This post is by Sandra Peat, Strategy Director at ONE TWO FOUR.

With the explosion of content, consumers are exposed to more and more messaging from brands, and in their ears, much of it is probably white noise. The ever present challenge is to produce and place powerful content that people want to watch and share, while also delivering on business and marketing objectives. To create memorable moments with consumers and truly springboard the effectiveness of content activity to the next level, there are four key considerations why the audience journey should be at the heart of your content strategy.

Use the audience journey to understand when content is the right solution

The audience journey is a fantastic tool to understand how and where content can be most effective. It is made up of many interactions and experiences, with each one having a different and sometimes a small yet significant impact on an audience's journey.

The core challenge is to identify which marketing tool will be most effective in influencing consumers at certain points. While content is definitely not the only solution, in the digital world we live in it has the potential to be used in many different ways to influence. This comes with a word of caution; using content only in the context of advertising, is to limit its potential uses in engaging consumers at different stages of their audience journey.

Use the stages of the journey to identify the role of content to your audience

It is important to identify exactly what "job" your content is meant to do for content to cut through and really impact on purchase decision making.

Invest time in understanding the role of content at each stage of your audience journey, ensuring that messaging delivers against the critical insights into your audience's needs and barriers that stop them progressing on the journey. Content can provide critical insight into the needs and barriers that stop the audience from progressing on their journey. This helps to shape the topic, style and tone of the content created to address each barrier.

For consumers who are in the early stages of their audience journey, this could mean using content to provide a perspective on a consumer passion that illustrates your brands point of view, rather than focussing on product attributes or points of difference. Knowing the difference at each stage will help to refine the content (and marketing activity) choices you make.

Use the audience journey to create a holistic and single minded vision of content across your organisation

At any one point, your audience will see content about your brand that comes from lots of different sources. While many of these will be produced by other organisations or people, they will even be produced by many people within an organisation such as CSR, Sales, Marketing or HR. Consumers don't "filter" content based on whether it comes from the Marketing department, so messaging and purpose becomes very hard to influence and control across an organisation. Using the audience journey to create a holistic plan for content that is bought into across the organisation can be extremely powerful.

Put in place effective evaluation; measure and optimise

We know that Marketers are investing significantly in content, investing an average of 20p per pound of marketing spend. To measure effectively, it's important to have a clear view on what success looks like for the whole audience journey and the role that content plays in moving consumers along it. Finding the most effective metrics to assess that movement is integral to defining success. Establishing best practice for measurement of effectiveness of content on the audience journey is critical to me this year. Increasing efficiencies and minimising waste not only benefits a brands bottom line, but also improves the audiences' experience of the brand and ultimately how they feel towards it.

The audience journey is very different now compared with last year, let alone the last five years. While audience journey mapping isn't an exact science, it is an incredibly powerful tool to frame thinking about content. How a brand delivers content is about so much more that simply pushing out messages in the hope that something might stick. Instead, content should drive a particular behaviour change or action a result that rings true with the marketing and business objectives.

The rise of content has created a seismic shift in a brand's world and marketers need to quickly understand how to best utilise vast amounts of content to be able to deliver communications in a timely, relevant and welcomed way. Without doing so, marketers run the risk of their content having no impact or meaning.