Most marketing organizations are structured to deliver marketing communications campaigns. After all, that is how they have been working for decades.
So, there might be new titles, new roles, new org charts and new KPIs, but most of them are still doing the same old things. More often than not, there is a budget, a marketing objective, a campaign, a measurement and then there is next year. Nothing wrong with this, except that the customer’s environment and thus, the marketing environment has changed much today.
The customer is always on. They are searching for shoes at 1 a.m, ordering toiletries online over lunch at the office, and searching for bangle in the middle of the night that they just saw an actress wearing in a movie.
How can you be prepared for this ‘always on’ customer? ‘Always on’ customers need ‘always on’ content. Content that is present at the right place and can be accessed easily at the right time for the right person.
To be able to develop such content, there are a few questions that need answers.
Why have content?
Have it because your customers need it. It should give relevant information or should be refreshing and inspiring for them. It should not be created because you have a product and you want to promote it. Or because you have budget and boss told you to partner with a publisher he likes.
Content for who?
Know very clearly who the content is for and what behavioural change we wish to bring. Any content that does not answer the above two clearly does not have the right to be created.
What kind of content?
Content is not just videos, photos or text. There is a lot more to it than that. In fact, there are more than 100 kinds of content. Just to name a few, content could be in the form of animated gifs, audio recordings, blog posts, a book summary, case studies, charts/ infographics, FAQs list, How-to guides, illustrations, interviews, maps and much more.
Broadly, content can be magnetic (the kind of stuff that goes viral), or immersive (when people engage with it deeply and participate in it), smart (when it is personal and offers utility) or simply practical (when it is useful for a wide audience). Therefore, next time you are creating content, think beyond videos, photos and articles. Think holistically. At Ogilvy, this is how we define great brand content: it is when your marketing is so good that people don’t mind engaging with it and they don’t even feel as if someone is marketing to them.
Where to put this content?
Content placement is linked with customer behavior, so it is key to understand the customer’s information and decision journey in the form of personas. Personas are more than the sales funnel (Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty and Advocacy). Personas tell you exactly what a customer’s questions/needs are and how they navigate online ecosystem to address their unique needs. A deep understanding of personas will help determine what kind of content to put where. Some content is going to be pulled by the customer (wikis, lists, how to, shelf help, etc) while others will need to be pushed through paid media platforms (promo videos, contests etc).
When to start and when to stop making content?
Smart content is continuous. Content goes beyond a campaign. It lives before, during and after it. Placing our content online, creating engagement with it for 3 months, and then looking to next year is not content planning, it is campaign planning. Content planning needs more holistic thinking. Content creation and optimization are as much driven by what people are talking about and sharing as it is about what we want to tell them (remember there is both push and pull content!). All this is nice but how do you do it?
1. Use behavioral data: In addition to your syndicated customer research data, use data fromonline retail platforms (Alimama), search data (Baidu), social media data (weibo and third party data analysis companies) to understand customers behaviorally and then create personas. Compare diverse data sets for insights.
2. Integrate different kinds of data: Find partners who can help you integrate data from different sources. This will enhance customer visibility and quality of insights. As described above – focus on search data (awareness/ consideration), social data (advocacy/awareness) and retail data (purchase) to achieve this.
3. Track and visualize results: Use keywords to set up dashboards that help visualize customer chatter and performance of brand’s content.
4. Hire mature talent/train existing talent: Hire marketing talent that not only understands content creation but also has a point of view on how to track performance, knows what to expect and how to evaluate performance of published content.
5. Brand and customer focus (not platform focus): Integrate initiatives within the brand team. Content creation might be a specialized task, but the specialization needs to sit inside the brand marketing team. Brand and customer insight needs to drive content and not the other way round. Having vertical and specialized content teams are only going to make marketing effort more complicated and siloed.
6. Agile budget allocation: Always-on content needs agile budget cycles. It is possible there is a content creation opportunity at the end of the year (when there is no budget left!). An opportunity that could have a transformational impact on the brand. In situations like this, we need to have resources that can be tapped. Do not let opportunities pass because it is Q4 and the ‘main campaign’ for the year is already over.
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