Why content and data create the best omnichannel customer experiences

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Mapping customer journeys, tracking consumer behaviour, investing in MarTech software and using all channels the best way possible… it’s all important. 

But without good content to share, what’s the use? 

Today, most CMOs have content marketing on their agendas and ‘content is king’ is the latest mantra heard from every meeting room across the globe. 

If it’s true, then what is content marketing? And why does content always come first in omnichannel marketing?

The basics of content marketing

Let’s start at the beginning — What is content? 

Apart from the definition of something contained in something else (like cereal in a package), content has become the term for marketing material published on a website or social media. 

A piece of content can be…

  • Article
  • Video
  • Tutorial
  • Whitepaper
  • Blog post
  • Case study
  • Infographic
  • Social media post 
  • Reel or a Story
  • TikTok or a Tweet

From a marketing perspective, the difference between content and traditional advertising is that content is something you actively choose to consume — like inbound marketing compared to outbound marketing.

But having content and practising content marketing isn’t necessarily the same thing. 

Joe Pulizzi, a well-known author and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, has this to say about content marketing, “I think most people who say they do content marketing just create content. They distribute it on all kinds of platforms and there is no strategy or business model behind it.” 

He sees content marketing as an approach, meaning that the purpose and strategy behind the content are what make it a tool to achieve your marketing goals. 

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s website, content marketing is ‘a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’

Why content marketing?

The communication landscape has changed dramatically for marketing professionals over the last decades. It’s becoming increasingly hard to reach consumers with traditional advertising, and omnichannel shopping has made customer journeys complex and diverse. 

Simply put… just sending out your sales pitch doesn’t work anymore.

The answer to this dilemma is content marketing. 

But according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), most companies have a long way to go in releasing the full potential of content marketing. 

In their B2C Content Marketing survey, they found that content marketing is used mostly for creating brand awareness, educating, and building trust. 

That’s the same goal as traditional brand awareness advertising. 

The truth is that content marketing has much more potential.

Personalised content marketing through the customer journey

The key to unleashing the full power of content marketing is to create relevant and personalised content throughout the entire customer journey — from creating awareness and attracting new customers to growing and retaining existing customers. And of course, doing so through the best channel for every communication point of contact.

Still, according to the same CMI survey, only 50% of the participating companies adapt their content to different stages in the customer journey. And only 60% put the audience’s information needs above their own need to push a promotional message (as in traditional outbound marketing).

But why is that the case? And what does it take for more companies to create more relevant content for each consumer? 

The short answer is knowledge and channel access. 

This is where the strength of omnichannel marketing comes in.

Creating a virtuous communication circle – content and omnichannel marketing

The most important characteristic of an omnichannel marketing approach is customer-centricity, in contrast to channel-centricity. 

This means placing the individual customer at the centre of all marketing design and delivery, with the ultimate goal of a seamless experience of 1:1 personalised communication through the customer journey.

To achieve this you need content, channels, and data. 

By creating content, distributing it in available channels, collecting data on how the recipients interact with the content, and then using the information to improve content and channel choice, you can create a virtuous circle of more and more relevant and personalised communication.

How can an omnichannel marketing automation platform help? 

Planning, producing, and distributing content is hard work in itself. But to create relevant and personalised content based on behavioural data seamlessly across channels adapted to every step of the customer journey? Phew, that even reads like too much to handle. 

Fortunately, there are omnichannel platforms and software available to make the virtuous circle of content easier to create. 

Here are a few areas where a best-of-breed omnichannel marketing automation platform can give your organisation the stamina to create personalised content:

Make content manageable through reuse. A software solution enabling central content creation and language versioning means less work and possibilities of a high level of personalisation.

Get access to all channels in one interface. A customer-centric approach also means distributing communication in the best way for each customer. Therefore an omnichannel software solution is a good way to make all channels available in one single interface.

Get personal through a flexible data structure. Choosing a platform solution with a flexible data structure and model makes the limitations of segmentation history. It allows you to set up data fields, structure, and relations without coding, based on collected data. 

Enable automated data collection and analysis. To improve your content, you need to know your audience — who they are and how they interact with your messages. Through automated data collection, you can get behavioural, transactional, and profile data that you can use to analyse and update your content.  

Ten top tips for good content

  1. Create a content strategy. And document it.
  2. Map customer journeys and moments of truth. And adapt to it.
  3. Be serious about SEO. But don’t get obsessed with it.
  4. Make sure everything you produce has a clear purpose.
  5. Don’t be overambitious at the start. Successful content marketing is a marathon.
  6. Be smart and make your content reusable and modularised.
  7. Don’t be afraid to be nerdy and in-depth. There is enough superficiality out there already.
  8. Engage your organisation. There is probably lots of great content (and SMEs) just hanging around the coffee machine. 
  9. Be consistent across channels. The omnichannel approach, you know.
  10. Get a clear commitment from contributors. Even if they get busy.