Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Why content strategy is at the heart of digital transformation | Advertising Age

Exceptional user experience is central to digital transformation today. Companies that successfully transform their businesses do so by putting their audiences’ needs before their own. In fact, when asked which factors influence a business’s decision to implement a digital transformation strategy, nearly half of all organizations pointed to customer experience and customer satisfaction as the top motivators.

Since content is the engine that drives not only modern marketing and sales but also customer delight, it ends up at the heart of user experience sooner or later. So why aren’t we making it an integral part of the transformation journey early on? I believe there are three main issues:

1. Marketers think of content as an expense rather than a business asset.

If you don't prove the ROI of your content efforts, it’s difficult to see content as a business driver. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 5 percent of B2C marketers consider their content efforts to be “very successful.” Of the least effective content marketers, only 16 percent have a documented content strategy.

If you don’t have a clearly articulated and documented content strategy, it’s almost impossible to align your marketing and sales folks with your company’s vision and make the case for bringing on the right people, tools and processes to execute the strategy.

2. Content creation is happening in a vacuum, and departments have conflicting goals.

A report by eConsultancy found that 40 percent of marketers claimed that different departments have different agendas, while only 29 percent say they have a collaborative process. When teams create content in a vacuum, it becomes almost impossible to track content success effectively across an organization. 

3. Marketers are too focused on short-term sales to see the long-term gain from a user-centered content approach. 

Stock market pressure on quarterly profitability has proven to be paralyzing for companies seeking to innovate and transform their businesses. Marketers focus on short-term results and tactics instead of building long-term visions for the future.

Organizations have become so obsessed with driving transformational growth that they have lost sight of why they started the process in the first place—to serve their customers and provide them with products and services that help them to solve a problem.

Incorporating content into your transformation

It's crucial to develop your content strategy within your organization and bring content to the table sooner in your transformation journey. But how, exactly?

1. Focus on your audience’s needs before your own.

Instead of pouring all your resources into the tools and technology you think you need, focus instead on identifying what content your audience actually wants—and how you’ll measure its effectiveness. Once you know your audience, you can make intelligent investments in the tools and technology you need to reach them effectively.

2. Get the right content to the right audience in the right format.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not—otherwise every brand today would be doing it. Map out your customer journeys by audience so you can anticipate the content they’re looking for at every stage. Don’t stop at content topic and channel; consider how the format and structure of your content should vary to best fit each stage of each customer journey.

3. Become an authority in your space.

By creating content that helps your audience, you’ll become a trusted source of information that’s useful, relevant and meaningful. In turn, by becoming the leading authority in your space, people will start to turn to you for answers. 

4. Shift away from short-termism to allow time and space for strategy.

One of the main pitfalls of modern marketing is spending insufficient time on strategy and instead gravitating toward the same tactics and campaigns every quarter. Although it’s not realistic to wait one or two years before finally launching a new strategy, give yourself time and space to reflect, think and plan on a more regular basis. To truly transform your business and promote innovation and creativity, you need to allow plenty of breathing space for strategy.

5. Break down silos. 

Get content strategy teams involved in your digital transformation project early. Ensure your strategy is communicated across the entire company so that all stakeholders understand the vision and objectives and can contribute their ideas.

Priming your content for the transformation ahead

Content touches every department inside an organization, from SEO to UX, product development, and sales and marketing. As such, it's critically important to not only understand how content contributes to your existing processes but also to determine if it's ready to play a central role in your planned transformation. Strategist Rahel Bailie’s content maturity model is a great starting point.

At the same time, make a serious commitment to building a detailed understanding of your audience. It's the critical first step in a process that will ultimately empower you to build strategic content experiences for your market—and guide the decisions you make on media, channels, measurement, people, tools and technology.

Great content is key to setting your business apart from your competition. To succeed, you need to consider it early in your transformation process, so you can offer customers the experiences they want.

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