Paid, owned and earned – it’s a very neat wrap up of how brands should organize their content. If only it were that simple. censhare’s Morag Cuddeford-Jones explores the perils, pitfalls and potential of how we organize and use our content.

The fact is: content is chaotic.

It comes at you from all angles, from all sources. It’s not limited to customer communications, social media posts, or webpages. Content comes from all corners of your business – the supply chain, inventory, CRM and user generated content (UGC), marketing, and sales – to name but a few.

Content is flowing into businesses through departments that sometimes barely know the other exists, let alone collaborate with. And yet this information is an increasingly important resource for delivering on customer experience expectations and achieving competitive advantage. Customers are cited as consuming an average of 11 pieces of content before making a purchase, and that’s only the beginning of the customer experience – a lot is still required of companies wishing to nurture this connection, ensuring that this experience continues through from post purchase to future interactions.

Content hasn’t exploded because it’s run out of control, it has exploded because it is very much needed. See the example of BMW, whose agency produces over 600 variants of its catalog every year. Here, a single brochure, weakly translated into a handful of languages just wouldn’t match its brand promise.

In the beginning there was…

But whilst a content explosion has taken place, like all big bangs, it’s just the start of the process. Instead of your content littering the hallways like the debris of a disaster, this increasing volume should be should be organized into the productive and effective resource it is.

Further to that, we have to acknowledge that we’re all in publishing now. If we don’t have the skills to make content work for us, we have to hire or acquire people who can. There’s a reason behind the trend of consumer goods businesses buying up content agencies, for example Whirlpool acquiring Yummly.

“In order to organize content into the productive and effective resource it is, it needs to start being taken seriously as a business asset. Dabbling just won’t do it.”

Which brings us to the next point – in order for the above to happen, content needs to be taken seriously as a business asset – dabbling just won’t do it. If it feels as if you’re starting to manage your content strategy like a second business unit, you’re on the right track. Content is a product in itself, needing promotion, curation and management as much as anything else.

Beyond good

So, we’ve covered the basic requirements of good content marketing, right? Wrong. When it comes to customer experience, there is no such thing as ‘good enough’. A blog is a good thing but every man jack has one. It’s table stakes. How can you delight and surprise your customer? A picture of product is a given, but what about how that product looks in the flesh? A photo of a jacket is so-so, a virtual reality changing room is interesting.

To keep up with innovation and continue delighting and surprising customers, companies really have to have their asset house in order. All those departments we mentioned at the start? They must collaborate. There’s no point engaging with virtual changing rooms if the jacket customers keep playing with is actually out of stock. Being able to temporarily remove an image from all your channels until it’s back in stock seems a simple thing but for most companies on legacy asset management systems, it’s the stuff of science fiction.

And it really shouldn’t be. We are long past the days when companies couldn’t bolt on solutions because incumbent technologies would reject the pairing. APIs and cloud technology make centralized, organized content management available to all. For example, censhare’s flexible CMS platform that manages content across multisite portals, microsites and communities can be hosted remotely and scaled according to need. It’s not about taking the big – and potentially disastrous – plunge any more. 

Want to dig deeper? Five Truths About Real Time Content, a censhare whitepaper, explores further, looking at why companies need to approach their content strategies armed with investment and purpose, if they’re to get a handle on this unruly but highly valuable resource.

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