I have to admit it – content experience can be an elusive concept to grasp. How could we even begin to perceive what experiences our audience would have with the content our brand produces, after all?
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And yet, that’s also exactly what content experience is all about – figuring out (and taking control of) the whole range of experience audiences have with our content, from how they access it to how it compels them to take action and a whole lot in between.
Now, if you find the idea of planning all those experiences challenging or complex, worry not. In this guide, I’ll show you exactly what content experience is all about.
So, let’s take it from the top, shall we?
What Exactly Do Marketers Mean When They Talk About Content Experience
I’ve already alluded at the definition of content experience – the whole range of experiences customers have with a brand’s content.
But what does it mean, really? Well, think about any piece of content you’re encountering along your own customer journey.
First, you discover it somehow. It might be because the content ranked well in organic search. Or perhaps you’ve noticed it shared on social media, received a link from a friend, and so on.
You, then, consume the content. And you either enjoy the experience or not. Perhaps the page’s layout isn’t great, or fonts are too small for you to read the text on your smartphone. Elements like these would certainly have a negative effect on your experience.
You have experience with the information too. You’re happy to have gained some new knowledge, perhaps. Or you have new data to make a better decision about a product, and so on.
All these touchpoints are in fact your content experiences.
But note how these often relate to things you don’t see such as how a brand distributes its content to people like you or how they’ve structured each page. But they affect your overall impression and engagement with the content, and from the brand’s point of view, planning those experiences is as important as creating the content.
Because with a strong content experience strategy:
- Your audience always receives consistent information.
- Most likely, these people can also instantly recognize that a content is from a particular brand.
- Based on that, they know that the content will be relevant to them and perhaps even personalized to their needs.
But as I’m sure you can imagine, achieving this isn’t easy. From a brand perspective, ensuring a consistent content experience means that:
- All content the brand produces – be it content marketing assets or product visuals – must meet the same criteria for quality.
- The content must follow brand guidelines with no exceptions.
- All brand’s content must also work together and provide a cohesive experience, regardless of format, medium, or even the distribution channel.
That’s also where the problem starts, typically.
Consider a typical content production process. It’s chaos. Without a proper system in place to manage briefing, create content, collect reviews and approvals, publish and archive completed assets, there’s no chance for maintaining any form of consistency. And that goes for both planning and delivering projects on time, and keeping the entire brand content consistent.
But isn’t content experience the same thing as content marketing?
No, it absolutely is not. That said, because the two terms are so similar, with each relating to the idea of using content for promotion, they are often confused with each other. (The same thing also happens to terms like content strategy or content design, by the way.)
Let me clear that confusion for you.
The term, content marketing refers to the technique of using content to promote a brand or its product. In this sense, content is a marketing asset that a brand creates to capture their target audience’s attention, engage them, and ideally, convert into leads and customers.
This very blog that you’re reading right now is an example of content marketing. We use it to share helpful advice with our audience and provide them with value. Because of that value, our potential customers get acquainted with CELUM, and (we hope!) develop positive attitudes towards our brand.
Content experience, on the other hand, refers to a more holistic outlook on content. When we talk about optimizing content experience, we don’t think of content in terms of an asset. Instead, we look at creating a seamless experience relating to finding, discovering, and consuming the content.
In other words:
- Content marketing focuses primarily on content production and distribution.
- Content experience deals with how the audience experiences that content.
- This includes not just the information they find but also, how they find it, how they consume it on different devices, and whether all the different brand content assets make a unified impression on them.
What Does a Content Experience Framework Look Like, Then?
There is no better way to ensure a consistent content experience across all brand assets than by developing a content experience framework.
The framework will help organize and manage almost all of the content production, distribution, and analysis processes. Here’s how it looks, in practice:
6 elements of a typical content experience framework
#1. Content creation process.
This element would also include individual processes for content ideation, briefing, production, reviews, and more. In short, with this process in place, you can ensure consistency across the entire production, from the way new content ideas get defined, to what each team needs to do to create each asset.
RECOMMENDED READING: Defining a Content Production Process
#2. Digital asset storage and management.
The DAM workflow is a process that helps brands manage various stages of any content asset across its entire lifecycle. In the context of content experience, the DAM workflow helps you define how you store, manage, and retrieve assets from your dedicated DAM solution.
This workflow helps you define:
- Where various content assets should be stored.
- What file naming conventions to use so that everyone involved in the content production could locate the most up-to-date versions of files easily.
- Licensing information.
- Metadata to make locating files easier, and more.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Create a Digital Asset Management Workflow
#3. Content personalized to the buyer’s journey
In this sense, content personalization refers to strategies that can ensure that whatever branded content a person is exposed next matches their exact stage of the buying cycle. I agree that this sounds quite cryptic, so let me explain. Every time a potential buyer gets exposed to your content, that content should make sense to them. This means that it should relate to where they are in their buying process. If they’ve only begun, whatever content they encounter should focus on providing information that would help them learn more about the problem. If they’re already further down the line, it should target their intent to evaluate solutions, etc.
In practical terms means that content for the top of the funnel should focus on selling. But you could try to engage customers who are deeper into their journey with dynamic content, landing pages, and more sales oriented information.
#4. Content routing
Every content a brand produces has to end up somewhere. This is what at CELUM we call “content routing.” Routing means a process for ensuring that relevant content reaches the right channels – the website, social media accounts, marketing campaigns, and so on.
#5. Engagement strategies
This second-last element of the content experience framework is focused entirely on your strategies to engage, inspire, and nurture the audience. Remember when we talked about personalization, we discussed how each content has to match a relevant stage of the buying journey. So do the engagement strategies you use.
These strategies should not only inspire users to take direct action. Not all customers will be ready for that, after all. Your framework should also define how you’re going to engage those people to ensure that they will interact with more of your content as they move through the buying process.
#6. Performance monitoring and analysis
We’ll be discussing content experience performance analysis in depth in the next section. For now, let me just tell you that this process is all about measuring and establishing the effectiveness of your content experience.
Let’s go a bit deeper into the topic.
How to Measure Content Experience?
The framework I explained above helps you envision and structure the content experience you’d like your audience to have when engaging with your content. But as with practically anything else in life, the reality doesn’t always match what we theorize. So, to make sure that the framework is working and providing an engaging content experience, you need to constantly monitor and evaluate its performance.
A side note – This is also where many organizations get lost. It’s relatively easy to build the content experience framework. Unfortunately, figuring out how to monitor how well it is working is something completely different.
Overall, there are two ways to measure content experience performance.
#1. Analyze overall audience’s engagement with content across all marketing channels
In this approach, you measure the change in audience’s engagement before and after introducing the framework. To discover that change, monitor engagement metrics such as:
- Time on page – The amount of time your audience spends consuming your content. Longer time means greater engagement.
- Scroll depth – You can also use software to monitor how far these people scroll down as they consume your content. The further they go (combined with longer time on page) will also signify increase in engagement.
- Bounce rate – This metric measures how many people leave immediately after landing on a page. High bounce rate signals that the audience doesn’t find the content relevant or engaging to them. Low bounce rate means that those people stay on a page and also engage with other content on the site.
#2. Compare content’s performance before and after making experience-related changes
In this approach, you focus on the overall impact of the framework on your content’s performance. In other words, you measure whether greater content experience translated into better marketing performance of your assets.
You can use several different metrics to monitor that change:
- Rankings – Google often promotes highly-engaging content to the top of rankings. This happens even if the page or domain isn’t authoritative enough to warrant such ranking placement otherwise. Monitoring ranking changes can reveal which pages have gained higher positions due to better experience.
- Clicks – This metric measures how many people click to your content from the organic search results, social media, and other channels. An increase in clicks will suggest that after making experience-related changes, the content’s become more visible (i.e., achieved greater rankings or has been shared more often on social media.)
- Social shares – Similarly to clicks, monitoring sharing patterns can reveal the impact of implementing the customer experience framework on your content’s performance.
Content experience isn’t a simple concept to grasp. This is one reason why brands often neglect implementing a content experience framework, and focus their efforts on just producing more content.
But taking control of your content experience opens up a whole range of opportunities to engage customers better, attract them to your brand, and ensure consistent experience along the entire buyer journey.