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T EF T R F H U U EOC N E TE P R N E O T N X E IE C :A DH W OD S NF RIT N O T E IG O Written by Kevin Nichols, Director and Practice Lead, Content Strategy, Boston
TR N ED 3 Someday very soon, shopping for website or mobile site, and via any your daughter’s birthday present will type of physical communication look like this: (internal or external to your business)Defining Content within your brand, company or You are at an electronics store communication ecosystem. ThisFirst, let’s be specific about what looking for a tablet. You see one model includes communication at everywe mean by “content.” you like, pick up the box and scan customer touchpoint, as well as the its bar code with your phone. Your data captured about those customers.Ask 10 different people to define phone immediately retrieves product In many ways, content is thecontent, and you’ll end up with 10 information based on what it knows manifestation of a brand that isn’tdifferent perspectives. Usually the you prefer to see; in this case, that brand’s actual products ordefinitions involve the many types comparative products and prices. services. Think about that for a minute:of content—audio, text, video and In addition to its products and services,images—what is read to a customer You quickly compare other tablets a brand is actually its content.from a support call center by swiping your phone against otherrepresentative or what a car models—never touching the screen— Content creates a customer’sdealer picks up from their auto and decide one model and brand is experience with brand. As such,manufacturer to share with perfect. You take a picture of the you need that experience to becustomers (or mechanics). But tablet with your glasses, send it to your successful—it’s a brand asset thatthis approach merely defines phone with a simple voice command requires much effort to grow, evolvecontent by format; it is much more and text the image to your daughter and produce value. When usedthan that. So let’s try a with a “happy birthday” message. properly, content can become a majorbroader, more useful definition part of a brand’s life force. And itthat can encompass them all: While you scan your phone over makes a customer’s connection to a checkout counter to finalize the your brand seamless and engaging.In the digital landscape, content is: purchase, you ask your cell whether you left the lights on at home—some- The Future of Content• created by someone to thing you just remembered. Your phone With over 10 billion indexed communicate an idea, assures you that the lights are off. webpages, 1 million mobile apps and seemingly endless amounts• recorded and stored Most people assume that incredible of user-generated content, we’re electronically, and technologies work together in this drowning in information. Many birthday-shopping scene, but it’s organizations have little insight into• consumed by or shared actually content that connects all how much content they possess, what with others. the elements to create the overall to do with it or, most importantly, experience. Several different business how to meet their customers’ content units in several different companies consumption needs. have, somewhere along the line, decided to invest in robust and Over the next five years, we can compel- ling content processes and expect these challenges to grow strategies. significantly. People will be over- So… What Is This loaded with content and, although “Content Experience”? their consumption patterns may Content includes any material that evolve, their need to get what they you publish on your organization’s want when they want it won’t change. 125
C N IN O SE P R N E O T U U X E IE C SBusinesses will encounter even greater For instance, a search engine willchallenges to get consumers relevant, automatically filter through 10,000meaningful and timely content. search results to give you what it knows you want to see. Are businesses getting the rightConsumer expectations will drive content experiences to theirintelligent content solutions; they More and more regulations over the customers? A Havas Media reportwant real-time information delivered use, collection and sale of consumer surveyed 14 countries and 50,000at a variety of different moments and data will unfold. Last year, the consumers in November 2011 andevents. Personalization will be a Privacy, Technology and the Law found that “70% of people wouldcritical component—like automatic Senate Judiciary Committee was not care if brands ceased to exist.”1traffic alerts as a customer drives formed, which monitors data Though many variables contributeinto a city. For example, a woman mining, ensures consumer to consumers’ perceptions ofresearches a product at home, then information transparency and brands, content experiencegoes to the store and swipes her phone suggests new laws to protect plays a large role. And consumerat a kiosk. She’s greeted by name and consumer privacy. Issues like cyber- cynicism presents a hugethe customer representative has all of bullying and increases in plagiarism opportunity for businessesher relevant information. So her and misuse of intellectual property to differentiate themselvesin-store experience is personally will further through honest, constructive andconnected to her needs, regardless focus on questions of technology and consequential content.of platform. Later, on her birthday, ethics. All of these factors will impactshe receives an offer and, after that, what businesses can and cannotupdates about the product warranty. do with consumer information and will create new companies in socialIn the next few years, many types of media, search and other venues thatadvancements will evolve the format, promise “mining-free” and “cookie- Content Experiencemedium and consumption of content. free” experiences. as a Brand AssetWearable technology (eyewear that New players in social media willcaptures video, for example), mobile emerge as “degrees of separation”as a universal remote and wallet, and technology increases. Alreadyvoice command technology will all be companies such as Hachi are helping Customerintegrated into our everyday lives. As introduce folks to people they thinkthe virtual reality of gaming they should know. Social media willgoes mainstream, consumer demand leverage semantic technology to Trustfor immersive content (like 3D and create even more sophisticated With360-degree video) will spill into other networking opportunities. Brandparts of their lives and continue to Knowledge-sharing sites willadvance. 3D printing will be just continue to emerge, such as Quora,another feature on a printer. Semantic which allows users to ask any Product or Contenttechnology will evolve given the sheer question and receive accurate, clear Serviceamount of data businesses have on answers from authoritative sources.consumers’ behaviors, creating a Social shopping will become awhole new market around technology reality for mainstream consumers asthat can predict specific consumer customers automatically sharebehavior and respond to it. purchases with friends and solicit their feedback. Finally, peer-to-peer, 1 w w a a e ia m 0 1 1 e n g l-bra d a a e ia un e lo a su w .h v sm d .co /2 1 /1 /m a in fu n s-h v s-m d -la ch s-g b l-re lts/ 126
TR N ED 3 user-generated content sites for tangibly measured value; an effective brand and product evaluation will content experience translates into create more ways to authenticate higher conversion rates, stronger customer reviews and increase the customer loyalty and a more integrity of responses. consistent brand experience across all brand channels, from a product Success in the Future package to a customer call center, These present and future challenges from Facebook to a mobile app to offer unique opportunities. the company website. This reality Understanding holistic content may seem like a no-brainer, but even today after all of the “content is king” talk, many businesses don’t put their money behind this concept.Though many variables contribute to consumers’ Timely, meaningful and relevantperception of brands, content experience plays content creates a successful customer experience and as such,a large role. And consumer cynicism presents a requires investment to empower itshuge opportunity for businesses to differentiate full potential. To engender this practice, a business must measurethemselves through honest, constructive and evaluate all areas where contentand consequential content. lives—internally and externally— extending well beyond just web analytics. A strong metrics and measurement strategy will help strategy—connecting timely, relevant future evolution. It also facilitates content to the right user at the right another important principle: Just as an time—will only get businesses so organization cares for its institutional far. Content strategists understand the financial portfolio, content requires types of content experiences constant “seeding and feeding.” consumers need, and then determine operational and governance processes The second rule of thumb is that to create and maintain those businesses must understand that experiences. Businesses must act investing in content strategy is only upon what content strategy requires useful if they also invest in creating and make an investment of time, the content itself. Why develop a money and resources in what we beautiful website or mobile experience outline below. sans a robust new content experience to support it and a publication model to The first rule of thumb is that ensure continued relevance? Content is businesses that deliver successful not inexpensive, so figuring out the type content experiences in the future of content experiences you should will do so because they recognize create must be directed by a long-term content as a strategic brand and roadmap and strategy. business asset. Content has a 127
C N IN O SE P R N E O T U U X E IE C SJust as brands make significant future success. This model, picturedinvestments in marketing collateral on the following page, drivesand campaigns, they should sustainability. As a business createsreprioritize content that serves content, it continuously evaluates itscustomer needs: support efficacy and then optimizes orcontent, white papers, thought archives it. This process is repeatable,leadership and decision tools to extensible and agile. These stepsassist the customer in finding the are predicated on a solid metricsright product, just to name a few. If strategy, defining success criteria forForrester’s annualreports on customer experience make content, creating KPIs to measure it,one point clear, it’s that customer rolling results up into dashboardsexperience embodies the entire and reviewing it semi-annually—customer engagement with a brand. on a program level—to set futureHigh quality content at each point of priorities.exchange has a direct impact on thecustomer’s brand perception. An The fourth rule of thumb is thatinvestment in the continuous creation transparency about what customerand renewal of meaningful content will data is collected yields customercompetitively differentiate a business trust. This practice will not onlyand position it as a superior brand. increase customer loyalty to the brand, but will also position businesses toThe third rule of thumb is that the respond to future regulations anddevelopment of a closed-loop content prevent potential litigation.strategy will position a business for 128
TR N ED 3Closed-Loop Content Step 2:Strategy Model Step 1: Plan Closed-Loop Content Assess Strategy ModelStep 1: Assess• Audit content• Conduct shareholder interviews/surveys Define as needed Governance Step 3:• Analyze and validate content ecosystems Step 5: Model Design (sites, channels, social, partners) Maintain &• Analyze competitors’ content experiences OptimizeStep 2: Plan Step 4:• Set objectives with global stakeholders Create• Define measurement plan• Determine accountability• Create content recommendations• Define governance strategy A/B testing and multivariate testing, articles on a mobile device, but that consumer surveys and the like are all does not mean that a man on hisStep 3: Design proven mechanisms to measure the way to work doesn’t want to consume• Plan experience and content efficacy of content solutions and a white paper on his mobile phone.• Define new workflows including loop• Prepare staffing recommendations can help businesses glean much Content should be agile so that it• Prepare metadata strategy information on consumer behavior can be shared, repurposed and• Develop taxonomies to guide future content decisions in easily consumed in many• Develop editiorial guidelines a non-invasive manner. different environments.• Develop content model• Develop content production/migration• Draft editorial calendar The final two rules of thumb are Conclusion interconnected: Content experience To quote punk rock goddess NinaStep 4: Create is no longer a one-way conversation, Hagen, “the future is now,” and• Create assets and copy and customers weigh in on a brand businesses should appreciate this• Input into CMS through their own content and fact. No matter where the future• Localize as necessary word-of-mouth experiences. Obviously, takes us, we have the tools to meet• Review and test consumers are your most important its demands. Customer needs should• Implement governance model mouthpieces. Simultaneously, drive content experience, investment and workflows• Finalize editorial calendar consumers want more control over the in respective content and the content with which they interact. Make operational model to support itsStep 5: Maintain & Optimize content as portable as possible, so creation, delivery and governance.• Deploy content and application changes that users can consume, share and This will keep any business at the• Use analytics to determine areas post information on a variety of forefront of modernized content, of success and failure different formats. Always think about regardless of how technology may• Plan periodic audits the channels on which content will evolve, and will enable businesses to• Adhere to editorial calendar be consumed and create content for meet the future without overreaction• Optimize as necessary• Archive unnecessary content those experiences, but don’t limit it or afterthought, thereby positioning to that—provide options. You may not them for differentiated success. want to immediately serve up long 129