It’s a whole new year – time for a fresh start.
That usually means first evaluating the past year. What is there in the last several months you can learn from that will better optimize your content marketing strategy for this year? Where do you start?
How about customer feedback? After all, word-of-mouth is vastly important for any business, big or small.
In fact, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey from Bright Local, 86 percent of consumers read online reviews before they make a purchase. And 91 percent of millennial buyers (age 18 to 34) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Almost as many buyers read the business’ responses to reviews, too.
Want to leverage your customer feedback for the new year? Here are a few ways:
Put (Non-Misleading) Blurbs on Your Homepage
You know how sometimes you see positive blurbs, or pullquotes, on movie posters? “Four stars,” says this L.A. critic. “A hell of a ride”, says this Boston blogger. The right rave can seriously boost a movie’s clout. Except some movie posters are sly about it, cherry-picking only positive-sounding phrases from neutral or even negative reviews. Heck, some studios invent critics to say (false) nice things. Hollywood often tries to get away with that – but you shouldn’t.
Be authentic and truthful when it comes to all your feedback. Show off your actual, true—and unedited—accolades. Show off the full quotes in their entire context. Don’t be shy about it, either. Emblazon a portion of your homepage with five-star praise from clients and customers or dedicate an entire page to a growing list of good press. Ask permission from reviewers to use their full names (and if you can include a headshot) and you’ve got a customer testimonial page, which will raise your reputation and convert fence sitters into buyers.
There’s no reason to keep that positive word-of-mouth stuck on your homepage, either. Spread the good cheer and let email newsletter subscribers and social media followers see what their peers are saying in your email campaigns and social content. Provide proof of customer satisfaction, and you’ll attract and convert more of your audience.
Turn That Frown Upside Down (with Great Customer Service)
In 2019, you should turn every negative comment and review on your customer service page (or third-party site such as Facebook, Google Reviews, Yelp, or Twitter) into a positive interaction. People respond well to humble apologies, especially if they’re genuine and if the company reimburses the customer or follows through on a promise to improve.
But don’t just say “We hear you” or “We’re sorry” and leave it at that. Really use each negative comment to reevaluate your product or service’s features. Send the comments to your engineers or sale teams to figure out ways to improve and streamline things. Approach the situation from the right angle—by owning up to a problem, acknowledging and caring about what the customer has to say, and by being transparent about what you’re going to do—and you’ll come out looking much better on the other side.
Turn Happy Testimonials into Case Studies
Repurposing customer reviews for your website testimonial page is one thing. Responding to customers in the comments section and on social media is another. But if you really want to leverage customer feedback, you should turn positive testimonials into useful, valuable content that can convert curious leads and even gain media attention.
The case study can accomplish that and more. Distributed as a PDF file with a landing page or as its own unique webpage, a case study details the story of how you’ve changed a client’s business for the better with your service. By telling a whole story using interviews with CEOs and employees, industry analysis that gives a picture of what the landscape was like before you entered the picture, and hard numbers to illustrate how you’ve solved the client’s problem, you can establish an emotional connection with readers that a regular customer review can’t.
What’s more, a customer story can get picked up by other publications and shared endlessly, which will build your reputation and your credibility. Plus, you can share the case study yourself in email campaigns, podcast episodes, or blog and video content.
Segment Audience Personas and Identify Gaps
Those reviews, comments, and general customer feedback can be used to better understand and separate your audience into more manageable segments. Are there customers commenting about one particular feature of your cybersecurity software? Maybe you can create more blog articles about that one aspect of your program for them. Is there a swath of your audience that wants an old feature back? Then you might have a buyer persona that’s nostalgic for your legacy products.
Basically, you can use feedback to identify your audience better, to discover their pain points, and to pinpoint gaps in your content marketing plan. Ask yourself, based on your feedback, who you are targeting well, and who do you need to focus more on? Which of your audience segments feels unfulfilled? Is there content they want that you’re not providing?
When optimizing your content marketing strategy for the new year, keep all this feedback from your customers and clients in mind. It can help shape your goals for the year, refine (or completely define) your content, and develop new content strategies you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.