Timeless content or a one-hit-wonder? Making your content work harder

Timeless content or a one-hit-wonder? Making your content work harder
Mark Wheeler is Vice President of Marketing at Sitecore for the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions. As a marketer to marketers, he frequently meets and presents at conferences to assist CMOs and digital marketing leaders overcome the challenge of Omni-channel, data and organisational fragmentation to deliver contextual customer experiences and commerce that transform brands. In the context of his own marketing challenges, he has led several marketing transformations including large 100+ employee marketing organisations. Now at Sitecore, his team’s challenge is to be a key contributor to rapid growth as well as cloud and subscription business model transformation. He is accountable to deliver a scalable and agile marketing organisation that drives demand and is a reference for best-in-class B2B digital marketing.

Five years ago, brands were asking how they could mature their marketing strategy, creating engaging and meaningful content that really captivates their audiences. Today, brands are spending a lot of money on this content; often with huge success.

But others have found that even well-funded, quality content can be something of a one hit wonder, providing only short-term value.

The question is around how brands can extend the lifecycle of their content, to deliver longer term value for themselves beyond just gaining a transactional ‘click through’ when the content is fresh, whilst also creating a more fulfilling journey for the customer.

Here’s three things brands can do in order to achieve this.

Think about long-term engagement with your audience

It’s important that you think about how you want the relationship with your audience to evolve over time rather than just focusing on that first initial engagement. You need to create content which can flex and adapt to the journey that your audience is going on with your product.

Let’s take as an example, say an automotive firm. There is a long ownership cycle with car ownership which brands could tap into at multiple points. The brand-consumer relationship starts with researching, then buying the car.

The purchase is usually based on factors such as emissions, design, performance, price, running costs etc. that have made them select this particular vehicle. However, the purchase could also be influenced by having the opportunity to add things to their car in the future.

the aftersales relationship represents a huge opportunity

The aftersales relationship represents a huge opportunity, too. Some car firms, like Tesla, can make new features available via a software update. Others want you to come in for aftermarket care, everything from services through to vehicle modifications and upgrades.

What’s key here, in delivering these sales opportunities, is that brands stay in touch with their customers and get regular insights on how they use the car. Information about significant events in their personal life such as a big promotion or a new job, for example, can help brands target them in the right time and upsell new features to their loyal customers. When they need them!

Get personalisation right

There are still brands that treat all their customers the same, not tracking the customer journey or paying attention to their past behaviours. And there are some that have embraced personalisation, but fail to deliver the personalised experiences wanted by their audiences.

Research we recently conducted with consumers in the UK shows that they are getting frustrated with bad personal touches. They particularly don’t like it when brands use out-of-date information about them (66%) or get their personal details wrong (63%).

the same audience goes to different platforms for different things

To get ‘mass’ personalisation right, brands need to know their audience even better than they know themselves, and that is achieved by being able to gather, track and analyse customer data across any channel – mobile, social, the store and online –  so that any interaction with consumers is targeted and relevant.

As more brands tap into the power of personalisation, it’s particularly important they create a valuable presence on social media and integrate those with other marketing tactics. The thing to remember is that the same audience goes to different platforms for different things. This means that you need to tweak the content for each platform if we are to be effective and relevant to the audiences on each of those.

They can also embrace personalisation through a data-driven approach (driven by powerful content management and marketing software), which can tell them which topics, areas of interest or products are popular among your audience. This way you will be able to draw a clear picture of your audience and target different customer groups with relevant content.

Freeing data from its siloes

And this leads onto the third point. A lot of this data exists in the organisation today, but it is often locked into a silo (it lives in a marketing automation platform, or siloed application, or salesperson’s head, or in the website analytics alone) which can make it hard to act on.

The study found that the average company holds customer information in six different places. It also found that while brands face pressure to be data-driven they struggle to manage and mine customer data to both inform customer experience strategies and deliver on the promise of personalisation.

the average company holds customer information in six different places

For brands, poorly personalised experiences are often the result of trying to manage with an overwhelming amount of data – typically the ‘personalised’ experiences are based on a single data point rather than the greater whole, such as the jacket you just viewed on an ecommerce site or the last search string you entered.

With pressure from all sides to use data more effectively, many organisations don’t have the appropriate tools and knowledge they need to move forward and meet the expectations of their stakeholders, and, more importantly, their customers. It is these internal obstacles that need to be addressed first, if brands want to be able to deliver the experience their customers desire. Missing out on those valuable customer insights due to poor data management could damage the customer experience, and thus affect the sales.

Every marketer is grappling with these challenges today, and as the background noise reaches a critical level, it’ll take ever more investment in content to cut-through. Marketers need to make sure that the long-tail value of this content is worth as much if not more than the initial spike of success it’ll deliver. Today’s customers have more choice than ever before, so brands have to work incredibly hard to not only get their attention, but to maintain it – and to keep them loyal.

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