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How Sky and RS Group built testing and experimentations programs that actually deliver



Testing and experimentation are cornerstones to building a great customer experience—but how do you make sure you’re testing the right things? We received some robust insights at a panel discussion hosted by Optimizely at a recent CX circle London event

The panel consisted of two testing and experimentation experts—Natasha Senior, Senior Digital Manager at Sky and Stewart Ehoff, Head of Experimentation at the leading provider of industrial and electronic solutions, RS Group.

During the session, the duo filled us in on how they get ideas for testing, what tools they use and the biggest item on their testing agenda for 2023. 

Here’s a round-up of Natasha and Stewart’s expert insights and best advice for anyone looking to take their testing game to the next level in the new year.  

How has experimentation evolved in the last couple years? 

Natasha from Sky has seen experimentation expand from a purely marketing-focused initiative to a cross-functional tactic. At Sky, they use experimentation across the business to reduce contact center calls, improve web accessibility, and even optimize their offline customer experience. 

“Experimentation is becoming the heart of everything we do. People think it’s just one department that owns it—like product, tech or marketing—but it’s not. It’s our whole business culture.” — Natasha Senior, Senior Digital Manager at Sky

And Stewart from RS Group agreed, highlighting how experimentation continues to grow as an organization-wide practice. 

“Over the last three years, experimentation has been more widely adopted, so there’s a lot more talent in the space,” said Stewart. “I hope that one day, experimentation will have the same level of importance as SEO—where you simply wouldn’t build products, services or solutions without it.”

How Sky and RS Group built testing and experimentations programs

Where do you get your test ideas from?

For Stewart, it’s important to involve as many key stakeholders as possible to build a strong and effective experimentation roadmap. That’s why RS Group is on a mission to expand experimentation ideation horizontally across the business. 

If people don’t understand the power of experimentation, it can limit the number of good testing ideas produced—because those ideas truly can come from any department. 

“There needs to be an outreach process in place, where you take your stakeholders through the value of experimentation and educate them on the possibilities,” said Stewart. “This will give you more ideas to test and learn from, which is great for experimentation!”

For Sky, the best experimentation ideas come from outside the experimentation team—specifically, from their contact center, which has a front-row seat for how the business’ tech affects its customers.

“We try to visit the contact center once or twice a year to sit with the advisors. They often give us great testing ideas because they’ve sat talking to the customer all day, every day,” said Natasha. “Their insights are invaluable.”

How have Optimizely products helped you build a culture of experimentation? 

Experimentation teams are great at creating (and—as we’ve seen—sourcing) ideas for experiments and understanding which of these are worth pursuing; but they tend not to have the deep tech expertise required to integrate these experiments into a business’ tech stack.  

Optimizely’s Feature Experimentation product has helped RS Group embed experimentation across the business and ensure experiments are built, not by their experimentation team, but by their engineers. Instead, Stewart’s experimentation team is set up to empower other teams to use their testing tools and methodologies to drive their own outcomes.

“You can’t build a culture of experimentation by simply sticking a web snippet on a page and having a few people run some tests. It has to be deeper than that. Testing has to be fundamentally ingrained into your tech stack.” — Stewart Ehoff, Head of Experimentation at RS Group

Most of RS Group’s experiments are delivered server-side, built by their engineers. 

The same goes for Natasha’s team at Sky, who have a long-standing partnership with Optimizely.

“Learning how to use Optimizely Full Stack is part of every developer’s training when they join us,” said Natasha. Just like RS Group, Sky’s experimentation team isn’t involved in building experiments, instead, it’s ingrained in the development team’s way of working. 

What tools are you using to increase your experimentation capabilities?  

Alongside Optimizely, Sky uses Contentsquare’s digital experience analytics platform to create problem statements and build hypotheses for experiments. 

“Your problem statement can’t go anywhere without data,” said Natasha. Contentsquare’s digital experience analytics cloud platform provides Sky with unique customer behavior insights to help build a pipeline of robust, data-driven experiments that the entire company can get behind. 

Contentsquare’s integration with Qualtrics, a Voice of Customer (VoC) feedback platform, enables Sky to validate errors flagged in customer feedback by rewatching affected sessions in Session Replay.

“A/B testing tells you whether a test has worked, but not why. Contentsquare and Qualtrics give us the ‘why’ we need to effectively iterate our testing. — Natasha Senior, Senior Digital Manager at Sky.

For RS Group, the process of improving experimentation practices is still in its early stages. “One of our biggest challenges is around how to increase our understanding of our customers and the problems they’re having to ensure our testing is rooted in strong data and hypotheses,” said Stewart.

Currently, RS Group uses VoC surveys, feedback from customer services and Adobe Analytics to obtain the quantitative data they need to understand their customers. They also work closely with their user experience research team, which is a “wealth of knowledge and information,” said Stewart. “That’s why bringing experimentation and user experience research together is so powerful.” 

What’s next on Sky and RS Group’s experimentation roadmap for 2023?

Sky plans to install Optimizely into their telephonic systems using Optimizely Agent. “We want to start doing A/B tests end-to-end,” said Natasha. “If someone lands on, uses the bot and then calls in, I want to track and experiment on the entire journey.” 

Contentsquare will help by providing rich, contextual insights into how customers feel at each stage of that digital journey—from start to finish, page by page. This will help the team at Sky make informed decisions about which tests will have the biggest impact on improving the digital experience of their customers.

Alternately, RS Group is focusing on process and automation to get experimentation velocity to the next level. Stewart’s team has spent this year building an experimentation program management system in Airtable to help align stakeholders from different business units. “The program will help us expand our testing roadmap and begin automating our experiments,” said Stewart. 

“To scale properly, we need to reduce the manual time spent analyzing experiments, writing emails, responding to Slacks and building experiment scorecards.” So, for RS Group, it’s all about building repeatable, scalable and automated experiments that save time.

Watch the session on-demand 

Feeling inspired? There’s more where that came from. Watch Natasha’s and Stewart’s session from CX circle London on Contentsquare’s on-demand page to get more inspiration for your experimentation strategy.

And if you’d like to learn more about how Contentsquare can help you skyrocket your experimentation program, get in touch with us today. We’d love to show you how our digital experience analytics platform gives you all the tools you need to build informed tests that truly deliver.

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10 Advanced Tips for Crafting Engaging Social Content Strategies



10 Advanced Tips for Crafting Engaging Social Content Strategies

In 2023, there are a total of 4.89 billion social media users worldwide. One of the many reasons you should build your brand’s presence on social media is to capture a slice of this pie.

So, if you’re a marketer wanting to crush it online — this is your time to take action. The social presence of billions of users shows great potential to connect, engage, and build lasting relationships with your target audience.

The real power lies not just in being active on social media networks but in planning social media goals in advance and crafting engaging social media content strategies that make a meaningful impact.

And creating one isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires a thoughtful approach that goes beyond the basics.

To help you accomplish your social media goals, we’ll cover ten advanced tips that you can use to craft an engaging social media content strategy.

1. Conduct A/B Testing

A/B testing allows you to optimize your social media marketing strategy based on insights and social media metrics.

Experiment with different content formats, headlines, captions, and visuals to see which format performs better.

You can also try different content styles and focus on visual content, which is 40x more likely to be shared on social media.

Example: Test two different headlines for a product announcement social post and use the one that users engaged with and shared more. You’ll need to track social metrics like reactions, shares, and new followers during your test.

2. Personalize your content

Before creating a social media marketing plan or content calendar, segment your audience based on demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Craft tailored messages for each segment and find social media content ideas for that target audience.

And to encourage them to engage with you, publish funny content. 80% of marketers say that funny content is the most effective form of social media posts.

Example: Tap into Instagram retargeting ads to promote personalized product recommendations to customers based on their past purchase history.

3. Embrace User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content is a powerful way to build trust, gather a sense of community, and increase engagement rates.

Encourage users to share their experiences and stories about your brand.

Plan a posting schedule using social media tools, highlight, and feature UGC in your content, and give credit to the creators to showcase the authenticity.

Then, create a dedicated UGC marketing campaign.

Example: Invite customers to share photos of themselves using your product with a branded hashtag. Comment on and share these photos on your company’s social media (with permission, of course), thanking the participants for joining in on the fun.

4. Incorporate influencer collaboration

Partner with influencers in your industry who have high engagement rates. 67% of marketers agree they prefer working with micro-influencers with 10k-100k followers or subscribers.

Collaborating with influencers allows you to tap into their social networks and leverage their credibility to boost engagement.

Use social media management tools to co-create content, host giveaways, or collaborate on campaigns aligning with your brand and the influencers’ style to extend your reach and gain engagement.

If your target audience is Gen Z, you can prefer Instagram Reels for influencer marketing.

For context, look at the stats below:

1701077164 213 10 Advanced Tips for Crafting Engaging Social Content Strategies

Example: Partner with a fitness influencer to promote your health supplements through workout videos.

5. Use interactive elements

To accomplish your social media marketing goals, you can engage people to interact with your brand via polls, quizzes, and surveys. Encourage them to participate and share the results.

Incorporating interactive elements into your social media marketing strategy will spark active participation between your social media team and audience, making them more likely to engage and share opinions.

Example: Host a poll on X (formerly Twitter) to let your audience choose the next product feature you’ll develop or the types of content they’d like to see.

6. Leverage user reviews and testimonials

Showcase user reviews and testimonials as part of your content strategy. Highlight positive feedback and make improvements by taking accountability for negative feedback.

Incorporate these testimonials into your social media strategies to create dedicated reviews or testimonial videos. Sharing this social proof helps build trust and credibility with your audience.

Example: Feature video social proof of a satisfied customer explaining how your software improved their business.

7. Create long-form content

While social media platforms are mostly known for short-form content, they’re switching gears to focus on long-form content.

It’s great, especially if your business receives great engagement on X (formerly Twitter).

“Long-form posts on the microblogging platform are now at 3 billion views per day and rising.”, said Elon Musk, the owner of X.

“This is roughly on par with all newspaper articles views on Earth,” he continued.

1701077165 831 10 Advanced Tips for Crafting Engaging Social Content Strategies

Educational content and case studies tend to work great on LinkedIn. Additionally, blog posts can also help you establish your brand as an authority in your industry.

Publishing compelling content is a great way to increase engagement and shares. You can also repurpose educational content on multiple sites and tailor it to each platform for the best results.

Example: Publish content about challenges and opportunities your company faced and how it helped you increase return on investment.

8. Collaborate with other brands

Collaborate with complementary brands or businesses for promotional content.

As part of your digital marketing strategy, come up with mutually beneficial collaboration ideas that can help you both increase reach and tap into ideal customers.

Joint campaigns, cross-promotions, or co-sponsored events are great ways to use the power of collaboration.

Example: Team up with a travel agency to promote your hotel and their vacation packages through a joint social media campaign.

9. Emphasize customer service

Social channels aren’t just a source for publishing content but also for providing excellent customer service.

Marketers these days actively invest in building social media communities to better connect and interact with potential customers.

Respond promptly to inquiries, comments, and feedback from your audience. Show them you genuinely care about them by addressing their concerns and providing helpful solutions.

This level of engagement can build customer loyalty and community building.

Example: Respond to customers’ support requests on social accounts and resolve their issues within a few hours.

10. Monitor trends and stay updated

Stay updated with social media trends, algorithm changes, and content formats. Track performances, content audits, and social media KPIs.

Experiment with new features or types of content introduced by social media channels.

Plan your social media content calendar based on engagement metrics. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and identify strategies that work well in your industry.

Out of all content types, short-form videos are taking the spotlight. Research states that 64% of shoppers ended up making a purchase after seeing branded video content on social platforms.

Example: If video content is becoming popular on social platforms, create your social media content strategy around it.

You might also consider incorporating data storytelling into your strategy. Why? More brands are moving towards storytelling in their social media posts.

This helps reach larger audiences and accomplish business goals. If you haven’t thought about it, give it a thought. The early bird catches the worm.

Final Words

And there you have it — ten advanced tips to level up your social media marketing strategy.

Test the waters with new features on social channels and plan your content marketing strategy accordingly.

With consistency and some creativity, you can increase your brand awareness and establish a strong foothold in the vast sea of social media.

Are you ready to boost your social media presence and accomplish all your business goals? Here’s to your success!

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3 Questions About AI in Content: What? So What? Now What?



3 Questions About AI in Content: What? So What? Now What?

In the United States, Thanksgiving will give us the needed break to take a collective breath.

I don’t know about you, but getting my bearings around the disruptions of generative AI presents an extreme challenge. Innovations come so quickly that once we think we have our arms around it, something new appears.

Almost one year into seeing what generative AI can do for content creation and marketing strategies, OpenAI has introduced custom GPTs for those who pay for access.

You can build custom ChatGPT applications to use the tool’s newest capabilities to do things specifically valuable to you. For example, your company could upload 10 years of blog articles and instruct the custom GPT to use the knowledge gained from the content to formulate answers to questions on the blogs’ topics. In theory, you get the depth and breadth of ChatGPT’s large language learning model focused on your knowledge base and able to take specific actions, such as sending an email or automating a task.

Impressive. But sheesh. What does that do to your plans to integrate tools into your marketing workflow? It seems like one of a hundred things that you’re supposed to pay attention to right now.

Time to reflect

If your time frees up this week either because of the holiday or because the Americans are on holiday, take a moment and reflect on these disruptions to your current marketing and content efforts.

A little more than 20 years ago, a nursing professor at Swansea University published a helpful framework for self-reflection and communication. His exercise has helped me in times of disruption, and perhaps it can be for you as well.

Answer a few questions that fall into three stages – what, so what, and now what?

  • What? Describe what has happened simply and objectively – without judgment or interpretation. Some helpful prompts: What happened? What did you observe? What events occurred? What is the current situation?
  • So what? Answer questions about what you know now that you didn’t know. You can introduce emotions. Some helpful prompts: What did you learn? What difference have the events made? Answer as yourself or within the context of your team or company.

    If it’s just you, potential questions could be: Did what happened clarify an interest? Did you hear or feel anything that surprised you? How is your experience different than what you expected? What do these events mean to you?

    If you answer on behalf of a team or group, you can ask the self-questions along with these prompts: What do these events suggest to you about this group? How might the group work better or worse with these events? How were decisions made or not made based on these events?

  • Now what? Reflect on your future actions based on the first two steps. These broader implications react to what happened. Questions center on defining and looking at the root cause: What would contribute to a successful response? What would be in the way of successfully navigating through this? What learning has now occurred, and how can I/we apply this learning?    

Ask your team to do this same exercise. When you meet back up, create a workshop or team gathering where you discuss the answers and determine where opportunities may exist.

Real reflections aren’t hot takes

If you find yourself thinking that process is basic, well, you’re right. These three questions – and the provocations that come from them – mirror a progression you’ve all tried to work through a problem. However, you don’t often do it for big disruptions in the moment. It’s just too easy to jump to the third step, “now what,” and confuse it with “what’s next.” You get overwhelmed by all the actions you can take.

You can see this challenge happening with the disruption of generative AI.

Check out this article that reflects on the disruption of generative AI in the video game industry. To make the case, it leverages Bain & Company research that “more than half of video game development process will be supported by generative AI within the next five to 10 years.” It uses “what happened” to make a case for “what’s next.” The author didn’t even bother to ask “so what” to reach the conclusion: “Microsoft wants AI to solve problems that game makers say they won’t actually have.”

If you reflect on what the Bain research actually said, you can see it’s almost the opposite of the Microsoft conclusion. The research plainly says few executives believe AI will reduce development costs. They say AI will not significantly impact talent and “do not believe it will replace the creative spark necessary for game development.”

By misinterpreting what happened and not asking, “So what,” the author jumped to predicting what’s next, which is almost useless to make any productive change to address what’s really happening.    

This is why working through this process is helpful.

Now, to be clear, hot takes are fun. I’m not suggesting you do away with predictions or the occasional response. Hot takes are a great way to start the conversation, not to finish them.

Take the time – and the process – to work it out. It’s not perfect. It’s also not meant to be a fail-safe way to predict the future. The three-question stages are meant to help you balance facts and feelings to make more productive and satisfying responses to the disruptions you face.

The process is meant to change your future, not by helping you see it more clearly but by helping you clearly see how you change it.

It’s your story. Have a wonderful, reflective Thanksgiving, and tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Whiteboard Friday Recap 2023: AI Edition



Whiteboard Friday Recap 2023: AI Edition

The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT has dominated headlines over the past year. With the widespread adoption of ChatGPT, a chatbot from OpenAI that has reportedly reached 100 million weekly active users recently, there is no doubt that this level of adoption is drastically altering the way the online world functions.

So how does this impact the search industry? Is AI going to take our jobs? Will AI change the roles of digital marketers and SEOs? Are traditional search engines a thing of the past? How will AI chatbots in search impact the search results? Will the generation of content through AI result in piles of inaccurate and low-quality information on the web?

In the last 12 months, our expert Whiteboard Friday presenters covered the challenges and pitfalls SEOs face in this new world, from implications in the search engine results to content strategies to using chatbots to improve efficiencies in day-to-day SEO tasks. So take a seat with a nice hot cuppa and learn about how to overcome those challenges and pitfalls so you, too, can embrace this new way of working.

Let’s take a look back at our AI-related Whiteboard Fridays.

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