How to Create Customer-Centric Content That Gets Results

Improve your clients’ marketing by thinking about their customers.

A photograph of a woman sitting on a stool in front of colorful linens.

Alessandra Farabegoli has been helping people market online for nearly 20 years. Aside from consulting and coaching clients from her base in Ravenna, Italy, she hosts webinars and publishes books like Marketing in a Digital World to teach people across the globe.

Her mission is to help clients, viewers, and readers understand that successful marketing is made with the customer in mind. She’s a champion of customer-centric content, which is material that revolves around the needs of a brand’s customers, rather than the brand itself.

“Content is constantly growing, but our time and attention are limited,” says Alessandra. “If we don't think about our customers, we can't succeed.”
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Figure out who the end consumer is and build personas based on data

Creating customer-centric content begins with knowing who the customer is. This will help you build a brand narrative in which the main character is the customer.

Demographics are, of course, relevant to understanding customers. And that information—like where people live, their age, and their gender—can be gleaned from your audience dashboard. She also uses surveys and Facebook analytics to uncover details like customer education levels, and where and how they consume media.

Good content requires knowing what motivates consumers to buy. Alessandra advises agencies to ask clients these fundamental questions about their customers:

  • What are your customers’ goals?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What stands in the way of their goals?

“Help clients build realistic customer personas,” suggests Alessandra. “Not just portraits hanging on the walls, but real people with stories and lives.”

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Help clients take a walk in their customers’ shoes

Alessandra makes an impact for clients by helping them build empathy for their customers.

“When you are an agency, you must put yourself in the shoes of your clients' customers and help your client to look at their activities, their products, and their services from a different perspective to understand how they can make their customers' lives better,” she says.

She often begins this exercise by walking clients through the customer experience navigating their site.

“I open their website and I start asking for information or trying to buy something and thinking aloud. This is the moment when they can see their blind spots,” she says. “Sometimes they realize that things that were taken for granted from their point of view are really difficult and complicated when seen from outside.”

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The impact: Higher numbers and stronger relationships

Alessandra has seen the shift to customer-centric content perform time after time.

She was hired to consult for UPPA, an Italian parenting magazine. The company has a sizable readership, but they were struggling to build impactful and lasting relationships with their readers.

Historically, the company collected new subscribers through the distribution of content, typically an e-book about a parenting topic like breastfeeding, getting your child to sleep, or how to respond when children cry. Readers would come to a landing page, leave their information, receive the e-book, followed by an email asking them to sign up for UPPA’s print magazine.

Alessandra believed this felt more opportunistic than helpful for readers.

She switched up the strategy to revolve around the readers. Now, when a newcomer signs up for an e-book, they receive a welcome email with more tips related to the topic of the book. Two days later, they receive a second email with more relevant resources. On the third day, they receive an email with more useful parenting tips and a call to action to subscribe to the print magazine.

“This completely changed their relationships and their result, because it was no longer an opportunistic exchange between personal data for content,” says Alessandra. “It was the beginning of a relationship which was useful for both.”

The numbers support Alessandra’s tactic.

“We passed from a 30% open rate the first welcome message to an average more than 60% open rates in all the welcome emails. This also improved the open rates of the subsequent newsletters. But, the real key was shifting, improving the relationship,” she says.

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Measure your success and adapt to change

There are a lot of indicators to help you determine whether content is working for your client’s customers.

In the case of emails, open rate, conversion rate, and saves are telling. You can also use A/B tests to measure the impact of a customer-centric strategy.

Alessandra tests combinations of subject lines and previews. "The reaction I'm seeking is 'It's me, they are talking about me,'" she says, which higher open rates indicate. "Empathy is the key, and I always try to imagine what's going on 'on the other side.'"

Qualitative information goes a long way too. Alessandra suggests looking closely at people’s reasons for unsubscribing. She also reads all the responses she receives to emails.

Ultimately, successful content is content that has meaning for the person consuming it.