Understanding who your customers are and what they’re looking for is vital before you write a single word of marketing content or even design your website.

 

When you’re marketing your business, every action you take needs to be done with a clear audience in mind. If you try to write something general that will appeal to everyone, it’s likely you won’t make a connection with anyone.

 

Who is your target audience?

What does your business do better than the competition? These differentiating factors are the strengths you should be promoting and the reasons your customers choose you.

 

The car industry is just about the best example there is of similar products being clearly differentiated along brand lines. Many people need to buy a car, but there’s a big difference in the priorities of car buyers who choose a BMW (marketed for luxury and performance) or a Volvo (renowned for safety and reliability).

 

It’s not just what you’re selling, but who you’re selling it to. If you’re marketing a range of perfumes or cosmetics, are your customers women who want to look and smell great or men buying gifts for their partners who want to make the right impression? These two groups have very different goals, and your content will need to change accordingly.

 

So how can you find out what your audience wants?

 

Ask them.

 

If you are already established and have a customer base, find out what it is about your business that keeps people coming back.

 

You can call or e-mail representative customers directly, but a less intrusive way to get feedback from a broad range of customers is to invite them to complete a survey.

 

Sites like SurveyMonkey make it easy to create polls and questionnaires that you can post to your website or social media accounts to find out everything you need to know about your customers’ experiences and expectations.

 

Aim to keep your surveys as short as possible and show your customers that you value their opinions and the time they’ve taken by offering a discount or freebie upon completion, or entering survey respondents into a prize draw.

 

Find out what they’re searching for

You can find out what search queries related to your business are most popular right now using Google Keyword Planner. Does your content respond to these types of queries, or are you answering questions no one is asking?

 

Check how your site is performing

If you already have a website or business blog up and running, your CMS should include the tools you need to learn what search queries brought the most visitors to your site. Compare this to your keyword research: are you ranking for popular search terms?

 

Even if people are landing on your pages, are they satisfied with what they find there? Using your CMS and other tools such as Google Analytics, you can check factors such as the length of time people stay on pages and their conversion and bounce rates to discover which content is engaging your customers and which needs an overhaul.

Put yourself in their shoes

If you want to get an idea what it’s like for your customers, set yourself a number of basic goals and see how quickly and easily you can accomplish these on your website.

 

Read your landing pages and blog posts as a customer would. Do they answer your questions? Do they push the right emotional buttons?

 

If you already know what you’re looking for, how easy is it to reach your destination and make a transaction? Patience is in short supply online, and the longer it takes your customers to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to try somewhere else.

 

Test your main competitors’ websites in the same way. Is their content more or less engaging and user-friendly than yours?

 

Once you know people are looking for, find out more about the buyer’s journey and how you can use content every step of the way.