Welcome to MTA’s MarTech 101 (#MarTech101) series, where we take a deep dive into the basic ideas, concepts, and tools of MarTech. No matter where you are in your MarTech journey, this exploration of the basics is sure to help you do your job even better.
In this installment of the #MarTech101 series, we take you through the concept of content experience.
Ever wondered why shopping malls are designed in a certain way? The floor plan, space management, lighting, window display, and furniture placement are designed considering consumer psychology and how they navigate the mall. A prime example is — the food court.
You may have noticed, the food court is usually located on the top floor of a mall. If the food court were placed on a lower floor, customers would not be enticed to shop first and would possibly leave directly after their meal. But when the food court is upstairs, they shop their way through the many levels of the mall. By the time they reach the top floor, they are famished, thus end up placing bigger orders.
Similarly, perfume stores are usually placed near entrances to attract more prospects into the shopping mall and to enhance their mood as they walk in. Mall architecture is structured to make sure you experience the overall environment in the best way possible.
This concept holds true even for the way we consume content on a daily basis.
Has it ever happened that you were looking for something on your smartphone browser, and the website wasn’t mobile responsive, so you quickly closed the tab?
In this age, simply producing top-notch content won’t cut it. You also need to provide an interface that engages users on an ongoing basis. That’s where the concept of content experience comes in.
In this article, we look at the concept of content experience, its components, framework, and best practices to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Table of Contents
- What Is Content Experience?
- Components of Content Experience
- The Content Experience Framework
- 5 Content Experience Best Practices
What Is Content Experience?
defines content experience as:
With your audience unable to process the prevalent information overload and their resulting short attention spans, you can no longer stand out basis the content you produce. Sure, content is crucial to your marketing efforts, but you also need to consider the user experience of the environment where your content is placed. So, going back to the analogy of retail stores, the experience is what differentiates shopping malls from mom and pop stores.
Before we delve into the components of content experience, let’s understand the concept of content experience better by looking at what differentiates content experience from content marketing.
The Difference Between Content Experience and Content Marketing
Are content experience and content marketing the same thing?
The short answer is no.
While content marketing pertains to the creation, distribution, and analysis of content, content experience comprises of, as Randy Frisch (Co-Founder, CMO, and President of Uberflip) puts it, three components:
- The environment in which we serve our content
- The structure in which we organize it
- The way we compel people to engage through elements like personalization
It can be concluded that content experience is an integral part of marketing that attracts and retains visitors through the environment and the structure of the content.
The Components of Content Experience
Every piece of content you produce gives rise to a unique experience. To understand content experience on a deeper level, let’s break down the three components that Randy Frisch described in the previous section, viz. environment, structure, and engagement.
The environment is the appearance of your content. Does it attract eyeballs? Does it compel the visitor to read your content? Is it consistent with the brand guidelines? How easy is it for readers to comprehend the content?
The environment in which your content resides is essential because it determines whether or not your users will stick around to read the content. The reason why voracious readers prefer to read physical books over digital ones is because of the environment.
Structure is the way your content is organized. The structure of your content enables users to find the required information with ease. It doesn’t just apply to individual blog posts, e-books or other content; but, spans your entire content repository. Structure is also determined by the way you segregate your content.
Is it based on the topic or format? If you have published a long-form article, does it contain anchor links to skip to different sections easily? Organizing your content accordingly will make your content easily discoverable.
Engagement is how the reader connects and communicates with your content. Does your content motivate the user to comment on it or share it within their network? Or do they just consume it and move on to the next piece of content? How well your content engages your readers determines whether they will proceed further down the marketing funnel or leave.
The Content Experience Framework
Putting a content experience framework in place will allow you to deliver seamless content experiences at scale. Here’s a five-step content experience framework for your consideration:
Step 1: Content Audit
Before you get to the content creation step, it’s a good idea to run a content audit. Assess your existing content such as blog posts, e-books, case studies, infographics, reports, videos, podcasts and so on and segregate them based on the topic rather than content format. (We will reveal the reason behind this at a later point.)
Performing a content audit will benefit you in three ways:
- Identify top performing content
- Find gaps in the existing content strategy
- Understand what type of content resonates with your audience
When you analyze the page views, comments and shares on your content, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what content works, and it will help you make better decisions.
Note: When conducting a content audit, it’s a good idea to perform competitor analysis as well. Knowing what type of content is working for your competitors will allow you to integrate those ideas into your strategy.
Step 2: Content Creation
Content creation begins with keyword research where you identify keyword phrases that your audience actively searches for. It is recommended to shortlist keyword phrases with high monthly search volumes and moderate to low competition.
The ideation step includes coming up with topics based on the keyword phrases. After coming up with topic ideas, decide which format you would like to use for the content. This could be a blog post, infographic, video, podcast or some form of gated content. The two steps are interchangeable. You can, of course, decide upon the content type first and then choose the topics to explore.
The next step is to produce and edit the planned content. The content creation process ends with editing and publishing the content.
Step 3: Content Management
The goal of content experience is to provide unique content to your target audience at the most opportune time in their buyer’s journey. To be able to do so effectively, you need to manage your content repository so that you can deliver the right content at the right time. With organizations generating content at scale, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the ever-growing scope of content.
Content management helps you organize your content by centralizing your content in a repository. As asserted in the content audit section, organizing content by category, for instance, allows users to find the information they require.
Step 4: Content Amplification
You can’t just create and wait for your content to go viral. You need to be proactive when it comes to increasing the reach of your content. Content amplification or distribution is the process of promoting content through various marketing channels. You can amplify your content through three media resources:
- Paid Media: It includes any promotion that requires you to pay to promote your content. PPC, social media ads, influencer marketing, etc. are some of the examples of paid media
- External Media: External media consists of social media platforms, press coverage, PR, guest articles or any content posted on third-party media
- Content Repurposing: You can share your content through your platforms by revamping it into a different format. For example, did you just publish an e-book? You can convert the key takeaways into an infographic. You can promote this refreshed content through your owned, paid and external media resources as well.
Step 5: Content Analytics
Content analytics allows you to measure the effectiveness of the content experiences you provide. There are different types of metrics that you need to track. Here are four key metrics to get you started:
- Consumption Metrics: This includes page views, average time spent on site, unique visitors, gated content downloads and form completions
- Retention Metrics: This includes returning visitors, bounce rate, pages per visit, and social media followers
- Sharing Metrics: This includes social media shares, link shares, retweets, and email forwards
- ROI Metrics: This includes new leads generated, new deals, and conversions
5 Best Practices to Deliver Top-notch Content Experiences
Let’s look at five best practices that would allow you to deliver a superb content experience.
1. The Halo Effect
How many times have you left a website right after landing on it because the interface wasn’t good or it looked shabby? Well, that’s an example of the reverse halo effect in practice.
The halo effect is a cognitive bias that makes humans perceive attractive people as kinder, funnier and more likable. That’s why first impressions are so important.
Having an intuitive website interface is foundational to providing a seamless content experience. That means, the content should be easily locatable, the interface should look pleasing, and the website should form a favorable opinion in the mind of the visitor.
2. Introduce the Topic-Cluster Model
The way people use search engines has changed in recent years. The introduction of Google’s Hummingbird update introduced semantic search that takes into account the context of the query rather than the meaning of individual keywords. To accommodate this significant change, websites introduced the topic-cluster model. In the topic-cluster model, the pillar page remains at the heart of the category while cluster pages link back to it.
Structuring content this way ranks pillar content and its subsequent pages higher for specific keywords and topic on SERPs.
3. De-Silofy Your Content and Teams
Silos around content get built in the following ways:
- The way content is organized
- The way teams work
Let’s look at how to dismantle both silos:
- Many businesses make the mistake of organizing content either by content format or by date. This proves to be a huge mistake because the content is not easily discoverable by visitors.
Centralizing content by topic/category and further filtering according to content format will help you organize content in a way that allows visitors to find the desired piece of content correlating to their stage in the buyer’s journey.
- Multiple functions within the marketing department own content experience — the content marketer, digital marketer, UX and graphic designer, product marketer, sales manager, etc. Often, these teams don’t work in harmony due to different reasons, and the CMO needs to intervene to bring all the teams on the same page and work together to deliver a superior content experience.
4. Encourage People to Engage with Your Content
Also, add social sharing buttons to make it easy for your readers to share your content.
And the last suggestion is to integrate lead magnets such as exit overlays, pop-ups, sliders, and banners so that visitors are nudged to take the desired action.
5. Focus on Personalization
Right from e-commerce stores to video streaming websites, almost every successful business is utilizing personalization in some way. Using recommendation engines is the best way to get started with personalization. Recommendation engines will suggest new content to your visitors based on their behavior.
User-generated content and interactive marketing are also excellent tactics to personalize the content experience. Use polls and quizzes heavily in your content marketing strategies to engage your audience. Ask users to share their reviews, photos, videos and suggestions specific to their area and use it to improve personalization and localization.
Content experience has been an undefined element of marketing that has recently started gaining prominence due to the proliferation of content. A positive content experience guides your prospects along their buyer’s journey. However, a dull content experience can navigate them away from your website.
Looking back at the analogy of the shopping mall, providing customers an optimal environment will positively impact the overall experience a visitor has with your brand.
Read all about Content Experience, the news, tips, trends and more, here.
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