The role of content in customer experience
It’s almost too obvious to say out loud, but customer experience is the most important determinant of success or failure in every market. What’s less obvious is the value of content in customer experience and how content operational excellence ensures positive experiences.
Customer experience isn’t just confined to product experience, and content touches every part of the customer journey. Everything ranging from emails, website copy, blogs, brochures, and product information, to technical documentation, eBooks, support and knowledge base articles, and social media posts — the list is endless.
Before you win a customer, content attracts, informs, nurtures, positions, engages, educates, and advances buyers toward buying. And after the sale, content onboards, supports, drives adoption, up-sells, cross-sells, creates advocates and helps every customer succeed with your products. So the role of content in customer experience shouldn’t be undervalued.
But how can you make sure the experience you're providing is a positive one? While simultaneously making sure your content delivers on its desired impact?
The relationship between content impact and experience. Content fuels your business. And as customer journeys transition from physical to digital touchpoints, content is becoming even more valuable, deployable, and measurable.
Yet, in many, if not most cases, your business develops content with “completion,” not “impact” in mind. The need to launch outweighs the need to make sure content is built to deliver business results and meet high customer experience standards.
All enterprise content has a purpose and an expected outcome. Deeper engagement, higher conversions, and fewer support tickets — to name a few. When your content possesses the qualities it needs to meet those results, it's fit for purpose and will provide a positive experience. Understanding the relationship between the quality of your content and its performance is how you determine its impact and experience.
So the obvious next question is: what makes the content impactful?
Correctness — in terms of spelling and grammar
Clarity and conciseness
Words and phrases — company-specific terminology
On-brand and using the company’s tone of voice
Knowing how to create impactful content is one thing, but doing it at scale across an enterprise is another. That’s where content governance comes in.
The power of content governance
Content governance – a systematic approach to achieving and maintaining your company’s content strategy and measuring its success – provides the enterprise framework for content operational excellence.
Content governance unites all of your company's content, so it offers a clear and consistent customer experience. Making sure all content has the right brand voice and adheres to all your other content standards, no matter who's written it.
Get it right and your newly efficient, effective, strategic approach to content will power big, measurable improvement in customer experience terms, generating a significant uplift in impact across every customer touchpoint. You’ll see the results in the things that matter most: your marketing metrics, sales conversions, customer satisfaction scores, support effectiveness, product usage, deal sizes, customer lifetime value, loyalty and beyond.
And you’ll see these gains while actually reducing your content costs. Targets like this may be audacious, but they’re also achievable. This isn’t to say the obstacles aren’t formidable.
Content has always been an important part of the customer journey. But with an increasingly digital world, two things have happened: for brands, content has become dramatically easier to produce, publish, and promote. For buyers, content has become far easier to discover, consume, and share.
The collision of unchained supply and unlimited demand has led to an explosion in both content volume and variety. Today, every big company is in the middle of a content big bang: more departments and disciplines are becoming publishers — creating and distributing content to advance their goals. And more people are creating, editing, and publishing — with hundreds or even thousands of content contributors serving a typical global brand (many of them experts, few of them professional writers).
Human editors and manual control processes don’t come close to solving this problem. The scale of the challenge is simply too great. So businesses pay the price. Actually, they pay many prices:
Inefficient content creation, editing, review, and approval. Passing around content to a lot of people and ends up lost in inboxes and silos.
Long delays in getting the content to market. Eroding its value and delaying its impact.
Duplication of content. Resulting in wasted effort and contradicting assets.
Expensive translation costs. Producing more and more content that businesses have to pay to get it translated.
All of this adds up to a huge waste of time and money. But even that isn’t the biggest cost. The biggest cost is confusing, fragmented, and inconsistent customer experiences.
Content governance changes this. It takes the key elements of your content strategy — your goals, priorities, and policies — and turns them into actionable operational processes and metrics.
The four-step framework for operational content governance:
1. Capture and digitize your content strategy.
It’s hard to operationalize a content strategy that’s locked in a slide deck or PDF and stuck on a server somewhere.
The first step in content governance then is to create a documented strategy that’s clear, defined, aligned, and deployable. And that means establishing a set of goals, policies, processes, and metrics — and making them instantly available wherever content is created, edited, reviewed, and tracked.
Think of it as capturing your content strategy and then building APIs to it, so other software, processes, and systems can access it when they need to. Digitizing your strategy and policies lets you put them right where writers write (in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.) and where content lives (GitHub, WordPress, etc.).
2. Establish where you are today.
You’ve translated your strategy into things you can deploy and measure. Now it’s time to see how you’re currently doing.
At this stage, you compare your strategy to reality, using the metrics and targets you established in Step 1 to identify gaps. Your findings may look something like these:
“Only 6 percent of our content gets reviewed before publishing, compared to our goal of 75%.”
“Our compliance with approved terminology is running at 44 percent across the board but 12 percent in our Sales content. We need that to be 70 percent across the board.”
“Our tone of voice is inconsistent across different support articles.”
“Our bounce rates for our product pages are too high, and, interestingly, we’re also seeing clarity issues with the content on these same pages.”
Once you’ve captured performance against your agreed metrics and targets, the major gaps leap out at you and it becomes easy to prioritize your operational governance efforts.
3. Deploy your governance and guidance framework.
Governance can’t just be about measuring and tracking your content’s effectiveness. It also needs to let you step in and improve the effectiveness and impact of published content. That’s where the guidance function comes in: actively helping your content writers and editors to raise their game.
So how should you deploy your enterprise content governance and guidance framework to help content creators across your organization?
At the point of creation. Guiding writers as they write, alerting them when they’re using an outdated product name, or missing a ™, or an opportunity to use an SEO keyphrase, or straying from your target tone of voice.
In their content creation tool of choice. Whether that’s Microsoft Word, Google Docs, WordPress, or any other tool they use now. AI and natural language processing can provide actionable guidance by reviewing content for errors and diversions from strategy.
Using transparent metrics to measure content success. Content impact technology can measure how close writers are to delivering content that’s on-strategy, on-brand, and on-voice. Writers can see why they got that score and exactly how to improve it before pressing “submit” or “publish.”
4. Measure, report, and improve
For global organizations, a successful content strategy must consider the impact of new and existing content. The challenge many organizations face is the inability to understand the impact their content has over time. Published assets can quickly become outdated, off brand, and can even risk compliance.
Metrics and data have the power to improve both published and net new content. And metrics used on the guidance side of the house also inform the governance side. Monitor and track your content KPIs, pair your existing website analytics data with the quality of your digital content, and act on the insights to ensure content improvement.
If you care about customers, you care about content
The debate is over. The business world has recognized that the most successful companies in every market are those that deliver the best customer experiences.
These top performers have all discovered the critical role that content plays in their customer journeys. And they’re all getting serious about treating their customer-facing content as the strategic business asset that it is.
How do successful businesses treat strategic assets? They govern them with strategies, policies, data, and metrics.
That’s what enterprise content governance is all about: operationalizing and tracking your content strategies to drive improvements in content performance and impact. Well-governed content adds value through the entire customer lifecycle, from first touch to ongoing relationships and loyalty.
Finally, becoming the content governance champion in your organization is a major career opportunity. The leaders who take ownership of this important issue and drive change invariably see their stars rise in their companies. And for good reason. This is important. The goals are eminently achievable. The roadmap and processes are clear.