With brands feeling the pressure more than ever to deliver deeper interactions with consumers, and earn the data insights and financial returns they generate, it’s never been more important to ensure the most effective engagement strategies are in place to help make this possible. Content marketing has opened the door to brands hoping to achieve this greater level of customer interaction, with digital advances over the last few years allowing for a far more sophisticated customer-brand relationship, and yet many brands are still to recognise how to make the most of the tools available to them.

With the breadth of engagement opportunities now available for the taking, brands must take action and consider how they are moving beyond simply trying to sell a product, and place far greater emphasis on the entire experience instead. Brands should be delivering an effective narrative, which can be applied to the individual’s own life and situation; this is where a deeper bond will be formed.

For example, whilst high-speed broadband may not be considered the most exciting of products to be selling, clever brands should be looking at what the broadband experience means to consumers and bringing these to life within communications. Whether it’s making on-demand TV accessible to watch a much-loved TV show, the ability to compete against friends on the latest online game, catching up with friends abroad via Skype, or crucially, enabling all three to take place at once, it’s these sorts of stories that will capture the interest of the consumer and create a positive impact in their mind. As a result, they are much more likely to allow that brand to exist and be part of their life.

Content marketing is pivotal to doing this well – the vehicle to enabling the creation of innovative and engaging material, which unlocks the interest of the customer. With so much value to be gained, now is the time for brands to invest in their content strategies to ensure they are enriching the customer’s experience at every stage of the journey, to generate the all important financial results. Whether a content novice or simply looking to improve the brand offering, there are key areas to keep front of mind.

It’s all about telling a story

Content is a crucial element to enabling the development of the entire brand story – it drives the evolution from simply a product to the broader brand experience, which, if done well, is what consumers will buy into. As with all stories, the narrative must flow, make sense and be accessible for the consumer to take what they want from it, when they want it.

With the growth of devices and resulting customer touchpoints, brands must join up the entire experience and content is the perfect way to achieve this. There must be consistency and a brand message running throughout, so that no matter how a customer chooses to interact with a brand, the experience throughout the customer journey is the same.

Data, data, data

With customers demanding personalised, targeted engagement, brands must be drawing on the data to pull out the necessary insights. Whilst it may sound like an overused phrase, brands are still failing to make the best use of the information available to them; it’s this that will enable brands to inform the content they are using to transform the level of interaction achieved with the customer. Without tangible data insights, marketers are simply applying a scatter gun approach and will be unsuccessful in creating a meaningful experience or generating uplift in ROI.

Emotive engagement

Achieving the emotive reaction or engagement is crucial if customers are going to allow a brand into their world. Content should always aim to provoke a response from the customer and brands must look at how to bring the experiences to life, no matter what product they are selling. For example, creating narrative around selling a train ticket, which focuses on the experiences and adventures the purchase of a train ticket will create, is the perfect way for customers to take the narrative, apply it to their own lives and achieve an emotional bond with it in the meantime.

Brands should be using content to create more engagement opportunities pre and post travel to capitalise on the broader experience, encouraging repeat purchase.

Be memorable and make it applicable

Today’s customers are easily distracted, often dual screening, multitasking and as a result, have a narrow attention span. Brands need to work much harder to earn and keep a customer’s interest, which is where content marketing strategies can really enable them to achieve this.

Content that delights, excites and is relevant and applicable to the customer in a specific moment in time should always be the aim. As ever, putting the customer first, recognising their needs, habits and preferences all adds to creating a positive experience and really elevates the product sell to a much deeper experience.

Prolong the relationship

Brands must look at how to maintain the relationship beyond a one-off interaction. Content is a great way to keep the conversation going, encourage repeat purchase or convince a wavering customer that it should return to an abandoned basket. As already mentioned, with the competition for customers attention vast, it doesn’t hurt to remind a customer and put the brand back into the consideration space.

Red Bull is an example of a brand getting this right and going far beyond simply selling an energy drink in the process. In shifting its strategy to focus on undertaking extreme, one-off challenges such as Stratos, Red Bull is delivering content to customers and suddenly transporting them to an exciting and engaging experience, likely to leave a positive impact and provoke recall and purchase when they next come into contact with the brand.

Rob Manning

Rob Manning

Contributor


Rob Manning is the Managing Director of Jacob Bailey,