Conversion copywriters have had a leg up on us, my fellow content creators.
But that doesn’t have to be the case any longer.
Today I’m going to show you how to use one of the secrets of conversion copywriting in a framework that will help you create better content.
More popular blog posts.
More impactful e-books.
More revolutionary white papers.
More shareable infographics.
I hinted at this framework in my recent podcast conversation with Marylou Tyler.
It all starts with the most powerful conversion copywriting secret: customer research.
Let Customers Guide Your Content
“No one talks about your product more persuasively and authentically than your happiest customer.” — Momoko Price, conversion copywriter, interaction designer and co-founder of Kantan
Successful conversion copywriters know that they don’t write the most persuasive copy. Customers do.
These optimization experts are trained to pull insight from customer research — and they’re incredibly diligent about it — because when it comes to optimizing copy for conversions, customers are doing much of the heavy-lifting. Customers write the copy. Conversion copywriters curate it, fine-tune it, and put it in order of priority.
For the most part, there’s little writing involved in conversion copywriting.
Does that surprise you?
I’ve written before about the difference between copy and content – and conversion copywriting is a potent illustration of just how different the two disciplines are.
Because content creators – we write. A lot.
That said, we can learn something from how conversion copywriters use customer research … and we can blatantly copy it for better results from the content we’re writing for our own businesses and/or our clients.
There are 3 parts to well-rounded customer research that can inform our content and improve the results of content marketing.
Part 1: Follow Ideal Customers Online
Yes, I want you to stalk your customers. (Legally and ethically, of course!)
First choose 5 to 10 of your best customers – or in lieu of actual paying customers, 5-10 people who represent your ideal buyers.
Author and business strategist Tara Gentile calls this your “virtual focus group.” I like to call this practice field research.
Now, follow this target group around online like you’re an anthropologist … or a private eye.
- Find their social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
- Who are they following?
- What are they commenting on?
- What do their posts and comments say about them as people?
- What types of content are they sharing? Do they often share infographics? Links to blog posts? Landing pages for e-books or other in-depth standalone content?
- Google their names.
- What do you discover about these customers?
- Are they in the press? What has been said about them?
- Are they posting or answering questions on sites like Quora? If so, what questions are they engaging with?
- Do they have a business or personal blog? If so, what do they write about (in other words, what do they care about?)
The idea is to watch how they are interacting online and uncover any content they are producing themselves. This will tell you so much about …
- What entertains and inspires them.
- What they want to be educated about.
- What gets them riled up.
- What problems they’re having.
- What their personal viewpoints are on hot-button topics and trends.
- What other people and businesses they’re engaging with.
Watching your target customers’ activity online, you’ll get different information about them than you will in the next two steps. This is just part of what we’re trying to uncover in order to create more effective content.
Part 2: Put Interviews and Surveys to Work
Most businesses (at least the ones who really care about their customers) are gathering at least some customer feedback through surveys and 1:1 interviews. If a business has worked with a conversion copywriter to optimize their website, likely that copywriter instructed the business to do a ton more of this customer research. The copywriter may have even had an integral part in this process, compiling the surveys and conducting the interviews themselves.
What many people don’t realize is that this customer feedback isn’t just valuable for website optimization. It’s not just valuable for creating better products and customer experiences. It can actually serve as inspiration for more effective marketing content, too.
If you’ve already got customer feedback to work with, great! If not, start gathering it. Conduct on-site surveys, email surveys and 1:1 interviews and start getting to know your target audience as the human beings they are.
Look for these insights the data:
- What were they searching on when they came across the brand or the website?
- What are their current challenges?
- What do they think they need?
- What’s going on in their lives right now that brought them to the brand/business/website?
These insights will help you develop a list of keywords and phrases that target customers are already searching on, that they care about, and that would motivate them to read (and share) a piece of content.
Recommended survey tools:
- Ometrics for on-site surveys (this is a lower cost alternative to industry standard Qualaroo or Hotjar)
- SurveyMonkey or Google Forms for email surveys
- Google Consumer Surveys for market research (and here’s a great article from CrazyEgg going into detail about that tool)
Recommended tools for conducting 1:1 interviews:
- Tape-a-Call app to record a phone call
- MP3 Skype Recorder to record a Skype call
- Zoom for a videoconferencing services with a built-in recorder
- Rev transcription service
Part 3: Understand Your Analytics
On social media, we tend to curate our lives. We share the good — and hide the bad. Social media is also a place of anonymity, which can cause some people to act in ways they wouldn’t in real life — for example, trolling someone they disagree with, or going on a political rant. You can only trust what you see of your target customers on social media to a point.
Surveys and interviews can also result in less-than-honest feedback. Participants don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they’re not completely honest about negative experiences … or maybe they’re having a bad day and you end up as their virtual punching bag. Like with social media, you have to take customer feedback with a grain of salt. Look at the overall trends, for specific expressions that come up frequently, and for turns of phrases that are particularly interesting.
For this framework to work – to get a truly well-rounded view of your audience and create better content for them – you also need to add a third type of data that will help you separate the truth from the not-so-true: analytics. Specifically website analytics and email metrics.
- How are customers interacting with your website?
- What pages do they land on first?
- What pages do they spend the most time on?
- What path do they follow through your website?
- What blog post has the highest amount of traffic?
- What blog post has the highest number of comments?
- What blog post is the most shared?
- What content types are they downloading most often?
- How are customers interacting with your emails?
- What emails are they opening?
- What links are they clicking on?
- What emails are they directly responding to?
This insight will tell you how customers really interact with your brand. Not just what they want you to think!
- Google Analytics for website analytics
- Hotjar for heatmaps (to help you see what elements people are spending time on within individual pagea)
- Your email service provider should be able to provide you with email analytics
Pulling It Together
This combination of three elements — your target customers’ interactions online + feedback from customer surveys and interviews + analytics data — give you a 3D view of the target audience that you’re trying to reach with content.
Now you know what topics will speak to them where they are.
Now you know what formats will be most engaging to them.
Now you know how to deliver content in a way that serves them.
Most of all, now you have insight you can use to guide your entire content strategy. Add this insight to your buyer persona document, or if you don’t have one yet, use this insight to create one. Let it be your guiding light.
Clearly customer research is good for so much more than conversion optimization and product development!
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