The Effect Of Brand Affinity On Content Consumption Behavior
May 19, 2014
When it comes to the symphony, my wife and I have very different levels of knowledge. She enjoys listening to the nuances of the pianist’s performance, and I… well, I know how to find good parking. Naturally, the first time I decided to buy us tickets to a performance I had some catching up to do.
The website had plenty of information. The calendar was loaded with dates and show times, but I had no idea what I was looking at. I wanted to make a more educated selection, so I took my search elsewhere. After reading up on composers, types of performances and the symphony in our area, I was able to identify an event on the symphony’s calendar that I knew my wife would enjoy. It had a well-known pianist accompanied by the symphony, and they would be playing one of her favorites – Rhapsody in Blue. The tickets were a hit. I even remember her stating that she had seen this particular show highlighted in a newsletter she had received and had wondered if we could go.
I felt victorious. And as soon as I got home, I signed up for that newsletter.
I say all this not to reveal my lack of culture when it comes to the classical arts, or to show how I excel at gift giving, but to demonstrate how a person’s awareness of or affinity for a brand or product can affect the way he consumes content. My wife and I are both customers of the symphony. We are also very different. We are two personas of their target audience, with two different motivations, two different buying journeys. We will both spend money on their product, but we must be converted in different ways. The newsletter was great for my wife, but I needed a different type of content in order to be converted.
This is an important lesson for any company to learn. In order to effectively attract, convert and retain customers, you have to know how to reach them – and that doesn’t just mean putting your content in front of them. It has to be the right type of content. It’s easy enough to say each person is different. Many sales professionals do a good job of putting this statement into action by treating customers like they’re unique.
The problem is customers don’t have to rely on the sales team in order to select a product. In fact, much of the buying journey is completed before customers even contact the sales team (as much as 70%, according to recent statistics). The technological revolution has empowered customers, giving them the ability to conduct their own research before reaching out for help. This is why content is so important. In order to convert, you have to meet the customers’ needs. And in order to do that, the content has to be tailored to each specific audience member. So how do we do that?
1. Define The Audience
First, we have to understand who we’re talking to. This is a great time to reach out to existing customers in order to learn more about them. We want to know who they are, what their needs are, and most importantly, how we can help. Any bias or preconceived notion introduced in this step can throw the entire process off. Don’t fall into that trap. Shortcuts are also tempting from a budgeting standpoint, but you’ll regret them in the long run. Stay objective and pull data from a sample that is representative of your whole target audience.
2. Develop A Content Strategy For Each Persona
Based on the information gathered in step one, we want to develop a content strategy that is designed to deliver the perfect experience to each target persona. We want to meet their needs and usher them through the buying process without being forceful. We want to provide helpful information. Most of all, we want the process to be enjoyable – usability plays a big role here.
3. Analyze Content Consumption Behaviors To Validate
Ah, analysis. If I were to write a book about the failed attempts of marketers, analysis would get its own chapter. It might be the only chapter, as a matter of fact. I have a reasonable level of tolerance for failure. Thankfully, so did every teacher I ever had (looking at you, mom). What I can’t tolerate, however, are repetitive, identical efforts. You can probably imagine I’m not a subscriber to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Even the most successful companies have ways of changing things up in order to improve. There’s a quote that says, “If you’re any good at all, you know you can do better.” It’s this continuous pursuit of improvement that separates successful companies from the ones that change the world.
If we aren’t analyzing the results of our efforts, how will we ever know how we’re doing? Moreover, how will we know what to change? Starting with a blank slate once is fine, but you’d better believe the next time I go back to the drawing board, I’m going to come with something I learned from the previous try.
If we’re going to be successful as marketers, we have to analyze. We have to monitor how site visitors are using our website and consuming our content. We have to monitor where they’re coming from and what’s most important to them. We also have to segment them. Remember that point I made earlier about treating customers like individuals? This is where we learn how to do that with marketing.
If you only take one thing from this post, I hope it’s that customers have to be treated uniquely – with both sales and marketing. There must be content tailored to each buyer persona for each step along the buying journey, from the learning phase to the product selection phase. Any gap along this journey can cause frustration, confusion, and at the very worst, abandonment.
While my search for more information ultimately led me back to the symphony’s website, your company might not be so lucky. Neglecting a particular persona with your content can be a dangerous roadblock in the lead generation or customer conversion process. This is why it’s so important to learn about your audience before developing a content strategy.
I’ve always liked taking things apart. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized how much fun it could be to put something back together. It’s something special to dissect something unfamiliar, learn how it works and make it better than it was before. I like to bring this approach to any project I work on. My focus at Centerline is content strategy. When I’m presented with a problem, I rely on a formula of targeted observation and analysis to guide me towards the goal of providing valuable insights and recommendations.