June 21, 2016

The Benefits of Unified Content

content-investment-on-brandsAt Knexus we discuss frequently with our customers the impact of channel proliferation, audience fragmentation and accelerating content investment on brands marketing strategies and execution. Increasingly, brands talk about a unified content marketing strategy and integrated marketing campaigns. One key element of a unified approach relates to content. Specifically, brands need to create one view on content, with the ability to search and find all relevant content quickly and easily, to match content with specific customer needs effectively and to measure content performance across channels.

This blog addresses why this should be a priority for brands and the benefits of unified content.

Here are 4 key challenges brands face today with content….

1. Creating the right content

With Content Marketing a growing focus for brands in recent years, creating the right content is step one on the path to success.

In a recent study by PR Newswire, 42 per cent of marketers said their content marketing effort was working and only 22 percent rated them as effective.

When marketers are asked what are their key challenges in creating effective content, surveys consistently show ‘a lack of time’, ‘producing engaging content’, and ‘measuring content effectively’ are amongst the key challenges.

In the race to compete using content, there is a clear risk that brands churn out a lot of ineffective or unused content.

2. Content Waste

According to some estimates, 60% to 70% of content goes unused. Research firm eConsultancy estimates $50 billion of content is wasted annually in the B2B industry alone.

Key reasons for content waste include a fragmented approach to marketing execution, a lack of measurement and accountability around content and inadequate systems and processes that haven’t kept pace with the volume, frequency and variety of content now being created for brands.

Content waste is not only an issue in terms of return on investment, but critically undermines a brand’s ability to deliver the most relevant content experience for individuals or audience segments.

3. Content Silos

In those ‘good old days’ when brands controlled the message and the consumer experience, marketing execution was built on an ‘inside out’ approach. This ensured brands had the skills and processes to deliver marketing outputs, but also created lots of silos around content, teams, measurement etc.

Today’s digital consumer is in control and the silos are now barriers to delivering unified content experiences.

The PwC and Forbes Insights 2016 report addressed this head on, highlighting a potential remedy of creating a center of excellence to manage the sourcing, personalization and distribution of marketing content.

Whatever the preferred solution, as content investment continues to grow the need to remove silos in order to make content work harder is becoming a priority.

Content-Silos

4. Effective Content Measurement

The lag between accelerating investment in content and effective measurement is an anomaly requiring urgent attention. The measurement challenge is complicated by the proliferation in channels, devices, browsers and the changing nature of what needs to be measured. Ben Rhodes, director of customer marketing at Royal Mail explains this well. “Attribution continues to be a major challenge across marketing channels. Getting the right marketing mix for both digital and offline channels, as well as understanding the impact of earned and paid activity on lead streams remains key in the efficient stimulation of growth.”

Effective measurement is not only critical in justifying investment, but in guiding brands on what types of content audiences are really interested in, and to support an agile approach to creating experiences.

4 WAYS TO PUT A ROBUST SOLUTION IN PLACE

So there are plenty of challenges, but how about solutions. Here are 4 ways to put a robust solution in place.

1. Unify content around customer experiences

Ask a very simple question in your organisation. Does content get commissioned primarily for campaigns or to support specific channels eg. your social media or brand websites. If the answer is yes to one or both of these, the strong likelihood is that you’re not making that content work hard enough.

If however you are creating content with a focus on the customer experience, you will understand that the experience doesn’t start and stop with specific campaigns or only take place on one or a few channels. The 21st century digital consumer is increasingly channel agnostic and controls engagement with brands when and where they choose.

So unify content in order to provide the best possible experience. And think in the broadest terms about content. This could be branded content generated in-house or via agencies, but potentially also user generated content co-created with customers or from staff, and of course social content from sources such as YouTube, Facebook etc.

The process of unifying doesn’t mean a huge and potentially unwieldy exercise to put all content psychically in one place, with head scratching decisions around whether that is the Content Management System, Digital Asset Management system, Enterprise Video Platform etc. Today’s technology solutions are much more flexible, with the ability to create a unified view on content and leverage that content without needing to put it all into one system.

2. Share content across functions

Today’s marketing content is created by a myriad of providers including in-house writers, content marketing agencies, bloggers, video (& increasingly virtual Reality) specialists and more. Those content creators are commissioned by different teams responsible for brand, campaigns, PR & communications, social media, paid media, brand sites and more. Each team may be categorising and storing their content in entirely different ways, or investing in content that already exists within other teams..

Share-content-across-functions

3. Focus on a scalable approach to taxonomy

Creating a robust taxonomy, a classification of content you plan to use to engage audiences, is key to ensuring available content can be searched effectively and the most relevant content experience will be delivered. Brands today face a huge challenge in creating and maintaining effective metadata associated with content assets. Highly fragmented content creation processes involving different commissioning teams and content creators, the increased volume and frequency of content creation, plus the myriad of content formats, all add to the complexity.

Recognising that content creation is a significant and growing investment should result in a greater focus on setting up processes for content. In the case of taxonomy, brands should look at a unified and automated approach harnessing solutions that can scale cost effectively and avoid resource intensive efforts to create and manage metadata around content.

4. Measure content performance across channels

One of the dirty secrets associated with the rapid increase in content marketing is that a lot of brands do not have clear analytics and insights on how content performs across all digital customer touch points. So whilst these companies have almost unanimously opted to invest more in content, their understanding of what is working can be at best sketchy. As a result, in house teams and agencies churn out content at an accelerating rate without a sufficiently robust insight as to whether the investment is justified or could be better allocated to other forms of content.

The step by step approach that some companies have taken with content marketing, first creating a content strategy, then focusing on content creation, followed by distribution and eventually measurement, make sense in some ways. It’s a very traditional approach based on the idea that you should crawl before you walk, before you run. However, there’s nothing very traditional about the digital consumer, and a more agile ‘test, learn and grow’ approach to content would surely yield both faster results in terms of content ROI and overall marketing performance. As such, brands should make the ability to measure content performance across channels a priority, supported by creating a unified approach to content as a critical enabler.

Learn how Knexus helped Office Depot to remove significant operating complexities and reduced average time to market by creating a unified view on content and customer engagement. Read the full case study here.

 

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