Unlocking content strategy to drive superior customer experience

Content is all around us. Look inside any business, at any digital project and in every marketing campaign - content has a significant part to play in decision making.

Strategically it’s the foundation of how brands articulate their customer promise. It provides shape and flavour to brand and consumer conversations, thereby informing the effectiveness of so much of the customer experience.

While operationally, it influences decisions across an ecosystem of channels, commands big investments in technology and determines many discussions about internal assets and resources

And yet, so many organisations are still not equipped to handle and manage content effectively. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 annual report revealed that although 99% of marketers are committed to their current content programmes, only a third say their organisations are effective in their use of content.

This is symptomatic of a range of challenges that organisations are facing around content.

Finding ROI can be hard 

As channels proliferate, content multiplies and returns diminish. The pressure to feed the growing content machine often leads to mediocre, sales-driven content that is not helping customers find what they want and ultimately leads to less revenue.

Organisations have often invested substantial amounts in content platforms, but have not consistently followed up with operational and executional change to deliver the true business value of the investment.

Added to this, as the volume of content and output of channels grows, the commissioning, publishing and delivery of content spans several silos, with no enterprise-wide planning or consistent delivery mechanisms.

As such, organisations are increasingly struggling to manage content effectively, while simultaneously recognising the importance of devoting time, effort and resource to content generation.

Not all bad news

Encouragingly, organisations are starting to wake up to the fact that content is a strategic asset, which is elemental to business success. What is key here is having an overarching, company-wide content strategy.

Put simply, content strategy is the model that underpins all content design – technical, functional and visual. It goes beyond content and, at its core, is about aligning people, processes and technologies with business goals and customer needs.

The more business leaders understand the value of content strategy, the more willing they’ll be to invest in it

By creating a content strategy, organisations will have a blueprint for the ordered, thoughtful and creative use of content, giving long-term control over how a brand projects itself, while still consistently providing meaningful, relevant information to its audiences.

But, many businesses have yet to view content as a strategic asset. A purely tactical approach to content will work in the short-term, but it fails to address the wider challenges businesses face like inconsistency, inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

If content is a valuable business resource then time and effort should be spent managing it well. Here are five steps to developing an effective content strategy.

1. Start with your story

It’s not enough for people to know your brand name; they need to know what you stand for. Consumers look for meaning when forming an attachment to a brand.

Content conveys meaning through values and commitments. But, storytelling is not intended to be a selling tool. The whole point of customer-centric content is that it goes beyond products and builds affinity between the brand and the user.

2. Know your audience

In order to genuinely create content that customers care about it’s vital you understand them well. There is a wealth of data that can build the picture of the specific people you’re trying to reach.

Insights must go beyond age and demographic and delve into attitudes and behaviours to allow a 360° picture of persona preferences to be formed.

3. Plan your content

With so many channels to consider, there is recognition that good customer experience relies on delivering interesting, relevant and personalised content across all channels seamlessly.

The outcome of good content planning is the understanding of how the content will be prioritised, organised, formatted and displayed.

4. Align people and process

People are perhaps the most important element in any content strategy as attitudes and behaviours are as important as any working practices.

After all, content is not just a marketing issue – it permeates multiple departments and when they act collaboratively and in harmony it can work like clockwork

5. Engage your leaders

The more business leaders understand the value of content strategy, the more willing they’ll be to invest in it. C-suite involvement provides internal advocacy for content strategy initiatives by supporting the drive for enterprise wide planning and providing strategic governance.

Content channels continue to evolve and customer expectations are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Organisations that dedicate the time, effort and resources to an over-arching content strategy, beyond simple content marketing practices, will be the ones to command competitive advantage.

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