Laying the Foundations for Content Marketing.

laying-the-foundations-content-marketing

Picture the following scenario:

You’re searching for a new recipe to try at a dinner party this weekend and a great one pops up in your search results page. You click through to the website and you know it’s perfect for the occasion – fresh ingredients, Mediterranean flavours and just enough technique to impress your foodie friends.

The next time you visit the website the hero banner at the top of the page is showing an e-book for ‘Delicious Mediterranean recipes for every season’. And the first piece of content as you scroll down the page is for wines that pair well with Mediterranean dishes, just like the one you’ve chosen for your dinner party.

There’s even an offer to get a discount if you buy a case. Sold.

Having the ability to subtly change your interactions with individual customers and add the value they need in the moment is what context marketing is all about.

The key components of context marketing are relevancy and personalisation.

  • Relevancy is best summarised by the phrase ‘the right content at the right time delivered to the right person through the right channel’. We’re looking for serendipity here, all the strands coming together in the right combination that meets a specific need.
  • Personalisation in this context is about the delivery of that content to the right person. It’s the perfect marriage of historic data, real-time interactions and the functionality of your marketing technology to change the content that is displayed to each person. It’s the one-to-one marketing that everyone is chasing.

So how do we move from theory to reality? Let’s take a look at three foundational steps:

Getting your data house in order: consolidate, measure and integrate

Consolidate

The most important building block of context marketing is data. And while GDPR may have helped most marketers at least know what data they have, that’s just the first step. For the data to be truly powerful, you need the full view:

  • How useful is the data you do have and what data points are you lacking?
  • How is your data organised and managed?
  • Is it owned (and siloed) by multiple functions within the business or does it sit in one place that everyone can draw from?
  • Is the format consistent across all databases? Are there standards for new data coming in?
  • Do you have a clear view of who and what needs to access it? And do you have the functionality to link it up for all the teams? 

Measure

It’s also essential that you have the ability to capture what your customers are doing – certainly on your own channels, but also on the channels that bring those customers to you.

Maturity in data analytics means knowing what not to measure as much as it means, know what key performance indicators (KPIs) you should include. Things like traffic to your website or likes on social media channels may be vanity metrics or only provide a surface view of what’s going on.

Make sure you’re measuring what the C-suite really care about, like conversions and the digital goals that are triggered along the way.

Google Analytics is a great place to start – and do make sure you get Google Tag Manager set up – but don’t stop there. Layer in the data from all the customer touchpoints you have, both online and offline, so you develop a holistic view of the customer.

And using a data visualisation tool like Power BI can help bring your data to life.

Integrate

Once you have your data in order, you need to put it to work for you. It’s not going to help anyone if it’s sitting in a box on the shelf.

Integrating your data with your marketing technology is the only way to get a 360-degree view of the customer.

Regardless of the channel that they’ve chosen, you’ll be able to recognise them, keep track of the actions they’ve taken with you and build a clear picture of where they are in the sales funnel.

There are numerous marketing technology platforms out there, but our preferred platform is Sitecore because of its flexibility and extensive functionality, including:

  • Robust content management, including for multi-lingual sites
  • In-session personalisation
  • Marketing automation, powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Seamless ecommerce experience
  • Easy integrations with other marketing technologies

Align your business objectives with customer needs

A lot of the marketing teams we work with have very specific KPIs and goals for each of their channels. But not all of them are able to clearly state how their day-to-day tactical activity fits into their organisation’s big picture.

It’s also easy to get so caught up in what the brand wants to achieve that the customers’ needs and key tasks can take second place.

But for context marketing to be effective for both brands and customers alike, the digital goals on your website should be aligned with the tasks customers are trying to do as well as connect to wider organisational objectives that impact the bottom line.

Understanding the customer’s experience of your brand

Context marketing relies on knowing who your customers are, what they want from your brand and what they need (these things may be different!) as well as where your brand sits in their wider consciousness.

Having a clear picture of their mental state when they interact with your brand can help you identify the best way to help them achieve their goal or add value in the moment. It clarifies the message you should deliver and the next stage you want to move them to.

Some great ways to build a holistic view of your customers are through:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Customer experience mapping

Now that we have the foundations in place, we’re almost ready to launch. But the final piece of the puzzle is a big one…

It's all about the content

Content is the fuel that feeds context marketing. And from experience, I can almost guarantee you that you need more than you have now.

But don’t break out the keyboard just yet, let’s take a moment and establish where we are.

First, run a content audit. You need to identify what content you already have and the state that it’s in. Some key questions to ask could include the following:

  • What is the format of your content? Is it predominately text, or do you have images, video or audio content?
  • Who is the content for? Is it clear which customer it’s for, or is it trying to be everything to all people?
  • What is the purpose of the content? Is it clear how it will move people to the next step in the sales funnel?
  • Does each piece have the correct metadata to rank in the search engines?
  • Is your call to action as strong as it could be? 

Then, run a landscape audit and competitor review. You’re working to identify the gaps in your content. You’ll discover these through questions like:

  • How are people finding your website in the search engines?
  • What other channels are bringing customers to your website?
  • What are your competitors doing that you could do better?
  • What topics aren’t being covered at all?
  • Where could you set yourself up as a thought leader in your industry? 

Finally, craft a content strategy. Writing a blog or shooting a video shouldn’t be a one-off tactical activity that you turn to when someone in the business has an idea or needs to solve a problem. It’s about the long-term plan of creating, delivering and maintaining content over the years.

It’s asking the hard questions like:

  • Why are we creating this content?
  • How do we know what success looks like and how will we measure it?
  • Who owns content in the business and what are our processes for creating and updating it?
  • What is our message hierarchy and how does that change for customers in different stages in the sales funnel?
  • What channels should we prioritise and which ones should we retire? 

The key takeaway

The benefits of context marketing are huge and it’s worth the effort of laying the right foundation to ensure you do it right. Start by consolidating your data, clarifying your objectives and identifying your most valuable customers.

Then take an honest look at how your company has done content in the past and make the tough decisions about what you’re going to do moving forward.

If you have any questions or if you would like to know how we can support you in this, get in touch today.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Sagittarius
sag-author100x100

Sagittarius

14 Nov 2018 - 8 minute read
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