Riding the wave of customer expectation and beyond .


I’ve always subscribed to the idea that anecdotes are not the singular of research. I was dragged up through the Guy Kawasaki school of thinking and anecdotes often smell too much of HIPPO – Highest Important Person’s Personal Opinion.

But bear with me for a second and let’s see if my recent personal experiences resonate with you or fortuitously connect with any actual insight out there in the real world.

Whilst on lockdown I’ve been trying to create clean air between the working week at home and the weekends (still at home). Yes, more sun and exercise perhaps but for me, it’s been about DIY. Working harder on personal home projects for two days has created the right punctuation to protect my mental health for the remaining five where I’m paid to think about other people’s digital experience challenges.

As you all know, DIY related buying has traditionally been done in-store and as a business model, it’s not dissimilar from grocery retail in that the brand you engage with mostly sells other people’s products. They are the connection between you and the manufacturer. They sit in the controlling centre of the B2B2C chain. I accept that we’ve always loved the niche or artisan-style product makers that you can go to direct but on the whole if you want maximum choice and a variety that spans everything from central heating boilers to garden fencing you head down one of a handful of routes and almost indistinguishable customer experience.

So here comes the anecdote – short and sweet. The intensity of lockdown has made time even more precious to me and I’m no longer interested in the middle man. I want expertise and speed. I want all the facts at my disposal, preferably via video, and the highest possible quality guaranteed so that my leap to buying ‘unseen’ comes with no surprises.

I have no issue paying more for your goods because I understand that this new one-to-one relationship requires investment from you but please make it easy and get my stuff to me faster (not an elusive delivery slot in 3 weeks time). Do these small things and I’ll sing your brand from the rooftops and return time and time again to buy your products.

Have you experienced a similar shift while you’ve been locked down and navigating the online retail world? Do you work for a manufacturer and know what’s happening out there?

These are difficult times but ordinary people are just trying to redirect their saved travel expenses into something lasting or desperately needing to find a cheaper way to achieve something they’ve planned.

Have you found yourself wanting to go direct to the very people who make the thing you want? or worse still realising they don’t offer you the choice? Do you work for a brand that needs to take some control back and fire up a direct to consumer approach?

Fear not it’s not just us two. The insight we are getting from our manufacturing clients paints the same picture. The transition to direct is not new and although as customers we think it's pervasive the truth is that e-commerce has moved at a glacial pace for the last two decades but that ends here. Incrementally some global events have accelerated it. Black Friday’s have helped. Escalating Physical Premises costs have helped. The ‘Amazon effect’ on expectations has helped. But only a global pandemic that forces you to stay at home has been enough to shine a light on the have’s and have nots. It's taken something this relentless and sustained to trigger a transformation ripple. It has forced us online in a way I don’t think I’ve experienced in nearly 30 years of the digital. And even as lockdown eases and we venture to shops we’ll now expect a more connected service on and offline.

For those manufacturers who have already started investing in a direct to consumer e-commerce relationship we’ve seen 300, 400, even 600% increases in enquiries, repeat visits and revenue. The shift is undeniable and luckily my personal anecdote wasn’t hot air.

Yes, we are helping brands to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ but more importantly, support them in creating the right customer experience and a strategy that leverages all those lovely new records in their CRM. All stuff that will help them springboard into the next normal and power through the years ahead of us.

For those not yet convinced but wondering what this means for you. I’d encourage you to think about it differently. Which area of your business could you simply stop? What legacy operation could you tear up to redirect investment into this new future? If your existing model means you haven’t got enough sight of what the customer wants then don’t take my word for it. Deploy some Voice of Customer on your brand site and let those not being served tell you how they feel. You can’t stop the tide but you sure as hell can surf on it.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Supercharging the 'direct to consumer' experience for Manufacturers then join us at our next webinar on 16th June at 12:30 and register your attendance here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences during the Q&A after and if you can’t make it then contact us directly at hello@sagittarius.agency.

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?

Thumbnail Ian MacArthur
Ian MacArthur
Chief Experience Officer
Ian is a highly experienced and award-winning creative strategist specialising in bringing brands closer to their audiences through digital marketing transformation and optimisation. With over 26 years’ experience and well over 10,000 projects under his belt, Ian is proud to have worked with some of the world’s most impressive brands, helping them solve business problems and approach challenges differently.

Ian heads up the experience optimisation (XO) division at Sagittarius, working with all teams and clients across the business and globe.
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