Content strategy success depends on asking the right questions

Reading time: About 6 minutes

“Mommy, I think I need a sweetie or something.”
“It’s too early for sweets.”
“Because it’s 07:30 in the morning. And you haven’t had breakfast.”
“Can I have a sweetie after breakfast?”
“Because we don’t eat sweets in the morning.”
“Because they’re a treat. And too many sweets are bad for your teeth.”
“Because they make them fall out.”
“Well, they have lots of sugar in them. And sugar makes your teeth vrot.”
“Oh. I like sugar.”
“I know.”
Eyeroll. Sigh. Dramatic facepalm.
“So, when can I have a sweetie then?”
“After lunch.”
“Is it lunch after I eat my breakfast?”
“Because it’s lunch after school.”
“Because school finishes at 1. Lunchtime is at 1.”
“Because that’s how time works.”
“What’s the time now?”
“Can I have a sweet now?”
“Because I said so.”

Here’s a fun fact: moms field an average of 288 questions A DAY from their kids.
And did you know that a child asks around 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five?
Now, I don’t know which kids they were studying, but I feel like we passed that milestone between the ages of two and two-point-five.
Look, I know kids are deeply curious and that they genuinely want to know why humans don’t have tails, why cows sleep standing up, and why they must make their beds if they’re just going to unmake them in a few hours.
But when the questions come at you all day like an onslaught of Nerf darts, it gets to the point where “Because I say so” is the final answer.
And therein lies this week’s content strategy lesson;

Keep asking questions until you get a satisfactory answer.
Or until you get to “Because I say so”.

The road to customer satisfaction and outstanding content experiences is paved with customer feedback. But the feedback you get is only as good as the questions you ask.
Last time, we spoke about identifying your muse and crafting your content strategy around one person.
If you’re still unclear about your muse, these audience research strategies might help.

Strategy 1: Start with what you have

Dig into old chat logs, customer service recordings, email archives, and social media reviews. 
Make a list of:

  • The current sentiment
  • Common questions
  • Common issues or concerns
  • Positive and constructive feedback

Note the actual words and phrases your customers use when talking about your product or service.
Starting with what you have helps you uncover flaws in your processes and understand what takes customers out of the sales funnel.
For example, if you get lots of questions about how customers can upgrade their services, that’s a good sign that there’s a broken link in the funnel.

Upgrading should be easy and intuitive. If customers are asking you how to do it, you could be missing opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.

It’s also a sign that there could be an issue with your content or content experience.

Tip: Do this exercise for a competitor’s product or service and draw up a list of comparisons. It will become clear what makes you different – and what you can do better.

If you have Google Analytics, take note of audience insights, such as devices used, popular content, and where most of your traffic comes from.

Strategy 2: Talk to your customer service team

Your sales reps and customer service/support teams speak to your customers every day. 
They’re at the coalface, taking abuse from disgruntled customers, answering the same questions all day, and addressing issues as they arise.
Here are questions you could ask your sales teams about the customer experience:

  • What are customers saying about our product or service?
  • What questions do you answer repeatedly?
  • What questions do you ask repeatedly?
  • Have you noticed common issues, objections, or complaints?
  • What about compliments?
  • What are the biggest obstacles, objections, or hesitations that come up in sales conversations?
  • What do the best leads have in common?
  • Where do most of our leads come from?
  • Can you walk me through the sales process?

Asking the right questions will give you better insight into your customers’ wants, needs, and pain points, as well as ideas for improving the sales/buying process.

Tip: Pick up the phone and chat with some of your loyal customers about the value you provide, why they chose you over the competition, and how you can improve your offering. A personal touch goes a long way.

Strategy 3: Run a customer satisfaction survey

Don’t have a sales or support team? Time to DIY it.

Free research tools like SurveyMonkeyTypeform, and Google Forms, let you quickly and easily create and share surveys to gather insights into your customers’ challenges and needs.
These should never replace one-on-one engagements with your customers, but they’re super helpful if you’re looking for the general sentiment among a group of people.
The questions you ask should be specific to your business and industry, but here are some generic ones:

  • How did you find us?
  • Why did you choose us?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with our products or services?
  • What can we do better?
  • What had the biggest influence on your decision to buy from us, and why?
  • What value/benefits do we bring to your business/life?
  • Did anything frustrate you when engaging with or buying from us?
  • Would you recommend our product or service? Why or why not?
  • What do we do that makes you happy?
  • What would you change about your experience engaging with us?
  • Did you encounter any problems with the ordering/checkout/sign-up process?
  • What one word would you use to describe us?

Don’t ask questions that have ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, e.g., “Are you happy with our service?”

Ask something that gets them thinking, like:
“What do we do better than anyone else?”
Or, “What should we stop doing?”
Survey tips:

  • Keep it under 10. Survey fatigue is real. Stick to 10 questions – max. Preferably fewer. It should also take under 10 minutes to complete the survey. Anything longer, and you might have to incentivise them with vouchers or discounts. It also forces you to get clear on the kind of information you need.
  • Give customers the option to complete the survey anonymously – they’re more likely to give honest, unfiltered answers.
  • Mix it up with different question styles, like:
    • Multiple-choice questions
    • Rating scales
    • Open-ended questions with space for long answers

Be a fly on the wall

What are people saying about your competitors?

Stalk their social media profiles, read customer reviews, and look for anything to use to your advantage.
Maybe they get tons of complaints about a product or feature that you’ve already mastered. Own that shit.
Start here:

  • Review sites like Google Reviews, HelloPeter, and TripAdvisor.
  • If you’re in the software business, check out reviews on Capterra and G2.
  • Go down the social media rabbit hole. Use keywords and hashtags to zero in on a topic. Find popular posts and read the conversations happening about them.
  • Browse industry forums and read threads on platforms like Reddit or Quora. These are great because they give brand-agnostic insights into user sentiment.

If all else fails, keep asking “why?” until you’ve gone as far down the rabbit hole as you can. You’ll know when the best answer you can come up with is “Because I said so“.

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