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Creating and delivering a great content experience can mean the difference between attracting and converting a potential customer and losing them to the competition. It can also separate the brands that cultivate a loyal customer base and those that simply cannot retain their audience in the long term.
So, what do we mean by the content experience? Why is it different from content marketing? Who controls it and how do we know we are creating a good one?
At Bynder we are all about learning from and collaborating with content experts. As part of our Tech Video Series, we asked Randy Frisch, co-founder of Uberflip for his take on the symbiotic relationship between content experience and the buyer journey. In less than 15 minutes, Randy gave us the lowdown on what we mean by content experience and why it matters today. He explored marketing personalization, attribution models and topped it all off with some valuable and actionable tips on how to measure success in a complex buying cycle.
With a resume encompassing two decades in marketing, half of which he spent heading up Uberflip, Randy is well placed to guide both new recruits to the marketing world as well as those with some experience under their belt.
Get ready to talk tech, data, and how to create that all-important content experience with Randy Frisch.
The content experience according to Uberflip
There’s always a new kid on the block when it comes to marketing terminology and the terms evolve over time. The moniker ‘content marketing’ has been at the forefront of marketers’ vocabulary for some time now though Randy tells us that ‘content experience’ isn’t quite so widely recognised yet. “When I co-founded Uberflip we tried to attach ourselves to ‘content marketing but we found there was a lot of confusion.”
Randy could see that the increasing focus and investment in platforms, content creators and so forth would require strategic methods of using the content rather than simply creating it, unleashing it to the world and seeing what sticks. As Randy tells it, it’s about “getting the right content in front of the right buyer, at the right time.”
What do we mean by content experience?
Randy and his team coined the term ‘content experience’ in 2014. They wanted to develop and describe a strategic approach that encourages marketers to look at the overall environment where the content exists.
Randy bases his approach on three elements; the environment, the structure and audience engagement. The environmental element refers to aspects like the layout of the page. The structure is where the content asset is positioned in the buyer journey and the process in which the content is published and presented to the audience; the calls to action and prompts that move the lead through the buyer journey to conversion. Naturally, none of the above is worth the pixels it is imprinted on without a good understanding of how the audience is engaging with the content. Randy tells us these steps are; “the key to going from thinking about content creation to how your buyer consumes.”
How do you avoid pitfalls in the content experience?
Even the most experienced content marketers struggle to deliver a cohesive and coherent content experience. With a raft of known unknowns, the various challenges around coordinating multi-channel campaigns and the complexities of managing content throughout its lifecycle it’s easy to see how mistakes happen and campaigns falter or fail.
Randy believes that investing in good quality data will help busy marketers avoid the common pitfalls of delivering a great content experience. Good data means you can identify the buyers that will be attracted to your brand. By taking an account-based marketing (AMB) approach you can spot who the highest-value customers will be and consolidate your insights and activities in a good CRM and marketing automation platform.
With this in place, you’ll be far more prepared to start targeting potential customers and able to identify the right channels and opportunities for engagement that will help you ‘grab eyeballs’.
“The trap is that we obsess so much on the channel experience but not on the destination and where we want people to ultimately engage,” says Randy. Marketers need to think about what they are going to do to keep them there. We need to have control over our content assets and how they are used.
Developing the right digital ecosystem
Randy recognizes the challenge of delivering a superior, joined-up content experience and buyer journey while keeping control of content assets. Marketers need a centralized location for all content creators and stakeholders to work from. A cohesive digital ecosystem where campaigns can be created, distributed, monitored and measured. This joined-up approach is particularly important for scaling and personalizing content output and engaging a range of buyer personas.
By using intelligent marketing tools and APIs we can deliver personalized content experiences based on visitor behavior; retargeting ads or product recommendations, for example. With the right tools and approach, today’s marketers can “create that end-to-end experience where we are using that data to actually surface a page that feels built for you.”
Bridging the perception gaps in marketing personalization
Randy and the Uberflip team know there is a disconnect between what marketers and consumers expect from a personalized experience. As you’d expect from a data-led brand, they have concrete insights to back this up.
In a study carried out by Uberflip and Forrester the consumers they surveyed stated their top expectation for receiving personalized content was for the company to be able to solve their problem. When marketers were asked which content elements they prioritized for personalization the top answer was the name, followed by the company, then the industry.
The gap here is clear. Marketers need to demonstrate they can solve the person’s problem and put it front and center in their campaigns. Seeing your name at the top of an email can create a connection with the recipient but it is far more important that they feel you understand their challenges and that you are the business that can make their lives easier or better.
How do you measure success in a complex buying cycle?
No discussion about the content experience is complete without exploring the best ways to measure and monitor performance. But, as Randy acknowledges, the marketer’s role is made even more complex by the length and duration of the buyer journey.
So, how can we measure success? With 11.4 pieces of content required to get someone through the buyer journey and 11.2 buyers involved with making a business technology investment, how can you tell which content assets or approaches have been successful? “When you go from one buyer at the table to six or more, you go from an 80% chance of closing the deal to a 31% chance.” New competitors are brought in and additional questions are raised. Barriers to sale arise, and it becomes increasingly difficult to manage and track the content experience.
Randy believes this can be remedied by taking a more nuanced approach. He tells us that marketers need to keep the interests and priorities of the different stakeholders in mind throughout the end-to-end buyer journey. What will be the things each person really needs to hear about and when? What are the main barriers to sale you need to address?
This is where the joined-up approach comes in once more, as Randy explains. “Drive them to the personalized, relevant pieces of content that help solve their problem. Then let them browse at the pace they want”. So rather than sending an automated email marketing campaign with a single asset on a weekly basis, you take people directly to the relevant source of information. This should result in a more coordinated, targeted and strategic approach that addresses the various stakeholder’s needs.
Delivering a great content experience in 2023 and beyond
As we near the end of 2022 and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that 2023 might present us with, it's time to take stock of how our content is being consumed and experienced by our audience. Often we are so close to our content assets, our messaging and what we think we know about our ideal customer that we can’t get real clarity on the next steps.
Always keep in mind that data - good data - is your friend. The technology that enables you to join up your activities and deliver targeted, timely campaigns is your ally.
It’s time to think beyond content marketing and that old, rather tired adage of content is king. The content experience is an ongoing conversation with your customer so it should be rewarding for both the customer and the brand. Listen to your audience, connect your digital tech stack, and pay attention to how the content experience evolves across all your channels and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Need more expert insights to boost your marketing? This article is part of a series of Tech Talks where we pick the considerable brains of some of our industry’s leading content experience lights.
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