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We are in the age of the customer, a time where technology is changing the way customers engage with our brands.
In each industry vertical, many competitors are taking advantage of the continual emergence of new channels, platforms and touchpoints. Through these touchpoints, relationships are established and nurtured, in turn, engagement and loyalty is increased.
At each touchpoint is some form of content, so the only way to compete in the age of the customer is to evolve with a content marketing strategy.
This is a follow up to part one, creating content of integrity in the age of the customer.
So once you have understood your modern day purchase funnel, ensured that all levels of the organisation support a content strategy, found someone in marketing to take ownership of the content project and you have identified stakeholders for the creation and curation of content, its time to get down and dirty.
Well, down and dirty with content platforms and tools to undercut competitors, get closer to customers, and disrupt the usual way of doing business.
The following image by Scott Brinker reiterates why commentators and analysts will tell you that CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) will soon be spending more money on technology than CIO’s (Chief Information Officers).
This graphic gives you an insight into the technologies considered in contemporary marketing. As recent as this slide is, Brinker has not dedicated a group for content marketing. In keeping with the same style of image, I have taken the liberty to review some options for you.
You can see there are already lots of tools to choose from, 35 that I have identified for consideration. Some are pretty old-school (wink wink – PowerPoint) but may very well serve a purpose, so it’s best to have all tools on the table, my advice is to research and test/trial options.
Even if you decide a specific tool isn’t for your business, you will still learn a great deal along the way. For example, Vine is a great video tool where we will start to see very innovative content being produced by forward thinking creative business.
Evernote Business is another great tool, not even purposely built for content management, but a great multiplatform, cloud based collaboration tool with web clipping, tagging and sharing options.
Some of these tools above are simply complementary but can save valuable time, assist with collaboration, idea management, reporting, production and publishing. I would look at a calendaring tool first.
There are also some great CMS (content management system) technologies that I haven't included that can definitely assist in web publishing, like Wordpress, a free open source PHP platform, or something like Sitecore, a very sophisticated, leading edge CMS for websites.
You also have the possibility of intranets, knowledge management systems or enterprise social media. A carefully selected portfolio of tools from these platforms can become part of your content marketing machine. You need to start building your own content marketing machine from the ground up.
Here is some advice packed into ten points, guidance for what you have to prepare for content of integrity in the age of the customer:
- Base your content on an SEO audit or strategy; keywords, rank, pages, links, optimization, parameter handling, sitemaps, Google author rank, layout and position, all needs to be guided by an ongoing SEO audit. Here is a good article that details the importance of SEO and why SEO still has a place in a content driven world.
- Understand your modern day purchase funnel, by understanding how, when and where your audience wants to receive information. Where are your touchpoints? How can you hold your customer’s hand through the purchase funnel and not only influence a repeat purchase but also create positive word of mouth? Can your visitors craft their own experience? And is a customer’s action in one channel recognized in another?
- Repurpose old content, yours and others through curation by actively sorting through all possible sources (share, don’t steal) and present it in a meaningful and organized way to influence engagement and benefit your brand.
- Personalisation and localization is key, online allows this more than ever and it needs to be applied to every marketing effort where possible. Go as far considering a personalization engine built into your website.
- Multimedia is a given, video is the prime-example, it gets really good traction because consumers love it; they always have and always will, and it can be repurposed in many ways across multiple platforms, channels and tactics.
- Adjust your budget, make changes to this period’s budget and all proceeding, content management needs a bigger portion of spend.
- Give away expertise, you have to give something away to get something back. Develop authority and position yourselves as the experts that you are so that you can attract new customers into your purchase funnel.
- You need collaboration, the more heads, the more brains, the more brains the more ideas. Guest content doesn’t have to be fiscally remunerated, develop a changed culture of pride in the company, where people within the business are happy to share their knowledge and see their content attributing towards the content machine.
- Be creative, if you build it they will come, own your own media and create an innovative and forward thinking efficient content machine that has pull marketing magnetism.
- Measure, make adjustments, measure and adjust again. This isn’t a process of set-and-forget, fixed-target shooting. The target is constantly moving and you need to move with it.
So let me summarise both posts: understand your modern day purchase funnel and educate the entire business.
Marketing needs to embrace and own the project and quickly appoint a content manager. Research content marketing, discover what your competitors and the early adopters are doing and then start to identify who might be able to assist in creating or curating content.
Base your content on an SEO audit, understand your modern day purchase funnel and repurpose old content. Personalisation and localisation is paramount and multimedia is a given. Adjust your budget, give away expertise, collaborate, and always measure.
If I could reiterate what I documented in my first post, today’s customer is reaching out and connecting with brands on their terms. If you don’t have a presence where they desire it, someone else will connect with your customer. This is likely to be happening which means you are losing market share.
The consumer has driven much of today’s change; your customer is time-poor, attention-poor and ever discerning. They pick and choose when, where and how to engage with your products and services. You now need to know, not just where your customers are, but predict where they will be and what they will want, not just now but in the future.
If you can achieve this then you will win loyalty and advocacy, for this to be a reality you need content that allows them to discover, investigate, learn, interact and engage. So for content marketing to be successful, you must clearly articulate a strong and memorable brand through every content initiative and across every possible touchpoint.
The benefits you will receive
The major cost is time and effort, but the return should be compounding, a well-planned and executed content marketing strategy will reward you with ease of distribution, create new revenue opportunities, reach new audiences, build brand awareness and increase customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy.
Next Steps: what I prescribe!
Get stuck into it, don’t waste any more time, get the primary stakeholders living and breathing content. Detail an action list, drive it and make it work. For example:
Something like this could be done in your editorial calendar, Evernote or a project management portal. Set some time frames and start yesterday.
It’s all about creating content of integrity in the age of the customer.