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What is customer experience and why does it matter?

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InMoment brings new AI capabilities to understanding the customer and employee experiences


Marketing your services is essential for building your brand image and reputation. One of the best ways to do so is by prioritizing customer experience (CX). 

Customer experience focuses on the relationship between a business and its customers. It includes every form of interaction or communication with the customer, whether direct or indirect, even if it doesn’t result in a purchase. When optimizing for customer experience, marketers emphasize tasks that increase engagement at every touchpoint.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into why and how businesses should have a more customer-centric approach and answer the most frequently asked questions about customer experience. More specifically, we’ll cover:

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Why is customer experience important?

A positive customer experience can massively boost your business. It can help retain clients and encourage them to refer your company to others. After all, word of mouth marketing is one of the most influential elements driving purchase decisions today. In fact, 84% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey.

Marketers are recognizing the benefits of CX platforms and strategies in growing numbers, especially after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 94% of marketers changed their digital CX strategy over the 18 months following the pandemic onset, according to Acquia’s Global CX Report. And data from Pointillist suggests that digital transformation of tools and strategies remains one of the top CX priorities for brands.

Customer experience can make or break your brand, so marketers would be wise to invest in solutions that drive positive interactions. 

Examples of positive customer experience

Essentially, customers are more likely to return to your business if they feel like their needs are understood and expectations are met. This includes listening to customer feedback and implementing changes.

Some other examples of positive customer experience include:

  • Intuitive website design.
  • Realistic expectations about products or services.
  • Sales being transparent about pricing.
  • Easy-to-access self-help resources.
  • Always-available live customer support with a short waiting time.
  • Proactive messaging around known issues.
  • Use customer feedback to understand your audience thoroughly.
  • Smooth omni-channel experiences (ex. website and mobile app integration)

Good customer experience encompasses more than the absence of disjointed elements. It requires brands to proactively engage with customers in creative ways to foster greater engagement.

Examples of bad customer experience

Poor customer experience, on the other hand, may cause serious damage to your brand’s reputation and negatively impact brand loyalty. The implications of bad customer experience are far-reaching and may involve customers switching to a competitor, poor lead conversion, and a drop in your customer lifetime value.

To put it simply, a bad customer experience is when a customer feels a business has failed to meet their expectations. The most common indicators of poor customer experience in digital interactions include:

  • Having to enter information multiple times.
  • Unresolved issues/questions.
  • Too much automation.
  • Service that is not personalized.
  • Websites that are slow to load.
  • Confusing UI/UX.

Poor customer experience has the potential to derail your B2B marketing campaigns. Because so much time and effort is put into purchasing decisions, these potential buyers are more aware of disruptions and discrepancies that make their jobs even more difficult. Brands that force customers to take undesirable actions or sift through disjointed experiences will inevitably see more drop-offs.


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How to choose the right customer experience strategies

While many customer perceptions of your brand hinge on personal preferences, there are plenty of tactics marketers can enact to foster better experiences. These strategies are designed to measure, facilitate, and foster more positive customer experiences at every touchpoint.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your customer experience strategy.

Create feedback loops

Customer feedback is the easiest way to understand what your customers expect from you and understand how to provide them with a better experience. It provides first-hand insight into what customers think about your brand, what issues they have, and what works for them. 

Remember to acknowledge their feedback and do your best to act on it. This builds trust, shows your customers that you care, and gives them a solid reason to continue doing business with you.

Create an omnichannel experience

When you develop an omnichannel CX strategy, you’re creating a more efficient and effective way for customer service agents to interact with customers. Having multiple channels that integrate within a single system allows customers to pick up right where they left off, providing a consistent communication journey and delivering a good experience across channels.

Source: Blueshift

Personalize the user experience

Personalization includes interactions through customers’ preferred method of contact, product recommendations based on past purchases and search history, or an online experience tailored to each customer.

Using data to figure out who your customer is (their preferences, habits, basic personality, etc.) helps marketers better understand what customers expect, which can lead to faster support and resolutions. 

Empower customers through AI

Digitalization is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate, and through it, so are machine learning applications, chatbots, or mobile messaging. AI-powered chatbots and virtual customer assistants are effective for quick, repetitive tasks. 

Keep In touch with your customers

Ensuring your customers remember you is essential to retaining them. Following up with customers through their preferred contact method or surveys can help you learn where to improve your business and show your customers they matter. Adding them to a mailing list can also be a way to send them personalized recommendations, letting them know when you expand your services or offer them seasonal or customized discounts. It helps you build trust and familiarity with your customers.

Deliver proactive experiences

In addition to acknowledging and responding to customer reviews and feedback, businesses can be proactive in their approach. Anticipating customers’ needs and solving problems before they arise or escalate can help generate unique and personalized experiences.

Create a FAQ page

Customers often prefer resolving issues on their own rather than contacting a live service agent if the issue is fairly common. You can help them by making self-help services more accessible and easy to use. Usually, this is in the form of a FAQs page that quickly resolves relatively common customer questions. Ensuring that your content is accurate and regularly updated is crucial – an unhelpful article can quickly translate into a poor experience.

Use analytics to improve the customer journey

Research and data provide many insights into the efficiency of your customer support team. Data helps improve customer satisfaction with the interactions, provides insights regarding consumer behavior trends, and much more. Modifying processes and services with your customers in mind begins with understanding what your existing data is telling you.

How to measure customer experience?

Customer expectations are constantly changing, so the services put forth to meet their expectations need to change with time as well. Being able to measure how well your customer experience strategies are working allows you to know what’s helpful and what to improve.

Many marketers map out customer journeys to better understand their experiences. This exercise helps them see the buying experience from the customer perspective, allowing them to more easily pinpoint areas in need of improvement. 

Mapping out customer journeys also provides a good framework for measuring the success of marketing campaigns. Whether it’s how engaged customers are with your content or how many purchases are made, marketers can customize these maps to reflect their brand’s KPIs.

Here are some of the most effective ways marketing teams can measure customer experience.

Use data to analyze customer satisfaction

Surveys can give you insight into factors like customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS). CSAT surveys measure customers’ satisfaction with the product or service they receive from you. They are usually expressed with a 5- or 10-point scale (where 1 means “very unsatisfied” and 10 means “very satisfied”) or through binary yes/no answers. NPS is a customer loyalty score derived from asking customers, “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?” You can, of course, choose to modify the question slightly to suit your brand or business.

CSAT surveys are more specific to the product and service they receive from you, while NPS is more focused on customers’ overall feelings toward your brand.

Customer effort score (CES) measures the experience customers had with a product or service in terms of how “difficult” or “easy” it was for them to complete an action or obtain a resolution. CES surveys are often sent out after an interaction with customer service, with questions such as, “How easy was it to get your issue resolved today?” It is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and gain quick feedback.

Analyze customer churn rate and the reasons behind it

Customer churn is a normal part of business, but it’s vital that you learn from it so that you can prevent it from happening due to poor customer experiences.

Regularly analyzing churned customers can help determine whether your churn rate is increasing or decreasing. It can also help you understand the reasons for churn; for example, if customers responded well to your personalized communications and returned for business, you know that team or area of your company is doing a good job.

Community forum discussions are a great place to understand customer pain points, how customers receive and use your product and what they are asking for. It works like customer feedback, which can provide direct insight into how customers feel about their interactions with your business.

Forums can be shared via email surveys, social media, or a community page and give customers the chance to offer suggestions proactively.

Look at customer service data 

Look into how long customers have to wait before reaching live service agents or getting an answer. Long wait times are a major reason for poor customer experience.

Also, look for recurring issues among support tickets and understand why they exist. Resolving these issues before customers bring them to you allows you to decrease the total number of tickets your agents receive while providing a streamlined and enjoyable experience.

Talk to customer-facing staff 

In addition to creating feedback loops with customers, marketers should build them with their employees as well. Customer-facing staff, like service agents, may have insights based on direct input from customers or their own experience while dealing with customers. This allows you to understand if and why employees may be having difficulties meeting expectations and what you can do to improve that.

Customer experience platforms are designed to help brands manage their interactions with customers to enhance customer satisfaction. They serve as a single place for brands to manage the entire customer lifecycle journey, from overseeing a customer’s interaction to responding to queries.

As customer expectations keep rising, it is crucial for brands to use personalization to improve customer experience. Here are some of the most popular customer experience platforms that can enhance your customer experience.

Zendesk

Zendesk offers many features, such as a ticketing system for quicker customer service, that lets you build an integrated help center and a community forum for consumers who use your products. It is very easy to navigate and has many customizations, giving you a complete view of every customer interaction. It also helps your business stay aligned by enabling a complete sync between all agents with its Sunshine platform.  

Sunshine has a unique feature called the “Zendesk Marketplace,” which allows you to connect to 1,200+ apps. A one-stop shop to find partners, apps, and integrations, it increases agent productivity and streamlines workflow. 

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) 

The most striking feature of the Adobe Experience Manager is its open architecture, allowing you to easily integrate it with existing enterprise software systems. AEM gives you a powerful enterprise toolkit that includes web analytics, automated tools for personalized content experiences, and smart tools to rapidly source, adapt, and deliver your assets across digital audiences. 

It can help customers through every step of the process from acquisition through retention with its digital enrollment and forms feature. The feature also offers end-to-end digital document solutions, which make it easy to create responsive forms that customers can easily complete and securely e-sign. 


Explore DAM solutions from vendors like Acquia, Widen, Cloudinary, MediaValet and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on digital asset management platforms.

Click here to download!


Satmetrix

Satmetrix offers brands holistic customer experience solutions, including omnichannel feedback and a customer journey-based design. Its features enable you to combine and analyze all forms of feedback across the customer journey. And, its VOC solution NICE Satmetrix allows you to optimize customer experiences by giving you unified customer feedback from millions of customer interactions.

Satmetrix is built to enhance efficiency by acting in real-time to empower front-line employee performance and help them resolve issues through automated agent workflows.

Zoho CRM Plus

Zoho CRM Plus helps brands improve customer experiences through its wide range of unified solutions. The platform provides marketers with omnichannel engagement support, social media marketing tools, marketing analytics, chatbots, and customer segmentation features.

The platform’s emphasis on unification can help brands meet customer expectations at every stage of their journey. And, since it’s a CRM, the tool brings all team members onto the same page to prevent disruptions in communications.

Qualtrics

The Qualtrics customer experience platform uses AI and automation to provide marketers with resources to foster greater levels of engagement. Qualtrics can use customer data to generate feedback forms, surveys, and other resources that address your audience’s most pressing needs.

This experience management solution also helps brands make better campaign decisions with recommended actions based on customer trends and patterns.

The number of customer experience platforms available is growing by the day, and for good reason. They’re one of the best ways to help you attract and retain loyal customers. They are driving the future of quality customer experiences for companies worldwide and helping build powerful brands.

Frequently asked questions about customer experience

Marketers and brands know customer experience solutions are necessary to increase engagement and ROI, but many have questions regarding why it’s important, how to deliver results, and how to improve it.

Here are some of the most popular questions marketers ask regarding customer experience.

What is the difference between customer experience and customer service?

Simply put, customer service is just one part of the whole customer experience. 

Customer experience is a customer’s overall perception of your company based on their interactions with it. In comparison, customer service refers to the specific interactions within the experience where a customer is seeking assistance or support. 

Customer service is generally reactive – it only comes into play when customers contact the company for support or feedback. On the other hand, customer experience is proactive – you can optimize how customers feel about your business before they even reach out or have an issue.

What is great customer service?

A great customer experience is quick and easy, but it also reflects empathy and customers’ values. They crave personalized experiences. In fact, roughly 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands provide personalized experiences, according to data from Epsilon.

What can cause a bad customer experience?

In short, a bad customer experience fails to meet customers’ needs. Long wait times and having to repeat information multiple times are two major factors that can cause a poor experience. Research from Qualtrics found that 80% of consumers say they would switch to a competitor following a poor customer experience with a brand.

What is the role of customer experience?

The role of a customer experience team is to ensure your company is meeting customers’ needs and expectations. This includes gathering customer data like feedback and churn rates and sharing them with various teams across the company to solve issues and make sure they aren’t recurring.

What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management involves designing ways to ensure customer interactions meet or exceed their expectations. The aim is to promote greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. This can be done by focusing on marketing, sales, product, and customer service.

However, to successfully manage customer experience and deliver value, businesses should look at the organization as a whole instead of trying to figure out how to improve each part. Looking at the areas individually can be time-consuming and leads to businesses missing out on how these areas affect each other. Taking a more holistic approach while monitoring the customer journey can lead to more satisfaction and loyalty.


Explore capabilities from vendors like Adobe, Pointillist, SharpSpring, Salesforce and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on customer journey analytics platforms.

Click here to download!


How improved customer experience helps brands

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5.4 million new business applications were filed in 2021. This is a clear indicator that businesses will have to be unique, experience-driven, and differentiable to succeed. Enabling excellent customer experiences will act as a huge differentiator for your brand, helping with customer acquisition, brand loyalty, and customer retention. 

Here are some of the most important benefits of improved customer experience.

Greater profits

Companies that excel at customer experience drive higher revenues and profits than their competition. A better customer experience leads to higher customer retention, a five times cheaper alternative to customer acquisition.

Word of mouth and brand loyalty 

Word of mouth marketing is key to organic growth. Excellent customer experience means customers are more than happy to recommend your brand to their inner circle and are open to purchasing your products again. 

Enhanced customer experiences help you build a strong connection with your customers. It helps you create a winning experience that helps you stand out from your competition.

Improved company culture and reputation

Building a better customer experience helps you nurture a company culture that is centered around customer satisfaction. This is especially important today in the digital age, where customer feedback can either make or break your brand. 

Improving customer experience creates a powerful foundation for your company as one that pays attention to the evolving needs of its customers. It is one of the most undervalued assets of any business and can scale up your growth, sustainability, and reach. It will grow your brand value exponentially. 

Provide the best customer experience you can

Think of the last time you had a great experience purchasing a product or service – how did that experience leave you feeling? Now, do the same for a poor experience you’ve had as a customer. What would you have liked that business to do better?

Having a customer-centric approach when coming up with new ways to grow or promote your business can go a long way. Collecting customer feedback and analyzing trends to improve negative experiences and enhance positive ones will help boost customers’ feelings about your company. A happy customer is likely to come back for more – they’re one of the best ways to increase brand awareness. At the end of the day, customer satisfaction should be a key part of your marketing plan. 


About The Author

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.



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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right

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A Digital Practioner’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right



It’s that time of year again – the holiday excitement has faded as we fall back into the workweek. With a year’s worth of work stretched in front of us, there can be both a sense of opportunity and overwhelmedness 

Because transitioning back into the swing of things can be daunting, We’ve gathered key takeaways from the previous year, global Opticon Tour, and how we can successfully apply those learnings in 2023.  

1. “Work about work” is holding teams back. Take this chance to declutter.  

Consider the reality of what most digital teams are up against. When it comes to managing the content lifecycle, draft documents that are stored in separate places and disparate tools that don’t work together are the norm for many. With no centralized point of communication and cumbersome workflows, it can take forever for teams to create and approve content, and work is often duplicated or unused.  

After work is completed, it can be easy to dismiss the headaches caused by inefficient, siloed workflows and processes. But the long-term effects of inefficient and bulky collaboration can be detrimental to a brand’s digital experience – and bottom line. (Those who joined us in San Diego at Opticon might recall this concept played out via ). 

Digital teams with unwieldy content lifecycles can take back control using , saving countless hours and frustration over the year.  

2. Change is constant. Set your team up to be adaptive. 

We all know how difficult it is to create amazing customer experiences these days. The world is moving faster than ever, and change is constant and chaotic with uncertainty on nearly every level: economic upheaval, rapid cultural change, ever-escalating customer expectations (thanks, Amazon), and a tight talent market.  

To not only stay the course but to also grow in this unpredictable environment, it’s important that teams constantly stay on the lookout for new ways to drive more sales and increase loyalty. In other words, consistently deliver modern, relevant, and personalized commerce experiences.  

But keeping pace doesn’t necessarily mean working harder. Optimizely’s Monetize solutions, teams can drive sales and loyalty with fewer costs and efforts.  

3. Data fuels a great customer experience. Test and optimize every touchpoint. 

As practitioners, we all know that the best customer experience wins.  

When teams don’t clearly understand what’s happening and when, they miss the mark. With little patience and high expectations, today’s customers will simply switch to a competitor that better understands them and provides a more personalized experience.  

But when teams work together to inject data across silos, they have the insight needed to make the right decisions and create with confidence.  

For instance, take the marketing team: with access to a slew of customer touchpoints and experimentation data, marketers should be a critical resource for understanding customers’ wants and needs. Developers, product teams, and beyond should utilize this data to remove the guesswork and inform strategies, priorities, roadmaps, and decisions.  

With customer-centricity at the heart of any great digital experience, the best experiences are fueled by data uncovered by high-velocity experimentation. Consider the power that Optimizely’s Experimentation products can have on your entire team’s ability to unlock personalized insights and better connect with customers.  

Hopefully, your new year is off to a great start – but if you’re feeling a little off track, contact Optimizely today to learn more about our DXP can impact your business and set you up for a successful and productive year.  

A special thanks to our sponsors at Opticon London – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Siteimprove – and Opticon Stockholm – Microsoft, Google Cloud, Valtech, and Contentsquare. 


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Top 6 SEO Tips for Bloggers that Will Skyrocket Google Rankings

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Top 6 SEO Tips for Bloggers that Will Skyrocket Google Rankings

The majority of blogs rely heavily on search engines to drive traffic. On the other hand, there is a misunderstanding that creating “SEO-optimized content” entails stuffing keywords into paragraphs and headers, which leads to barely readable blog articles.

But that’s not what SEO is all about. In this article, you’ll discover the top 6 SEO strategies and how crucial they are for improving your blog posts rank in Google search results.

How Important Are Google Rankings For Your Blog?

Search engine traffic is essential if you’re blogging in hopes of growing your business. After all, what’s the point in writing content if no one is going to see it? The higher your blog post ranks in Google search results, the more likely people will find and read it.

And the more people who read your blog post, the more likely someone will take the desired action, whether signing up for your email list, buying one of your products, or hiring you as a coach or consultant. So, it is essential to have SEO optimized blog.

How To Incorporate SEO Into Your Blogs?

It would help if you started putting these six pieces of constructive SEO advice for bloggers into practice immediately:

1. Write For Your Readers

The standard of blog writing started significantly declining when “SEO content” became a buzzword. Instead of writing for people, they began to write mainly for robots in search engines. Unfortunately, some bloggers still express themselves in this way nowadays.  

But luckily, things have greatly improved, especially since the Hummingbird update and the rise of voice searches. The Hummingbird update was developed to assist Google in comprehending the purpose of searches.  

For instance, Google would understand that you are seeking nearby restaurants if you Googled “places to buy burgers.” It influences SEO because search engines are now more geared toward providing answers to queries and supporting semantic search rather than merely focusing on keywords.

You typically utilize Google, Bing, YouTube, or even Siri to find answers to questions. Take that idea and use it to improve your blog. Your writing should address the concerns of your intended audience in detail.

Your blog shouldn’t exist solely to help you rank for a particular keyword. Instead of concentrating on keywords, shift your attention to creating content that addresses the issues of your target audience.

2. Link to High-Authority websites

Don’t be scared to use external links when you construct your blog content. In addition to giving blog visitors more resources to read and learn from, linking to reputable websites demonstrates to search engines that you have done your research.

Research-based statistics from reputable websites are the best way to support blog content. Using compelling statistics will help you create a stronger, more specific argument that will help you win your readers’ trust.

3. Design a link building Strategy

Your search ranking is significantly impacted by link building. Why? Consider search results a contest where the people who receive the most votes win.

Google considers every website that links back to you as a vote for your website, elevating your content’s credibility. You will move up in ranking as a result. Here are some starter ideas for your link-building:

  • Communicate to other bloggers in your niche and offer to guest post on their website. Include a link back to your blog in your guest post.
  • Participate in online and offline community events related to your niche. For example, if you blog about fitness, you could attend a trade show related to fitness or health.
  • Create helpful resources that other bloggers in your niche find valuable, such as an eBook, cheat sheet or template. Include a link back to your blog on these resources.
  • Leverage social media to get your content in front of as many people as possible.

4. Learn About Google Webmaster Tools

Do you remember getting a warning from your teacher when you did anything incorrectly in elementary school? Your opportunity to clean up your act and get back on track to avoid punishment was given to you with that warning. In a way, Google Webmaster Tools serves that purpose for your blog.

Google Webmaster Tools will warn you when something suspicious is happening with your blog by giving you diagnostics, tools, and data to keep your site in good condition.

What you can observe in the Webmaster Tools Search Console is:

  • The percentage of your pages that Google has indexed
  • If your website is having issues with Google’s bots indexing it
  • If your website was hacked
  • How search engine bots see your website
  • Links to your site
  • If Google penalized your website manually

The great thing about Webmaster Tools is that it informs you what’s wrong with your website and how to fix it. To resolve any difficulties Google discovers with your blog, you can utilize a vast knowledge base of articles and a forum.

5. Include Keywords in your Meta Description

Does your post include meta descriptions? If not, you’re probably not providing your content with the best chance of being seen. Google also analyzes meta-descriptions to determine search results. The one- to three-sentence summaries beneath a result’s title is known as meta descriptions.

Use meta descriptions to briefly summarize the subject of your post, and keep in mind to:

  1. Make it brief.
  2. Use between one and two keywords.
  3. Since there will likely be other postings that are identical to yours, you should make your description stand out from the competition.

6. Establish Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a unique, instrumental piece of content that’s so valuable people can’t resist linking to it. It’s similar to dining at a fantastic restaurant and a merely adequate one. You’ll go out of your way to tell everyone about the excellent restaurant, but if someone asks if you’ve been there, you’ll probably only mention the merely adequate one.

The ProBlogger job board is an excellent example of a linkable asset. For independent bloggers looking for compensated writing opportunities, it’s a terrific resource. The page is constantly linked in blog posts on monetizing your blog or websites that pay you to write for them. Why? Because it is rare and costly.

You can build the following linkable assets for your blog:

  • Free software or apps
  • Ultimate guide posts
  • Huge lists
  • Infographics
  • Online guide
  • Influencer tally reports
  • Quizzes
  • A case studies
  • Industry studies or surveys

Final Thoughts

By following these six SEO tips for bloggers, you’ll be well on your journey to improving your blog’s Google ranking. Remember that SEO is an ongoing process, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. The key is to be patient and consistent in your efforts, and soon you’ll start reaping the rewards of your hard work!

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B2C Marketers Treat Content Marketing as a Project; That’s a Mistake [New Research]

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B2C Marketers Treat Content Marketing as a Project; That’s a Mistake [New Research]

In The End of Competitive Advantage, Rita Gunther McGrath illustrates all competitive advantages are transient. She contends everybody understands that. So why hasn’t basic strategy practice changed?

As Rita writes:

Most executives, even when they realize that competitive advantages are going to be ephemeral, are still using strategy frameworks and tools designed for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage, not for quickly exploiting and moving in and out of advantages.

That last part resonates after working with hundreds of enterprise brands over the last 10 years. Most businesses think about how they can change content to fit marketing’s purpose, not how they might change marketing to fit content’s purpose.

Guess what? Your content will never be a sustainable competitive advantage or differentiator – all content assets are easily replicable and, at best, only transient in differentiated value.

In the newly released Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs B2C Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends – Insights for 2023, I see it’s time to feed the content giant that awakened last year. But be careful not to get so distracted by the food you fail to cook consistently over time. All too often, content marketers get wrapped up in content creation rather than in the ability to lead the capabilities to create consistently.

Content should be a strategic activity

Look at content operations as the catalyst that can change everything for your content marketing challenges. You should recognize the activities you perform are a competitive advantage. Success hinges on the ability of a team (of one or 100) to be dynamic and fluid – moving in and out of “arenas” (as Rita calls them in her book) of content and creating temporary advantages.

Here’s the real takeaway: Ask everyone in your business – including your CEO – if they believe compelling, engaging, useful, and dynamic content-driven experiences will move the business forward.

If the answer is yes, then the strategic value lies in your ability to evolve and coordinate all the activities to create those content-driven experiences repeatedly. It does not lie in the content or the distribution plans. Your team’s job is not to be good at content; your job is to enable the business to be good at content.

#ContentMarketing’s strategic value lies in the ability to repeatedly deliver content-driven experiences, not the content itself, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Consider some highlights from this year’s research.

Struggle is real for content marketing strategy

Content marketing remains important.

Seventy percent of B2C marketers told us that content marketing has become more important to their organization over the last year. (Only 4% say it’s less important.)

Importance of B2C Content Marketing in the Last Year

With an increase in importance comes a need for more resources. When asked what they would change about content marketing in their organization, they say they want more staff, more budget, and better access to subject matter experts.

70% of #B2C marketers say #ContentMarketing is more important in their organization than last year according to @CMIContent #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Yes, content marketing is more important, but content marketers struggle to keep up with the demand.

Why?

Because so many businesses treat content marketing as a campaign-, project-focused effort that requires different “assets.” Content marketers are so busy churning out projects of content that they haven’t figured out how to make it a repeatable, consistent, and scalable process.

As far as their biggest challenges in content marketing, 57% of B2C marketers say creating content that appeals to different target audiences. Rounding out the top three: developing consistency with measurement (44%) and differentiating our products/services from the competition (40%).

B2C Organizations' Current Content Marketing Challenges

57% of #B2C marketers say they are challenged to create #content that appeals to different target audiences according to @CMIContent #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Solving all three of these challenges centers around strategic content operations – setting a consistent long-term strategy to differentiate, developing a measurement plan that stands the test of time, and scaling to meet the needs of different audiences. But most marketers aren’t planning to acquire the help to tackle those challenges. Among the resources they plan to hire or contract in the coming year, almost half (45%) say they will look to grow writers, designers, photographers, and videographers.

It’s like trying to design a bigger house by simply adding more bricks.

45% of #B2C marketers plan to hire content creators in the coming year. @Robert_Rose says that’s like designing a bigger house by adding more bricks via @CMIContent #research. Click To Tweet

But B2C content marketing is working

Despite their challenges, talented practitioners find success. Overall, 81% of B2C marketers rate their success as either moderately, very, or extremely successful. Only 2% say they were “not at all” successful.

How B2C Marketers Rate Their Organization's Overall Level of Content Marketing Success in Last 12 Months

And 86% say content marketing provides a “meaningful/purposeful career path.”

These results align with the research discovered in CMI’s Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook (registration required). We found though content marketers are generally happy in their current roles, they would be happier if their organizations prioritized content marketing, backed it with strategies and resources, and invested in technologies to help them do their jobs faster and more efficiently.

The final bit of good news? Almost three-quarters (73%) of content marketers expect their organization’s investment in the practice will increase or remain the same this year. Only 3% believe it will decrease.

Different activities, not more efficient ones

The B2C research presents some interesting insights into the priorities for 2023:

  • Businesses must increasingly stop organizing and scaling new marketing teams based on platforms, technologies, or inside-looking-out views of the customer journey. The format and placement of those experiences on multiple channels will always be temporal. Success happens when the business becomes skilled and integrated at operating and managing all manners of content-driven experiences.
  • Businesses must stop looking at content from a container-first perspective – designed solely to support marketing tactics or initiatives. Success happens when the business recognizes content operations as a function, supporting the fluid use of content to fuel better customer experiences.
  • Businesses must not say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” when one experience no longer works. Success happens when the business can healthily disengage and dismantle experiences that aren’t working. They can constantly reconfigure their activities and manage portfolios of content-driven experiences.

Starting with the wrong premise

Often the first sign of trouble in any content marketing approach is when you hear, “How do we get more efficient at content?”

Efficiency involves changes to a process to remove friction. The question often assumes a working, standard operation providing value already exists. But if there is no repeatable standard operation, efficiency ends up meaning producing the same or more content with the same resources.

That rarely works out to be better for the business.

The more difficult task for content marketers is to determine the different activities necessary to create or augment the processes and identify the activities to undertake differently.

The content you create provides no sustainable competitive business advantage. But a strategic content operation just might.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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