The role of content in shaping customer experience

As customers become more sentient of their encounters while interacting with any brand online, the need for an effective customer experience is essential. As content plays a vital role in such a journey for customers at various touch points, tries to understand what it takes to create an effective content strategy for a great CX and how that can lend a brand a lifetime advocate

Akanksha Nagar
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It is said that customer experience (CX) is the single most exciting opportunity for an organisation, ahead of even personalisation. According to some reports, 59% customers switch brands due to a poor customer experience and 40% are willing to pay for better customer experiences. As brands are starting to understand how important CX has become and how it needs due attention, it is critical for them to understand how their content strategies at various customer touch points has to be attuned.

In today’s digital world, people interact with brands usually through content. Would-be customers search for solutions to their problems online, visit company websites to learn about products and services. Customers use content to help validate their decisions before actually making any purchase. After which they look at a company’s technical documentation, customer service content and training materials to become proficient users and troubleshoot any challenges. These are just a few of the many examples of how content plays a key role at virtually every touchpoint throughout the customer journey.

But the journey to redefine CX with out-and-out content strategy needs devising, which can further sustain customer attention. A good content strategy helps brands to understand when and how to interact with customers at multiple contact points, influencing a good ROI., in an interaction with a few content experts, discussed the impact of content in shaping customer experiences. Talking about the qualities a piece of content needs to have to support effective CX, they also discussed the content operation brands need to make that possible at scale.

Mahima Kaul

“Content is probably the most important aspect when it comes to customer experience as it only gets new leads like ads but also in terms of retention and expectations the customer can have while using the product. It is the first touchpoint where a potential customer engages with the brand and almost throughout the user lifecycle,” said Mahima Kaul, Co-founder, of CoutLoot, a people-to-people app for fashion.

Christina Daniels

Christina Daniels, Associate Vice-President, Content, Gutenberg, said, “The key challenge before organisations today is to create differentiation in customer experiences. Content is a key element that enables organisations to create differentiation in customer experiences and drive greater engagement. It plays a significant role in carrying a business through its customer journey. When done right, compelling content further elevates memorable customer experiences. Together, these drive engagement and user-generated content. When this happens, it is the best indication that a customer has become a lifetime brand advocate.”

Ramakant Khandelwal

Ramakant Khandelwal, CMO, Payback India, while sharing how such content strategies are designed for users’ discovery or transaction process, said, “There can be thousands of products online but how brands present them via content for the customer to be able to understand more about it is important. For the better experience, content should have keywords that consumers use for searches, and content formats that inform and engage them at the same time.”

But how should the content operation be carried out for effective CX?

Any content for CX needs to be simple to understand, direct and at the same time presented in an eye-catching manner. Nowadays localised content with local references have proved to be much more effective than the standard hygiene content, Kaul said.

Content that creates memorable CX must drive engagement. Ideally, such content always drives conversations with and between customers. But, most important, it enables customer and business decisions. And thus, it becomes very important to set a content template for each funnel and user type. It is more important for content to be memorable and impactful. Content operations must be reoriented to create ideas that stand out in a crowded marketplace.

“When you divide users according to their likes, profanity, and value based on the engagement data with your business, it becomes much easier to churn out relevant content at scale. No one likes to consume content that is not relevant for them, so relevance leading to call to action becomes the single most effective piece in your content marketing strategy,” she added.

Apart from that, experts suggested that the need to capture real-time customer feedbacks has to be at the top of any CX strategy. Cyclic feedbacks can help brands to understand better the areas of improvement and where the engagement is higher or lower, accordingly. And it becomes equally important to analyse the influence of CX on ROI as well.

“The only way to measure the ROI on content is through engagement. We need to measure how audiences engage with our content, and how this generates leads and triggers conversations,” Daniels said.

“ROI is simply measured on the conversion rate for that particular segment of users, which will eventually tell you which segments of consumers are providing what value to your business. This helps majorly in devising a great LTV/CAC strategy,” said Kaul.

 Khandelwal said it is most important to keep listening to customers. Regular research by reaching out to customers to figure their preferences, expectations and feedback is needed.  He said attribution tools help brands understand the customer behaviour at a better level. Such tools help optimise the customer journey on both the purchase and the sales funnel.

A right content strategy not only affects marketing spends, growth and retention as attributes but can redefine a business completely. A right content strategy basically explains business benefits in a simple direct manner with an engaging visual.

So, what all a content specialist should keep in mind while strategising such content?

For a content specialist, Kaul said it's really important to experiment different tonalities, mediums of content and test it out with a sample set of the users. This litmus test will immediately give brands engagement metrics that can be used to define overall content strategy and the right keywords that users recognise your business with.

Good content strategy is always mapped to the customer journey. Here, content is used an enabler, which drives engagement and facilitates business decisions, Daniels said.

And as emotions are the decision drivers, a study shows that organisations that optimise to include emotional connect in their CX strategy outperform their competitors by 85%.

“Brands need to create an emotional appeal for a product or service or a rational appeal. When it is rational, the most important thing is to present the product in a manner that all details are properly presented via content and customers trust the details. The interface should be simple and intuitive. And as customers interact with a lot of formats, such formats should also be explored to give emotional tint in content,” said Khandelwal.

One can create great content marketing strategies only if they understand their customers and their behaviour. Analytics makes it possible for content strategists to anticipate customer requirements.

It is now possible to analyse customer data to create proactive strategies that best leverage content to shape customer experiences, instead of taking a reactive approach, said Daniels. Most importantly, content strategists can now customise content to create unique, individualised customer experiences. No two customer experiences will ever be the same again.

Segmentation coupled with the right call to action is the right way to device a successful conversion ratio. Clevertap, AppsFlyer, Google Analytics, Facebook Dev platform are some of the best tools out there for the same, Kaul said.

 And as one size does not fit all, every platform needs its own content strategy. In addition, platforms also influence the formats used, content volumes created, and update schedules planned. Different platforms are also employed to target specific audience groups.

Mike Melli

Talking about the video format, Mike Melli, Chief Revenue Officer of MissMalini Entertainment, said that one by-product of the explosion of video content, both in terms of quantity and scope of production, is that audiences everywhere have become accustomed to high quality video output. So now even something as simple as instructional video might have a higher bar of quality than it would have several years ago. That doesn't mean every piece of video content needs to win an Oscar, but it does mean things like boring aesthetics and sub-standard audio quality stand out more.

The role of content in shaping customer experience