By: Lydia Nicoll
The Experience Makers Live virtual conference held by Adobe this summer was packed with interesting and informative keynotes and breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to modern business and marketing and sales. But there was one major theme that seemed to be the red thread, and became the point that really stuck with me: in a Covid-19 world, content and customer journeys are more important than ever.
While so many businesses are finding ways to pivot their offerings, services, and even business models to adapt to how consumers are currently limited, those who are becoming more innovative in their content and how they engage customers throughout the customer journey are the ones who are still surviving – and even thriving – during these turbulent times.
We know that content is king, but why is it especially so important for a modern customer journey? Let’s take a look.
In-person events and meetings are no longer happening
When we think about a basic sales and marketing process in high-touch businesses, many of the final consideration and decision stage activities are done person-to-person between sales and a prospect. This may mean presentations, product demos, and contract negotiations are in-person, on location. But with some markets completely eliminating the possibilities for in-person meetings, and others strongly advising against it, we need to find ways to quickly adapt to being 100% online and virtual, while still keeping the same high-quality level of service that makes prospects buy.
Even in consumer-facing industries, much of the awareness and consideration stages of the customer journey happen online, though the last leg of decision-making may happen in-store or with the help of a salesperson or account manager. As Gary Specter, Vice-President of Global Commercial Business at Adobe mentioned in his opening keynote, “new customers came online and loyalty has increased – showing the importance of relationships over transactions.”
Businesses of all types have had to find new, creative ways to continue to engage customers as they get to the point where they are ready to make a decision, but sales aren’t physically there to convince and convert. This is where new forms of content are taking center stage.
Without the “high-touch” activities of high-touch sales, we’ve had to get creative. Product demos are now being presented via video tutorials created by marketing and/or product teams, and sales presentations are done through webcasts and video conferencing. Landing pages and even micro-sites are being deployed for more self-service information discovery and education to happen so that prospects can make informed decisions without requiring the help of a salesperson.
All of this comes down to building more robust content strategies that take into account that every part of the customer journey is now happening digitally. When we create digital assets that replace old sales methods, we create more scalable opportunities for engaging prospects and customers in new ways.
Content is the best way to be helpful, relevant, informative, and timely
When it comes down to it, content is the best way to convey to your audiences just how great your business and products or services are. But the greatest advantage of content, and marketing tools like Marketo Engage, is that the right content can be delivered to the right audiences at the right time. Now, the tempo of content delivery is at an all-time high, and the subject of that content is shifting. As Gary Specter says, the businesses that are succeeding now have “erred on the side of over-communicating.”
In Adobe Senior Director Chris Parkin’s presentation, “Redefining the Future with Digital Transformation,” he made the point that agile communications are non-negotiable for businesses in the future. His advice: “Create proactive, personalized, and timely communications aligned to customer and employee content (segment, need, location),” giving the example of how Adobe has become more helpful in their engagement strategies, saying they “rapidly pivoted customer messaging from products to authentic ways Adobe could help accelerate digital transformation and help our customers be more resilient and prepared for emergencies.”
Without altering content delivery, businesses who push products rather than solutions may falter in appearing sensitive, relevant, or helpful enough to buyers. In times of crisis or uncertainty, the businesses that show how they can help and support their customers navigate and adapt together will be the ones to succeed. Content is the best way to show and tell audiences at every stage of the customer journey how you plan to do this.
The importance of content isn’t new, but the types of content we deploy and how we are utilizing it throughout the customer journey are changing forever. If there’s one thing I learned from Experience Makers Live, it’s that adapting to how customers are now wanting and needing to be engaged comes down to creating new forms of content that speak to how we can help them succeed in the long term.
Lydia Nicoll works for Exelement, a partner of Marketo Engage.