In 2018, many savvy marketing organizations have come to appreciate the value of content. Some may have engagement and brand evidence, based on traffic, shares and user activity. Others have started to understand business impact as well. While content ROI remains difficult to prove for many, businesses continue to see content as integral to how they engage their customers.
Content has generated results in both the B2B and B2C arena; content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less, according to Demand Metric. And B2C marketers say that content marketing is leading to better results over time: 78% say they were moderately to extremely successful in 2017 (compared with 70% the previous year).
While the data shows content marketing works (in addition to the success stories from our own clients), evolving customer expectations calls for a strategic shift in how organizations deliver such valuable content to their customers.
Today, consumers crave individually relevant content experiences. Instead of serving up the same messages, content and offers to a broad audience, marketers need to precisely target individuals using data to deliver content tailored to their individual interests and preferences. This is a type of personalization that we call individualization.
There’s no denying the benefits of delivering individualized content experiences. But even with ROI like customer engagement, loyalty and revenue on the line, many companies are still struggling to get a handle on content marketing, personalization and individualization.
We think we’ve found the root of the problem—36% of companies lack a content strategy or are making do with one that’s incomplete. But all that can be resolved, and here are five steps to help you get there.
1. Align Your Content Strategy to Business Priorities
Your content strategy should ultimately be driven by your organization’s business goals. When content individualization goals align to overarching marketing priorities (or, even better, topline business objectives), you’re able to secure the stakeholder buy-in you need to secure the resources and investment to operationalize your content marketing and individualization strategy.
2. Appoint a Business Champion
A business champion may often be the Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Digital Officer who is responsible for the strategy and operating model. These champions hold the keys to budgets and critical buy-in from other stakeholders who can support you with making content marketing and individualization a business initiative. Understand how your champion makes decisions between various strategies and plans, and then make sure your content strategy can be evaluated in the same way.
3. Get to Know Your Customers Through Data
Before you can effectively create strategic content, you need to deeply understand who the content is for and who is actually consuming it, and where. A big challenge companies face in delivering a truly individualized content experience is quickly processing and acting on the high volume of data provided by customers across a variety of channels. With the right technology partners and tools, you’ll be able to make sense of the vast amounts of behavioral data you are collecting and then optimize your content creation and delivery to engage each individual.
4. Build Capabilities to Operationalize
Once you have initial success from pilots, you should build out capabilities to scale your investments—along with the right analytics capabilities, you should explore the in-house content studio or outsourced content creation resources. Organizationally, you should consider whether content strategy and execution should be in a central team, or sit within each line of business/brand. Additional capabilities include cross-channel personalization tools, content analytics and data integration.
5. Measure to Optimize—or Else
Today many content marketers rely on engagement metrics to evaluate their content efforts. In addition, you should align your metrics back to the business priorities in step 1. Your ultimate goal is to tie content consumption to topline goals like incremental sales or customer lifetime value.
These are some of the best practices savvy organizations have implemented to develop a comprehensive content strategy that has a direct impact on business objectives. As a result, they’re able to deliver individualized content experiences in a cost-effective and sustainable way.
Download our guide: How to Master Individualization to Delight Your Customers for best practices for delivering 1:1 personalized content experiences across every channel.
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