How content marketing helps brands to get under the skin of their customers

Stephen Hobbs

Strategy & Planning Director

Content Marketing

Start by defining key customer personas

All too often, brands squander valuable information on customers by having data silos across the organisation instead of a single customer view. Content marketing is the answer, helping brands to address this problem and deepen their customer understanding…

Start by defining (or refining) personas of your key types of customer, based on data from your website and social channels combined with your own knowledge. Bring people from around the business together for a workshop, focusing on different customer motivations for engaging with you. From there, you can begin to describe typical customers with specific motivations.

As Victoria White, editorial director of Hearst Content Agency says,

"The key thing is to identify audiences first. That doesn’t mean content can’t be consumed by a wide range of people. But it does mean having a clear focal point for the content you create. We try to create personas for all of our clients’ audiences. We can nail these down to what kind of car a person drives or what food they eat – really detailed stuff. And these definitely help.”

Give your customer personas a name, age, gender and occupation, and a fitting photo, to bring them to life. This will help your team empathise with them and, consequently, to create truly impactful content and experiences.

Once you've defined your personas, build them into your content briefs, along with the customer outcome you’re aiming to drive.

Targeting and segmenting your customers

A persona doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s an insight that you can test and, using the resulting data, refine. The simplest and most cost-effective way of doing this is to use the sophisticated social media targeting capabilities to turn your personas into target segments that can be optimised.

For example, Facebook’s Audience Insights tool can help you learn more about your target audiences, including aggregate information about geography, demographics and purchase behaviour. You can then build custom audiences of the people who engage with your content, as well as reaching new people who share similar interests through Lookalike Audiences.

You can also learn about your audience by using existing data, monitoring users’ activity on your website, and segmenting them by the type of content they engage with. Capture as much information as possible about existing customers with surveys, quizzes and bespoke customer experiences.

Journey mapping and identifying barriers

Once you’ve started to identify different customer segments at individual touchpoints, such as social and email, you can start to develop a clearer picture of their customer journeys. To develop this, it helps to have a complete Brand Experience Map.

As customers arrive on your website from targeted campaigns, you can track their activity by creating a segment in your analytics. Note what content they engage with, but also where you lose them (it helps to compare the results with other segments, too).

Building trust and encouraging loyalty

It’s tempting to focus marketing on winning new customers, but building loyalty among existing customers is as important, if not more. One of the most valuable roles of brand content is to engender trust with your audience. This requires consistency and a certain level of personalisation.

Using a CRM system will enable you to segment your audience based on data such as location or past purchases, for example. This allows you to automate messages with targeted content.

Content campaigns can also be based around a customer’s position in their lifecycle. For example, if you’re selling mobile phones, you know that new customers will need content to help them learn about their new handset, but after 18 months they’ll be scouring buying guides for a replacement.

Building meaningful experiences

Once you've developed a deep understanding of your audience through the content they consume and the action it drives, you can step up to building a customer experience to make your brand stand out and keep customers returning.

A digital product, such as a mobile app or interactive how-to video, is a savvy investment when it meets specific and proven customer needs. It will dial up customer loyalty and increase lifetime value, and turn your core customers into passionate advocates.

For Speedo, iCrossing built a swim-tracking app packed with training content. It achieved over 100,000 signups in the first year and rapidly became a social network for swimmers, allowing Speedo to market directly to this audience and create a genuinely personalised experience.

The result? Customers who had consumed Speedo content spent 32% more per transaction than those who didn’t.

Are you leveraging content marketing?

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We’ll deliver a report identifying and describing your customers and uncovering the right platforms, influencers and tactics to engage them.

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