When we talk about customer experiences, the focus is usually on the technological side of things. Customer experiences are often framed in terms of the various devices being used, the gathering of data from different sales channels, and customers having unified, seamless interactions at each touchpoint.
That’s no small accomplishment, and it’s growing in importance. Yet you may be overlooking a major component of the customer experiences you provide: the actual content you offer.
A brand may have a completely brilliant CX strategy happening across social, mobile, and Web, but content that’s poorly written or doesn’t match your brand’s identity can sabotage any other great work you’ve done.
How content affects customer experiences
Let’s say you’re promoting your latest blog article via a link on Facebook. When people click the link to read it and find something derivative and unoriginal, or wildly different than your brand’s style, that will leave a bad impression. They’ll likely feel they’ve wasted their time and that you can’t be trusted to provide something relevant or worthwhile. They may reconsider how they feel about your brand and the Unfollow button starts getting clicked. Once you’ve given that impression, it’s hard to win people back.
So, content can make or break your customer experience as much as tech glitches can on a website or on social media. Doing a good job across all your channels is vital, and when it comes to content, a few rules of thumb can help you deliver a strong message at the right time while avoiding the typical pitfalls.
What causes people to bounce
Bad content is a pretty broad term, so let’s start by looking at some specific mistakes to stay away from.
Talking only about yourself
Just as someone who only talks about himself is a complete bore, content that functions the same way will cause readers to close that tab and move on.
Many companies devote a lot of time and effort to discussing how great their products and services are, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s no reason why a brand shouldn’t let people know what they do well. The mistake they make is that they don’t explain how they can help customers solve problems and make their lives easier.
You never want to have a consumer read over a web page or a blog article and at the end of it think, “That’s all really impressive, but I don’t see how you can help me.”
Put yourself in the place of your target audience and the issues they’re struggling with. They’re looking for someone to help solve their problems. When looking through the different options, they want to quickly find someone who knows their concerns, offers clear solutions, and has a record of success with the customer reviews to back it up.
You might have a software product that provides a variety of groundbreaking capabilities, but if you can’t directly convey how it can solve consumers’ problems, you’ll be missing a great opportunity to draw them in. When the consumer is essentially invisible because you’re only focused on yourself, you’ll be hurting your chances to make a lasting connection.
Offering vague, misleading, or just plain weak content
The content you create should be a way to answer people’s questions, not create more. When someone accesses your site, that person should be able to get a clear idea of what your brand does, who your target market is, and how you’re different than the competition.
If you try to impress people with convoluted terminology or rely on trendy buzzwords everyone else is using, you’ll likely increase your bounce rate and fail to convert. Your web content is a great way to hook potential customers, so it’s important that you balance being informative while showcasing your brand’s style. Don’t make someone scroll through a page and only have a vague idea of what you do and how you can help.
Also, make sure you’ve got all the essentials covered as far as spelling, grammar, capitalization, and other writing fundamentals. A genuinely thought-provoking article with great insights can look really amateurish when it’s full of typos or punctuation mistakes.
Your content should also be consistent with your brand’s style guide, which should cover both visuals and content. For your writing team, a style guide specifies the tone and style of each form of content you produce, from blogs to press releases to email newsletters. It would also break down the purpose and tone of each content project, whether formal or conversational. If your content team doesn’t already have a style guide in place, consider working with a branding agency to create one.
Providing too little or too much
Finding the right amount of content can be tricky, and many brands tend to focus on long-form content since that’s what the SEO gurus recommend for driving traffic. Because of that, many blog articles out there require a major time commitment to read in their entirety, and not many people have that much time on their hands. Bare-bones web content or short blog articles that just skim the surface of a topic will also prompt people to bounce and look for something more substantial.
The topic, your market, and your audience will all dictate the length of your content and what kind of depth you should go into. Using your best judgment is the best way to go, and keep the primary content goal in mind: to interest someone in learning more about your brand and moving them closer to taking a desired action.
The goals to shoot for
Now let’s consider what you should be aiming for in the content you create:
Focus on your customer, not yourself
The estimates vary, but you basically have a matter of seconds to make an impression on your site visitors before they decide to stay or go. In that amount of time, your content and design will have to work together to convey everything you need to.
As stated earlier, your content should show people how you can help them. That means mentioning your audience’s common challenges and the ways your products can solve them. When site or blog visitors see that you understand their main obstacles, and that you have strategies for overcoming them, they’ll be interested in learning more.
Also, be careful not to talk over people’s heads. Speak to them in a way they’ll understand and respond to. When your content makes a strong argument that your business is the one that will help them solve their problems, you’ll have a good opportunity to see your leads increase.
When it comes to web content, people will arrive looking for specific information. What kinds of products do you offer? Who have you worked with in the past? What’s your culture like? What are your brand's values?
While following the previous rule about not being focused on yourself, you’ll also want to ensure you give people something substantive that will convey your leadership and expertise. You won’t need to go into tremendous detail. You can leave that to actual conversations as you move people toward a sale, but informative content should be a central priority.
Content that’s informative can boost traffic, but content that’s both informative and interesting can achieve a lot more. Engaging people is what all content should ideally achieve. It should give people the information they’re looking for, but also use some personality and style to create a connection with people.
These kinds of connections also strengthen your ability to stand out. Your competitors may offer products similar to yours, and when a consumer is making a decision between different brands, she'll choose the one she feels connected to. When your content answers questions, conveys your brand’s values, and shows some creativity, you’ll have a good chance at creating that connection and keep your audience coming back.
Provide a clear CTA
The content you provide should be the beginning of an engagement with your target audience. After you’ve impressed people with your content, you’ll want to develop a further relationship, and a clear call to action will lead them to download a gated asset, learn more about your organization, or set up a meeting with your team.
The CTA itself should also be easy to find and appear in an effective location at the conclusion of the content. It’s also best to offer a single CTA, rather than giving readers a series of choices. Once you have someone hooked, you should make it easy for her to take the next step to further connect with you.
Tell a good story and create better connections
As consumers, none of us wants to go through a frustrating customer experience, and neither do we want to click a link to find something irrelevant or confusing waiting for us.
The content you provide, whether a blog post, an e-book, or landing page, is a way of presenting your brand identity in conjunction with the products you offer. It’s an essential factor in the customer experiences you deliver, and when done correctly, it can help people identify with your company and create brand enthusiasts.
Be sure to look at the full spectrum of what customer experience means. You not only want to ensure that you’re giving people a unified experience from one device to another, but that you’re also offering quality content that’s smart, engaging, and to the point.
Ready to put these content tips to use? Make sure you also know and you’ll have a solid foundation for delivering compelling content that raises the profile of your brand.