Marketers often work at a distance from frontline operations.
We may not directly build the product, deal with angry customer phone calls, or be out in the field selling.
We might even be at an agency, an additional level removed from the shop floor or direct interactions with the target customer.
How, then, can you:
- Know what to write about?
- Insert meaningful insights into your landing pages or ad creative?
- Effectively persuade your target audience that you are the clear choice over your competitors?
Digging new wells to find new content
One of the best writing tips I’ve ever received is to “dig new wells.” That is, to get content no one else is writing, you need to establish different sources.
Too often, content writing for the web starts with the search results. While it makes sense to look at what’s ranking for your target keywords, it should not be your only source of information.
The rise of 10x content and the Skyscraper Technique led some content writers to rely on rewording and combining top pages into a long, SEO-focused page. But it’s not getting outside sources of information.
For me, the best type of content for the web comes from outside the web. Pulling content ideas, inspiration, and even language from real-life sources can help your content stand out, resonate with your target audience, and even alleviate any concerns they have.
Plus, combining outside-sourced content with an SEO’s skills in finding keywords, structuring content, and generating links can form a powerful piece of content that performs nicely.
Here are a few ways to dig new wells to find new content.
1. Source content from employees
The single greatest source of content is from front-line employees. Depending on your business, you might have:
- Salespeople earn their living by earning trust, highlighting benefits, and alleviating fears of potential customers or clients.
- Any successful salesperson has already worked out a script based on common pain points and exactly what message can help convince people to buy.
Customer service representatives (CSRs)
- As frontline workers who come in contact the most with existing customers, they know the most common questions and objections people have.
- If a CSR gets asked the same question regularly (say once per week or greater), the answer to that question should become content on your site.
Those doing the work
- Another great source of content is from those doing the actual work. Visit the factory floor, buy coffee for the production team, or go for a ride along with the installation team.
- By spending time with those who actually make your products or carry out your services, you will get a newfound understanding and appreciation for what they do.
- Plus, they should be able to provide great insights into how you are different than your competitors – whether it is better materials, unique processes, or attention to detail.
Example of sourcing content from employees
I had a client in the agriculture industry who wanted to grow by getting their brand in front of more farmers. My main contact was a salesperson working in the field six days a week, traveling from farm to farm.
In some ways, he functioned more as a consultant, helping generate ideas and sharing best practices from others to help each farmer expand their operation.
He would be the first to tell you he was not a great choice for writing new content for their website. Here’s what worked for us: I would get him on the phone while driving between farms, and he would rant.
For half an hour, he would brain-dump his thoughts on a certain product or service his company was offering. I was simply there to transcribe and ask follow-up questions.
When it was time to write the website content, I found that the salesperson’s rants would form 80% of the page. I was merely there to edit and shape it into a logical flow and ensure it was optimized for search and conversions.
Dig deeper: How to create local content that builds trust and drives sales
2. Source content from current customers
Another well of great content ideas is from your current customers or clients. They are your best source for entering the buyer’s mind and decision-making process.
If possible, make it a habit to regularly interview some of your current customers. Ask them questions about:
- Their pain points.
- How they researched options.
- What mattered and didn’t matter to them as they made a decision.
You can sometimes use these stories as the basis for case studies or featured project pages for your site. At the very least, you will uncover phrases, words and concepts that can become integral parts of your website content and marketing efforts.
Example of sourcing content from current customers
A few years back, I was working on a branding campaign for a furniture company. Their core business was selling through furniture stores; they saw an opportunity to increase sales by working with high-end interior designers.
As we worked on drafting content for their website and marketing material, our team booked calls with a handful of interior designers with whom they currently worked.
These phone calls were a wealth of information and insights into these interior designers’ pain points, goals and dreams.
Some insights they provided were completely unknown to the furniture company. What we learned from these calls proved invaluable in shaping the website content.
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3. Source content from past customers
Past customer reviews are among the easiest yet impactful wells to pull content ideas and language.
Whether past customers have left reviews on your Google Business Profile, Amazon, a third-party review site, or your own internal system, these are great sources of info about how the market views your product or service.
Customer reviews are great because they provide a glimpse into your customer’s thinking at scale – no need to interview them. Online reviews also collect the right language, pain points, and angles you may not have noticed.
Whenever I take on a new local SEO client, I make it a point to read every review on their Google Business Profile. I like looking for trends and themes across the reviews and see anecdotally what really matters to customers.
Google does pull out themes by seeing the top 10 topics or phrases mentioned in reviews.
You can take your reviews and put them in a sentiment analysis tool to see topics, trends, and talk points that you can share with your CSR or use in your marketing, advertising and website efforts.
Example of sourcing content from past customers
One time, I was reading reviews for a new client in the home service industry.
A few reviews told a similar story: each mentioned the same salesperson by name and how professional and informational the salesperson was – especially compared to other companies. And each said a surprising detail: the salesperson gave a gift of local jam.
One specific salesperson was doing this to make connections with his prospects, but it was leaving such an impact on customers that they mentioned it in their reviews.
When our client found out about this, they made it a standard across all sales staff, and we mentioned it as part of the online appointment scheduler.
4. Source content from competitors
A surprising source of content ideas can come from your competitors.
As we saw above, if online reviews for your own products or services can provide helpful insights for your marketing efforts, what can you learn from reading the reviews of your competitors? A lot!
Find a few of your competitors and read every review of theirs that is three stars or lower. Bad or mixed reviews can provide a gold mine of information about what people don’t like about your competitors.
These points can be used in your marketing efforts, as they are pain points your target audience has, and your competitors are not meeting.
Example of sourcing content from competitors
While conducting competitive research for an outdoor structure company, I noticed their main competitors had a fair amount of indifferent reviews. As I read these reviews, I noticed themes. Most reviews mentioned:
- A lack of communication.
- Misunderstandings about the delivery and installation process.
I took this to the client, and we discussed how we could make their service better. The client worked on strengthening their already solid customer communication system.
On the website, we invested in content to fully explain how they deliver and install their structures, answering every single question their CSR is regularly asked.
Finally, we created a comprehensive guide on the entire sales process, from initial order through installation. We used this as a target for a remarketing campaign to help reengage with potential customers.
Dig deeper: Competitor content analysis: Here’s what you can learn
Start creating new content today
To create content that no one is creating, you need to get different sources no one else can get.
Interview your employees and current customers. Summarize feedback from past customers and those disappointed with your competitors.
Gain valuable insights to tell your unique story and stand out.
Dig deeper: Tangential SEO: Using Google Bard to identify content ideas fast
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.