All great strategies tend to start in one place: an audit. A content experience strategy is no different.
Cue the impulsive groans, and deep sighs of dread that you associate with the word “audit.” I wish I could offer you an express lane through this process, but unfortunately, it’s a foundation on which your content experience marketing strategy is built on. And things built on shoddy or rushed foundations tend to look a lot like my rotting and water damaged garage. So, for the love of puppies, don’t let your content marketing look like my garage. Build the foundation right.
What I can offer to ease the pain is a 3 step foolproof process for auditing content experiences and finding gaps in the customer journey that you can fill with wonderful, wondrous content.
Sound good? Great, let’s get started…but, before we do you may want to download the content experience audit template to follow along. Or don’t, honestly, I hope this will be helpful either way!
Step 1: Audit all customer experiences with your brand
Audits are fantastic in one way. And that is that they force you to think through processes that you may have overlooked and realize their potential to have an impact and make a lasting impression. Content experiences throughout the customer journey can be the difference between leaving a customer feeling indifferent about their experience or truly wowed by your brand. We all want to be wowed when we make purchases (even the seemingly mundane, ie. Tuft & Needle).
As digital marketers, for the most part, we feel safe in this arena. It’s cozy here, and we’re expert pilots at navigating pre-sales channels across digital properties. Adding in a layer of offline channels here makes us sweat a little though; everything should just live online now, right? No one really opens their mail, right? Why do we need to attend events in person, when we can just webinar it, right? Well, not quite. The importance of face-to-face interactions in a mostly digital world are on the rise and event direct mail is making a come back.
Here is a side by side of some common experiences customers might have with your brand, paired with the content that might go with those experiences
- Your social channels – Posts, ads, videos.
- Your website – a blog, a resource center, product pages, company overviews, chatbots and live chat etc.
- Paid advertisements – social ads, search ads, display ads, billboards, print ads, radio ads, etc.
- Email – welcome emails, post-download workflows, newsletters etc.
- Online reviews sites – reviews, ratings, testimonials.
- Events- demonstration material, presentations, speakers, booth materials, etc.
- Face-to-face meetings – business cards, swag, brochures, etc.
- Direct mail – brochures, swag, offer cards, discount codes.
- Text messages – offer codes, announcements, etc.
Sales Process Experiences
Not so fast marketers! Just because a lead is in sales’ hands doesn’t mean your job is complete. Yes, new business acquisition should be a priority, but it’s not your only one. Thin of the many ways that your skill-set and resources could be used to supplement the sales process. There’s a lot of content that gets overlooked in this stage.
- Face-to-face meetings – talking points for sales reps, demonstration material, business cards, etc.
- Sales Material – presentation decks, talking points for sales reps, one-sheets or data sheets, etc
- Video – custom check-in or welcome videos, post-call recording
- Email – follow-up emails, re-engagement emails, transactional or legal exchanges, special offer codes or discounts, referral bonuses or discounts, etc.
- Proposals- proposal document or template, personalized walk-through video, personalized budget or scope document
- Direct mail – thank you note or letter from CEO, swag, welcome packet, special offer codes or discounts, referral bonuses or discounts, etc.
And finally, customer marketing is just as important as prospect marketing efforts. This is how you create lasting, loyal relationships with your customers. Closing the loop and making sure that experiences are seamlessly branded throughout the process, and that customers are offered the same quality material post-sale as pre-sales gets you an A+ in content experience marketing. And that effort may just win you the ultimate prize: word-of-mouth marketing from your loyal fans.
- Packaging – boxes, in-box branded materials, wrapping or protective casing, product labeling and branding
- Email – customer onboarding emails, training emails, product update emails.
- Website – support page, support forms, support articles and resources, chatbots and live chat.
- Face-to-face meetings- onsite support, support calls, account management check-in calls, support forms on the website, training presentation decks
- Video – training videos, product announcement videos, etc.
Now, if you downloaded the template, this is the time that you start to record all the possible experiences a customer has with you. In tab 1 labeled “Experience Audit” go ahead and list out the experiences first, then think through who owns that process within your organization, then pair it with the content you feel is available right now to support that effort. It’s okay if there are blanks or blind spots. That’s ultimately what you hope your audit will show you!
Step 2: Find the gaps where either experiences or content need improvement
Once you’ve taken the steps to document all of those experiences you’ll likely have a lot of questions and unknowns. To get to the root of those unknowns:
- Go to the source, the owner of that experience and ask them questions about their process. You may consider asking them:
- During the __ process what questions do you get asked all the time?
- What feedback have you gotten about our __ experience?
- What would help make your job easier during the ___ process?
- Discuss specific experiences with customers that love you. Also (if possible) discuss those experiences with customers who don’t love you. You may consider asking
- What made you love your ___ experience?
- What made the ___ experience unenjoyable?
- How could we have better served you during___?
- Look at content delivered within that experience, and get a good sense of the quality and depth of that content.
Once you have a sense of quality it’s time to buckle down and ideate ways to solve gaps that may exist. Take the time to discuss each process with all stakeholders and evaluate whether supplemental content or marketing materials would help that process and record additions or changes that might be needed.
- Go to tab 2 “Experience Gap Analysis” List out all of the experiences you have identified in your audit. Also, include any experiences that you don’t yet implement that you hope to implement later down the road. In the quality score field rate the quality you feel that experience and content creates for the customer on a scale of 1 through 5 (1 being you’re not doing anything yet to support or supplement that experience, and 5 meaning that you think you’re really rocking it and customers are wowed by that experience.)
- After your brainstorms with team members record additional content experiences, corrections, or improvements that must be made.
- Work together with your team to subjectively get a sense or and rank each item based on effort vs. impact.
- Take lots of notes along the way!
Step 3: Create a 90-day content experience plan
Now that you’ve identified where gaps exist, you’re ready to move forward with putting things into a roadmap for completion of additions and improvements. Depending on your team size and resources, a 90-day plan might not get you all the way to resolving every gap and you may need to add more time to your timeline but the general ideas still remain the same:
- Set deadlines. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it also wasn’t built with lack of planning.
- Set reminders. Annoy yourself, remind yourself frequently of these items, this isn’t your only job so you’ll need to disrupt yourself to stay on track.
- Set a timeline. Plan for when you want the entire project to be completed based on your team and resources.
- Set a budget. You may not have all the skill-sets you need in-house to execute and that’s alright. Do your research, and create a budget based on estimations for each item.
In tab 3 “90 Day Plan” you’ll find instructions on how to bucket items including
- 30 Days: Bucket items that are low effort, and high impact here. Also include low impact, low effort items. Think “can I knock this item out in a day or two?”
- 60 Days: Bucket Items that are a medium effort, and high impact here. Also include medium effort, medium impact. Think “is this something that might take me a week or two, but will have an impact on my success?”
- 90+ days: Bucket Items that are a high effort, and high impact here. Think “is this something that is going to take a LOT of time, but will be vital for my business?”
There you have it, an audit that is (hopefully) not as painful or mind-numbing as you may have anticipated it being. This is, however, just the beginning of closing gaps in your content experiences across the customer journey. Once planned you’ll need to spend more time on resource forecasting and budgeting to implement some higher ticket items but hopefully, this helps you to recognize low-hanging fruit that you can course correct now.