Yes, another blog about content, Sorry, but it is a topic near and dear to my heart. I strongly believe that with the right content strategy, you can build a life-long, loyal relationship with your customer. In my previous blog, Recommendations in Context Marketing, one of the recommendations is to “Think differently about content”. I have received a couple of questions about this. Readers ask if I could explain a bit more what I mean. That’s the reason for this blog post. Today, I’ll cover the questions about content formats and the use of content.
Let's start with a little bit of context. I was working with a brand on a new brand proposition. We wanted to directly use this opportunity to optimise their customer journey. The best option was to create experience content that solved the customers’pain point and offered the product as the problem-solver. This way, we would anticipate customers’ needs, and the needs of the business.
We created three experience roadmaps. Each one was based on the proposition that would lead the customer through his/her experience journey to a path to purchase. We decided to start small, so we briefed the content agency on one roadmap. We asked if we could have a kitchen review within a couple of weeks, because we wanted to see if they understood the briefing and if we would receive the content in the way we were expecting it. At the kitchen review, the agency showed the first ideas and we were really enthusiastic about them. But they indeed did what we expected: they presented the content in a straight format. Just like a TV game show that has the same format every week, only with different questions and players. Or like a print campaign that has the same set-up every month, only with different copy. So we explained that we liked the ideas, but we didn't like the output. It felt like they had just transplanted traditional marketing tools into a digital jacket. ‘Let’s do video, because that is digital’. This is not what an experience content journey should look like.
A true experience content journey is based on a touch point on the experience content roadmap. A diverse collection of content should be created around that touch point: a leading article on your website and summary of it in your newsletter, a short teaser video on your own Facebook channel, the header image of the article on your Instagram or Pinterest account, an extended version of the video on your video channel, a banner of the header image on a partner website, etc. By serving the same content in different ways, the collected data will show you how your content is performing. It will tell you which channels your audiences are tuned into, and which are working best. Every touch point should have its own set of varied content and, over time, data analytics will tell you who consumes what, and when. It will tell you your customer’s story. This brings me conveniently to the next point: content usage.
Use of content
Formats and usage are very closely intertwined. For me, content shouldn't be produced in a vaccuum, but rather in cohesion with all other content. It should be all interlinked. I always use here the example of running a magazine. Take, for example, Elle or Vogue: you’ll find the big, leading content articles in the printed magazine itself. But on all the other channels, you find excerpts of that main article. These excerpts work as traffic drivers to buy the magazine. A picture on Instagram or a Facebook post about the new summer colours will trigger readers to buy the magazine and read about the whole summer collection.
The same is applicable for other brands. The touch points on your customer journey are the ‘storyboards’ of your brand – the roadmap for your communication. Your web platform is your ‘magazine’, and contains all the information your customers need to know. Excerpts from these touch point ‘stories’ need to be deployed to your owned, paid, and earned channels. Yes, I said it. Your earned channels, too. See if you can build an eco-partnership with similar information platforms or retail platforms. You can do some inspirational storytelling about your brand and develop an expert role with the audiences, where your product or service is the problem-solver. This way, earned channels get the traffic and the sell, and you the loyalty benefits that come with your role as an expert.
In my day-to-day job, I see a lot brands struggling with their content strategy. That’s because they need to think differently about creating content than they did before. The days when they could just send a message out there are over. And their investments in content creation don't meet their expectations. Because they’re still working with out-dated content models. Recognise yourself in these points? Or, do you have a totally different view on this topic? I’m looking forward to hearing from you.