Do you know what makes content great? It’s not necessarily the writing, the creativity, the visuals, or SEO best practices. Those things are important, too, but there’s one characteristic that matters more than all of the above — usefulness. When the reader can take something away from your content, you look good by default. And there’s no better way to be useful than to solve your customers’ pain points.
Think about why your customers read, view, or engage with content in the first place. It’s not because they’re bored (well, maybe sometimes). It’s because it sparks their interest. They’re hoping to learn something they didn’t know before. Or they want to be inspired by your ideas. Either way, they’re looking to you to solve something for them.
Learning your customers’ pain points can drive your content ideation process. It takes away the guesswork when coming up with content ideas your audience will care about. Here’s how to use pain points to your advantage in your content marketing.
What Do We Mean By Pain Point?
A customer pain point is a specific problem or challenge they face. Pain points can be extremely diverse and occur at any point along the customer journey. Some are quite small and only mildly irritate your prospects. Others can be significantly damaging to their finances, productivity, or other business aspects. The more frustrating the pain point, the more the customer is likely to act on it and find a solution to their problem.
It sometimes takes a great deal of thinking outside the box to find your customers’ pain points. Typically, a pain point will fall into one of four categories: Support, Productivity, Finance, or Process.
Customers have high expectations from the companies they do business with. When they buy a product or service, they need to feel confident your product or service will work for them. If they have issues, they want to know they’ll receive adequate support to get back on track or receive a refund.
A lack of support can create a number of customer pain points. For instance, let’s say you’re a commercial refrigerator company that services local restaurants. If a restaurant’s refrigerator goes out, they need the help of a professional. They can’t DIY their own commercial refrigerator repair. The longer their refrigerator is out of commission, the more it impacts their business. They might be limited on the types of foods and drinks they serve, which can stifle their sales. That might create unhappy customers, which can lead to reputational damage. See where this is going?
Or, let’s say you’re a retail boutique and a customer received a damaged item in the mail. They don’t want to be on the hook for a product they can’t use. But if they can’t find a phone number or email for customer support, they’re likely to become upset. They might be heistant to do business with boutiques they don’t know or ones that don’t offer a refund policy.
Other examples of support-related pain points include:
- A lack of pricing transparency
- The inability to self-serve or troubleshoot
- A lack of follow-up
- A lack of online resources
When customers don’t feel supported — at any part of the customer journey — they’re more likely to search for alternatives. Businesses can mitigate support pain points by learning what customers expect from the buying process. This might include finding specific details about a product, having multiple ways to get in touch for support, or expecting a money-back policy, for example.
Time is money. Businesses and consumers alike are attracted to things that will help them make better use of their time. This is especially true when choosing companies to do business with. They don’t want to wait for an hour on hold or jump through hoops to make a purchase.
Productivity pain points can span a long range of factors, including but not limited to:
- Inconvenience: The option a customer wants might be difficult to take advantage of.
- Discomfort: Using a product that doesn’t feel natural or intuitive can create a steeper learning curve.
- Complexity: A product or service has too many steps, clicks, or actions, making it take longer to accomplish tasks or goals.
- Wait Times: Lengthy waits take time away from business or personal goals.
- One-Size-Fits-All: A product or service isn’t customized to a user’s needs or preferences.
Businesses that can provide more efficient solutions can better capture their audience’s attention. Help them take back their time with a streamlined experience — before, during, and after the purchasing step.
Financial pain points hurt customers in their wallets. Maybe they’re spending too much on a current product or solution because they don’t know alternatives exist. Or maybe they’re willingly spending more money on a product because they think they’re getting more value or a premium product for their money.
Examples of financial customer pain points may include:
- Subscription or membership fees, especially when tied to a contract
- Products that are constantly in need of replacement
- A lack of pricing transparency
- Fees added on to a purchase (e.g., shipping, restocking, service charges, fuel surcharges, etc.)
- A surge in fees after completing an introductory offer
- Frequently bought items that cannot be purchased in bulk
- Prices that change based on market demand, which can complicate budgeting
When businesses know their customers’ frustrations regarding pricing, they can fuel their content ideation with topics related to value, cost savings, or shortcuts.
Have you ever received an online order on your doorstep but never got a tracking email? Or maybe you’ve tried to get in touch with a company’s customer service department, only to find out they're only open when you’re working? These are just a couple of examples of high-friction processes that make for frustrating customer experiences.
Process-related pain points are those in which a company or brand creates friction at some point in the customer experience. Maybe it’s a limited operating schedule, no after-hours support, or having to create an account before you can make a purchase. Or maybe a product or service works in a general sense but doesn’t cater to the needs of a specific industry or user.
The point is, if your customers feel friction with your company, they’ll be less inclined to stay. Friction is synonymous with a poor customer experience. Studies show that 3 in 5 consumers agree that good service is vital for remaining loyal to a brand. Nearly 60% of consumers will switch brands due to poor customer service. And 78% of consumers have stopped a purchase due to a bad customer experience.
Improving your processes to reduce friction might not solve all your customers’ pain points. But they can help you appear more customer-centric compared to high-friction competitors.
How Pain Points Can Improve Your Content Ideation
Pain points provide a huge window of opportunity for your content strategy. If you can uncover your customers’ deepest pain points, content ideation comes much easier. You’ll spend less time trying to come up with ideas because you’ll know exactly what your customers need from you.
Let’s say you decide to write a blog post using a high-volume keyword related to your industry. The blog got tons of traffic, but it rarely converts readers into customers. So you spend time optimizing the blog for better SEO value. You A/B test different headlines. You include more CTAs throughout the piece to capture readers at different stages of the blog. But nothing brings in more conversions.
You might have a great topic for traffic. But topics that solve real pain points entice customers to act. In the blog example, the topic might not have been compelling enough to actually help customers, even if they did find it interesting.
If you want to create content that converts, you need to fully and deeply understand what exactly your audience is experiencing. What are their frustrations? What’s causing their pain? Is the problem big enough to do something about it?
Typically, content marketers start with keyword research, then build a topic around the keyword. A better approach is to start with a customer pain point, then create topics and find relevant keywords to support it.
Here are some ways you can use the four pain point categories to improve your content ideation process:
- Make an FAQ so users can find their own answers to common questions without calling support.
- Create a content library detailing steps for common tasks.
- Offer troubleshooting guides for users to try themselves.
- Call attention to specific products or features that can help the end user save time.
- Create a case study of a client that improved productivity with your product or service.
- Make an infographic with stats about productivity losses, etc. that would be relevant to your ideal customer.
- Generate high-level guides or videos that show how to use a product or feature to save your customers time.
- Make a case study of how your product or solution saves a customer money.
- Do a review between your product and a competitor’s product to show why your option is better.
- Write a product roundup featuring several competitors at different price points and highlight pros and cons of each.
- Create detailed step-by-step guides with images and/or videos to show how to use a specific feature.
- Do a Q&A on common questions your customers or prospects ask about your product.
- Start an onboarding drip campaign for new customers that can help them get started on the right foot.
This process gets easier once you know and understand your customers’ pain points. Figure out their challenges, especially those that block buying decisions, see which of the four categories each problem aligns with, then figure out how to present a compelling solution in your content marketing.
Consumer Insights: The Key to Finding Your Customers’ Pain Points
Brands can discover their customers’ challenges — big or small — in a number of ways. One of the most common methods is to talk to your sales and customer service teams. They interface with customers and prospects every day and hear about their experiences first-hand. They may also have a way to track repeat complaints. These might include challenges with using your product or service or a new customer’s reason for switching to you from a competitor, for example.
Or, you can take a data-driven approach to uncovering customer pain points with consumer insights.
Consumer insights taps into what your audience talks about online (e.g., on social media, review sites, forums, etc.). Using AI technologies like natural language processing and machine learning, brands can get a deeper understanding of their audience and their needs, challenges, and market sentiment. Learn what they like and don’t like about your brand and competitors. Figure out what’s holding them back from making a purchase. Get real-time insights across the globe to see what your audience is talking about, how they’re talking about it, and how they feel about it.
We developed our Radarly consumer insights platform to conduct critical consumer research at scale. It works right out of the box without having to come up with queries or topics. Get real-time insight into millions of topics and conversations, then use those insights to pilot your content ideation and build deeper connections with your audience.
If you're looking for more help on this topic, download our eBook, Brand Superpowers: Limitless Creativity, which shows you how to find an endless stream of creative ideas for content marketing.