Photo Credit: Valezki via Flickr

If you are currently creating or maintaining a content marketing initiative, you probably already know that content marketing is a balancing act. On one hand, you have organizational goals. You need to sell products, increase revenues, build customer loyalty.

On the other hand, you have user goals. You have to entertain and inform. You have to give your customers something useful, something worth coming back for. And to do that, you need to know what they want.

So, how do you determine what your users want? Here are a few tried-and-true strategies:

Ask and ye shall receive feedback.
One of the best ways to find out what your users are looking for is to simply ask. Survey your prospects and clients by email, on your website, or by phone. Train your customer service and sales teams to ask clients and prospects key questions during their everyday interactions (and keep track of the results). And when they do give you feedback, thank them—or even reward them.

Watch them interact with your content.
Do some user testing. Get your target audience in front of your content, and watch which articles they click on, which headlines intrigue them, which blog posts keep their attention.

It’s been said that users don’t really know what they want, so sometimes surveying and direct questions aren’t quite enough. Watching your users engage with your content marketing initiative can give you even deeper insights.

If your target users won’t come to you, go to your users.
If you don’t already have a following, an email marketing list, or some other means of surveying your target users, never fear—you can still find out what they want.

How? Find out where your users already hang out. Do they write reviews on Yelp? Do they frequent certain message boards? Do they comment on a competitor’s blog? Go where they are and read their comments, their posts, their reviews. Listen to what they like and dislike about the competition, about your products or similar products. Listen to their wants, needs, and pain points in relation to your industry. And tailor your content to meet those needs.

Pay attention to your stats.
Once your content marketing initiative is underway, pay attention to your data. Content that gets a lot of traffic is content users are looking for. And content that gets long pageview time is content that is engaging those users in a deeper way.

Depending on the frequency of your content marketing program, set aside time once a month, once a quarter, or even once a week to look through your top content, and assess what’s working and what isn’t. Then build your future strategies based on those assessments.

OK…now what?
Once you understand what your users are looking for, it’s time to build your team. Stop by tomorrow for some strategies for leveraging your existing talent, integrating new team members, and getting everyone on board.

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