Five years ago, brands were ask­ing how they could mature their mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, cre­at­ing engag­ing and mean­ing­ful con­tent that real­ly cap­ti­vates their audi­ences. Today, brands are spend­ing a lot of mon­ey on this con­tent; often with huge suc­cess.

But oth­ers have found that even well-fund­ed, qual­i­ty con­tent can be some­thing of a one hit won­der, pro­vid­ing only short-term val­ue.

The ques­tion is around how brands can extend the life­cy­cle of their con­tent, to deliv­er longer term val­ue for them­selves beyond just gain­ing a trans­ac­tion­al ‘click through’ when the con­tent is fresh, whilst also cre­at­ing a more ful­fill­ing jour­ney for the cus­tomer.

Here’s three things brands can do in order to achieve this.

Think about long-term engagement with your audience

It’s impor­tant that you think about how you want the rela­tion­ship with your audi­ence to evolve over time rather than just focus­ing on that first ini­tial engage­ment. You need to cre­ate con­tent which can flex and adapt to the jour­ney that your audi­ence is going on with your prod­uct.

Let’s take as an exam­ple, say an auto­mo­tive firm. There is a long own­er­ship cycle with car own­er­ship which brands could tap into at mul­ti­ple points. The brand-con­sumer rela­tion­ship starts with research­ing, then buy­ing the car.

The pur­chase is usu­al­ly based on fac­tors such as emis­sions, design, per­for­mance, price, run­ning costs etc. that have made them select this par­tic­u­lar vehi­cle. How­ev­er, the pur­chase could also be influ­enced by hav­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to add things to their car in the future.

The after­sales rela­tion­ship rep­re­sents a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty, too. Some car firms, like Tes­la, can make new fea­tures avail­able via a soft­ware update. Oth­ers want you to come in for after­mar­ket care, every­thing from ser­vices through to vehi­cle mod­i­fi­ca­tions and upgrades.

What’s key here, in deliv­er­ing these sales oppor­tu­ni­ties, is that brands stay in touch with their cus­tomers and get reg­u­lar insights on how they use the car. Infor­ma­tion about sig­nif­i­cant events in their per­son­al life such as a big pro­mo­tion or a new job, for exam­ple, can help brands tar­get them in the right time and upsell new fea­tures to their loy­al cus­tomers. When they need them!

Get personalisation right

There are still brands that treat all their cus­tomers the same, not track­ing the cus­tomer jour­ney or pay­ing atten­tion to their past behav­iours. And there are some that have embraced per­son­al­i­sa­tion, but fail to deliv­er the per­son­alised expe­ri­ences want­ed by their audi­ences.

Research we recent­ly con­duct­ed with con­sumers in the UK shows that they are get­ting frus­trat­ed with bad per­son­al touch­es. They par­tic­u­lar­ly don’t like it when brands use out-of-date infor­ma­tion about them (66%) or get their per­son­al details wrong (63%).

To get ‘mass’ per­son­al­i­sa­tion right, brands need to know their audi­ence even bet­ter than they know them­selves, and that is achieved by being able to gath­er, track and analyse cus­tomer data across any chan­nel – mobile, social, the store and online — so that any inter­ac­tion with con­sumers is tar­get­ed and rel­e­vant.

As more brands tap into the pow­er of per­son­al­i­sa­tion, it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant they cre­ate a valu­able pres­ence on social media and inte­grate those with oth­er mar­ket­ing tac­tics. The thing to remem­ber is that the same audi­ence goes to dif­fer­ent plat­forms for dif­fer­ent things. This means that you need to tweak the con­tent for each plat­form if we are to be effec­tive and rel­e­vant to the audi­ences on each of those.

They can also embrace per­son­al­i­sa­tion through a data-dri­ven approach (dri­ven by pow­er­ful con­tent man­age­ment and mar­ket­ing soft­ware), which can tell them which top­ics, areas of inter­est or prod­ucts are pop­u­lar among your audi­ence. This way you will be able to draw a clear pic­ture of your audi­ence and tar­get dif­fer­ent cus­tomer groups with rel­e­vant con­tent.

Freeing data from its siloes

And this leads onto the third point. A lot of this data exists in the organ­i­sa­tion today, but it is often locked into a silo (it lives in a mar­ket­ing automa­tion plat­form, or siloed appli­ca­tion, or salesperson’s head, or in the web­site ana­lyt­ics alone) which can make it hard to act on.

The study found that the aver­age com­pa­ny holds cus­tomer infor­ma­tion in six dif­fer­ent places. It also found that while brands face pres­sure to be data-dri­ven they strug­gle to man­age and mine cus­tomer data to both inform cus­tomer expe­ri­ence strate­gies and deliv­er on the promise of per­son­al­i­sa­tion.

For brands, poor­ly per­son­alised expe­ri­ences are often the result of try­ing to man­age with an over­whelm­ing amount of data – typ­i­cal­ly the ‘per­son­alised’ expe­ri­ences are based on a sin­gle data point rather than the greater whole, such as the jack­et you just viewed on an ecom­merce site or the last search string you entered.

With pres­sure from all sides to use data more effec­tive­ly, many organ­i­sa­tions don’t have the appro­pri­ate tools and knowl­edge they need to move for­ward and meet the expec­ta­tions of their stake­hold­ers, and, more impor­tant­ly, their cus­tomers. It is these inter­nal obsta­cles that need to be addressed first, if brands want to be able to deliv­er the expe­ri­ence their cus­tomers desire. Miss­ing out on those valu­able cus­tomer insights due to poor data man­age­ment could dam­age the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, and thus affect the sales.

Every mar­keter is grap­pling with these chal­lenges today, and as the back­ground noise reach­es a crit­i­cal lev­el, it’ll take ever more invest­ment in con­tent to cut-through. Mar­keters need to make sure that the long-tail val­ue of this con­tent is worth as much if not more than the ini­tial spike of suc­cess it’ll deliv­er. Today’s cus­tomers have more choice than ever before, so brands have to work incred­i­bly hard to not only get their atten­tion, but to main­tain it – and to keep them loy­al.