ELEVATING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
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 a combination of those.1
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. To succeed and ensure their messages are heard, brands must cut through the noise.
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. 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 and 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.
Customer Experience: The Crown Jewel for Brands
Customers are on the receiving end of thousands of messages daily. Those messages are coming from web, email, social media, texts, podcasts and everywhere in between. And the content marketing life cycle is incredibly short.
So, how do we develop a content strategy that’s more effective, one that maps content to specific customer needs?
“A good place for brands to start is to renounce random acts of content,” says TEKsystems Director of Digital Experience Steve Householder. Intention is critical. A content strategy gives brands that necessary intention and direction as they aspire to nurture relationships, elevate the customer experience and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
An effective enterprise content strategy connects brand, marketing and customer.
To do this, organisations need to take several critical factors into consideration:
- The buyer persona. An archetype or common traits for each segment of the organisation's target audience.
- The customer journey. Delivering the right content at the right time is critical otherwise content may be missed. Content should be available for every stage of the buyer journey, including awareness, consideration and decision stages, and through every interaction along their purchase decision.
- The channel. Customers are consuming content across platforms and channels, including web, mobile, email, video and even voice.
- Data. Data should be leveraged to provide messages that add value for the customer in that moment.
Digital technologies, such as marketing automation platforms and CMS, enable organisations to deliver seamless customer experiences across moments and channels. The technology allows them to engage customers methodically and with intention, reaching them at the right time and place and with the right message for their needs in that moment in time. But technology cannot enable a strategy that doesn't exist. A truly seamless experience demands a clear vision and strategy for what the experience should be.
Personalise or Get Tuned Out
Generic messaging doesn't cut it anymore. It's time to get personal, or hyper-personal, by demonstrating a genuine, human understanding of the customer. “Hyper-personalisation allows you to weave in extreme amounts of empathy using data. Get that message to the right person at the right time so it creates a relationship with the brand,” Householder adds.
To successfully implement personalisation into the content strategy, organisations need to clarify business goals, define customer segments and personas, and manage holistic customer data. With those steps in place, data will power the content strategy. When leveraged appropriately, data enables organisations to send messages that add value and meet buyers where they are. But many organisations struggle with maximising the value of data within their digital marketing experience.
Common Data Pitfalls
- Disparate data. Data lives in disparate places, making it challenging to see the big picture. “You must have centralisation and coordination to maximise your channels,” notes Buechler. “What channels are your business active on? How are customers interacting and engaging with you on those channels?”
- Ownership of data. Often internal politics get in the way of a successful data strategy to power content.
- Data hygiene. Content can be difficult to scale if the data is not clean.
TEKsystems’ Tips for Conquering Content
- Show empathy: Because customers are being inundated with messages, it is that much harder to differentiate. Show empathy and a human, emotional level of understanding of where a customer is in their journey. Not only will this set you apart, it will strengthen trust with the customer and create lasting connections to the brand.
- Optimise tools: Scaling any aspect of the business generally starts with technology. "Most organisations that have implemented a CMS or have migrated to a different CMS are only using about 50%-60% of the technology" explains Householder. To see real value, focus on optimising these tools.
- Centralise data: The tools are only as good as the data we feed into them. Data that lives in different places can't inform each other" says TEKsystems Managing Director of Digital Solutions Burk Buechler. And with many platforms, it becomes increasingly difficult to merge the information and make it actionable.
- Measure what matters: Demonstrating the value of content efforts is essential but often a struggle. Metrics to monitor:
- Marketing conversion rates
- Repeat business and multiproduct/service relationships (i.e., increased share of wallet)
- Customer feedback through reviews, satisfaction scores and Net Promoter Scores
- Revenue growth
- Track ROI: Brands that understand how to monetise, measure and declare either victory or failure of their content strategy are going to be the ones that thrive.
Burk Buechler, Managing Director of Digital Solutions, TEKsystems
Steve Householder, Director of Digital Experience, TEKsystems
- Branding, American Marketing Association
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of TEKsystems, Inc. or its related entities