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Is Your Content Strategy Built To Fail?

As an advocate for the power of content from an acquisition, conversion and retention perspective, I’m still surprised that despite vocally singing the praises of content, inherently brands refuse to fully commit to a full-blown content strategy.

Queue dramatic music….

Imagine the world where you as a customer aren’t constantly being ‘sold to’. Your order from a particular brand has more relevance to them than just an acquisition cost. You have chosen to give the brand your hard earned cash and in return, they openly engage with you and deliver content that is relevant to you, your recent purchase or your wider lifestyle. As a result, you feel valued and return to buy from them without pressure because you trust them and hold them in a higher regard than their competitors.

A pipe dream?…Or a well thought out content strategy delivered across all channels.

Remove the concept that your customers are just buying robots and replace it with the idea that customers might actually like your brand. They might actually want to hear from you and God help them they might actually value your opinion. They are your individual brand ambassadors.

Don’t be fooled, content is a long-term commitment (not a short-term fix), and should be attributed likewise when building out your budgets and plans. It doesn’t support knee-jerk reactions to weekly performance drops (typically in the form of discounts). This affects brand perceptions as well as your margins. Sometimes you have just had a shit week!

These types of knee-jerk reactions are often the result of past performance suffocating the forward planning of digital marketers and trading managers. It strikes fear in them that their e-mail conversion rate should ever fall below ‘x’ % and so their budgets become rigid and unforgiving. If content (done right!), is at the heart at what you want to do, then a dip in a channel’s performance one week can be outweighed by a higher than average performance at key dates. Surely we should objectively be looking at results over a 12 month period, because hey isn’t that what you’ve budgeted for. Dips in performance can be influenced by so many issues not least stock, bad weather, competitor discounts, Brexit etc. These factors should be siding notes on a 12-month review not held aloft as proof that the content strategy isn’t working.

Speaking about individual channel performance, I honestly believe that 99% of the e-mails I receive from brands do nothing but encourage me to unsubscribe. I will write a separate piece on this, but content should be an immersive experience, taking you from e-mail to site without screaming at you to buy. Cramming with cta’s and multiple conflicting products sounds like a desperate attempt to hit that 2.5% conversion rate you have budgeted for. It isn’t a concerted effort to try to understand what your customer wants to hear from you.

I would be surprised if your customers buy from you (groceries aside) once, twice, three times a week, so why would your e-mails take a ‘buy now’ strategy? Surely it is better to build up a connection with a customer so that when they are ready to buy, you are the first brand they think of.

A great example for me personally is Mr Porter. I have bought from them in the past, but it is not a brand I can continually purchase from (with my current bank balance). Despite this, I continually find myself clicking through their content e-mails to the Journal area onsite. I’m not looking to buy, but that content has struck a chord with me and has built up a connection with me. They are now seen as an authoritative figure, and you can guess where I’ll be heading after I’ve saved my pennies.

Content is not a buzzword that has no longevity. We have seen Google constantly updating its search algorithms to take into account the importance of great, original content that can better add value to a customer’s journey. Brands seem happy to bow down and worship at the altar of Google when it comes to PPC, but ask them to send a product for a blogger review and you are presented with a load of confused faces. Your brand PPC strategy should be nothing but feeder information to a wider SEO plan. Find out what products people are searching for, and build content around it. Not only will it reduce your PPC costs but will generate lots of potentially great content to distribute throughout your other channels. Create a uniformed cross-channel marketing message.

For me, the most important piece of advice to remember is to treat your customer like more than just a KPI. Put yourself in their shoes. Would your three e-mails a week, generic photography or lackluster social timeline appeal to you?

Treat customers like individual brand ambassadors. Studies have shown customers still trust friends and families (even celebrities) advice more than brands. Whether verbal or through social media, a positive brand recommendation could just be your cheapest and most powerful marketing message this year.

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