The volume of content that’s being created and consumed has exploded in recent years. According to IDC, 71 percent of marketers say they have to create 10 times as many assets to support their different channels.
And if you think creating the content is overwhelming for marketers, just imagine the volume of content consumers have to parse through.
Brands are trying to cut through the noise by providing consumers with content that’s engaging and personalized, but also consistent with brand voice and messaging.
It’s no secret that great content creates great experiences. In order to stay ahead of the content curve, brands need to start by doing one thing – break through organizational silos to build holistic, consistent content marketing strategies that provide a positive experience to customers at every step of their journey.
Why Silos Happen
In order to break down silos, it’s important to first understand why they happen. While there are many reasons silos can happen in an organization, I often see two major drivers in content marketing – disparate technology systems and lack of clear ownership.
Silos in an organization are often caused by different parts of the content creation and delivery chain using their own tools to get their jobs done. Creative teams are using creative technology to develop content assets.
Email marketers and social marketers are using different software to deliver the content. Campaign managers are using their own tools to measure the impact of the content that’s delivered and so on. This can ultimately lead to inconsistent information and disconnected workflows.
Silos also happen due to lack of ownership.
Traditionally, content marketing has lived in the marketing department’s universe. But digital has changed the cycle of content creation, approval and distribution, and now there are more teams involved than ever before.
It’s important for everyone to understand all of the players involved, ensure each person understands their own role, and most importantly, ensure each person understands how everyone’s role ties back to the shared goal.
How Silos Impact Your Customers
Now that we’ve established why silos can happen, it’s pivotal to understand why it’s incredibly important to break them down. Simply stated, silos – both with technology and in the organization – negatively impact your customers.
At the organizational level, if different teams are working on different parts of a campaign, but not communicating or sharing information, then the likely outcome is inconsistent brand messaging.
For instance, if a customer received an email offer that gives her 20 percent off winter jackets if she purchases in-store, but the digital screens in the store are promoting what’s new this spring, then the experience could feel disjointed. Also, if different parts of the organization are developing content and experiences in silos, they might also have different protocols for reviewing and ensuring content quality. This could lead to inconsistent messaging, and possibly, incorrect information.
From a technology standpoint, by not connecting workflows and technology systems, brands are creating inefficiencies in the content marketing process. These inefficiencies can inhibit the scale required to deliver the engaging experiences consumers require today.
Another unfortunate result of using disparate technologies is disparate data sets. If the systems used to create and deliver content exist in silos, then the data generated from these systems also exist in silos.
Any marketer will tell you that getting a holistic view of the customer journey is impossible if the data is fragmented and filtered through in different formats. Those same marketers will also tell you that if the data isn’t unified and connected, then the overall customer experience won’t be either.
How to Eliminate the Silos
For a content strategy to positively impact the customer experience, all of the pieces involved need to seamlessly work together.
Reformation, a sustainable fashion brand, for example, works cross-functionally to ensure that every time a customer comes into the store, the digital screens, the point-of-sale technology, even the associates’ app are all in sync and create an incredible experience for the customer.
That kind of experience isn’t possible if the organization is working in silos. Here are a few ways you can break down the silos in your organization:
- Connect Technology and Workflows: Companies need to make it easy for cross-functional teams to work together. By connecting current marketing technology systems, brands can ensure a more seamless connection across teams and, as a result, a more seamless journey for the customer. Also, brands should repair communication breakdowns and streamline interactions across departments by implementing workflow processes around content. This enables all teams involved to be more efficient and agile, and gives them the ability to deliver spot-on content at a moment’s notice.
- Think Channel Agnostic: Gartner came up with a concept called the atomic content strategy, which promotes creating and customizing small content elements, like copy and imagery, that can be dynamically assembled to create larger marketing assets. Adopting this kind of approach can help improve end-to-end content workflows, velocity, and scale of content creation and delivery. Think about it, if everyone is focused less on creating content for their specific channel and more focused on creating smaller pieces of content that can be delivered on any channel, the end result is more content that is brand-consistent that can be reused across the organization.
- Foster Collaboration: Companies need to provide teams with the ability to share information and knowledge. This can range from providing a place where teams can coordinate on project schedules in real-time to creating a dashboard where all teams can view how they’re tracking against metrics and goals.
- Focus on Onboarding and Training: Ensure employees are set up for success by establishing guidelines and controls on content. Provide teams with tools like brand trainings and guidelines so everyone has an understanding of who can do what. With the right guiderails in place, teams can drive content creation in a brand-safe way. Companies should also offer trainings or knowledge sharing sessions on a consistent basis to help inform the entire team on different aspects of the content creation and delivery cycle.
Consumers expect seamless and personalized experiences across their journeys. As they rely more and more on content to make decisions, it’s up to brands to coordinate an effective content marketing strategy to make these experiences happen.
Consumers don’t care about your organizational and technological silos. If their experiences aren’t engineered in a holistic way, it could lead to decreased loyalty and brand advocacy as well as decreased sales and engagement.
Trust me, if you don’t break down the silos in your organization to create amazing experiences for customers, your competitors will.
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