It’s been said that customer experience is the new brand experience. In fact, Gartner has reported that over 80 percent of marketers expect to be competing mainly on the basis of customer experience alone. And in the quest for the best CX – your customer’s holistic perception of their individual experiences with your brand – how do marketing leaders shift teams away from being cost centers to revenue generators? How do we capitalize on every experience we put into market, from upstream creative, all the way down to content performance at the zero moment of truth?
Content operations is the set of processes, people, and technologies needed for strategically planning, creating, managing, and analyzing all content types for every channel across a business. It’s a framework for how to create the content that powers customer experiences. No matter where you reside in the business – marketing, sales, HR, product strategy, R&D, etc. – everyone is affected by the content and digital experiences built through content ops. Any part of the business that creates, consumes, or shares content is part of the broader content ecosystems, which is nearly every part of the business.
But in this fiercely competitive landscape, not enough brands take content as seriously as they should. Content is hands down the one thing that marketing teams produce the most of, yet it is not prioritized as a strategic function of the business, as you would a product or service. Overlooking this means marketing teams don’t have what they need in place to deliver the personalized experiences their customers have come to expect, resulting in a suboptimal customer experience and, in the end, hurting your brand.
Brands need to be engaging with customers on the platforms they already use. The days of expecting them to consume content solely on your website are long gone. So, brands need to be not only everywhere, but everywhere with intention or everywhere on purpose. But getting there requires a different way of thinking and different systems to support it.
Content is the conversations we used to have – it is the new digital dialogue, and all the data that comes with it. There are new platforms, ways to engage, and as content evolves alongside technological advances, content itself fundamentally changes. The old ways of producing and distributing content are approaching irrelevance. Waiting six to nine months to provide an ROI on content marketing, for example, is at odds with today’s astronomical content demand.
Teams are spinning their precious cycles to keep up but without a framework like content operations in place, the chaos will always win out. The result: wasted resources, both human and new tech investment.
Time and strategy are the two elements of the solution for personalizing content at scale. And this requires a return to some basics before we start adding personalization software to the martech stack, before we start trying to “personalize” or humanize every content experience we produce.
Let’s break it down into four content aspirations:
- Accountability – leaders and individual contributors alike should be well aware of the effort they put into content production, from the smallest content block to the experience itself to understand the ROE or return on effort. This change in mindset helps instill the shift to placing a strategic importance on the content we produce.
- Thinking differently – “We’ve always done it this way,” is a common refrain. The need to incorporate new systems thinking and content creation models like content atomization or modular content to support demand and deliver at the scale required. Looking critically at your content delivery architecture is not an easy thing to do and organizational changes like this are challenging, but much like the modular approach, you can start small or deconstruct to support bigger things.
- Intentionality – Doing things one way because it fits an outmoded system means we’re often not being intentional, purposeful, and aware of the content interactions we’re striving to elicit. When every brand has the same problem and goes about it in the same way, we all begin to look the same. When we all look the same, our message, differentiation, unique brand experience gets lost in the wilderness of unworthy content.
- Trustworthiness – To rise above this digital sameness, our content people – creatives, writers, campaign managers, social media strategists, even marketing and revenue ops teams – need the time to be creative. To actually strategize and build valuable experiences and foster deeper connections with our audiences based on trust. This doesn’t mean write a white paper and gate it and run a drip campaign around it. It means give it away for free, without asking anything in return. When you free up your people, they have the space to develop leading thoughts, and that thought leadership is the pathway to trust.
We all live and play in this overcrowded, busy, hyper-digital space. Customer experience or brand experience, the semantics don’t matter – content is the great revealer, it transcends both, we’re not competing with similar offerings or brands, we’re simply up against the best content experiences out there.
The key to unlocking the full power of personalization comes with the orchestration of data, decisioning, design, and distribution. Content operations provides this solution architecture and operating model for an effective organizing framework. It allows teams to test, learn, optimize, and contribute meaningfully to business growth.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to make the case for change, for an investment in content operations to build a better CX. And the question your CEO, CFO, COO or board will have will likely be, “Is this all really worth it?” Well, the number one outcome of improved customer experience is increased revenue. From repurchasing power to revenue retention and customer advocacy to higher product sales and faster new product adoption, so I’d wager the answer is “Yes.”
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