Elevating Customer Experience: Connecting Through Content
Captivating customers with relevant, personalised content delivered at the right time and place.
24 March 2022
A brand is a distinct expression of what a company is and what that company promises to customers. In a literal sense, brands are represented in the form of a name, symbol, colour and visual scheme or some combination of those. But a brand is much more than that. Recognised brands actively build loyalty with customers by creating emotional connections. They engender confidence and trust.
Content is the fuel that ultimately shapes perceptions about a company and its value. It is the tangible evidence that brings the brand promise to life through words, visual graphics, and video and audio storytelling.
When done right, content meets target audiences at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. Consistent, honest, relevant and timely messaging helps create the confidence and trust that turns one-time customers into lifelong brand loyalists.
It sounds easy, right? Think again. The reality is that consumers are inundated with marketing messages every day across hundreds of platforms and channels. In fact, most Americans are exposed to 4,000–10,000 ads every day. To succeed and ensure their messages are heard, brands must cut through the noise.
And while distributing brand content has never been easier, cheaper or faster, customer expectations have also never been higher. That’s why a content strategy is critical. It supports organisations’ efforts to deliver seamless, personalised customer experiences with every interaction. As a foundation for marketing dollars, a content strategy provides purpose, goals and direction. And because customers expect engaging and meaningful personalised content, companies that figure out how to implement relevant digital experiences will differentiate and dominate.
Customers expect relevant content in exchange for their personal data. It’s no secret that businesses have access to a wide variety of customers’ personal data, including date of birth, email address, online activity, buying behaviours. However, the expectation is that the data will be leveraged securely, efficiently and with integrity. The data should be used only to better understand the needs of the customer, and to nurture and evolve the relationship with the brand. They expect the data will create personalised content that will make their lives a little easier and eliminate friction from their journey. Fail to do that and customers will ignore the brand.
The Value of a Content Strategy
A content strategy is vital to telling a consistent brand story. It ensures that every member of your organisation is sharing the same core narrative and that everyone who interacts with you is hearing the same key messages. When combined with the right tools, analytics and alignment to organisational goals, a strong content strategy is the backbone of a successful sales and marketing organisation.
We see effective content strategy as an iterative and self-informative loop that blends internally defined needs with direct feedback from the field to inform and refine what is being created. It’s important for your content strategy to be connected to identifiable organisational goals. This allows you to know what you need to create and the schedule for that creation, and to control the ways in which the content is rolled out to the market. You’ll also have goals to measure against, so you can know what works in the field and where the gaps are.
A Content Strategy Enables Personalisation at Scale
A strong content strategy is centred on telling your organisation’s core story. If you have your core storytelling strategy in place and it is working effectively, you will then be able to personalise that story for different situations and audiences.
Consistency in the process and production standards ensure that what you are producing is of value and aligns to the organisation’s core story. Confidence that your brand and go-to-market message are being faithfully conveyed across teams and channels. A strong content strategy ensures that the assets being created are on brand and are aligned with organisational priorities. This means that assets can be efficiently updated, rather than fully recreated, for different audiences, channels and situations.
Effectively Incorporating Brand, Marketing and the Customer into the Content Strategy and Digital Customer Journey
The customer should always be at the centre. This means that your core brand story should be aligned to current and prospective customer needs. From the brand story, you can then build out go-to-market strategies for specific products and segments. When your brand story and go-to-market strategy tie back to the customer, it enables your content strategy to clearly align to customer and organisational needs.
From this strong foundation, you can create opportunities for personalisation and set boundaries to ensure alignment to the brand story and marketing strategy. The audience you are talking to matters, and the message you are conveying should – and will – differ if you are talking to a CMO versus a director or individual contributor. When developing content, you’ll want to consider the different targeted user constituencies by characteristics like role, industry and buying cycle stage. Over time, with a feedback loop and measurement strategy in place, you will be able to optimise and more easily develop and plan for targeted communication.
Ensuring Consistent Customer Experiences are Delivered Through Every Touchpoint Across the Enterprise
Communication is about clear direction of goals and intended use for each touchpoint for clients. What, for example, would be the intended use of mobile applications or email to contact clients, or how are you expecting clients to find and access information on your publicly facing website. If you have intended stories for these touchpoints, you can ensure that the content strategy you have in place matches the intent of those stories.
Governance in the form of a committee that meets routinely to discuss and review content strategy practices and goals and to formulate communication to the organisation on changes and general direction. Self-examination is a key element to ensuring you are never standing still, and a governance committee, run the right way, is an ideal tool to help keep your internal alignment.
Consistency in process can be thought of as an extension of governance, as many of the tactical aspects of consistency are addressed in your governance plan, such as content life cycle or whether it can be used externally. But this also applies more broadly to the tools you use and adherence to the overall strategic goals of your organisation.
Measuring the Effectiveness of the Content Strategy
Data collection is a critical aspect of evaluating your strategy. Listen to your feedback loop. What you produce and make available can and should be measured.
Bottom-up and top-down measurements are necessary to obtain a full picture of what is happening. From the bottom up, we gather specific usage and consumption data so that we know what content is being used and what is resonating with recipients, which can help inform what content should be created. From the top down, when your content strategy is aligned with corporate objectives, you can begin to identify where measurement can be made and whether your actions are contributing to ROI. Most commonly with our clients, the first place they tie in value at the strategic level is in overall efficiency and opportunity cost. Through consistent content strategy you create an overall more efficient system that gives time back to everyone up and down the chain. Further up the value curve is attribution, or identifying what content is influencing something in the buying or selling cycle – whether that is deals that close, time to close, deal size or something else, the details are usually client specific and relate to how their content strategy is tied into their overall objectives.
It is, though, a crawl, walk, run approach. Unless the foundation is correct and solid (i.e., your content strategy), then you will not be able to effectively measure standard efficiency gains, which are a precursor to higher-value measures such as attribution.