Content Experience: A Business Essential, Not a Buzzy Phrase
Whether you intend to or not, you're creating a content experience; make sure it's a positive one that yields results.
These days, everyone is talking about experience this and experience that. So while we don’t blame you if the phrase “content experience” makes you start to tune out, we do feel an obligation to tell you that ignoring it is a mistake. In fact, even the best content in the world can’t save you from a poor content experience. To help you produce the former and avoid the latter, here’s more about the content experience and why it’s imperative for your business and your buyers.
First, here’s how my team and I define content experience: It’s “the environment in which your content lives, how it’s structured and how it compels your prospects and customers to engage with your company.” Second, there’s something every marketer must know: You are creating a content experience whether you intend to or not. The difference is whether the experience is positive and yields the results you’d like it to, or falls flat and potentially even alienates customers. So, knowing this, let’s dive into the components of a content experience.
Your customers are judging you
No, it’s not your imagination. The people who are reading your articles and viewing your videos are actually judging you during the process. They may not consciously think they are, but that’s the power of the environment. They are noticing how your content appears and what it looks like. They are absorbing how it’s packaged.
Even if we like to tell ourselves that we don’t judge books by their covers, there’s a naturally judgmental part within every single one of us that makes judgments about something at the same time we’re processing its existence. Case in point: If a piece of content or its layout isn’t attractive, 38% of people will stop engaging with the website. And, given that many users decide whether to stay on a page or leave it within the first 10 seconds of their visit, you don’t have a lot of time to catch their eye and show them something appealing.
With this in mind, consider the environment in which you’re presenting your content. Is it designed to be aesthetically pleasing? Does it look professional? Is the layout engaging? Does it capture your attention? Is it “on brand” for your company? Does it convey trust? Even though the answers to some of these questions are subjective, you should have a good idea of whether your content environment is positive or negative after considering this checklist.
Are you making things harder?
Next is structure. This isn’t about whether your articles have an introduction, subheads and a conclusion. What we mean here is how your content as a whole is organized. Is it intuitively laid out so a first-time site visitor can quickly find what he or she is looking for? If your content isn’t in one place and grouped together by topic, role or industry, the answer is probably no.
This matters because people act based on motivation, ability and a trigger. If they’re extremely motivated to find a tutorial on how to use your product, they’ll be more likely to spend time sifting through your resources until they locate it. But, if they’re just casually interested in a certain topic, you’ll lose them if the content is hard to find. Your goal should be to optimize your content’s organization, navigation and curation so your prospects can easily find the most useful, relevant resources for them.
One more important note: How you organize your content matters too. Many businesses do this by grouping together similar types of content (videos, infographics, blog posts, etc.). But how many times have you gone to a website and thought to yourself, “Gosh, I’d sure love to check out an infographic today!” More often, you would think, “I want to find out more about the ROI I can expect from this product.” Maybe there’s an infographic about that, which would be very useful. But the point is, the vast majority of people search by topic, not type. So, organize your content accordingly and make sure it’s easy to access.
No dead ends
Finally, we come to engagement. Yes, engagement might sound like just another buzzword, but it’s prevalent for good reason. If you create a storehouse of content, but nobody engages with it, what’s the point? All you’ve done is waste a lot of time and energy. So, how do you avoid that? The single best way to improve engagement is by making your content relevant.
In fact, statistics show that personalized content generates 20% more sales opportunities. Customizing content so that it’s useful and truly speaks to your audience shows that you understand them, respect their time and know how to provide value to them. Over time, this builds trust, which ultimately breeds loyalty and retention.
This also means you need to personalize your calls-to-action (CTAs), making sure they center on your buyers’ interests. Overlook this, and your content experience will lead to a dead end. Do this well, and it will compel action, which is kind of the point of content in the first place.
Above all, remember this: Anywhere your content can be encountered, it can be experienced. The only question that remains is, how will you use environment, structure and engagement to optimize that experience and make the most of your efforts and your customers’ time?