Content strategy connecting the dots at Tekom tcworld 2012
I’m attending Tekom tcworld 2012, in Wiesbaden. Today is the first day of the conference, and I’ve decided to attend a number of sessions on content strategy.
Rahel Anne Bailie presented a session titled “How Content Strategy Connects the Dots between Business, Brand, and Benefits”. The aim of the session was to discuss how managing content as a business asset, with an iterative lifecycle, can bring value and ROI to a business. Rahel’s session description promised to explore the connections between functional areas within the emerging discipline to provide a framework for organisations and practitioners.
Rahel started out by saying: Instead of design-driven content, we want to have content-driven design.
Lack of content is a fail
If you do a search on a website, and it comes up with “no results” or “not found” – that’s a fail. Consumers don’t think about the prettiness of the site or the greatness of the brand. They want an answer to their problem.
Marketing teams usually talk about the customer lifecycle. It usually finishes when the customer buys the product. The company forgets about you, the customer, after that point. If they’re really smart, they look at the full circle, including when the customer upgrades or renews the relationship. This cycle therefore takes long-term support into account. Looking at the timelines, the period of long-tern support is usually very long in comparison to the initial purchase period. However, many companies put more effort into the content that covers the initial period: marketing, white papers, case studies, getting started guides.
In terms of content strategy, this offers a huge opportunity to fill the gap, and help ensure that people continue the relationship with the company. It’s an opportunity to become more engaged with our customers, and for them to become more engaged with the company.
Content as a business asset
Content is a valuable business asset, and needs to be managed as such.
HP reports that 90% of its products are sold on the basis of content alone. People read the specs before they buy the product.
Good content that people can understand builds trust. If there is a barrier of comprehension, that removes some of the trust. Trust is good for the brand, which leads to customer loyalty and profitability.
Good content management can do two things:
- ROI – return on investment: making money
- IRR – internal rate of return: doing something more efficiently, and thus saving money.
What does content curation do?
- Tells stories. People are hard-wired to understand stories. Make sure it fits the genre that people expect, and is relevant.
- Recombines content to create new context and build the brand.
- Promotes comprehension, helping people to understand a procedure and how it fits into the context all round it.
- Turns information into knowledge.
Technical content is the cake that holds up the icing which is the marketing and branding material. Typically, the marketing material doesn’t really tell you what a product can do. Another good source of information is the user forums. People use the technical content and forums to make their decisions, not the marketing material.
Where does content strategy start?
Content strategy starts before the site design. It starts with search.
What is content strategy?
This is Rahel’s definition: “Content strategy is the repeatable system that governs the management of content throughout the entire lifecycle.”
- Planning what we want to do with the content.
- Collecting the content – writing it, getting it from translators, making new versions, etc.
- Managing the content.
- Publishing it, and retention/update policies.
Rahel discussed some examples of how companies manage their content. She showed, for example, how Starbucks have analysed what people want to do when they’re on their mobiles, as opposed to when they’re on their desktop. We need to think up the type of content we want to deliver, how and when and to whom.
Starbucks have even gone to the extent of creating content specifically for the BlackBerry, because they know that many of their corporate customers use BlackBerries.
Working towards a vision
We need to work towards a vision. People bring their perceptions and impressions from other companies on the internet, to you website. You have to keep up with what your competitors are doing. You need a vision of where you want to get to, and make sure you’re working towards it.
Content is connected
Content is not a system of silos: marketing, technical, training. Instead, it’s all about the product. The customer wants a seamless experience, and some sort of “aha” experience – something that makes them feel good about your company.
Our role is to match up the organisational expectations with the customer expectations, working towards an integrated content strategy.