Customers are the boon of a content marketer’s existence — they can be both a source and target for your great ideas. The challenge is creating content that people want — it has to be inspired by something amazing. Customer feedback is a stellar place to find out exactly what your audience are going to respond to.
Jay Baer, New York Times Bestselling author of Hug Your Haters, shows how to create better content by tapping into the customer’s brain. He says they’re ready to give up lots of insightful information that will guide your content’s direction. His skills on this topic are considerable. He’s a successful venture capitalist and technology advisor who has created five multi-million dollar companies.
Baer’s CMWorld session, How To Use Customer Service and Community To Create Killer Content, got his points across in an entertaining and hilarious way as he navigated the minefield of customer service. He shared these four insights:
- Feedback for content ideas
- How to guess your competitors’ strategy accurately
- Step by step guide to making the content your customers tell you to
- Great B2B and B2C examples of companies that use this method
A Scary Statistical Divide
Baer made the point that great customer service is actually a rare occurrence. What a sad fact. Eighty percent of businesses feel they give great customer service. Yet, only eight percent of customers agree, because one-third of customer complaints are never answered. There’s a big disparity between how companies think they’re handling their customers and how American consumers feel their customer service needs are (or aren’t) being met.
Figuring out the disconnect is key to being able to, as Baer puts it, “hug your haters.” A whooping 40 percent of your business comes from returning customers. He makes the claim that when you are better able to handle your customers’ complaints, you are increasing your advocacy for them. Then they will give you the results you want with their continued business. You never want to ignore your “haters.” It’s just going to drive them away. Instead you must “hug” them at every turn to keep their loyalty.
That boils down to “every customer, every channel, and every time.” To eliminate complaints, you must get them solved first. The end game is that 62 percent of B2B customers purchase the goods or service you provide after a great customer service experience. Even so, only two percent of most companies’ budgets is for customer service.
Your Current Customers Are a Petri Dish For Great Content
Baer says that “praise is overrated” and that the “haters are your most important customer.” In order to use your customers as a scientific model for content advancement, you have to converse with them. Ask their opinions, find out what they don’t like, and use your best efforts to massively exceeded their expectations.
Baer uses the business model of the company, Monsanto. They are an agricultural biotech corporation that routinely interacts with their customers’ negative comments, especially about genetically engineered foods (GMOs). Instead of ignoring them, as many companies might, Monsanto steps right into the fray, engaging them to find out how to market more effectively to them. Exceptionally clever. Most companies fear their haters instead of embracing them.
How To Use Customer Service In Your Content Strategy
Outlining three easy steps in the form of a triangle is the foundation for using your customer’s feedback. Content creation is a trio of steps that combine marketing, sales, and customer service. Baer says that in order to do this effectively you must first conduct an “honesty audit” of your entire operation. Then you must balance out the efforts of your top, middle, and bottom funnels of marketing. All the while making massive effort on the advocacy and renewal part, which most companies sorely neglect.
Some Examples That Give Insight
Some examples that Baer goes over is using customer surveys to your advantage. They can be great sources of content marketing seeds to grow on. Online reviews can also spawn ideas of what your customers want to see in your services.
E-Commerce sites that have online reviews have a 58 percent higher conversion rate than those who don’t. Companies that allow customers to voice their opinions in the form of reviews reveal the trust those companies have in their goods or services.
Plus, customers like finding out things for themselves. It’s estimated that three-quarters of them do this quite well on their own without any direction. One third of the questions on most forums are repeats, which allows customers to find out what they want to know easily.
Work The Triangle : Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service
How many times do customers have to ask before you create expressly for them? Baer says that if you work the triangle of marketing, you are going to work the “angle of awesome” in all your content creation. The customer should only have to ask once before you give them the content they need. Start by taking these four steps to maximize this potential.
Step 1. Establish a customer community.
Step 2. Promote and seed the community relentlessly.
Step 3. Analyze customer’s questions and answers for online content ideas.
Step 4. Acknowledge key customer contributions and promote them.
Mining customer service and community is the new marketing, according to Baer. Using that source for your own benefit will put your brand ahead of your competitors. Turning “hugs into killer content” can be the driving force behind your content strategy, if you are smart enough to realize the customer’s importance.
Kelly R is a Beauty Editor and Copywriter. She has written for many different online and print publications including Allure, Mode Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, Seminole and The New Yorker.
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