2014-17-September-Bricklayers.jpgHas your company embraced content marketing? Have you migrated your team of copywriters to writers, your press releases to blog posts? Are you in the process of forming exploratory committees and trying to decipher a series of magic quadrants about cloud data systems? Has someone in upper management asked you about “Personalization"?

Good. The web has changed and marketing (and by default marketers) has to remain relevant. Relevancy isn’t just about writing about the latest trends. It isn’t just about being at the right event or using the hottest social media platform. Relevancy is about understanding your customer, understanding your offering and understanding your content. Relevancy is about using this understanding to help customers meet challenges along their entire purchasing journey.

You probably grasp that. Your company needs to make vital investments in journey marketing in order to achieve sales and revenue goals. That’s what the exploratory committees and quadrants are all about. However, the investment will not see return without execution. The customer will not be influenced without execution. The purchase will be diverted without execution.

Taxonomy Can Help

This is where taxonomy comes into play. Taxonomy is the backbone of executing journey-based marketing. It is the instruction manual for the tools, people and processes used to manipulate, distribute and target the huge volumes of content you need to produce in order to embrace content marketing.

What is Taxonomy?

According to Merriam Webster taxonomy is the process or system of describing the way in which different [living] things are related by putting them in groups. Turns out you can’t relate disparate values or items without a language based organization.

Let’s look at some examples of how taxonomy effects execution:

Analytics and Data

It’s the age of big data. For many companies data is more valuable than the product they sell. When it comes to content we look at analytics as a core component to content relevancy. But data itself is empty. Data needs to trigger an action to be effective. In order to target a particular piece of content at a particular person we have to use data to understand that person’s wants, needs and desires. Click-through, purchase history, job title, etc, can help us identify that.

Once we know all that how do we associate it with buy cycle influencers such as thought leadership, visual cues, like-minded communities? We could search through our database of content and find just the right whitepaper and send the user an email with the whitepaper attached. That would work, but how do you do that hundreds or thousands or millions of times a day? Further, if you want to affect a customer journey stage, you need to expose that customer to effective content while they are in that stage, not when they happen to check their email (assuming they ever check their email).

You need to instantaneously automate data associations. You need to tell your analytics technology what to ask your content management system to expose to your user. You need to relate a value with a content item. That means your content item must have organized attributes. Taxonomy provides those organized attributes.

Association and Upsell

What are the chances that a potential customer comes to your site and immediately finds the best content to solve his or her problem? If you have done good SEO planning, integrated a social strategy with your web content strategy and created an organizational structure that is intuitive, it’s pretty slim. It is significantly better than if you had not done those things but you are still trying to hit an elusive target.

There are a variety of reasons for that but more than anything it’s because likely the user isn’t looking for the right thing in the first place. People find content through trial and error. As a content marketer it is your job to make sure the user gets as close as possible to the right content on the first try and that there is a clear path finding the right content that is imbedded in your experience.

Once again, taxonomy is the key. By creating an associative taxonomy (as opposed to a navigational one) you help your users get closer to the prize with every click. Most importantly, you help your users get closer to the prize from within the confines of your ecosystem as opposed to going back to a third party search environment. By making logical groupings of content not just based on content type or product association you can make associations that are important but not readily apparent to your user. You can usher the user to content that is appropriate to their persona and journey stage even when the user might not understand their true needs.

It’s Deeper than Data and Journeys

Actioning data and associating content types are just a couple of examples of how taxonomy effects the customer journey but the impact goes far beyond these. Taxonomy impacts your ability to scale production to the level necessary to become a content marketing company. It helps you create empowering governance across a large number of authors and environments. It allows you to create personalized experiences that go far beyond “Know My Name.”

The Point

Creating a journey-based experience is not simple but if you break it down to three basic pillars, journey, persona and taxonomy it will make the process much easier. It will allow you to action data collection efficiently and accurately. It will help inform the exploratory committees and decipher the magic quadrants. It will give you a pathway to the kind of relevancy that your customers expect and that your organization needs.

Title image by Taweepat / Shutterstock.com