Is your brand's content experience appealing to consumers?

In the first of two-part story on building a rich content experience, we discuss where marketers go wrong in devising a good content experience and how they can improve it. The story also points out the differences between content experience and content marketing

Akansha Srivastava
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A villager consumes content in a much different way compared to working woman in a metro or a gamer, a teacher or even a CEO at a multi-national company. The way in which the audience consumes content varies, and this is what content experience is all about. It consists of a consumer’s content touchpoint and engagement with a brand’s content across mediums and devices and how it appeals to his or her senses and emotions. No matter how good is the brand’s storytelling ability, if the content isn’t pleasing, relatable and easily accessible to a particular consumer, he or she will move on to the next option.

We have always spoken about content marketing, its aspects, growth, and ways to improve it. But now it’s high time to start talking about the ‘content consumption experience’, an important aspect of marketing.

Divided into a two-part story, the first one discusses where marketers go wrong in devising a good content experience and how they can improve it. The story points out the difference between content experience and content marketing. The second part will discuss various tools and trends brands must follow for a better content experience, and how they should align marketing teams and agencies internally so that it becomes easier to provide a seamless content experience. 

Is content experience part of content marketing or different?

According to various definitions available on the web, content marketing is the creation, analysis and distribution of individual pieces of content. Content experience, on the other hand, is more of a comprehensive process across creation, measurement and consumption criteria. One can’t look at content marketing and content experience separately as both have a symbiotic relationship.

Shreyansh Bhandari

Shreyansh Bhandari, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Lyxel&Flamingo, explained it in a simple manner. He said content marketing is evolving into providing a holistic experience to all your current and potential customers by delivering relevant content over a period of time — in order to make the buying journey and decision for customers better and flawless. Content experience does not stop at buying but ensures that customers are engaged throughout, even after they have bought the service or the product.

He said rather than focusing on a single piece of content at a time and ensuring it reaches out to all customers, the content experience should be about creating a continuous stream across multiple platforms, whenever customers need it, and making it more relevant and personalised for them. A rich content experience involves not only the creation of new content but also repurposing existing content to make them more personalised and relevant to customers—helping in driving higher ROI.

Manas Gulati

Manas Gulati, Co-founder and CEO, Arm Worldwide, thinks content marketing and branded content go hand-in-hand. “They complete each other. We see content marketing as a medium to reach the target audience via multiple channels. Content experience is what follows; it is a litmus test for marketers to assess what consumers liked and what didn’t affect their purchasing decisions. It's a strategic approach towards creating an environment for the audience to consume your content in a structured way while keeping enough room for them to engage with you via the same.”

Rishabh Mahendru

Rishabh Mahendru, Assistant Vice-President, Client Servicing, AdLift, believes content marketing is part of content experience. “Content experience is all about analysing your content and making it more personalised for the user to interact with,” he said.

Ratnapriya Mitra

Ratnapriya Mitra, Vice-President of Client Services at Blink Digital, seconded Mahendru’s thought. She said, “Content experience is a part of your overall content-based strategy in marketing. Giving your audience the best content experience doesn't change the fact that you are still doing marketing. Essentially marketing is what we marketers do, and the experience is what reaches the audience.”

Where do people go wrong?

There are many places where content marketers can go wrong in building a rich content experience. The discussion below can help marketers not repeat these mistakes.

Abhishek Chaturvedi

Abhishek Chaturvedi, SVP and Head of Planning, Digitas pointed out three places where content marketers go wrong:

 - Content is king, context is the queen

If a piece of content marketing is not in the right context, then it can be detrimental to the campaign.

- Relinquish control

Brands are understandably obsessive over the minutiae of their messaging, but if they are to use branded content successfully then they must relinquish a degree of control.

- Don’t overcomplicate

Simplicity is key. You should be able to sum up the idea in a tweet. Know what you are doing and be clear on that.

Arm Worldwide’s Gulati pointed out that content marketers go wrong building a rich content experience when they feel content is simply about writing and uploading. He said people should be more open to content variations. “From podcasts to infographics to videos, there’s a sea out there. Add value. Nobody wants to be dragged to read a piece of content that states the obvious. Go beyond the expected, stop writing the normal stuff and see what your brand or your agency can do differently. Thinking outside the box is too inside the box today. Create your own box now,” he added.

According to Mitra of Blink Digital, very often, marketers get caught in chasing conversions. “A one-off interaction with a piece of branded content, even it’s a KPI, serve little purpose in the bigger scheme of things. Ensuring that your content engages with your audience and helps build a long-lasting relationship is crucial. The right approach is to focus on a stream of relevant content that engages your audience over a sustained period of time.

Mahendru of Adlift said that the one-size-fits-all approach is another wrong way towards creating a content experience.

Tips and tricks to ace the content experience game

The first and foremost point to remember is that the content consumption experience will be different for every consumer. Brands must define their TG well. But what connects them all is their need, their presence in the market. Gulati said, “The content should be crafted, repackaged or upgraded in a manner where it meets every consumer’s mindset. It can be through just one line, one image or maybe a jingle. What matters is that it should be relevant, consistent and valuable.”

Listed below are checkpoints and best practices that can boost the customers’ content experience and deliver a stellar customer journey.

- Put yourself in your audience's shoes

Mitra said one must ask themselves these questions: Is this content relevant and interesting to me? Am I getting put off or annoyed by anything in it? Would I share this and why? She said if you are convinced that your audience will have a positive answer to these questions, then it is a pretty good indicator that you are in a good space.

Bhandari said detailed research is must to identify the key topics on which content is created, including current trends, seasonality, how far is the customer in the sales funnel, etc.

Mahendru said one can’t have a set framework to follow for a great content experience as every consumer consumes content in a different manner and that’s why we talk about creating personalised content.

- Provide tailored-experience

According to Chaturvedi of Digitas, content that resonates at a more personal level is likely to create rapport and connect with the target audience. “Standing out among popular digital content is no easy feat. To do it successfully, marketers need to find a unique, distinctive voice and plan for the long term. Branded content is new territory and the best solutions are bespoke. Going back to a brand’s core mission can help find the right insight to guide the execution.”

- Experiment with diverse and multiple formats

Mitra said this tactic gives a better reach as people view different content formats in different circumstances.

Bhandari said, “The format of the content — video, text, infographics, case studies, GIFs, emails etc —is as important as the content itself. Content needs to be easily consumable, actionable, informative, relevant and quick to produce.”

- Interactive content

The content must be structured in a way that compels your audience to engage with your brand. “A good interactive experience is one that co-creates with your audience. Quizzes, calculators, games, and interactive infographics are all great examples,” said Mitra.

It’s no secret that nobody likes generic content and marketers know pretty well that the more specific the message, the higher the engagement rate. Bhandari said, “But we also forget to remember that a high conversion is the consequence of content that triggers emotions by creating a connection with the audience. When creating a content experience, we must aim to create this connection and that’s where personalisation and interactivity play an essential role.”

 - Content distribution

No point in having an amazing story if it doesn’t reach the audience through the right mediums at the right time.

Gulati said one important factor that affects the distribution of content is the usage of OEP (owned, earned and paid) resources. “The distribution channels that you ‘own’, such as your blog or newsletters; the channels where you have ‘earned’ your credibility, such as press releases or guest blogging; and ‘paid’ channels such as influencer marketing, ads or sponsored content. Whatever resource you choose should drive profitable customer action.”

Mitra said content marketers must organise their content with the right tags.  Linking and grouping will ensure that the right content gets found and the right streams can be curated for the right persona.

- Quality of the content

It’s important for the content to be of good quality and have a detailed audit before it goes live. Bhandari said content needs to add value to the consumer, either as a next step or should have some takeaway.

- Performance and analytics

One last but important point Bhandari emphasised is that if you are not measuring the performance, you are not growing. He said, “It’s equally, if not more, important to track, measure and analyse what has worked and what hasn’t. This exercise should lead to clear actions.”

Is your brand's content experience appealing to consumers