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Courting your customer: Relationship advice for marketers

Anjelica Sloan
Senior Content Strategist

Automation has made it easier for marketers to distribute content, but the content itself needs more attention. It’s important to plan and create content that truly resonates with and delivers value and utility to a target audience.

As content marketing strategists, we help determine how our clients can engage with and cultivate a relationship with their customers, including determining what interesting, valuable, and delightful content can help create those building blocks of an ongoing relationship. We also recommend delivering a healthy balance of customer-centric, largely product-agnostic content that can engage the prospect and customer along with the promotional product content we know the brand traditionally relies on to convert.

Through it all, we must ensure that all marketing, regardless of channel, is delivered in a cohesive and consistent manner, with an excellent user experience, while fulfilling the objectives and KPI’s of our clients.

Pad Thai Hamburger

A UX mentor of mine once coined the term “pad thai hamburger” to refer to the practice of haphazardly throwing any and all content up on a website without consideration for the user experience. The term suggests that you can have two independently delicious items that, when combined, can make for quite a disgusting meal.

Pad-Thai-Burger-Mayo-and-Patty-600-x-450

We’ve seen pad thai hamburgers on the menu, as it were, in email, when there is no content strategy, which is to say that there is no blueprint for organizing, developing and marketing content. Just because content exists does not mean that it should be randomly cobbled together and released to an audience.

It’s akin to getting dressed in the morning—most of us want to coordinate, to match, and to have a consistent outfit on before we go out in public. Unless we’re seven years old, we do not typically desire to put on an array of mismatched clothes just because we found them in our closet and want to wear them all that day. We should use the same discernment we afford our public appearance when considering the appearance of our content.

The practice of just throwing content out there in your campaigns and hoping something sticks is a disservice to your investment, can be detrimental to your brand identity, and is a poor “meal” for your intended audience.

The solution: take an inventory of content assets by conducting an audit across properties so you have a repository ready and know what you have to work with. Evaluate each piece and note gaps and problems with the content. Ask yourself: is this content dated and therefore no longer relevant, or can it be updated and still retain its original integrity? Also, what content is lacking and what content do you need to create more of to meet your goals and satiate your audience? A content audit is a time-consuming and arduous process, but it really is the first step in developing a true content marketing strategy, so you know what you have and need before you begin planning your marketing initiatives.

Planning is key to preventing the delivery of a disjointed experience. The plan comes in the form of mapping the content to themes that have been developed in consideration of brand goals, product, seasonality and lifestyle. If you have two great pieces of content that you really like and want to use, but one piece is completely irrelevant to the theme, don’t use it!

When considered objectively, it ceases to be useful and creates a confusing experience for your audience. Notice when you are combining the items that only you like, i.e., the pad thai and the hamburger, and recognize that it’s not just about your personal appetite – it’s about your audience’s.

Prioritizing Customer-Centric Content

For email marketing specifically, I advocate providing quality content experiences for your audience rather than pounding your subscribers with your sales and promotions. No company is looking for a single sale and every company, regardless of industry and product, relies on customer satisfaction.

customer-centric

Delivering relevant, informative, and valuable content is key to solidifying a lasting relationship with your customers and distinguishing yourself from your competition. Yet many marketers still treat their email channel as the blatantly self-promotional son of the marketing family, tasked with carrying the heavy weight of promotion on his shoulders and often considered a nuisance by customers.

Fortunately, email marketers are beginning to realize the importance of delivering customer-centric marketing content. If the intention is to drive traffic to your site to convert, then dedicate yourself to planning content that will usher those buyers to your site. If customers feel good about their experience, they’ll be more likely to engage with you.

By investing more in creating a content marketing strategy for email, brands can use the channel as an evangelist for other channels. According to a recent Forrester Consulting study, “As one of the most reliable, consistently used channels, email has an opportunity to be more than another transaction-driving medium. With cues from email, marketers can better provide interactions in other channels and touchpoints.”

Put another way, email can be your brand’s first opportunity to make a good impression and drive greater engagement across channels. If you are trying to court your customers, consider what their wants, needs and desires are first and invest in developing a consistent content marketing strategy. With an eye toward employing more content of interest and value, paired with your product, you’re much more likely to generate trust and engagement and make your audience more receptive to both what you have to say and what you have to sell.

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Be sure to download a copy of our eBook Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing where you'll learn:

  • How to develop a balanced content marketing plan to support your most significant business objectives
  • Mining sources of inspiration to help create meaningful content
  • How to maximize existing content to create additional assets
  • Content calendar best practices
  • And more!

Here's a brief overview:

Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing from Eloqua

Image sources: theburgernerd.com, socialsteve.files.wordpress.com, mycustomer.com/

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