Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CONTENT FOR THE JOURNEY - Anatomy of an Email Inbox 6-12-17

Content is King (or Queen)

I've been errant in getting my posts out consistently the past few weeks.  I have a good excuse however, as I've been making some transitional moves to fully set up my winter and summer homes. I'm a little backwards this year spending the summer in Florida instead of Michigan.  Some of us relaxed on the 1,200 mile drive!  Needed to do that to buy and sell properties here in Florida however.  Getting to spend some time in the home I brought my daughter up in before selling it and moving to the coast, so that has been a trip down memory lane.

I digress, however.  I have also been working on some speaking presentations and as part of that I realized I haven't said much in these posts about content for the journey.

Content for the Journey

Last month I talked about CJM (Customer Journey Mapping) and laid out the high level thoughts and steps on how to go about this process.  Of course, if you need help doing this, contact me.

What I have found, just like in writing this blog and throughout my years as a marketing leader is that creating the content is the hardest part of implementing your customer communications strategy.

You can do a great job of creating your CJM, setting in place the tools needed to executed (automation, databases, KPIs, etc.), but if you don't build your content engine, you will fail.

Content  Gap Analysis

When I did a CJM years ago while working at Sears Home Services, one of the steps and "aha moments" was after creating the map and the content plan was the work we did as our next step which was to create a content gap analysis.

We took an inventory of all the content we had and then compared it to the content we needed. The "aha moment" was in understanding where our gaps were.  Invariably, there and in other industries that I work in one of several outcomes are observed:

  • There is just minimal content - so a BIG gap
  • There is great content across the journey phases - so MINIMAL gap (you don't see that too often)
  • There is a gap in one or more phases of the journey - most common

At Sears, we found that we were missing content early in the funnel.  I have often found that to be true.  Most selling organizations where the sales function is a strong driver at the leadership level tend to err in this space.  They focus their content on end of funnel conversions and the consideration phase of the decision.

Metrics Focus

One of the reasons a lot of organizations don't develop compelling content for early in the journey can be laid at the feet of the metrics.  It is hard to justify early funnel content when leadership is focused on short term, immediate results. In my last role in the home storage products industry, I had countless conversations about widening the conversion funnel at the top versus the bottom and minimizing the "leakage" through the process. Business leaders want to see immediate results of your efforts and unfortunately content, especially that designed to build awareness and consideration does not typically drive immediate results. Instead, it drives a wider funnel that provides more conversions as you put more people into the funnel.  The important element is setting the right metrics for this type of content.  So, it is not about getting the sale, but getting the prospect to engage and take the next step (impressions, clicks, shares, read rates, etc).

Content Generation

So once you have identified your customer journey, your content needs and your gap, you can begin to develop a content plan.

If you want to learn a lot more about the importance of content to business success, I recommend attending the Content Marketing World conference held in Cleveland.  This year it is Sept 5-8, so well before the snows start falling and a very pretty time of year in the mid-west.  There are great sessions on all things content and they will provide you many ideas on where and how to create content and also how to elevate this important function within your organization to the place it belongs.

At a high level, here's some ways to begin to build the great content library you need to drive the customer journey to your benefit:

  • Build it yourself
  • Partner with media outlets who deliver similar content
  • Re purpose historical content (repetition is important and different people show up at different times, so don't be afraid to reuse good content and use in multiple places)
  • Share other's content that is relevant (with permission and proper authorization of course)
  • Hire external content providers (make versus buy decision - topic for a future blog post)

Here's a great infographic on 22 tips for creating content from copyblogger.  

It's easier than you think.  You just need to focus and build an organization that can deliver.  Most importantly, you need to understand the customer journey so you can curate the right content.

Happy content development!

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