5 Basic Content Types Your Customers Actively Seek
Before you realize they’re in market, your prospects, their purchase-influencers and customers actively look for Customer FAQ Content.
To satisfy their purchase-related information needs, offer potential buyers the 5 basic content types customers seek.
This Customer FAQ Content is like the 5 basic food groups you learned about in grade school.
When I was in elementary school, you needed a balanced mix of dairy, meat, grains, fruit and vegetables every day. The USDA presents these food categories graphically like a balanced meal.
Since my favorite 5 foods include chocolate, ice cream, pasta, coffee and cosmos, I’m probably not the best authority on the 5 basic food groups.
But I do know a lot about an effective content marketing program.
Like food, you must provide your buying audience with the 5 basic content types customers need to guide them along their purchase journey.
Just as the combination of the 5 basic food groups keep your body going, Customer FAQ Content supplies your prospects with the information they need to buy from you.
Customer FAQ Content Defined
Based on his success turning around his pool company during the 2008 real estate crisis using Customer FAQ Content, Marcus Sheridan has preached, “They Ask, You Answer!”
Why Customer FAQ Content?
Customer FAQ Content answers prospects questions when they start researching your business and offering, often before they even realize they’re in-market. This applies to both B2C and B2B buyers.
LinkedIn Research revealed a buyer-vendor (including both marketing and sales) disconnect regarding the purchase information customers need. This includes product information, demonstrations (how-to) and best practices.
Where Customers, Sales & Marketers Differ on Content Marketing
What is Customer FAQ Content?
The 5 Customer FAQ Content types are:
- Product Detail: Includes product information, product and customer reviews, product comparisons, and behind-the-scenes tours.
- Customer Questions: Answers all prospect questions including pricing and costs (even if it scares you.)
- How-to Training: Encompasses patterns, recipes and guides, education related to using your products, best practices, and styling.
- Customer Stories: Shows how customers use your products services through case studies and best-in-class practices (as well as failures.)
- Customer Fit: Answers the question “Who you don’t want as a customer?”
Business Case for Customer FAQ Content
Customer FAQ Content has these 3 attributes:
- Creation Effort: Is low to moderate. All you need to do is gather the questions your frontline sales and customer service teams field every day and their answers. These employees can supply the draft version of the content. All that’s needed is editing and improved presentation.
- Length: Averages 700+ words depending on product complexity and prospect knowledge.
- Production Frequency: Is on-going. By continually adding new content and making it easy for employees and customers to find, you reduce the sales process and sales variability.
Customer FAQ Content: 5 Basic Content Types Customers Need
Here’s how to use the 5 types of Customer FAQ Content for your business regardless of what you sell.
1. Product information
Give shoppers and their influencers enough information to decide to buy from you! Include detailed product specifics, model numbers, sizes, weights and other necessary information that they want to know before they purchase.
If you don’t, they’re gone.
Don’t overlook or shy away from customer ratings and reviews. They can qualify your product or service for buyers. If you have issues, address them head on. Empower employees to resolve issues before they go viral on social media. I love Mason-Dixon Knitting’s review of Euroflax Linen.
Bear in mind that regardless of what you sell, you’re probably competing with Amazon, the first place buyers start their purchase research. Amazon supplies detailed product information and customer reviews (and the reviewers are rated!)
Actionable Content Marketing Tips:
- Give your products the runway treatment. Supply photographs and videos for a 360° view of the product where appropriate. Integrate customer photos where appropriate and you have customers’ permission to use the images.
- Use interactive content to support customized product decisions. This content works well for self-service components and product creation. As a result, prospects have an emotional investment in your product.
2. Customer Questions
Answer all of your customers’ questions. This includes buyers, their purchase influencers and end users. (BTW, this isn’t just B2B sales!) Until you do, they’re not buying.
List every question your retail, sales and customer service teams get. Then answer and/or transform each into an easy-to-consume piece of content marketing. Use these answers wherever customers ask including social media. This reduces the need to continually answer the same questions.
Make each answer a separate blog post to aid search findability. Marcus Sheridan calls this the “secret sauce.”
Actionable Content Marketing Tip:
- Tell them the price. Don’t skip pricing or cost questions since they set up price negotiations. If you don’t someone else will. Here’s how Sheridan answered “How much will a pool cost me? ” and generated $2 million in sales.
- Keep track of every incoming prospect questions. Create a special email address for each answer your sales team provides.
Think product-related education. While there’s no exam, your prospects and customers must be able to use your products or they’re worthless.
This easy-to-follow information is particularly important if your product differs significantly from the competition.
Rather than plain hard-to-read instructions, offer step-by-step help such as patterns and recipes. Use images and graphics to illustrate your points. Even better link to related products where appropriate.
Change your marketing from selling to providing an entire buying experience.
Baker’s Chocolate Recipe via Kraft Recipes
Baker’s One Chocolate Brownie Shopping List Highlights Kraft Products
Like how-tos, styling information applies mainly to clothing and home décor. This is very important for high price, one-time occasions like proms and weddings.
Don’t underestimate the value of video guides. Post your video training on YouTube to increase findability. Customers who find this information post-sale may turn to you the next time they’re in-market.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips:
- Include patterns and recipes where appropriate. Prospects and customers turn to this information for shopping and product use. Take a page from Kraft and include a branded shopping list.
- Add Pinterest to your Customer FAQ Content distribution. It’s where people window-shop. Also, make all of your images pinnable.
4. Customer Stories
Customers trust their family and friends most followed by other customers in aggregate.
Both B2B and B2C customers want to know what your past customers think of your products and services as well as how good you are to deal with. The more money they’re spending, the more they want assurance they’re making the right decision.
- B2B customers seek case studies, best-in-class practices and success and failures. They want to know what to do and not do!
- B2C customers look for user-generated content, often on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips:
- Encourage customers to share their stories about your products. Where possible make it easy to create and share this content. But don’t forget to get customers’ permission to use this content. For example, a New York City optician took photos of me with different frames to help me decide.
- Provide places for customers to spotlight your product. Use this content on social media, your website and email. For example, Knitty City celebrates its knitters by posting photos of their finished objects on their Facebook Page.Let your customers strut your products- Your pics or theirs!
5. Qualify Customers
Avoid problem customers! (Who wants them?)
Since it’s time consuming and expensive to acquire new customers, don’t waste your precious resources on poor fit prospects. They nickel and dime you and wear your employees out.
Instead tell potential buyers whom you want as a customer by defining whom you don’t want. (BTW, I borrowed this brilliant idea from Marcus Sheridan!)
Create a “Who Is A Bad Fit For Us” page.
Make sure this page is visible on your website navigation because it’s a conversion magnet.
Because everyone wants to belong!
Actionable Content Marketing Tip:
- Define your business mission and your ideal customer. This saves time by eliminating people who are off target. It should be aligned with your content marketing mission.
- Analyze your high problem customers to determine their commonalities. Don’t be afraid to cut them loose. You’ll be happier and so will they!
Customer FAQ Content Conclusion:
5 Basic Content Types Your Customers Need
While every prospect and their influencers won’t seek all 5 Customer FAQ Content types, most will examine at least one or more of pieces of this information when, where and how they want it.
To keep your offering in the buying decision process, provide all of this information to your potential buyers.
Face it—if you don’t, your competitors will!
Remember it’s not about the content you want to produce. Rather it’s about the content your prospects need and want to make a buying decision.
In terms of content marketing creation, it’s easy to develop. Your front line employees have done the initial draft.
The bottom line: Customers won’t put money down until they get this information.
So make it easy for them to find and consume your content!
Make your prospects happy so they purchase from you.
A Revolutionary Approach to Content Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer, 2nd Edition, by Marcus Sheridan.
I've written often about Marcus Sheridan's approach to marketing. His book is one of the must-have guides for every marketer.
Now, for a limited time, you can get the updated edition as an ebook absolutely free!
Read the AMG Interview with Marcus Sheridan on the first edition of They Ask You Answer.
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