- Search engines are now global answering machines. When people need answers, they turn to the likes of Google.
- Cut through the noise – answer the questions your customers have.
- Be a teacher – aim to become a thought leader in your industry.
The Importance of content in our Semantic Web
Search is now intent-led. How this intent is met is query-specific.
For example, someone searching for a ‘best pizza restaurant,’ on a mobile device, obviously has a local intent, they’re most probably looking for a pizza restaurant that’s near.
Their query is best answered with a GMB listing, a map, and reviews.
Whereas someone searching for ‘how to fix a broken dishwasher,’ has a very different intent and would expect different search results. Their question might be best answered by a how-to video, blog post, and/or instruction manual.
Search is becoming more localised, more mobile, and more focused on satisfying intent-rich moments.
These endless questions and answers and the different ways search results are now displayed offer a wealth of opportunities.
Semantic search looks beyond the phrasing used and aims to identify the user’s intent. Search engines aim to understand the meaning behind a search request. What does a user really want? And how best can we satisfy their intent?
As search has become more conversational and informational in nature, search engines have had to adapt.
The way people search is changing fast
Today’s internet users demand more. Never before have users had access to so much knowledge and transparency.
Gone are the days of glossy adverts and savvy SEO content writers. Consumers are educating themselves about both the features and the benefits of future purchases. Businesses’ today need to earn people’s trust.
People are doing their own research and this represents a fantastic opportunity for smaller businesses.
Around 70% of a consumer’s buying decision has already been made before they speak with a
sales professional or interact with an e-commerce store.
Content marketing is now all about teaching and problem-solving.
Answer people’s questions and they’re more likely to become loyal customers.
Step into the shoes of your target customer
What is your customer thinking when they’re looking for the right product? What questions are they asking themselves? What’s holding them back from making a purchase? And what misgivings might they have?
By understanding your buyer persona, and you’ll be able to pre-empt these questions in advance. More importantly, you’ll be able to provide the answers that will instill trust and confidence in your brand.
You know people are searching for products like yours. But why?
Try to understand the intent behind the intent. Why do my customers need my product or service?
All too often, businesses create content that focuses on their brand. They spend too much time telling people how great they are and nowhere near enough time giving consumers the information they actually want and need.
To build trust you must become a thought-leader. Answer the questions being posed by your consumers, and the trust you develop will eventually lead to sales.
But what are those questions? And how do you create content that delivers the answers?
List FAQs from experience
Get together with key individuals in your team and brainstorm the questions being asked across all your sales and marketing channels.
- What are your customers and prospects asking on a daily basis?
- What are their concerns?
Once you’ve completed a comprehensive list of FAQs, you have the blueprint for your entire content marketing strategy.
How do customers communicate these questions?
For your search marketing strategy to succeed, you need to know where and how consumers are asking questions. You can then ensure the answers are accessible.
What language do your customers use? are they formal, informal? answer questions in the language your buyers would use. Always aim to simplify.
- Where are your customers searching?
- Which mediums best satisfy their intent?
Are people searching for answers on YouTube? If so, provide them with a video.
If people are searching via Google search, blog posts and pages could be effective ways to communicate your answers.
Create a marketing strategy with these questions at its core.
Once you know the questions your customers are asking, how and where they’re asking them, you can create a broad marketing strategy that gets the right answers to the right people in the right places.
Communicate the strategy with the people in your organisation
Sit down with everyone in your organisation who can play a role in delivering your marketing strategy. Together, you must relearn what your buyer persona needs to know before making an informed buying decision.
Only then can your business provide the information that will inspire browsers to become buyers.
Brainstorm the sales barriers within your company
It’s always better to get multiple points of view when you’re trying to look at things from the perspective of your customers. When you’re trying to ascertain the various barriers to sales, brainstorm with colleagues — and ask the following questions:
- What might stop a customer buying from you?
- What issues might stop a customer from buying one of your products or services?
- Is there a particular concern that might stop a customer from swiping their credit card or clicking the Apple Pay icon? Once you know the concern, you can create the content to alleviate it.
- Answer all questions. Even the ones you don’t want to. List prices, compare your product to competitors,’ discuss the pros and cons honestly.
Transparency is so important in today’s internet. If a customer can’t find the answer on your site, they’ll look elsewhere.
Imagine you’re selling winter coats. They’re made with wool and a selection of man-made fibres, and they’re great for keeping people warm on cold, winter days.
But do they keep you dry? And how do they react when they’re wet? if not suitable in the rain, they get cold and damp – explain this, clearly and upfront.
If your customers are asking these questions — and they can’t find the answers — they’ll be reluctant to buy. Worst still, they’ll turn to one of your competitors for the information they need. And they may never return.
What might persuade a customer to go to one of your competitors?
Draw on the experiences of the people you work with. Ask yourselves honest and hard questions. What persuades visitors to your website to leave for one of your competitors? Perhaps it’s a lack of product information. Maybe it’s a perceived lack of value. It might be down to the payment process.
Whatever the reason for customers turning to your competitors, look for ways to persuade them to stay. For example, in the case of product information, the solution is very simple — answer customer questions via more detailed descriptions.
In the case of a perceived lack of value, create content that demonstrates the product’s benefits and your knowledge. And in the event that usability is the issue, create content that guides the customer through each step of the process — and answers their questions about refund policies, accepted payment methods, security, and other issues they might have.
What issues might stop new visitors from converting?
The average online consumer has an extremely short attention span. You need to capture and retain their attention within just a few seconds.
If a new customer can’t find answers to the most basic questions relating to your products and purchasing processes, they’re likely to leave and not return.
Get together with the people in your business, and share your experiences of this issue. What are customers telling you via reviews and comments sections?
Speak to customers about their experiences — good or bad. Run surveys, A/B tests….. always aim to improve your customers’ journey. It should be as fluid and frictionless as possible.
Address all the issues and questions raised by customers
It’s vital that you review customer comments and reviews regularly. While this often makes for uncomfortable reading, it’s the only way to harvest precious information about how you’re doing. If customers are reticent about buying because of concerns about a product’s provenance, allay their concerns with answers. If customers aren’t buying because they can’t find answers about your shipping procedures, allay their concerns with quality content. Once you’ve removed all barriers to sales by answering key questions, you should see your conversions increase.
Create a Q&A library
Your website should be a treasure trove of answers to frequently asked questions. Aim to become a teacher in your space. A point of reference. Help people with valuable content, irrespective or not if they buy from you, the long-term benefits always outweigh the short-term costs.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Do your research
You can’t provide answers until you know the questions. Research the questions your customers have about your products and your business.
Listen. Monitor social channels, Reddit, Quora, etc there are also dozens of tools and resources that can help you create and grow your Q&A library. Platforms such as WikiShark, YouTube, Twitter, and Google’s “People Also Ask” feature can all help grow your list of questions.
Ask. Most importantly of all, ask your customers, ask your team. Ask the people who deal daily with clients. The support team, sales and marketing are good places to start.
Once you know the questions, create high-quality content on your website that delivers the relevant answers.
Get the expert help your Q&A content needs for success
At the end of the day, search marketing is about one thing: answering people’s questions. Sounds simple, right? It is. It’s just a question of getting started and being consistent.
If you want to maximize results in the most cost-effective way possible, however, you might want to consider hiring a content marketing expert. Contact us today, and we’ll create a Q&A strategy that leverages content for increased leads and sales.