in order to apply discipline around this best practice. But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, you need to know more about your customer. While traditional customer research methodologies can provide rich and robust data their cost can be more than they are worth for companies with a limited research budget. The good news is that you can still get lots of customer learning with the following quick and dirty — but effective tools.
1. Start by looking at your web analytics.
Google analytics is a great place to start tracking your site if you don’t do so already. Because every visitor to your website leaves a digital footprint you can check your site’s referral data which shows you where your traffic is coming from and if the visitor used a search term to get to your site. Ignore the table-stakes referrals that just mention your company name, product names, or URL. These visitors were just navigating by search. Instead look for terms that indicate what a visitor was looking to understand. But don’t forget that searches will only get to your site if you have at least some information about what they are looking for. See our post on http://blog.brainrider.com/2010/03/why-knowledge-marketing-is-like-the-aroma-of-apple-pie/ for more information on how that works. Here are some examples of recent searches that brought prospects to BrainRider.com:
2. Next, ask the people in your company who speak directly with your customers.
Sales, customer support, who ever picks-up the phone when customers call are great places to start. They will have a real understanding of customer needs and especially what customers want to know. Work hard to get them to remember all the questions they get asked, ESPECIALLY the questions that were harder to answer. It is sometimes easier to dig deeper for this insight if you do a small team brainstorm or at least an in-person conversation. We use questions like these and lots of repetition of the same question phrased different ways to get the conversation started:
3. Ask your customers to share what they want to know.
Start by putting a search box on every page of your site and tracking what visitors are searching for. Consider a question form with a call to action like “Ask our experts”. Include a question on your telemarketing scripts. Ask existing customers, customers who use your competitors, or new prospects. Ask them over lunch, coffee, or breakfast. Even non-customers can sometimes give you great insights about what a customer might want to know. So ask over cocktails in your neighbourhood! And the good news is that customers who know that you want to know what they want to know usually think you are smart because you want to know what they want to know. (Or something like that.)
4. Listen to the questions your customers are asking in other places.
For example, LinkedIn groups, industry forums, association message boards, tradeshows, industry publications can all be a rich source of intelligence. And don’t forget the questions that analysts and experts in your industry are answering. These sources are often paid to keep current with high-value questions from your customers.
Using these quick and dirty research approaches you can start to build an understanding of what your customer wants to know. And that is the first step to practicing Marketing Sherpa’s lead generation best practice advice that it is “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU).”
And one last point. We would really love to know what you want to know more about. So please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise to try and answer it!
Quick follow-up and thanks for the emails! Check out laddering as a tool to gain more insight on what your customer wants to know. See this post from @Savvy_B2B: Steps to Success – Using Laddering in B2B Marketing http://www.savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/629611/steps-to-success-–-using-laddering-in-b2b-marketing