By Joe Obringer, Director of eCommerce Search and Media at Capgemini Americas
Two years into an accelerated digital transition, many organizations are due for a marketing and content audit. Why? Now that people have spent a couple of years doing more online shopping and business online, consumers have higher expectations that digital experiences work well. Those expectations include consistent, relevant interactions with brands across channels and throughout their customer journey.
However, as companies pivoted to ramp up their online offerings and create supplemental marketing content, there have been plenty of opportunities for fragmentation in brands’ messages. For example, a brand’s website content may be produced in-house, while blog posts are produced by an agency, videos by a different agency and social media content by yet another provider.
Unless all these teams are consistently working from the same messaging guidelines with the same customer persona and journey data, the result is often messaging that varies by channel, or from one step in the buyer journey to the next. That creates a sense of inconsistency and confusion that can undermine customers’ confidence in the brand and drive them to seek out other competitor options.
The solution is to audit marketing messaging and content across channels and throughout the customer journey, using the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure impact.
By looking at all the content, where it appears and when it’s delivered and then measuring how it performs, organizations can identify and close “content gaps” to create more relevant and useful experiences for customers.
Understanding the Most Common Types of Marketing and Content Gaps
Gaps tend to fall into two categories. The first category includes disparities in messaging across channels, like inconsistencies among email, social and website messaging. This is the most common kind of gap we see and the solution is to coordinate among teams to develop and maintain consistent messaging guidelines and practices to use across all channels.
The second gap category includes misalignments between messaging and customer personas or stages in their buying journey. We often see this in search channels with product recommendations. For example, a customer is searching for a jeans style guide and the brand responds with search results or ads featuring a style guide for weddings or office wear.
Gaps can also open up when brands serve content that’s a mismatch for where the customer is in their buying journey. For example, a customer who’s just starting to research a product to learn more about what features they need and how to judge quality needs content that helps them with their top-of-funnel investigation phase.
If a brand shows that customer a specific product recommendation at this stage, it’s too soon because they’re not ready yet. The solution here is to give content creation teams a clear map of the customer journey and guidelines for the types of content required at each step as well as content aligned top to bottom of the funnel.
Selecting KPIs for Marketing Content Audits
When checking content for effectiveness, engagement KPIs offer the most insight, as opposed to traditional marketing KPIs like revenue per visitor. For example, bounce rate, time on page and pages per visit metrics show how engaged the customer is with the website. Are they moved by the content on one page to continue to the next page or do they bounce immediately because they’re not finding the content that they’re looking for? Engagement KPIs end up impacting the traditional and impactful KPIs such as sessions and ultimately revenue. If this customer is not engaged, they are very unlikely to purchase so engagement KPIs can signal a larger core problem.
Analyzing bounce rates across the entire website can reveal patterns and trends. For example, a retail site might see that pages within a certain category have a higher-than-average bounce rate or that visitors coming from a specific channel to a specific landing page tend to spend more time on the site. Digging deeper into those insights can show why people are bouncing from some pages and spending lots of time on others. Perhaps the audience targeting needs to be adjusted or the landing page copy needs new messaging.
Identifying the Value That Audits Deliver
What about KPIs to measure improvements that result from the audit? The challenge here is that we want to see holistic impacts across organizations’ websites once they start closing their messaging and content gaps. For example, rather than hoping to see bounce rates improve by 10% on specific pages after content updates, the goal is to make the site as a whole more engaging.
It may seem counterintuitive but when brands fix pages with high bounce rates or low engagement, they often start to see overall improvement in site performance because users are interacting more with the site. Closing marketing gaps in other channels can also improve site performance by connected better with the target audience, which in turn drives more of those users to the site.
Of course, holistic improvements based on incremental changes can be hard to sell to the CFO and other data-driven decision makers. One way to get buy-in for the audit is to present the current state of messaging and content, including email campaigns, social media, paid search and webpages. If the decision makers were customers, would the current marketing provide a consistent end-to-end experience for them? Seeing the gaps that customers encounter can provide compelling evidence for the need to audit and continuously improve.
Allocating Time and Resources for Audits and Improvements
The amount of time required for a marketing audit depends on the scope of the marketing program and whether there are already tracking tools and data collection in place. Many organizations, especially those whose marketing campaigns have expanded rapidly over the past two years, need to audit their marketing messages and content from the ground up. Depending upon the number of channels, types of content, customer personas and product lines, the initial audit typically requires two to four months.
Once the audit finds gaps and helps the marketing team plan fixes, it’s important to continuously monitor progress toward seamless brand messaging and content management.
A content production schedule or calendar, documented messaging guidelines and customer personas and open communication across marketing teams can maximize the impact of audit-driven improvements and reduce the creation of new gaps as messaging, strategies and customer behavior evolve.
About the Author
Joe is currently the Director of Search and Media at Capgemini Americas managing a team of consultants who specialize in various areas of owned and earned media. He has over 15 years of experience helping clients manage media budgets and drive new customer acquisition growth. He has worked in a number of roles for clients, vendors and agencies.