By Jeff Mills, UK Country Manager, WordPress VIP
For many years now, content has been a central component of brand and customer experience. Whether it’s a targeted and personalised newsletter, insightful content on a website, funny posts on social media, content is perhaps the single most important element of any brand and how it is perceived.
An entire industry – content marketing – has emerged from this and brands all over the world have recognised the importance of offering their customers and prospects a good content experience on their website. But what exactly does a good content experience look like and how should it be approached?
Has content become even more important?
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a number of changes in the way that people consume and engage with a brand’s content. When the world first went into lockdown, traffic to news websites – in particular, local news – saw significant spikes. People were streaming video content more than ever, from Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, and people were also spending more time on social media and online generally.
Brands changed the nature of their communications and content to reflect this. Tone was especially important. Humour was still used, but content tended to be empathetic and adding value, acknowledging what was going on in the world and providing updates relating to that.
As we move gradually back to normality, content remains critical for most brands. The BBC recently announced it is reaching its largest-ever audience outside of the UK, with 483 million coming to BBC News every week. 151 million people are now viewing the BBC’s videos and other digital content, an increase of 53% from the previous year.
Such figures show an on-going trend, so perhaps it’s hard then, to say that the use of content has changed for good in marketing and brand awareness since the pandemic. But it certainly has doubled down on all the things that made it important before the pandemic. There has been a demand for personalised, relevant, targeted content that adds value, inspires a reaction or engagement for many years now, but that has been reinforced by recent events.
Delivering fresh content
The broader digital experience is of course important too, but in reality, content remains king. Brands and publishers use content to achieve increases in traffic, customer engagement and conversion rates, and for marketers it remains intrinsic to the business success of that organisation.
But people are not in agreement about the best approach to delivering new and relevant content. Keeping a website fresh with content, improved functionality, design and substance can be costly and time-consuming, and it isn’t always a simple process. This can mean people putting off improvements, or grouping them into one big bang update, the waterfall approach.
Such big bang projects rarely deliver though. Budget tends to get eaten up, while the volume of items that need to be fixed or improved grows all the time, becoming unwieldy. There are many stakeholders involved which can overcomplicate matters and it can be tricky to relate the project back to the original marketing plan and objectives. Also, people change jobs or departments, so continuity on such projects can be a challenge.
Agility is key to good content experiences
A more effective way of delivering a good content experience is to adopt a much more nimble and agile approach. Why put all your eggs in the one basket that is a major relaunch or refresh, when you can change content and make incremental changes whenever the marketing team needs to?
The pandemic has illustrated beyond all doubt that content needs to be able to change with circumstances. Empowering teams to respond quickly and creatively to changing customer demands and market situations delivers better business results. Marketers need to create more authentic, more relevant and more creative content that can respond better to the context of the times.
To achieve this, brands and publishers need to work with an enterprise-grade content platform that makes such changes straightforward. It needs to be scalable, able to cope with spikes in traffic and come with the support that brand needs to reflect the importance of content to future success.
Content is at the heart of commerce, marketing and what customers think of a brand. It’s not just B2C either – a February 2020 study by FocusVision revealed that the average B2B customer engages with 13 different pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. So, any brand that overlooks the easy updating of content on their website will do so at their peril.
Content is what drives people to products and keeps bringing them back. The big bang method of refreshing a website does not chime with the modern consumer’s experiences and expectations, and an agile approach is by the most effective way of doing so.