You are trying to engage a specific audience. Steady but slowly you see results. But what are you going to do, now that you have the attention from them? In other words, how can you keep your customers engaged? That’s where custom content comes in.
What’s custom content?
Custom content isn’t something new. It was approximately 50 years ago that Pohly & Pohly used it in the aviation industry by crafting an ‘airline magazine’. If you ever flown before you’re probably familiar with these magazines. It promotes all kinds of products like perfumes, snacks, jewelry and travel destinations.
With Custom content you create and expose relevant content for your current clients at the right time.
As you can see is custom content primarily focused on current customers. People who’ve already bought from you in the past.
According to the Customer Content Council is custom content appreciated by 61% of the people. Because you can increase engagement and a willingness to buy. About 90% of the people use custom content when they have to make buying decisions.
Content marketing versus Custom Content
Some marketers say custom content is the same as content marketing, but I disagree. Different terms are used for creating valuable content. One marketer calls it ‘branded content’, another one calls it ‘custom media’ and the last one calls it ‘customer publishing’.
What custom content sets apart from content marketing in my opinion is the fact that you create content for your current clients. These are people you have reached through content marketing in a previous stage. Content marketing focuses especially on reaching new customers. When they become a customer you want to build a long term relationship with them. That makes custom content suitable.
Custom content has two major advantages:
1. It increases profit
2. It increases engagement
The purpose of custom content, content marketing or a combination of the two is to increase the engagement with your clients. Strong commitment ensures that:
- clients (re)buy from you in an earlier stage;
- clients recommend you to other people;
- clients remain faithful to you, instead of switching to the competition.
To apply custom content successfully, it’s important to really think about how you want to commit your existing audience. That’s where the beneath process can help you with.
Objectives and strategies
You create objectives by thinking what you want to achieve, how you can align the current goals with those objectives and what content you need to create for that.
After you have decided what content strategy you’re going to use, it’s time to research your existing audience. Look for information on social media and look for community influencers in your area of expertise. Questions you can ask yourself in this stage are:
- Where can I find my existing audience (online)?
- Which channels do they use?
- Which keywords do they use?
Next I’m going to talk about two elements in the research phase, to point out what you can do to keep your existing audience engaged.
1. Know your customer (Research phase)
One of the reasons why a lot of people find it hard to engage an audience is because they find it difficult to investigate their audience. It’s a pity, because when you have a clear vision about that it becomes a lot easier to align your content.
Execute research with your current clients in mind. Think about what needs and questions they might have. You can find out by looking what they have purchased in the past. Custom content is easier than content marketing because you don’t have to do a complete research for your audience again. This time it’s more important what you already know about them and how you make sure they stay engaged with you.
What makes it difficult is the fact that engagement is dependent from the needs your audience has in a specific buying stage. By aligning your content, your audience will find you again and feel more engaged by what you have to offer.
When people, for example, fly to a sunny destination in summer, they might also be interested in flights to ski destinations in wintertime. So you can think about how you can reach your current customers when they start searching for ski destinations.
So think thoroughly about who your existing customer are and how you can keep them engaged by asking yourself: ‘What do I already know about my clients and how can I align my content to them?
For this, you can use relevant content by:
- sharing it in groups in which your audience actively participates;
- post on platforms on which your audience actively participates;
- posting this relevant content in (frequent flyer) magazines (to fit with the example in this post)
- spreading relevant content in a newsletter.
You can cherish your audience by giving them access to a closed group or community to guarantee exclusivity. No matter what you do, the most important thing is that your audience feels appreciated and respected.
2. Choose the content form that appeals your audience the most (Research phase)
Custom content, no matter in what form, has to align with the needs and questions your current customers have. There are customers who prefer instruction videos more than written content. Others might prefer listening to podcasts. When you’re hesitant about the form of the content you want to offer, you can ask your existing audience in a survey.
When you’re going to create content it’s important to think about the ‘tone of voice’. In a way that it aligns with what you want to achieve. Next, you’re going to choose the desired content form.
- Will it be a blog post, a video or an article in a magazine?
- Which channels are the most suited to share your content?
Create a content plan so you can share the content on the selected channels. If done right, you also have thought about the channels on which you can find your existing audience. That’s where you can share and promote your content.
When you, created an article for an (online) magazine you can share and promote it on your online channels through a photo or a link.
Analyse the data from your content campagne. How did the (online) content perform?
Online content is easy to identify by the number of views, shares, likes and comments that appear under your blog post, video or other content.
Be critical in the last phase of the custom content process. What went well and can be done better next time to get even better results?
Keep searching for ways to make your content better. In that way you’ll increase engagement and trustworthiness with your existing audience.
As you may notice looks the custom content process almost the same as the content marketing process. The main difference between them is the starting point. For custom content these are the existing customers and for content marketing it’s new customers that you have to align your content with.
I’m very curious for your thoughts. Are you familiar with custom content? Do you already use it? If yes, how do you handle it?