By now it's a set of clichés: content is king, marketing is queen, etc. However we phrase it, the conclusions are the same. Though admittedly at different speeds, businesses are going digital.
Online touch points are becoming the most important touch points -- first impressions, the calling cards of the modern enterprise. And first impressions matter.
In online business, all competitors are a click away. Online environments are virtual storefronts, and no business can afford to turn away visitors. Value needs to be immediate. Each visitor must have a context-appropriate, relevant digital experience. For the online visitor, it has to be love at first site.
What makes a relevant digital experience? It's a combination of factors: true channel awareness, location awareness, awareness of the local time or local weather. Beyond responsive design, a relevant digital experience demands understanding that what's pertinent to a visitor on a mobile phone walking to the train station at noon might be different from what's important to a visitor accessing the site on a tablet in the evening. In short: context awareness. Combined with a progressive understanding of the individual's interests, preferences, and intent based on engagement with content, relevant onsite content performs to support business objectives.
It's not about who is king or who is queen-- content-driven data strategy that truly demonstrates ROI comes from a feedback loop where actionable insights, content, and business strategy work together and inform one another.
Delivering value with the first impression
Relevant digital experiences are about more than superficial optimization. They involve delivering on the true needs of the visitor, and help lay the groundwork for a strong and long-lasting relationship with a customer. As Forrester Analyst Jeff Ernst points out, "in the age of the customer, business buyers don't 'buy' your product; they 'buy into' your approach to solving their problem." To succeed, businesses must learn to listen, and understand visitors as individuals. As Ernst emphasizes, "Addressing the higher need behind a purchase is an investment that can create engaged, returning customers who advocate for the business and brand."
Understand audiences -- and the individuals who comprise them
To deliver true value, the modern business must listen and deliver relevant content with two simultaneous objectives: a) supporting customers at any stage in their relationship with the brand (across the customer journey) and b) expanding the reach of the customer journey -- listening and delivering value earlier than previously possible. Even at first, anonymous visit.
Beginning with the anonymous, the modern business can use data on engagement to develop a progressive and increasingly precise profile of the visitor, continuously delivering relevant content-- increasingly understand the visitor as an individual, and gaining insight into the personas and audiences engaging with the brand. These insights can also identify crucial content gaps-- indicating opportunities in underserved audiences.
Whether it's B2B or B2C -- you need content that performs
When it comes to customer segmentation and mapping the customer journey, B2B and B2C tend to have different needs and different approaches. The average B2C company, for example, targets 4 personas while that number can be much greater for the B2B market. Nevertheless, both need to understand their customers' needs, and use relevant, contextually aware onsite content to optimize the online experience from its earliest stages. No industry is exempt from delivering exceptional digital experiences. All businesses need content that performs in supporting business objectives.
B2B and B2C both need to use content to drive and retain business end-to-end
While vocabulary and customer segmentation might vary, the foundational principle remains the same: B2B and B2C both need to use relevant content and actionable insights to drive and retain business end-to-end.
B2B marketers will be familiar with the concept of lead to revenue management pioneered by Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo. In lead to revenue management, a lead matures into a marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, opportunity, and eventually a deal. What's interesting to note is how marketing technology supports this process, helping move customers along the customer journey. Marketing automation, CRM, social media, e-commerce, and help desk each map back to stages in the customer journey-- while trends and experiments offering insights on content performance (in a web content management system) achieve two goals simultaneously: Providing relevant online content through the customer journey and opening up the funnel. This offers a personalized experience which preempts marketing automation -- preempting the lead stage.
B2C businesses echo this approach. Rather than maturing leads, B2C businesses aim to move potential customers from a stage of awareness and familiarity with a brand to interest, decision, action, and satisfaction. In the B2C equivalent to visitor to lead management, an anonymous visitor becomes a prospective buyer, customer, and eventually fan. Here again, software plays a central role. Marketing technology used for campaign management, CRM, social, and loyalty maps back to the customer journey. Trends and experiments (in a web content management system) create relevant experiences at the earliest stages of contact and close the feedback loop -- personalizing the digital experience throughout the customer journey.
Flexible tools for a decentralized journey
With so many touch points and channels, the customer journey is not a straight line. This is why omnichannel readiness, flexibility, and interchange of data between the tools that support it is crucial. Whatever the vertical, as businesses construct their digital experience strategy, the software they select should never be an afterthought. Software should support content strategy and foster innovative decision making. A web content management system should do more than manage content -- it should make it perform for the business.
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