Right Content, At The Right Time, Through The Right Communication Channel
Contact and content strategies are pre-requisities for effective customer marketing ensuring that the right message is delivered to respond to the differing needs of customers and prospects.
But the terms are used interchangably and creates the risk that you miss the opportunity to really understand and respond to customer needs.
In this post we outline the key differences, why they are important and three simple steps to get started.
Brands have lost control of the paths, or customer journeys, that consumers follow to choose when and how they purchase and who they will purchase from.
Touch-points have exploded to extend well beyond the marketing department and with them the points of friction for a consumer and risk of defection to a competitor have also intensified.
The journeys are increasingly fluid, personal and less predictable with Marketing departments struggling to adapt; acquisition and conversion are seen as distinct activities from nurturing and building loyalty.
A contact strategy is therefore essential: it's where brands build and specify their plan for delivering personally relevant communications to customers, set the measures of success and harness data and resources to make it a reality.
- Defines how you contact and communicate with your customers.
- Ensures that you deliver the right message, at the right time, through the right channel to the right customer.
- Allows you to control what you are communicating, why and when to your customers and prospects. It should therefore ensure that you aren't over-communicating.
- Provides the basis for you to test, learn and optimise your marketing communications.
By building and agreeing this strategy, you will have a clear plan that connects your marketing objectives to how you build relationships with your customers.
The Content Marketing Institute defines a content strategy as:
"the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content."
Digital marketing has seen an explosion in the amount of content produced to ensure that brands are found online - each piece of digital content is indexed by search engines like Google and boosts SEO.
Equally, content has value and helps companies to generate sales leads that can then be nurtured. Content marketing aims to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer behaviour.
A content plan is a tactical output of your content strategy. It sets the specific pieces of content that you will be producing, their owners and timings for delivery.
Why is the distinction important?
Well contact and content strategies are essential for any modern, customer-centric marketing programme.
The contact strategy determines what messages are distributed to which prospects and customers, when and how; and content is clearly an important part of this mix, particularly for the message.
The content strategy uses an understanding of the consumer to develop usable content that meets consumer needs or solves specific pain points and then depends on the contact strategy to determine how it is distributed.
Both should be developed from robust data analysis and research that helps to build personas and segments.
Where to start
There are 3 building blocks for an effective contact and content strategy:
- Clear marketing objectives - what are you trying to achieve, why and by when?
- Your target audience and their needs - who are you trying to build relationships with, why and why should they be interested?
- The customer journey - what role do you play in the path to purchase and where should you be focusing.