The rise of the empowered consumer is driving a new dynamic in retail engagement. “The effect of mobile, digital and social media can easily be seen at every stage,” a 2016 technology article in The Guardian says about the way consumers now shop and buy. “Retailers must listen out for customers looking for information, and then give it to them— almost before they have had the chance to look for it themselves.”
Because of these changes, the pace and amount of content needed to support consumer demand is multiplying. Companies dependent on old-school, channel specific teams, processes and technology are losing traction. They are not structured to produce content on the front end of the marketing process where it can drive strategy and deliver on the dual promise of availability and accuracy. That’s what consumers expect and where retail marketing is heading in the future.
PUTTING CONTENT FIRST
The changing order is driving companies such as PepsiCo to revamp priorities in content production and distribution. Brad Jakeman, President of the Global Beverage Group at Pepsi, describes some of the reasons why putting content first is a priority: “For a brand like Pepsi, it was once sufficient for us to produce four pieces of content a year—mainly TV—and we could spend about six to eight months developing that one piece of content and spend $1M on each piece of film. Now, that four pieces has turned into 4,000; eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours and budgets have not gone up.”
Modern marketers no longer treat content as an afterthought in the marketing process. The compressed time to produce content and the need to distribute it across multiple channels is driving the world of marketing toward ways that improve timing and relevancy.
The best companies and brands establish the ability to develop content quickly to meet consumers where and when they want information. Retailers taking the same approach increase responsiveness to factors outside the realm of traditional retail control. Some of these factors aren’t new, but the way retailers are responding to them certainly is. Events such as shifting weather patterns drive consumer demand for relevant inventory. But rather than relying on store sales only, which involve lag time, consumers go searching for products that meet their needs now.
Without the capacity to create and distribute content fast enough to meet these demands, retailers can’t reach consumers making in-the-moment purchases. That is why a content-first strategy is necessary to be competitive in the future of retail.
A content-first strategy allows retail marketers to:
- Build content once to serve multiple channels
- Produce and distribute accurate content faster
- Eliminate duplication and waste in the process
- Align organizational structures to meet consumer demands and trends
A content-first strategy unifies strategic planning and content production across marketing teams. Having accurate content readily available eliminates anxieties about on-time delivery and contributes to great customer experiences. This creates efficiencies because marketing organizations can eliminate duplicate efforts by sharing cross-functional content and assets. Then content is quickly deployed for consistent, accurate mobile, e-commerce and in-store experiences.
A content-first marketing strategy anticipates the demands and mindset of the empowered consumer. Placing content first in the marketing process provides clear benefits.
KEY STEPS TO PROPERLY MANAGE, ORGANIZE AND DISTRIBUTE CONTENT ASSETS.
Establishing one place for content assets in a uniform architecture makes deployment and multichannel orchestration easier. The right marketing technology makes this possible. Marketers struggle to determine which is the right option for their organization, because of the complexity of data, applications and appliances within companies. To help with this, marketing organizations should first develop a process map of their current state to move toward the optimal state.
Creating and deploying content quickly and efficiently relies on defining approval protocols and chain communication for content production. This requires standardizing data architecture, documentation, metadata tagging, workflow and reporting. All contribute to knowing the purpose and flow of content in an automated environment.
To generate greater efficiency, modern marketers replace tasks that are repetitive or require manual intervention. Automating the deployment of content through email, social, SMS, targeting and trigger programs that meet customers at specific points in their shopping experience. Today, contact strategies based on business rules and analytics guide automation. Soon, technology advancements will make automation of content possible.
Why content-first is critical to your future
Creating a seamless, interconnected experience between a brand and consumer is paramount to building preference, purchase and loyalty with consumers. Organizations that create an infrastructure to seamlessly deliver content and information when and where the customer wants it, will be the ones who win. Content-first sets an organization on that path to success.