Create content to connect with your customers

1. Scan social media to quickly get a sense of what your customers are concerned about or having conversations around.

Search relevant hashtags that customers might use on a regular basis. Spend time in popular forums or social networks where they spend most of their time. A little investment of time can give you a sense of what your brand can credibly and authentically weigh in on.

2. Track industry trends to stay informed about issues that are affecting your customers.

For example, Norbord, a manufacturer of wood-based panels, recognized that a shortage of house framers was hurting their clients and the U.S. economy. To address the framer shortage, Norbord launched Thank a Framer, a content marketing program to spotlight the crucial role of framers in the construction industry and to promote training programs to prepare more people to enter the profession. Their content program combined a microsite with videos, social posts, and a contest. An ad campaign amplified the message to professionals in the building trade. For a traditional industry not thought of as digitally engaged, the campaign exceeded their 1 million views target to capture 2.1 million views and reach 7.5 million in just four months.

3. Research how your target audience behaves on social media and in their everyday lives to understand where best to talk to them.

This helps you understand your customers’ current behavior and where they spend their time: Demographic breakdown of users on social channels. Third-party research. Customer surveys. For example, the more than 100-year-old New York Public Library wanted to attract a younger audience. After learning that their target audience’s preferred social media platform was Instagram, they transformed their content to align with the native behavior on that channel. The result is Insta Novels: Insta Novels transform classic novels like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Metamorphosis, into multimedia Instagram stories. The stories combine rich visuals with text across a series of Stories taps.

4. Research how your target audience makes purchasing decisions using customer interviews.

To conduct an effective interview, ask open-ended questions about the buying process in your category. Use follow-up questions to understand why the person took the steps they did and why certain types of information were important at different stages. Use the insights from your interviews to develop content that addresses the questions and concerns your target audience has at each point in their decision process, which is exactly what HubSpot does.

5. Share proprietary research that can be useful to your target market.

For example, OppenheimerFunds used proprietary research on how emotions shape decision-making to educate potential clients on the power of optimism when considering long-term financial stability. In place of numbing charts, graphs, and blocks of text, the firm offers a highly engaging and interactive experience that combines music, a quiz, illustration, and animation.

6. Feature your customers as the heroes in your case studies and marketing content.

Instead of writing a dull whitepaper or impersonal case study that focuses on what you did, tell the stories of your customers.  Making customers the heroes, helps you demonstrate empathy and stand out from competitors as you’re speaking directly from your customers’ perspective.  For example, Barclays Bank uses video to make their customer and the community it serves, the star of the story. One video revolves around a community’s passion for their local soccer club and the sponsorship of the team by a local small business, Low Cost Vans.

7. Make it easy for your customers to create and share their own content about your brand.

Instead of restricting use of your brand, find ways to make your brand accessible and empower your most passionate fans to advocate for you.  For example, Starbucks created an online destination where fans can use interactive features to learn more about the elements of the Starbucks brand and how they work together. Creative director Ben Nelson explained that the decision to open their brand to the public was “inspired by other brands being more transparent about their creative process.” 

8. Develop a unique brand voice that communicates your company's culture and values.

Most email newsletters are written in the same bland corporate monotone that make them easily forgettable. Stand out by using a distinctive voice and tone. For example, The Hustle, makes news fun with pop culture references and punny headlines like “The call for change is coming from inside the house” (about employees pressuring their company to do more to promote racial equity) and “A new player in email knocked over a bushel of debate about Apple’s App Store” (about the new email service, Hey).

9. Use transparency to allay customer fears and inspire customer loyalty.

Which parts of your business, if customers understood them better, might remove the fears or doubts that keep them from purchasing? Or showcase a differentiator that inspires loyalty? For example, Super U, a French supermarket chain, uses Snapchat to show that the fish they sell are only hours out of the water. The series, “Fresh Stories,” filmed with Snapchat Spectacles, takes shoppers through the fish’s journey from the fisherman to the sales manager and, finally, to the fish case at the grocery store.  

10. Create content for even the smallest customer interaction to deliver an entire brand experience.