If you’re a B2B marketer in an organization that invests in content, your content marketing strategy probably goes something like this:
- Create content. Come up with meaningful content ideas, outsource your content or create it in house, publish.
- Distribute content. Get eyeballs on your content by promoting it on social channels, paid channels, via email, etc.
- Generate insights from content. Figure out what worked and what didn’t.
- Repeat. Use the insights you’ve learned to re-fuel your content marketing process.
This is a great process! However, this process is missing something important. What about information on how your customers consume content? For instance, at what point in this process are you organizing your content to provide an engagement path? Where are you building out the actual conversion process? How are you considering your end-user’s experience?
There might be a missing pillar in your content marketing process. We like to refer to this pillar as your content experience.
What Is A Content Experience?
Quick exercise: Imagine that you need to go grocery shopping, and you have the choice of shopping at one of two stores.
Store #1 has all of its items dumped in one massive, messy pile in the middle of the floor.
Store #2 is clean, well-stocked, and all items are easy to find on well-organized shelves.
I’m willing to guess you’d choose to shop at store #2. You’d save a lot of time and would avoid the frustration of not being able to easily find what you need. It wasn’t the items available that made a difference in your shopping experience—it was the environment in which they were available.
Simply defined, a content experience is the contextual environment in which your content lives. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Just put your content a clean, responsive resource center or content hub, and you’ll be good to go?
Well, not exactly…optimizing your content experience is a little more involved than that. The retail and service industries have conducted extensive research on how store environments (both physical and digital) can be optimized to impact purchase behavior. Many B2B companies are also leveraging user experience testing to boost their bottom lines, and–perhaps most importantly–even search engine algorithms are starting to take a site’s user experience into account when generating search results.
Building and optimizing your content experience is an involved process, but a worthwhile one. Your content experience can have a profound impact on:
- Your visitor’s engagement and satisfaction with your content
- The likelihood that visitors will return and seek your content again
- Your content’s discoverability
- Your brand’s credibility
- Advocacy and referrals
- Conversions and leads
So, what does it actually take to optimize your content experience?
The Building Blocks of An Effective Content Experience
When building and optimizing your content experience, keep your end-user top of mind. Don’t expect them to go out of their way to consume your content. Make it as easy as possible for them to find it, consume it, and convert on it. Here are a few things you can do to make your content easy and fun to consume:
- Valuable content – Even the most well-optimized content experience can’t save bad content. Your content must first and foremost be valuable, relevant, and contextual to your buyer personas.
- Responsive design – Consider all points of entry into your content experience—via desktop, mobile, tablet—and cater to them so that your content consumption can be intuitive, fast, and effortless, regardless of device.
- Easy discoverability – Think back to the aforementioned store example. It’s unlikely that people will take the time to sift through all of your resources just to find the answer they’re looking for. Strategic organization increases the likelihood that your content will be discovered. The key to increasing discoverability is to break down content “silos” that form when content is inefficiently organized (e.g., by content format or by date). If you organize your content only by format, or allow it to pile-up by date, you’re hindering your content’s discoverability. By doing this, you’re only allowing your content to be discovered via one point of entry, and aren’t allowing the end-user to discover more relevant content to continue on their journey. Organize your content by topic, vertical, or segment, and consider including a search bar so relevant content can be found efficiently!
- Targeted and contextual CTAs – There are a lot of benefits to using landing pages to generate leads, but they disrupt the lead generation process by removing your end-user from your content experience. Using integrated forms, like a CTA overlay that gates a premium content asset, can provide a smoother and more contextual experience for your end-user. This way, you keep him in your resource center or content hub, as opposed to kicking them out to a landing page to retrieve a content asset. Keeping your end-user within one experience will allow them to easily continue on their journey with your brand’s content.
Thinking Beyond Content
At the end of the day, content marketing is about more than content and more than marketing. It’s about providing a remarkable experience for your end-user—one that will help build a positive relationship with your brand and keep them coming back for more.
Optimizing your content experience is the one thing you may be missing from your content strategy. Do you love your content experience? If not, consider adding this pillar to your content marketing process and you’ll allow your content to reach its full potential.
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