Chances are, if you ask 20 people what content experience means, you'll get 20 different answers.
For some marketers, the idea is to create as many blog posts and emails as possible on topics related to what they're selling in the hopes that potential customers will find something useful to choose from (admittedly, not a great experience for the consumer of this content). . Others take a broader look at it, adding video, SEO, paid ads, and more (and even then, the content consumer's experience with the deluge of content is often not a priority for marketers).
However you define the term, one truth remains: In today's business landscape, you need to deliver a really great content experience, and it needs to be successful on a large scale.
After spending time with some savvy marketers, I've learned to define content experience as the place where your content lives (the environment it exists in), how it's structured, and how your prospects and customers add it to it brings to get in contact with your company.
Whether you've just got into content creation or are pursuing it with reckless abandon, it's time to reconsider your knowledge. Because the effectiveness of the content increases, but only if you understand the new rules of the game.
1. Relevance and speed = king and queen of the content experience
Remember the 450+ articles entitled "Content Is King" a few years ago? In my opinion, that was correct – and it still is. But it's old news.
Today the king is back on his throne as the next generation of royals – relevance and speed – take their rightful place in the spotlight. Content marketing is nothing without them; it takes both to do its job. Unless you are taking anything else away from this article, keep that in mind.
And while we were still talking about relevance in relation to customer personas 10 years ago, today the expectation lives on at the level of the individual buyer.
Relevance is the most important thing for buyers. The largest percentage of respondents to a 2021 B2B Marketing Report were looking for companies “addressing the problem I want to solve”. People want solution-oriented content. It's time to stop thinking about personalization as letter template boxes and realize that relevance is at stake.
Your audience wants content on topics they care about, and they want it in a timely manner.
This is where speed comes into play. The videos you posted a year ago are probably no longer relevant. And guess what else? The videos you post today are also likely to lose their relevance. The world and its buyers change rapidly and organizations need to be agile; they have to adapt to get results.
Take the health industry last year as an example. COVID-19 caused health organizations to change their content quickly and by region throughout the pandemic, which was an incredible challenge. Those who took up the challenge quickly adapted their content to what it takes to be successful today.
Quality content is no longer enough; it also needs to be relevant and timely to have an impact.
2. Reconsider what the buyer actually expects from the content experience
There's a huge discrepancy between what marketers are prioritizing and what buyers want them to prioritize, as the aforementioned marketing report noted.
This may be shocking, but marketers need to put their own plans aside and instead focus on delivering what their audience actually wants.
At first, buyers don't want to be sold; they want to be educated. The study found that 64% of shoppers find user reviews the most useful, followed by product tours (43%) and videos (33%). But guess what marketers were reporting to prioritize? Sales sheets, white papers and e-books.
In many cases, your buyer is ready for your product to be integrated into their content experience – so give it to them!
Delivering a solid content experience is a strategic marketing approach that ultimately serves to drive profitable customer promotions. A full 61% of people surveyed for the B2B marketing report said that in order to take action, they need content that meets their needs. Meanwhile, 33% of respondents said they received too much irrelevant content and were frustrated with the lack of relevance.
That tells me marketers now have the opportunity to fill the void and get a lot better. And that starts with realizing what buyers actually want and giving them that instead of what you want.
3. Rethink your content channels
It is not just about the creation of content, but also the distribution and the goal. How did you share your content in the past? Where do you reach your target group? Where do you send people when you have their attention?
If you haven't already, now is the perfect time to reevaluate the sales and experience portions of your approach to content marketing.
Thanks to the major upheaval in the marketing landscape in 2020, live events and field sales were off the table. Companies have had to strive to digitally replace this media and many are still struggling to change their strategies.
With this on board, it is time to adjust your approach and come up with a new distribution plan that will work in the new environment.
The digital marketplace is of course crowded and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get people's attention. Your new content strategy should include making it engaging and enticing to your audience, and getting them to continue on the path you have in mind for them.
Also, give prospects the opportunity to consume as much decision-making content as they want so they can be the authors of their own story with your brand – so they have what they need to move forward.
A great content experience for your buyer can make a difference – both in their relationship with your company and in your own business results. But content experience only works if you treat it with respect and take the time to understand its nuances. If you do this, you are on your way to great results fast.
More resources on the topic of content experience
Five ways to plan better B2B content experiences
Online marketers need to go for personalization: Here's why and how
Interactive content and the future of live TV