We’ve all heard it a thousand times; in fact, it has become something like folklore. A phrase etched in stone and placed prominently in the foyer of some agency that was big in the 90s.
It’s not a phrase I’m particularly fond of, but for the sole purpose of trying to extinguish it, I will mention it just once more: content is king.
Let’s hope that’s the last time we hear it, because apart from the fact that we all deserve a break from tired old turns of phrase, the reality is that it’s no longer true. We live in the era of great customer experiences, and as technology and the real world continue to merge, understanding and enabling great digital experiences for customers should continue to become a central focus for brands the world over.
Of course content is very, very, important, and it’s central to the customer’s digital experience. But content is served from (or engaged with) via a platform, and it is the design of this platform that is as much responsible for the customer’s experience as the content itself. Years ago, when all platforms were created equal (particularly in the case of mass media), a single piece of content could get a disproportionate share of attention.
But today’s audience can take their pick of screens and devices – TV, PC, tablet or mobile, it doesn’t matter! Either one provides the viewer with content that is supported by a technology platform, allowing them to consume it, comment on it, organise it, share it, save it, or simply put it in the trash. But our digital experiences do not end there. It’s the functionality and utility that these platforms now offer that makes them truly effective, or even addictive.
Design and content are inextricably linked, and the quicker we all realise that the better. It’s the holistic experience that creates a real impact, where the functionality and utility of a digital asset combine with great content to provide the user with a truly valuable experience. According to some recent research, users make a decision regarding an organisation’s credibility in around 1/20th of a second – with almost all of that attributable to design.
If brands want to reach their audience with impact then they need to start understanding that creating great content on its own is not enough. If you want to be effective you need to understand how design influences the perception of credibility, and brands have to start thinking about how their content relates to a particular user from platform that it’s served from. Brands need to start thinking about how they advertise natively, with the right piece of content delivered to the user, in the right place, and at the right time.
By creating content that is native to each and every platform and device, and experiences that are seamless and personalised for each and every user group. This is the big leap that some brands are yet to make. Some brands are still chasing audiences and trying to impact their target market as a group, all at once with a single piece of content. Sure, that’s still important in some respects (think shared screen TV), but that doesn’t work online. Without considering how you can solve the needs of an individual, you are just another brand looking for engagement and not finding it.
At Cirrus, we specialise in the world of B2B, so we can afford to be a little more user-centric and strategic without the impetus of having to drive worldwide reach on a daily basis. We have seen great results with all of our clients when they stop trying to impact a group via broadcast-type solutions, and instead focus on how to attract and engage users on their terms, with content that is available to them on demand, in order to turn those individual users into individual buyers.
A recent promotion by the CMO Council spruiks a webcast where you can “learn how marketing leaders are driving business performance through customer-centred engagement”. The webcast features experts from Amazon, Prime and SAP, while the upcoming Adobe Symposium includes plenary sessions like Experience Driven Commerce and Real Time Content Personalisation.
These are brands that everyone across a range of industries looks to as leaders, and their involvement shows how big global consumer platforms are taking this approach as well. The real power of today’s technology is that it allows you to have your cake and eat it too. You can address the needs of an individual, drive a genuine one-on-one relationship that has value, provide a holistic experience that actually means something, and have your brand rewarded by that user because you helped them solve a problem or enriched their lives.
And you can have this one-on-one/user view, en masse, and at scale. But what you can’t do is try and separate the performance of the content from the design of platform. As technology and our use of it continues to thrive, it is the platform itself, with its functionality and utility that is as important at creating a connection as anything else.