Earlier in this series we introduced our point of view on how organisations need to evolve their communications capabilities to deliver growth through a meaningful, mutually beneficial customer experience and 4 key principles for customer engagement:
- It must be mutually beneficial
- The customer needs to have a key role
- Content is the cornerstone; essential in driving the customer experience and for the health of the brand
- Ongoing measurement and optimisation is critical
In this final instalment, we will look at the role of content and how to continually measure and evolve your customer engagement.
Content is the link between the brand and the customer. It should attract and inspire the customer, giving them new information, a new perspective or entertainment that will add value and encourage them to respond either directly or by sharing with their contacts. For example the recent film from HelloFlo that took a new, different and humorous look at puberty was shared extensively and received 25 million hits on YouTube.
Content is also critical in establishing the brand’s positioning and values in the minds of the customer. This is particularly key in today’s world where the customer often has control of the content once it has left the brand’s ‘stable’ – if a brand’s point of view is not strong, credible or relevant, it will not survive the ‘sharing’.
Brands need a content strategy that outlines the type of content they will generate to engage their customers and how this will be used. Content may hero the latest innovation, continuously reinforce the heart of the brand or be helpful to customers. A connections plan that outlines how all of these forms of content work together to drive the brand’s objectives across the customer journey is essential. Within this, the role of the customer as well as the role of the brand in the distribution of content must be clear. Even the famously viral Dove Sketches were 95% paid-for: but the nature of the customer engagement, and the role customers played in spreading and endorsing the campaign, made it a hit.
As my colleague Amanda Jenkins highlighted in her recent blog, Intelligence is the ability to adapt and change. Content can no longer be developed 6 months before launch, launched and then assessed 3 months later. Not only do customers expect more relevant, timely content but brands need to be more relevant and timely to ensure they take advantage of all opportunities offered to them. Adidas spent months planning its World Cup social presence, ensuring content was developed to cover a number of scenarios. This content was then quickly tweaked and immediately used when the opportunity struck.
As content becomes more immediate and frequent, so measurement must evolve to allow for real time optimisation of engagement campaigns. Following analysis of impact, content can be up or down weighted, refocused, directed into stronger channels and/or updated. This will ensure the content is placed in environments where the customer is most receptive and therefore maximise campaign effects. Connections plans become living plans infused by regular data inputs, ideally with several sources integrated to provide a rich understanding. Many brands, like Gatorade, develop war rooms where ongoing monitoring and optimisation of customer engagement takes place.
So ask yourself, have you embedded the capabilities to approach content development strategically, develop detailed connections plans, be timely and relevant and optimise in real time to maximise customer engagement? And if not, are you missing a trick in driving customer-centred growth?
Read the previous two blogs in this series: Do your communications still look like matching luggage? and Do you have the capabilities to make customer engagement mutually beneficial?
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This post is by Katherine Theobald, Client Capability Director at Brand Learning