There was a time—not so long ago—that consumers interacted with brands, products, and services through a single consumer channel. For example, TV viewers watched the evening news but didn’t expect to interact with their newscast beyond an hour or two of television each day.
Today, though, that same interaction would take many different forms across different channels, including a TV broadcast, a website, a mobile app, and even push alerts on a smartphone. In short, viewers have moved from a single interaction once per day on a single channel to hundreds of small interactions each week across many different touchpoints.
Knowing that consumers are encountering our content in vastly different forms as they go about their daily lives requires us to be thoughtful about how we create that content. Enter content strategy, an approach that allows us to understand what users need at different points and how best to create content to meet those needs.
Let’s break down how an omnichannel content strategy can work in 5 easy steps.
- Understand what your consumers want (and when they want it).
The first step to an effective content strategy is understanding your audience. Let’s say, for example, that you are working with a team that provides tax filing services. It’s important to understand what your audience needs at which points in their journey. For example, consumers using your services to file their taxes in April are probably engaged in a very different task than consumers looking to adjust their tax withholding amounts in August. The tone, length, and type of content you create will be different for those two tasks and time periods.
- Consider what role content can play in filling those needs.
Content can’t solve all your audience’s challenges, but it can play a major role in alleviating frustration and pain points. After all, audiences generally seek out informative and helpful content, which, in turn, increases their appreciation of the organization that creates that content. To return to our earlier example, different types of content on different channels might serve your audiences best at different times. Consumers who are stressed about upcoming tax filing deadlines might appreciate detailed, step-by-step user guides that help them navigate the complexity of the process. On the other hand, consumers looking to make a quick adjustment to withholding information may only need a brief instructional video.
- Determine where you are meeting consumer needs and where you’re falling short.
Once you have a sense for what your audience needs and when, as well as the type of content that would help solve these challenges best, it’s time to look at your current efforts. There are many different ways to examine your current content strategy (for example, here’s a helpful guide to a SWOT analysis), so find the right approach for your team. Regardless of the method you choose, ensure that you are as thorough and objective as possible. If your current approach to content isn’t working, it’s best to figure that out internally rather than through failing public engagement. Consider this an opportunity for growth and refinement, not a chance to criticize or attack each other or your methods.
- Test content types.
You won’t truly understand whether your efforts are making a difference without testing your revised strategy. Testing doesn’t have to be a wholesale “rip and replace” effort. Instead, mix in new content forms, channels, and approaches into your existing content efforts. We generally recommend no more than two new channels or approaches per quarter, allowing you sufficient time to gauge their effectiveness and not overwhelm your audience.
- Rinse and repeat.
You may need to repeat these 4 steps several times before you develop a fully realized content strategy. In fact, assessing your approach to omnichannel content may become an annual or semi-annual opportunity for your team moving forward.
Content strategy can be highly complex, but these 5 tips are high-level enough to be actionable while providing you with the raw material to go deeper as desired.