Share some interesting things with customers every day

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Here’s something interesting I read today on the effects of smartphones on shopping. The article matters because it’s about a big trend (changing habits in shopping, especially in everyday environments like grocery stores) and has long-term societal implications. For example, what will be the next social habit that’s disrupted or changed by smartphones? You might wonder why an article on shopping and smartphones matters to our conversation.

I shared this link because I thought it was intriguing and could help you with your day. You might not have liked it if I shared a cat video, pictures of breakfast, or another Internet cliche (or maybe you would. Everyone needs a momentary distraction now and then). I believe that when the content is truly useful to you, it will make your day better.

When you share content with customers, you should make the same decision and thought process. What’s interesting to your customer? It might be something you care about deeply that’s related to serving the customer. It might be a piece of relevant information about your product or service that you feel they should know. And it might be an article about larger industry trends. In any of those cases, sharing to the customer should create value.

And value is subjective, so it’s not often easy to decide what to communicate. Aside from the obvious (be smart, and only share the things you would want other people to attribute to you in public), there are a few easy ways to share what’s going on in your industry, what you think the customer should know, and how to share what you care about in a thoughtful way.

First, start with the context – what matters about this item? For an industry-relevant post you could be sharing information about trends, market validation, and the “big picture” – the shopping article linked at the beginning of this post is a great example. The knowledge is relevant because it demonstrates how society is changing in long-run ways, and will change behavior.

Second, you should also share why you think this item matters to the individual (or to the class of customer). When you’re sharing product or service knowledge, if you present the information in a value/benefit statement it will be easier for the customer to see the value of the content. “What’s in it for me?” should be your mantra when viewing the content from the customer’s perspective – if there isn’t value there, perhaps you should share something else or not at all.

And finally, it’s ok to share things that matter to you that aren’t directly relevant to the customer – just make sure they are broadly applicable. Imagine the “how would this play on the front page of the New York Times” test and you’ll figure out pretty quickly what not to share (and if you don’t know, ask a friend first). When you share, focus on incremental improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask customers, employees, and partners: “how can we do better”?

Content Marketing is really Product Love

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You’ve probably been to your competitor’s web site recently and reviewed the content they are sharing for first-time and seasoned customers. And have you been to your own Support Site recently to do the same? There are a few things that you can do to make that support experience better for customers, starting with making the content they read better. You can also did a little deeper and seek to understand the searches they make that currently get no results. And you can also think more purposefully about what it means to make a product that people really love (not a product that people like and tolerate.)

Start By Making the Content Better

Ok, so you’ve heard this part before. Find the top ten articles that people actually use (Google Analytics is a great way to find this out, or the stats over the last 90-180 days on your blog if you don’t have a more advanced option) and make a list out of them. Now, read them with a new eye while asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why would someone use this article?
  • What would they hope to learn after they had finished reading the article?
  • Are there any statements here that are out of date or just plain wrong?

Now that you’ve read the top ten articles that people are using, you should rewrite them. Consider this a freshening of your content calendar and something you should strive to do quarterly. More frequent updates are probably not relevant, and if you’re not checking what people are reading in your content every quarter, you should be checking more often.

What if I don’t want to rewrite content that’s already there?

It’s a fair point to say that you’d rather not reinvent the wheel. When you wrote this content, it seemed like it made sense, and now it’s still mostly right. Fine – now write the content that your visitors are searching for and can’t find. Again, Google Analytics can help with this, or a simple review of the search traffic against your site.

Imagine that you can write content that beautifully answers the question your customer (or visitor) is asking even before they arrive at your destination. Wouldn’t that be … awesome? If you can make the unwritten article that answers your question one of your top ten most visited pieces of content, you probably plugged a major hole in your content, marketing, or sales funnel. So what’s not there (yet) that people are looking to learn from your product or service (or from you)?

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All you need is love.

Well, not the Lennon and McCartney kind – though that is pretty catchy – rather, the kind of instant realization and definition of what it means to love your product. Whatever that is, you should do more of that. You can write this definition by answering more questions like:

  • What do people like to do with your product or service?
  • What are the things that make them say, “Wow, that’s perfect”?
  • And how can you do more of that?

If no one says awesome things about your product, maybe you should rethink your product. The core of creating an amazing experience for a customer is providing a solution for the problem they don’t even know they have yet, and nailing the pain points that solve the problems they already know that they have. If you can do that in a way that also is friendly, concise, and accurate, you might have a home run.

You can find 47 other ways to improve the customer experience here.

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