If you want your organisation’s offering to stand out from the huge volume of information available to audiences today, it’s important to make sure you create content that’s interesting, authoritative and valuable. Think of the community magazines put out by membership organisations, for example, or the wealth of advice and guidance available from the public sector.
Achieving this level of quality does, however, involve a significant investment of time and effort – making it vital that you make the very most out of each piece of content you create. This won’t just drive efficiencies for your organisation either; providing a greater variety of content formats and access points can also offer benefits for your users, by enabling them to more easily get the information they need, when and where they need it.
In this post I’ll explore some specific ways in which you can make your content work harder for you, focusing on the key changes in user behaviour and business models that have been brought about by advances in digital technologies to help ensure your organisation can respond effectively, and so secure on-going business success.
I’ve written about the COPE model previously on this blog, and it’s an approach that has only continued to grow in popularity in the face of an increasingly fragmented digital ecosystem, which sees organisations grappling with a growing volume and variety of channels, platforms and devices. With COPE, however, a single piece of content can be adapted to suit the particular physical specifications, features and constraints of each of these – presenting the user with an optimised experience whether they’re interacting via desktop, smartphone or tablet, or even through wearable devices and connected TVs.
Taking a COPE approach can also help you respond to the different behaviours your users may exhibit across different devices, making it easier for them to achieve any common goals that may apply in each use context. For example, as smartphone users often need to access information about contact details and opening hours this information could be more prominently displayed on these devices, while tablet users are more likely to be in ‘browse’ mode, making related content links potentially more valuable.
Additionally, the COPE model can be a highly effective solution for global organisations looking to efficiently serve specific content to different geographical regions, whether this is to adhere to local regulations and requirements or simply ensure maximum relevance. This can be achieved through the implementation of a central repository of content, which can then be tweaked and translated as needed – avoiding the need to create entirely new resources each time. For example, our client Investec Asset Management uses this approach to great effect, serving 22 role- and region-specific sites through a single global platform thanks to sophisticated content editor resources.
Of course, changing your content to suit the region-specific needs of your audience crosses over into another popular optimisation technique: personalisation. This is another area of growing importance for organisations, as users come to expect highly-relevant experiences that are tailored to their specific needs, preferences and interests. Indeed, recent research performed by Monetate found that 94% of marketers agree that “personalization of the digital experience is critical to current and future success”.
However, while delivering a personalised experience undoubtedly requires an in-depth understanding of your users (built on detailed user research, and validated through testing activities), it doesn’t mean that you have to create new content for each and every individual you have to reach. Rather, there are a number of comparatively easy ways to give generic content a more personal touch, especially if you can leverage a powerful data-driven platform to tailor the experience using explicit and implicit user information.
This could include drawing on details provided directly by your users such as name, interests, and communication preferences; or using data such as location and device being used to deliver content that’s not just relevant to your users, but which is pertinent to their specific needs at a given point. To deliver a truly personalised experience though, you should also be seeking to capture data about your users’ past behaviours and interactions with your brand, using this to build up common profiles that will help your anticipate an individual’s future wants and needs, and serve the appropriate content accordingly.
Armed with this kind of information, for example, you can craft automated campaigns that deliver existing content across a timeframe to drive users through your conversion channel – tweaking this as necessary in response to emerging information or particular triggers. Alternatively, you may wish to take inspiration from organisations such as Amazon, which display product recommendations tailored according to a user’s previous behaviour by analysing how similar users think and behave.
Another common differentiator between individuals is the way in which they learn, with some people preferring information to be displayed visually while others opt for thorough descriptions, for example. Consider, therefore, how your most popular pieces could be reformatted, to give you new material based on existing research and copy, and so efficiently extend the lifespan and reach of your content.
The good news is that there are a huge variety of reformatting options out there, many of which can be applied to a single item to deliver a wealth of extra content with very little additional outlay. For example, if a member of your team delivers an industry talk, why not make this available online as a webinar, and send invites out to interested parties that weren’t able to attend the physical event? The transcript of said webinar could then also be published as a blog post, and highlights from this shared via social channels to drive further interest and traffic.
Your users themselves can also provide a rich source of ideas, information and statistics, so be sure to canvass their opinion too. This could take the form of a Twitter Q&A session which then informs or is turned into an article, while even a quick scan of your blog post comments can provide inspiration for future discussion points that you know will be of interest to your audience.
Audiences today have become used to accessing a vast amount of content for free online, yet the success of paid-for offerings from organisations including The New York Times, Spotify and Netflix suggests that there is an appetite for an alternative – provided the content delivers enough value in return. If you’ve taken care over the quality of your output, therefore, monetisation could be a valid route to helping you generate additional direct revenues, as well as raise your reputation as a content provider.
This is something many organisations outside the media space are already exploring, such as the membership institutions mentioned in the introduction. With a wealth of content already created for their print magazines, making some of these available for free online while placing others behind a paywall is often a highly cost-effective way to drive increased interest, engagement, conversions and income. Additionally, if mechanisms are in place whereby registered members can access all gated resources for free, the content can also be used to help grow membership bases, and so support another key business goal.
Of course, paywalls are far from the only way to monetise content. From online subscriptions and one-off payments through to crowdfunding, freemium models and ‘honesty box’ systems, there’s a whole range of options available to suit specific requirements and goals – so be sure you understand exactly what you want to achieve, and the role your content may play in supporting this, before defining your strategy.
Marketers are continually being asked to do more with less – but hopefully in this post we’ve demonstrated some ways in which efficiencies can be made without compromising on quality. While an initial investment is still required to create well-researched and well-written content, by considering how it may be reused, repurposed and recycled you can be sure you’re making the most of each and every piece, to deliver the greatest possible returns back to your organisation. In turn, this will allow you to invest more in other areas of your marketing strategy, such as the supporting tools and technologies needed to deliver your content in a efficient, targeted and timely fashion.
To find out more about how you can thrive in the current content-rich digital landscape, download our white paper “Eight New Opportunities for The Content Age”, or read more about how Box UK can help you throughout every stage of the journey – from providing rich user insight to implementing sophisticated content delivery platforms.