How to Uncover Audience Needs and Deliver Value With Your Content

You may know your audience, but do you really understand them?

If you are reading this article online right now, you have immediate, click-of-the-mouse access to literally billions of indexed web pages. And yet, amid the quadrillions of bytes of data available to anyone surfing the web at this moment, good content can be dismally hard to come by. But what exactly is “good content”?

Put simply, good content delivers value and, in doing so, it stands out from the clutter and cacophony that has come to characterize the web. For companies, good content will target, attract, and engage an audience — or, in other words, your universe of prospective buyers. And, when developed, packaged, and targeted in the right way, good content can generate leads for your brand.

Consider the numbers:

  • According to Forrester, 74 percent of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
  • When you create content that appeals to potential buyers, 76 percent are willing to register and share their personal information with you.

To create content that generates leads for your company, it’s essential that your content precisely targets your audience’s problems, challenges, and aspirations. In a B2B lead gen ecosystem, that’s what characterizes “good content.”

You may feel that you know and have properly targeted your audience already, but there’s a difference between knowing who your audience is and understanding what makes them tick. Deeply understanding your audience means being able to relate to them in terms of their motivations, pain points, expectations, and needs. Then, leveraging those insights, you can develop content that caters to those very professional needs — and, in the process, fill your sales pipeline with qualified, intent-based leads that you can convert into customers.

6 ways to uncover audience needs

To get a full understanding of the kind of content that will resonate with your audience at a level that they’d be willing to provide their contact information in order to access it, you’ll need to do some research.

Here are six ways to uncover your audience’s needs so that you can create killer content that generates leads.

1. Interview your own salespeople

Your salespeople spend their entire professional days speaking with prospective buyers and listening to their challenges and aspirations. The insights that can be gleaned from your front-line sales staff will be invaluable in creating a timely, multi-dimensional picture of what your audience wants.

Develop a systematic way to capture and disseminate the audience expertise contained in the collective minds of your sales staff. It can be as informal as a questionnaire to be completed after every call with a prospective buyer that provides insights to questions, such as:

  • What questions did the prospect ask?
  • Did something occur that triggered the sales discussion?
  • What challenges did they articulate?
  • How have they tried to solve the challenge up until now?
  • What part of their job is most frustrating?
  • What goals or objectives were mentioned?
  • How do they see their business changing in the next 3-5 years?

If these subjects don’t come up on their own during the call, your sales staff can proactively ask them (and it will likely aid the sales effort in the process).

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2. Survey your customer database

A well-formulated survey provides a way to dig deeper into your audience’s challenges and goals. Your customer database is a great place to start your survey. When you distill your understanding of what makes your customers tick — their challenges and motivations — in a way that is quantifiable, you can leverage that understanding to attract more buyers with similar profiles.

Thanks to easy-to-use survey tools such as SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or Crowdsignal, you can easily formulate questions, launch the survey digitally, email your database, and then aggregate the results yourself.

3. Dive into their professional associations

If you’d like a snapshot of the most pressing issues facing your audience, find out what professional associations they belong to. An professional association in an aligned industry can be a treasure trove of information. You’ll quickly discover a wealth of specific knowledge and get to see the conversations taking place between industry thought leaders and influencers.

Subscribe to the association’s newsletters and read their publications, check out their online news or social media feeds, and you’ll quickly get a sense of what is important to their membership and the trending topics impacting their business.

An association’s events can also be a way to hear speakers and understand the trending topics that matter most to your particular audience. Be sure to look at the association's website to see if they have a Resource Library and, if so, what types of resources and topics seem to be resonating most among their members.

4. Track the content on your own site and social media channels

If you’re already creating content, then analyze of the performance trends on your website, newsletters, and social media channels for insights about about what topics are resonating as well as those that are not. This may sound like an obvious exercise, but surprisingly few companies do this on a regular basis.

By specifically identifying topics that resonate with your audience, you can align your content programming accordingly and avoid wasting content development resources on topics that are being ignored.

Also, if existing customers have been active on your social media pages, monitor conversations and engagement, including shares and likes, to help get more unfiltered feedback on your audience’s authentic concerns and desires.

5. Use online tools like Ubersuggest or BuzzSumo

There are also plenty of SEO tools you can use to uncover topics of interest to your audience.

Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool that is focused on creating new keyword ideas, with insightful data on each keyword, such as monthly search volume. It works by scanning your website and those of your competitors and then providing relevant keywords to target. You’ll be able to see what’s been successful for other companies and apply that information to your own content planning.

Buzzsumo also allows quick access to trending stories and content, as it filters through online articles and social media for audience insights. You can use the site to find out what content topics are getting the most social media engagement, what formats work best, and also benchmark against other companies in your space.

6. Look at your competitors’ online assets

An in-depth competitive review can offer insight into the ideas and solutions resonating with others in your space. Take a look at the content produced by your competitors, and then analyze how customers seem to be responding to it.

Tracking a competitor’s social media channels will also provide feedback on the positives and negatives of their content approach. Are they producing content that engages their prospects and customers? What strategies are they using that you can adapt and improve upon for your own brand?

Remember, though, just because your competitor’s doing it, doesn’t mean it will work for you (or that it’s necessarily working for them either).

What are you an expert on?

There is no silver bullet when it comes to uncovering your prospective buyers’ needs, but a combination of the tactics listed above will put you in an incredibly advantageous position when it comes to planning your content development.

Armed with new audience intelligence and insights, determine where the overlap is between your audience’s informational needs and the solutions your company offers. When it comes to developing effective content to run your lead gen campaign, those areas of overlap are generally the sweet spot.

Team up with lead generation experts

Keep in mind that you don’t need to go at this alone. Lead Marvels partners with professional associations to create online Resource Libraries. A Resource Library is a lead generation ecosystem where your content can be promoted to a qualified, professional audience actively seeking content to help them solve their problems and reach their objectives.

Contact us to request a demo to learn more about how you can leverage your thought leadership content to fill your sales pipeline with qualified buyers.

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