What's the key to relevant content? Take a cue from your customers

Russ Garcia

There may be no crystal ball to tell you what type of content your customers want, but there is a powerful tool that’s almost magic — social listening platforms. These platforms unlock the mysteries of your audiences, which can help provide brands with a valuable roadmap for their content marketing strategy. Harness the power of insights directly from your audience, and you can get a window into what your customers are looking for and how your company can best meet their needs.

What exactly are customer insights?

Customer insights refer to interpretive, intuitive information about customers that brands can use to gain deeper insight into what those customers want and need and why they feel that way. This understanding then informs and directs a company’s digital content strategies. The use of customer insights is the basis of audience driven marketing.

Customer insights are gathered by analyzing sets of data. It used to be that such information was accessed by asking customers directly about their desires and shopping habits, usually through a survey or focus group. But this method was labor-intensive, and it could often lack thoroughness and accuracy due to small sample sizes and hard-to-control variables.

Fortunately, newer technology, such as listening and monitoring tools for social media and other digital channels, has given marketers a treasure trove of data that they can use to better understand their audiences. Search insights and behaviors, social and digital commentary, online journey mapping, and digital surveys make it possible to access accurate, almost real-time insights to make your content more relevant.

Three strategies have had particularly profound impacts on customer insights research methodology: agile marketing, social listening, and feedback on owned channels. These methods don’t just allow researchers to collect data more efficiently; they can also take advantage of AI and machine learning to provide deeper insights and analysis to help brands identify trends and gaps in the market where their services could be of use.

How to collect customer insights

The Think with Google 2019 Research Review found that consumer digital journeys have become increasingly complex. In most cases, there is no longer a direct path to purchase. Given the myriad ways that consumers gather information prior to making purchasing decisions, collecting customer insights takes a multi-pronged approach.

One of the main ways to gather data is to track customer buying habits. These valuable data points can be analyzed and used to improve your brand offerings. Here are a few things to keep in mind to identify customer insights.

1. Social data

Customer insight from social networks is one of the most important pieces of this puzzle. Observing and analyzing social media conversations and actions surrounding brands and products allows you to analyze your customers’ beliefs and resulting buying habits. Social data also reveal information about your audience’s needs and preferences. Best of all, unlike traditional surveys and focus groups, social media research takes advantage of an enormous sample size, to provide more accurate, actionable results. This information can help drive new products and services, and also inform your content marketing strategy.

Khoros Deep Listening provides valuable social data regarding your brand via on-demand access to multi-channel social listening data.

2. Insights from an online brand community

Online brand communities are valuable ways to do all sorts of things: divert customer support inquiries, syndicate user-generated content, and drive engagement and conversions. But they can also be powerful ways to gather customer insights. Use the tracking features of your community to determine where customers go to get information, which posts get the most engagement, and what super-users care about. Active community members tend to be your most engaged customers (and the most likely to purchase), so this data can be even more valuable than data collected from social media or other sources.

3. Tracking user behavior on your website

Of course, your community isn’t your only brand-owned channel; your general website can also be a great source of information. Tracking URLs are a way to see what happens once a lead clicks to learn more or on a call-to-action (CTA). Likewise, you can use cookies to track when visitors come to a website, monitor what they do once there, and tailor their experience when they return. Finally, real-time page tracking allows you to see which pages on your site generate traffic and high-quality leads to drive sales. This information gives you a window into what piqued the interest of your customers, so you can expand on that and provide more.

How customer insights can amplify your content marketing

Armed with data about consumer preferences and buying decisions, you can make more informed, strategic choices for your content marketing strategy, including social media posts, blog content, website copy, chatbot messaging responses, online brand community content, and more.

For example, let’s say that your customer insight research found that your customers are seeking products that enhance productivity. This information allows you to focus on adding to product categories that help customers get more accomplished. It might also lead you, for instance, to craft messaging about improving productivity for organic social media, ads, videos, blog content, web copy, and more.

How to get started, and how to track your success

1. Determine your goal

Do you want to better inform your content marketing? Or perhaps you’re considering new product lines and would like to determine which ones would appeal to your customers. Maybe you need better brand awareness or even market education. Know your goal at the beginning of the process, and remember what it is throughout; this will help keep your research focused and productive.

Here are some questions to consider when setting your goal:

  • What type of data do you want? Shopping habits? Brand mentions on social media? Consumer sentiment?
  • Who is your target audience? What digital channels do they prefer?
  • How will your brand use the data once you get it?

2. Decide how long you’ll gather data

You’ll get a comprehensive overall view of your customers’ preferences and desires if you give the campaign some time. For instance, aim for a 30- to 90-day window. Make sure, though, that you’re accounting for what goes on during that window. If your research spans November through February, for instance, the holiday season might affect your results.

3. Choose a customer insights platform to help you gather powerful data

We saved the most important step for last. A customer insights platform takes advantage of powerful features like AI and machine learning to gather, track, and analyze data across different channels.

Look for a customer insights platform that enables you to monitor the channels you need. If you’re focused on tracking brand mentions and sentiment on social media, you’ll need a powerful social listening platform. If you’re more interested in tracking your owned channels, a community solution might serve you better. Regardless of your goals, make sure that you’re taking advantage of recent advances in technology. Running focus groups and tracking clicks on your website isn’t enough — and it might not even give you accurate data. To keep up with the competition and really understand your customer base, you’ll need a smart, adaptable, digital-first solution that can provide deep insights without costing your team valuable time and resources.

To learn more about how Khoros can help you get the most out of your customer insights research, request a demo today.

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