How many content strategies do you have within your business?
Indeed, how many content strategies do you have within your marketing function?
Just the one?
Fingers-crossed, that is the case, but can you place your hand on your heart and swear to it?
The above questions may have left you puzzled. This is because content marketing has become too focussed on a single type of content production – marketing engagement content. However, any content being produced by your organisation needs to be taken into consideration. This includes the sales content and ongoing content for customer communications.
So what should you be looking for to answer those above questions? Start by taking a step back and considering what you define content as being. Within your marketing function, there has been a greater recognition of late that content is more than articles, videos and imagery on your website or content hub. It does, of course, stretch to any form of content being used on any channel, be it social, e-mail, digital, print and TV advertising, PR and so on. What is less well recognised is that these activities are being run separately on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis. They are all different content strategies.
Content strategy proliferation
But this is nothing compared to the impact of the other content strategies that almost certainly exist within your organisation. To understand this, you need to first appreciate what the word ‘content’ refers to. It is not just marketing content. Sales literature, call centre scripts, welcome packs and ongoing customer communications such as bills, loyalty schemes and promotions are all content.
All the business functions behind this sales and customer communications content have authority to communicate with your company’s prospective and existing customers. They gave little or no thought to what the effect of all this disparate, uncoordinated content is having on the customer.
Today, customer experience given a lot of emphasis. However, the analysis of customer experience is sometimes focused on one particular part of the journey. For example, by looking at what the customer experience is in the contact centre or online. This overlooks the fact that a prospective customer will almost certainly have had other experiences on other channels.
Content strategy to serve
So there needs to be a shift in emphasis away from building a content strategy to engage the audience and instead towards having a content strategy that serves the audience. By focusing on engagement, your business is placing too much emphasis on your own needs.
By thinking of content that will serve the audience, then you will consider what content the customer is consuming from your organisation in totality.
The place to start is by mapping the buyer’s journey. Only by doing this can you identify both what content already exists to support the journey and then where the gaps lie. The result will be a single content strategy that applies to all customers.
The challenge in doing this is, as is so often the case, internal stakeholder alignment. It is not just the challenge of trying to align internal fiefdoms, but trying to make each function understand how they fit within the actual end-to-end journey.
It is like the long-standing conflict about attribution of sale – i.e. the business function that achieves the sale wants to take all the glory. This is regardless of the contribution any other function had in progressing the audience towards the sale.
A function which is communicating with your target audience will wish to keep doing so to meet their own targets and KPIs. This is regardless of the fact that this might damage the overall customer experience and leading to significant missed sales and retention opportunities.
Content strategy alignment
However, the answer lies in ‘alignment’ rather than ‘change’. By mapping the full journey, you can align and, therefore, connect the disparate content strategies. It can then act as the first important step towards not just having a cohesive single content strategy, but also operating a single content strategy. The creation and execution of that content may still live in separate functions across your business.