What is a User-Guided Content Marketing Strategy? Definition, Examples, and Step-by-Step Guide
Content marketers face tough decisions about where to spend their resources—what content should they prioritize? In a user-guided feedback strategy, they would use feedback from their audience to help them decide.
The big challenge for content marketers: deciding what content to produce.
Here are some strategies marketers commonly rely on to decide on their content plan:
Make what people are already searching for. In this strategy, you use a tool like Ahrefs to figure out what keywords are popular, and then make content aimed at those keywords.
Make what’s getting popular. Go to a website like Google trends and see what topics are topical and trendy, and then try to ride that wave.
Make what’s strategic. Think about how you want to position your brand, and then make content that helps your audience see you that way or use your product.
All of those can be great strategies. But here’s an additional one that’s becoming more and more popular:
Make what people are asking you for.
At Savio, we’re calling this “user-guided content.”
Here’s what it is and how to use it to build your content calendar.
What is user-guided content marketing?
User-guided content marketing is an approach to content marketing where you decide what content to make based on what your audience wants. It’s the application of customer-centric products to marketing: publish the content your users are literally asking you for.
It’s different from the others for deciding what should go on your editorial calendar because the emphasis isn’t on how many people are searching for the topic already, the emphasis is on how many people have asked you for the content directly.
Some other important, related vocab:
Content feedback is feedback you receive from your customers, users, or audience that's relevant to your marketing content. It’s a sub-category of customer feedback.
Content requests are requests your customers, users, or audience give you for a particular piece of content. Content requests are to marketing teams what feature requests are to product teams—requests from your customers about what they want next.
User-guided content vs. user-generated content
Note that user-guided content is not the same as user-generated content. In user-guided content, you keep track of feedback your customers give you about your content, and then you use that feedback to inform your editorial process. But your content marketing team still produces that content.
With user-generated content, your users produce the content—they have the idea, they produce the content, and you give them the credit for it (although you might share their content with your audience).
Examples of potential user-guided content marketing strategies
Here are some examples of how you could plan your marketing using content feedback and content requests to decide what content to produce:
Newsletter replies. In an email newsletter to your subscribers, you might ask your audience what topics they would like to see you cover next. Then, you would collect the responses and use them to write your newsletters.
Social media polls. Companies can use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to run polls asking customers what types of content they would like to see on those platforms. Companies could produce more of the social media content their audience requested.
Blog comments. Companies can monitor comments on their blog posts to see what topics readers are most interested in. They can then use this feedback to create new content that addresses those topics.
Customer surveys. Companies can send out surveys to customers asking for feedback on what video tutorials they would like to see. Companies can then use this feedback to decide which video tutorials to make next.
Customer support chats. You can use data from customer support tool conversations to understand what your customers are trying to accomplish with your product. Then, you could organize webinars, FAQ pages, or how-to guides on the most common topics.
Video requests. Making a YouTube video? Ask your viewers to submit their ideas for your next video in the comments. Then, collect those comments to see which is most popular.
Benefits of a user-guided content marketing strategy
Why would companies go to the trouble of collecting customer feedback on their marketing content? Because it can provide significant value. Here are some of the advantages it offers:
It’s consistent with data-driven marketing. This strategy uses the data you collect about your users (specifically, feedback data) to make strategy decisions.
It’s consistent with personalization. Marketers are increasingly trying to boost engagement by offering personalized content. Producing content your audience asks for is the next level of personalization and is directly aimed at their interests.
It’s customer-centric. When you collect customer feedback and act on it, you’re demonstrating that you’re listening. That builds loyalty. Plus, it solves an explicit problem they have and need information about.
You can be confident it’s needed. Often us content marketers are kind of guessing what content our audience will like. A user-guided approach helps you know at least a segment of your audience wants this content.
You can build your email list. Collecting and using customer content feedback doesn’t just give you the feedback—it also generates a steady stream of email addresses from your most engaged readers or viewers. You can use that to fuel your other marketing efforts, like your newsletter.
How can you build a user-guided content marketing strategy?
“Great, how do I do it!?”
Glad you asked. There are 5 steps to building a system to collect and use content feedback in your marketing strategy.
Collect content requests and feedback
Centralize content feedback and requests in a single spot
Analyze and prioritize your content
Close the feedback loop.
Step 1: Collect content feedback and requests
There are a number of different ways you can do this:
Social media polls
Send an SMS survey
Request in a live chat conversation
Review support conversations and tickets
Ask for feedback in your videos or podcast episodes
The opportunities are many!
Here are some examples of content feedback and content requests we’ve seen around the internet.
Read more: 29+ Examples of customer content feedback
Asking for feedback on a piece of content’s helpfulness
This is probably the most common method I’ve seen. A website asks a reader whether the content was helpful. The reader can answer yes or no.
For example, at the bottom of their help docs, Google asks if the article was useful.Google help documents end with a single feedback question: “Was this helpful?”
If you say “No” they ask how it could be improved.
If you identify a Google help article as not being useful, they ask you why.
This feedback helps them understand both which help documents are most effective, which need to be improved, and potential ideas for how to improve them.
Asking for feedback on desired types of content
Another method is to ask your audience what kinds of content they would like to see. For example, Stackshare offered website visitors a button when they didn’t have an article comparing two pieces of software. When you clicked it, a pop-up appeared.
Here’s an example of how Stackshare asks for feedback on the types of content their audience is interested in. Notice that they also collect email addresses.
Tells you they don’t have the content that you’re looking for
Asks you if you want to be notified when they do and collects your email address
Gives you a list of checkboxes for specifics they think you might want in this feature
The feedback gathered from this pop-up could help Stackshare gauge how popular a particular piece of content would be, and also what format their audience would like the content.
Soliciting ideas for new content
Canvas Annuity asks readers for potential future blog ideas using a built-in customer feedback form at the bottom of every blog post.
Here’s an example of how Canvas Annuity solicits blog ideas from their readers.
The form requests the following information:
The data generated by this form not only gives them a bank of topics to choose from, but it also collects email addresses and allows them to contact their readers directly when they post a blog (i.e. close the feedback loop).
Another option: ask people directly via social media, like LinkedIn. Here’s a recent request we’ve received:
In Portuguese, this says, “Hey Ramsay, all good? I’m creating the agenda for videos on my YouTube channel about B2B marketing strategies, so if you have a topic you’re interested in that lacks content online, I’d be pleased to create it and share it. Check out the channel: Thanks a lot, Hugs.
In this case, Leonardo reached out directly to find topics that potential audience members were looking for that they couldn’t find elsewhere. He could then figure out which topics were most popular and prioritize those.
Step 2: Centralize content feedback and requests in a single spot
Next, you need to pull your feedback together into a single database or feedback repository. That way, you can analyze your feedback and decide what to create next. If your feedback is siloed between many tools, you won’t be able to use it efficiently.
There are a few ways you can do this:
Use a spreadsheet
You can manually copy and paste your feedback and requests into a spreadsheet. Then, when it’s time to find the most popular requests, you could build a fancy formula to count each of the entries.
Pros: It’s low-cost and you probably already know how to use spreadsheet software. Spreadsheets are also easy to share with your teams.
Cons: It’s super manual, and it’s difficult to automate your feedback process. Plus, it might be difficult to organize in such a way that you can easily see what content is most popular.
You can use a project management tool like Trello to manage your content feedback system. You’d build a board, and add a card for each piece of content. Then, you could add comments to cards to represent each time it was requested.
Pros: Trello can be cheap (or free if your team is small) and its user interface is great. It’s also easy to share with your teams.
Cons: Again, it’s difficult to connect all the sources of content feedback with Trello (although it might be possible using automation tools). Also, it’s difficult to easily see what’s popular.
Use Savio or another purpose-built feedback tool
Finally, you could use a feature request app—a tool that is specifically designed for collecting and managing customer requests.
These help you automatically pull content requests and feedback from the tools you receive them in and centralize everything in one place. They can also help you slice and dice your feedback to see which audience segments are asking for what content. Plus, they can let you easily close the loop.
Pros: You could automate the whole process and make sure you never lost any feedback. You would also easily be able to see which content was most popular. And, you could quickly close the loop with customers to drive traffic to your site.
Cons: These tools cost some money to use and you’d have to learn to use them.
Curious how it would work? Check out the guide on implementing a user-guided content strategy with Savio.
Step 3: Analyze and prioritize your content
Now, identify the highest-impact content options and decide which topics to produce first.
The easy way to do this is to simply look at what topics are most requested.
A more complex strategy is to look at which content is most popular among the audience segments that matter most to you. For example, you could slice and dice your feedback to find the content that:
Your enterprise customers are looking for most
Your most engaged audience members are asking for
Is associated with the highest monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
Is most popular among your prospective customers
And so on.
Here, we’ve sorted content requests by cumulative monthly recurring revenue (MRR) so it’s easy to see which blog posts could have the highest impact on revenue.
This is the part where you actually assign content to your editorial calendar.
Step 4: Close the feedback loop
Once you’ve produced the content your audience has asked for, follow up and tell them. This is called closing the feedback loop.
Why close the loop? Two good reasons:
It builds loyalty. Customers love it when you listen to them and act on their feedback. Closing the loop gets you credit for listening, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty. It can even boost retention and lower churn.
It drives traffic. Your content is marketing material. The more people that see it, the better. The people that asked for a piece of content are the most likely to read it and maybe even share it with their friends. Close the loop to send your most interested audience members to the content.
How close the loop?
Just send a personalized message. You can do it manually, sending a message individually to everyone that requested a feature. Or, purpose-built feedback management tools like Savio can do this automatically for you.
Get started with user-guided marketing
If you’re producing marketing content, it’s a good idea to know what your audience wants to see.
So ask them.
And listen when they tell you—collect that feedback and use it to decide what to produce next.
Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.
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