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I’m about to rename February “Content Marketing Month.”

It seems as though everything I’m doing this month is related to content marketing. I’ve been asked to comment on content marketing tools and speak at a content marketing conference, and I have been buried generating content to support our sales and marketing efforts. But I’m not a content marketer — or am I?

Any written communication that has the ability to impact a customer’s experience during any point of that customer’s relationship with a company becomes marketing content. And the authors of those written communications, by default, become content marketers, regardless of their formal job titles.

A Communication Strategy Is Key

As we strive to create a customer experience that makes our customers feel appreciated, valued and well taken care of, it is important to map a communication strategy as a key component of any plan to support content marketing efforts.

As I thought about that, I realized that at our company we are doing a pretty good job of keeping our messaging consistent and sharing the content that each of us has written to promote our company and product. 

I’ve built an Airtable base to make it easier for everyone in the company to access and repurpose content, and to understand our market positioning (I used to keep everything in one giant Word document). Some of you may use Google Docs or a more sophisticated platform to accomplish the same thing. My sole focus in doing this was to improve, and simplify, the way we promote our business without considering the role content could play in achieving our customer experience goals.

My goal for the remainder of “Content Marketing Month” is to embrace my role as a content marketer (in addition to my other titles) and map out a content strategy plan that is oriented to our customer experience objectives. I’m using the following framework as a starting place:

  • Customer Experience Objectives
    • Identify those objectives where content has the most impact.
  • Stakeholders
    • Identify the people in the company who regularly connect with prospects and customers. This list goes beyond marketing and sales personnel, and includes people in finance, customer service and engineering.
  • Communication Style Objectives
    • Tone
    • Language
    • Personalization
  • Communication Frequency Objectives
    • Time to respond to inquiries
    • Proactive communications
      • Goals for prospect nurturing
      • Goals for customer engagement
  • Sample Communications
  • Quarterly Content Plan
    • New ideas for content that can enhance the customer experience
  • Content Success Metrics
  • Schedule for Quarterly Communication Meetings

Here are a couple of notes about that plan.

Related Article: Content Marketing Strategy, Done Right

Personalize Your Communications

I learned many years ago how powerful it is to provide prospects and customers with a real name to contact.

At the time, I was working for a small startup and our closest competitor was a multi-billion-dollar company with thousands of employees. In thinking about how we could differentiate ourselves, I focused on making us appear more accessible to prospective customers. One of the ways that I accomplished that was to ensure that there were no generic email contacts on our website — no addresses starting with [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected], etc. Instead, every contact point featured a name. I chose [email protected] for the “info” email address (Victoria is my daughter’s name), and I was amazed to see that doing something that simple changed the dynamics of the communication.

Messages coming in to the [email protected] email address were friendly and detailed, which made is easier to respond in kind and begin an authentic conversation. One of my favorite messages of all time was from our co-founder’s aunt. She said she had seen an article featuring our co-founder and wanted Victoria to let the co-founder know that she was very proud of him.

That was a big eye-opener at the time. Today it’s more intuitive — look at the way humanizing our points of contact has impacted our experiences with digital assistants. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who thinks of Alexa as a “she” and not an “it.”

The point is that it’s important to look at both sides of the communication in considering the impact content has on the customer experience.

Related Article: Let's Get Personal: Content Experts Share Their Advice

Measure Your Progress

Anything that impacts the customer experience needs to be revisited and reviewed on a regular basis, and you need to define your success metrics in order to measure your progress against your goals.

At my company, we are a small team so we can do that in a relatively informal manner. For us, most communication with customers involves more than one employee, so we naturally collaborate and provide oversight for one another.

At a larger organization, revisiting and reviewing the customer experience may require random sampling of customer communications and interactions (which is why we hear that annoying “This call may be recorded for quality purposes” message when we call a company’s customer service line).

One of the nice things about this exercise is that a little bit goes a long way. This is a program where continual, incremental communication improvements across a company can have a significant long-term impact in meeting customer experience goals.

There’s no need to launch a giant “customer experience content initiative” that will take months to implement. Start with the framework above, set some modest goals, and get started. It may be as simple as just replacing [email protected] with [email protected]!