The role of content strategy has evolved as the number of digital touch points has exploded across new platforms and channels. Think social media, IoT, AI-driven chat and voice experiences, and more still to come. B2B marketing leaders and strategists must think holistically about how customers engage with their content and how individual pieces of content work together to shape a consistent and considered customer experience.
Today’s customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. When it comes to digital content, this means frictionless, personalized experiences. That’s why content experience is deeply intertwined with customer experience.
Content strategy focuses on defining, measuring, and optimizing how content is created and distributed. The goal is to deliver consistent and relevant content that meets an audience’s needs. Among content strategists,
there is a growing focus on the overall content experience: How do customers engage with content at each step of their digital journey? Is their experience consistent and smooth, or frustrating and disjointed?
Marketers and content strategists cannot focus only on the quality and performance of individual content assets and marketing campaigns. They must consider the end-to-end experience they’re creating and optimize how users engage with their content. Content experience recognizes the connective tissue between content types—landing pages, social posts, banner ads, assets, chat, IoT, kiosk display content, even customer service talking points.
Content should be orchestrated to support the customer journey at each step. The goal of a well-designed content experience is to deliver the right information to the right person, in the right way, at the right time and place. To do this you must create content that is consistently focused on customers’ needs and top tasks on their digital journey.
In a content-saturated world, it’s harder to get your message across. The bar is now higher for quality, but that’s not the only factor. For content marketing efforts to succeed, your content must be surfaced in the right context. That means serving it up to customers and prospects at the right time over the right channel. Too often, that doesn’t happen, and the effort that went into creating content is wasted.
Customers expect personalized experiences (thank you, Amazon and Netflix) and content that maps to their current stage in the digital journey. They get frustrated when you drive them to a website that doesn’t match their interests and expectations or doesn’t acknowledge that you’ve
already had a conversation with them.
Between PCs, mobile phones, watches, and smart-home gadgets, our world is exploding with connected devices. The marketer’s challenge is to communicate with our audiences across multiple platforms in a consistent and personalized way. That requires a more holistic thought process and attention to the content experience.
Components of a Great Content Experience
What do superlative content experiences look like, and how can you engineer them consistently for your customers and prospects? When we put content experience under the microscope, its core characteristics come into focus. The content assets you create should, together, deliver an experience that reflects these components.
- Progressive Content Experiences
A progressive content experience is one in which each touch point builds on the previous one, rather than repeating it or existing in isolation. In this example, we see a progressive experience from ad to website. When we know a user has clicked the ad, we recognize their interest, and we can progressively add more information—and incentives—to the conversation. We’re building a progressive experience based on what we know about the user.
By curating a guided journey, you’re deepening audience engagement by suggesting the next relevant piece of content to consume. Think “Recommended for you” or “You may also like.” Give your audience little prompts and nudges for the next action to take. If you’ve dedicated budget dollars to get someone to arrive at your landing page, the worst thing you can do is leave them hanging with nowhere to go (except off your website).
Properly structuring your content allows you to create it once and push it out automatically across multiple platforms—blog, social post, landing page banner, Google listing—to meet your audiences where they are. Structured content is a geekier topic than the other characteristics of content experience, since it depends on the technical, back-end setup of your platform or CMS. In essence, it’s about breaking up content into component pieces—title, image, rich snippet, reviews, category/tag, publishing date, location/map, and other structured fields. Structuring your content saves time and allows you to more easily create rich, consistent content experiences across channels
- Connected Content Experiences
In a connected content experience, each touch point bears some resemblance to the previous one and maintains consistency of campaign messaging, personalization, or design. In this example, we see a disconnected experience: An advertising “takeover” campaign in a Washington DC metro station—with corresponding digital ads—focuses on the needs of this regional market (privacy and secure office space). But when users click to the company homepage, that connection is lost: the homepage contains generic messaging and does not reflect the messaging or style of the takeover campaign. This is a missed opportunity and the customer’s interest is more likely to evaporate.
You are competing for your audience’s attention with a veritable feast of sensory experiences, which is why it is more important than ever to draw them in with content that is fresh, immersive, and creative. Engaging content experiences take many forms—from virtual reality to collaborative storytelling that includes audiences in the process. Choose the right format carefully to create the best experience for your audience and to deepen their engagement with your brand.
- Contextual Content Experiences
How your customers experience content depends on the context in which they consume it. To break through with the right message at the right time, you can serve up contextual, personalized content based on the type of device, time of day, location, journey stage, relationship with your company, or other factors. Giving thought to context is critical to delivering excellent content experiences.
When you understand your audience—their industry, role, behaviors, or preferences—you can serve up relevant content that resonates and converts. The magic of personalization gives you myriad options. For example, your homepage can display different hero banners for visitors who work in education versus healthcare or government.