In the traditional marketing mix, place is synonymous with distribution — how a product gets from the manufacturer to the consumer. This involves considering the logistical, legal, and tax implications of selling — as well as how to best reach potential customers. But, the way people prefer to research and purchase products has changed. Suppliers need to consider not only where customers are located, but when they are looking to make a purchase, and what influences their decision.
Be everywhere and anywhere
In the pre–digital world of push and pull marketing, companies would decide their target market, set up distribution channels, and promote their product to that specific market.
Push marketing strategies involved getting your product in front of customers, and that usually meant being in the right geographical location. This could involve attending the most relevant events, building a showroom in the best area for your target market, or getting your product into the most popular stores.
Pull marketing aimed to get customers to actively seek out products. Marketers often used TV, radio, and print advertising alongside sales promotions to build awareness among the target market.
While these offline marketing techniques are still used, many have been superseded or even surpassed, by the web. Marketers can now target customers through PPC advertising or email campaigns for a fraction of the cost of untargeted television commercials or direct mail campaigns. Teams can track, iterate, and optimise their efforts — providing a greater return on investment.
But, while the digital revolution has given marketers powerful new tools, it has also empowered consumers with a wealth of information. Added to that, more people now own a mobile device than a desktop — ushering in an expectation of immediacy. Customers expect to be able to research a product, place an order, or get in touch with salespeople whenever they feel like it. Google calls these impulse–driven actions ‘ micro–moments’. They define micro–moments as “ intent–driven moments of decision–making and preference–shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey”. Google found that 82% of smartphone users rely on their mobile to make purchasing decisions while in a store and that a third had bought a more expensive product as a result of information found through a search engine. It’s no longer enough to be available in the right place — you have to be there at the right time.
Providing vital information at the moment a customer is making a decision can generate more sales. But, it also requires more content, distributed through more channels. And that takes time. The increase in marketing channels and the growing number of publishing platforms has led to more pressure on marketers to create more content. In fact, when we surveyed our newsletter subscribers recently, we found that the need to create and maintain quality content was one of the biggest challenges faced by marketing and web teams.
Getting more from your content
One way to meet the need to to satisfy the demand for more and more content is to make your existing content work harder. Getting more use out of your existing content provides a better return on the investment you make in creating it. And, if you manage the content for all of your platforms in one system, it’s easier to maintain and keep up–to–date.
The problem is that once content is uploaded to a content management system in one piece — or page — it is difficult to break it down and reuse it in other areas.
Say you have a product area on your website with each product having its own page with an image, a description of the product, and details of the product specifications. You also have a separate mobile app where customers can view your product, but because of the limited screen size your app only has a small image, a short description, and a few bullet points listing the benefits of each product.
Unstructured content is trapped in one big block — making it difficult to reuse in other areas of your website or export to other systems.
To manage all of this content in one place you need to separate it into its constituent parts and store these in a way that makes them easy to reuse on both your website and your app. Content managed in this way is known as “structured” content. Structured content is content separated into clearly defined types — such as blogs, products, or people — which are in turn broken down into smaller chunks. Content is normally created using a form–like interface, with each chunk of content being entered into a different field.
In the case of the example above, you could create one content type called “Products” containing all of the fields required for both your website page and your app. This way, if your product changes or is discontinued you only have one source of information to update.
Rather than being stored as a single block, structured content is stored as lots of little chunks. In the case of a product page, these chunks might include an image of the product, the product name, a marketing tagline, a product description, and a list of specifications.
Each CMS handles structured content in a slightly different way. For instance, our CMS Contensis allows you to quickly model content by defining content types and adding sets of fields which authors use to enter content elements. Authors then use content types to create content entries — items of content stored in a format that makes them easy to use in a variety of other platforms. Your developers can then use fields from these entries across your website or other platforms using our Delivery API — code that works as a go–between between two separate systems. For example, it’s possible to automatically push content to publishing platforms such as Facebook Instant Articles or Google AMP pages.
Quality content is invaluable. It’s also hard to come by. A little creativity and careful use of technology can help you make the most of one of the most precious resources you have at your disposal.
What to do:
- Make your website responsive. We’ve seen the power of micro–moments. Customers want to access pre–sales information from any device. A responsive website will offer an equally good user experience on a smartphone or tablet as it will on a laptop or desktop — crucial when customers are looking for help with their purchasing decision.
- Think about whether user generated content would be a suitable addition to your site. Depending on the nature of your business, your customers may be unlikely to engage with you in this way. However, if you do have a community of engaged users then they are an untapped source of valuable content.
- Identify the channels your customers prefer to use. Are you making content available through these channels? Consider using structured content to make it easier to repurpose content for publishing through these channels.
- Look at the content on your website. Would it be better organised as structured content? Break down your pages into content models.
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