You know what the biggest problem may be with content strategy today? Too many think it’s all about content marketing and forget there are other areas of the organization responsible for customer experience that also need a solid content strategy.
A new Accenture Digital report talks about how content is as essential as water; it’s the marketer’s most “vital natural asset.” Of the marketers surveyed for the report, 100% agreed that content – both internal and external – is valuable for meeting business objectives.
The problem is, everyone thinks it’s critical to the business (particularly marketing), but just as many can’t quite figure out how to effectively manage and produce it, or how to leverage content across the entire company.
What is the right amount of content?
This is an important question for companies. The Accenture report states that 92% of respondents are producing more content than they did two years ago, and 83% expect that volume to increase even more in the next two years.
Another interesting stat: only 17% strongly agree that they are prepared to deal with the amount of content they have to produce (37% agree and 36% are neutral).
So they are producing more and more content, but a little over half aren’t sure the investments they make in digital content will achieve their business objectives.
Why is it so difficult to effectively manage and produce digital content? The report cites the lack of skilled talent, deficiencies in technology, and overall process issues as the top three problems.
The thing is, many companies have more than one department responsible for digital content. And while in almost every case, all content supports customer experience, these departments don’t share content or even talk about a cohesive organizational content strategy.
Content success requires a cross-company content strategy
Some things need to happen to improve content success, and they have a lot to do with the better integration of technology, tools and processes, and coordination and collaboration of digital content creation and management across the organization.
Scott Abel wrote a good piece on the Content Marketing Institute about why and how marketers need to become content efficiency experts. He noted a Gleanster report that found that:
Organizations that invest in streamlining and optimizing content marketing production create twice as much content as their less-efficient competitors, and they do so 163% faster.
He offered three steps to set up efficient content operations:
- Identify detrimental inconsistencies in your customer-facing content.
- Collaborate more fully with other content-creating departments.
- Move toward a unified content experience.
In Abel’s article, he talks about the marketer, which makes sense if you think that the marketer owns the customer experience. It may be the way companies are heading, but I suspect there is still a long way to go before most can say their marketing team owns the end-to-end customer experience.
Which means if we focus our discussions on what the marketer needs to do, we leave out other important roles that also produce (or should produce) customer-focused content.
And therein lies the trouble with content strategy. It’s too marketing focused. I agree that marketing creates a large amount of content, but so does customer service/support along with lines of business.
Much of the content developed for each department is shareable across departments and needs to have some degree of consistency, in style, voice, and approach, as well as actual content, to ensure the customer experience is consistent.
Abel’s steps apply in all cases. So what if we backed it up and created a content team that works across departments, developing a content strategy that supports the needs of everyone. Then we might know that when a great piece of content is created for marketing, it can also be repurposed in some way for self-service support. Or that content developed for support FAQs could be reworked for a content marketing campaign.
Two types of content strategists and the customer journey
Ann Rockley describes two types of content strategists – front-end and back-end. Most organizations have no trouble retaining front-end content strategists. These are the ones who create personas and journey maps, understand the needs of their customer or audience and figure out what content is needed.
But back-end content strategists seem harder to find because they deal with the structure of the content, how to organize it, technically store and manage it, and reuse it across the company. It’s a much more technically savvy role, and it’s rare you find it in the marketing department.
In a cross-company content strategy, your content strategy team would employ both types of strategists, and they would focus on the entire customer journey. This would ensure you create a content model that encourages the creation and reuse of content in all situations, whether it’s lead generation, sales pitches or customer support.
It also gives you a single team that can look across the company and see what content is needed to support the entire customer journey. It should help you measure content ROI more effectively as well because you can see where a piece of content is used in different areas, contributing to Customer Lifetime Value (the big number everyone wants to understand).
A centralized team doesn’t mean marketing loses its ability to define and create its content; it simply pulls in a front-end content strategist from the central team as part of its team. That content strategist has the benefit of seeing things across the company and can provide insights and make suggestions on what content to create. A centralized team does mean other departments will get the same amount of attention that marketing gets for content strategy.
At some point marketing may officially become the owner of the customer experience across the board. When they do, that content strategy team should fall under their management. But until it happens and we can see that marketing is focused on the entire customer experience, content strategy should stand apart.
Image credit - Business person standing in maze center © ra2 studio - Fotolia.com.