Exploring a content framework for compelling digital experiences
All digital experiences are built with content: images, text, video, audio, and even augmented and virtual reality. Content is not only used to communicate your company’s value but to extend and connect its experience to all touchpoints end users may encounter. Because content plays such a significant role in digital experiences, it only makes sense it has its own experience framework.
“A holistic content strategy should be tied to a specific audience activation plan and include marketing, sales, and product content and messaging that works across channels and touchpoints. When content is crafted for a specific stage of the customer journey, it can generate powerful results..” from eMarketer.com
Content experiences are evolving rapidly and coincide with the explosion of new interfaces and touchpoints. How your end users are accessing, consuming, and engaging with your business through its content?
Developing and aligning your content to your customer journey can seem to be a Sisyphean activity, however, using a framework will help make the experience feel less like a feat of human endurance and more like a purposeful, seamless, delivery of your end-user’s’ expectations.
Architecture : Connecting your content to its destination
First, you need a content map to understand where our content starts and the technical connections of where it needs to end up. For those who have invested in a modern Content Management System (CMS), it may be as easy as connecting your destination’s API to your CMS. For those who may have a more disparate or siloed architecture, this could mean connecting multiple systems to a central repository in order to distribute the content to destinations external to your company. The later can involve much more IT resources and will need more management processes defined in order to optimize content according to its destination.
Creation : Develop content with the end in mind
Even though content creation has a lot of different elements, you need to understand the architecture–where it ends up and on what device–so you can develop your content that is best optimized for different types of touchpoints.
Know your destinations! Understand the demographics and psychographics of end-users who visit each of your destinations: website, social media network, mobile app, etc. You should write differently for end-users on Instagram than you will for those on LinkedIn. Identify the destination, create the content, and optimize it for the device.
Management : Content is living and breathing, it needs nurturing
How many times have you searched your website, or any search engine for that matter, and found old content up on our site or outdated statistics and data points which do not apply in today’s world?
Your content has a lifecycle. Develop a management process around your content to ensure you are always evaluating and updating it, keeping it relevant and fresh. Current content will continuously help accomplish the goals your end users are trying to achieve—this is good! Making it easy for your end-users to accomplish their goals will keep them interested, converting, and loyal. Look at your content from your end-users’ perspective.
Amplification and distribution : Distribute as if it were on purpose
Once your content is published, you want to get as many eyes on it as you can. Distribution and amplification drives attention and focus to your content. This is where a lot of companies find it challenging and may not put forth the effort needed.
Content distribution connects the technical dots between your content management system (CMS) and your intended destinations based on your architecture. Some marketing teams manually copy and paste their content multiple times into multiple platforms in order to have it consumed by the end-user. Worse yet, some companies rely on their IT departments to add content to their own website; marketing will email the content to IT where they will then publish it. This manual process is not scalable and cannot be efficiently optimized per destination and device, adding frustration to end users which opens the door for your competitors to poach your customers.
Once you create and distribute your content and do not amplify it, how will the masses know there is something new, important, changed, etc? Amplifying your content means your team and extended teams post on social channels, blogs, bylines, application notifications, or whatever is appropriate to driving traffic back to the new content. Amplification is growing more and more important as the footprint of your customers continues to expand.
Today’s news organizations are doing a great job at amplifying their content. If you have a signed up with a new agency, count how many times you are notified that there is new content to read, watch, or listen to. They are continuously reaching out, engaging, interacting, and driving you to their content source…keeping you engaged with them until your goal has been accomplished. The same is true with your end-users.
Prescription : Guide your customers to the promised land
Don’t only look backward at what has happened when evaluating your content. Modern CMS and analytic platforms will not only offer you a historical view of your content’s performance but will allow you to see into the future. There are two different categories of future-looking analytics: Predictive and Prescriptive.
Predictive analytics will show you what is about to happen. Based on historical performance, predictive analytics utilized machine learning (ML) to identify insights into what will happen on your site, giving you a sneak peek into what is about to happen. These predications are important because they will alert you of underperforming content that you can address before it’s an issue.
Prescriptive analytics take the predictive insights and identifies what you should do, actions that you should take in order to get the most out of your content and overall journey. Prescription is well beyond ‘this is what should happen when I do these types of things’, and more ‘this is what I should do in order to help my end users get the most out of their experience. It’s a much deeper level of analytics – I think that’s where we need to get to with content.
Framework to build on
This is my framework for the content experience; we have an architecture where we identify all the different destinations and how we connect content from the source to specific destinations. We create content with the destination in mind in order to optimize it. We manage the content lifecycle in order to keep things fresh and updated. We distribute content out to those destinations, amplifying it through our online networks. Finally, measure and provide insights and guidance to what needs to happen next with prescription analytics. Based on the analytics, we will start the process all over again.
Applying this framework to your company’s content experience will provide increased value and loyalty of your end-users, keeping them aligned to you and out of your competition. You may even poach some of your competitors’ customers while you’re at it.