I find it puzzling why, just because content marketers are tasked with creating killer content, they’re also put in charge of creating content experiences from scratch.
You know, when your boss comes up to you and says, “We have a CMS that powers our website, so just go ahead and fudge it to make a content experience too. Mmmk?”
Where in the marketer's handbook is the chapter on project management or web development or site design?
It’s no wonder so many content marketing experiences barely get off the ground, and why even those that do often become stale and fail to deliver any value to their business. It’s in the marketer’s best interest to empower their content with a good content experience, but they need to have the right tools and processes in place to build one.
Why do content experiences matter?
Imagine James Bond trying to outdrive Mr. Hinx in a Toyota Prius — not exactly the best car to help 007 complete his mission. Even with his James Bond skills, he’d probably have a much better chance in an Aston Martin DB10.
Like James Bond, your marketing content belongs in an Aston Martin experience. Yet, all too often, marketers are packing their content into Priuses and expecting it to drive their engagement and lead generation efforts.
Don’t believe me? Go check out that section of your website that houses all your most valuable and precious content. You probably call it your resource center, or maybe even your blog. And it probably sucks.
Maybe it’s got a pretty facade. Maybe your SEO game is on point and you’re driving decent organic traffic. Maybe it’s packed with great content!
But that doesn’t mean it has a good user experience.
That doesn’t mean it’s driving meaningful engagement or generating leads.
That doesn’t mean it can allow you to leverage content throughout the entire buyer journey, right down to customer success.
As B2B marketers, we continue to pour dollars into content creation, but we generally neglect to think about the experience that will house it.
Who can blame us? It’s easy to presume that the tools we’ve used for creating static experiences on the web for the past 10-15 years would be capable of dynamic content experiences, too.
The problem with your CMS
You’re probably wondering why a traditional CMS that can knock out a blog or a website isn’t a suitable solution for creating a well-optimized content experience.
Well, for one, your content mix probably includes multiple formats — not just blog posts. Yes, you can link to a PDF, embed social widgets, or stick a video into a blog post, but it will still be a blog post.
Second, your content is like a train that keeps rounding the station. While you should focus on quality, quantity is inevitable. Your traditional blog layout (not to mention back end) or the custom-crafted experience you built for the rest of your content is simply not cut out for that kind of volume.
Third, what about tomorrow when you want to feature a piece of content, gate another piece of content, and/or create a nurture path using a targeted selection of content? Can your CMS handle that?
Maybe the better question is, can you accomplish that with your CMS, or are you looping in a developer, a designer, and a member of your demand gen team? You know, the team with whom you had to coordinate to get this experience off the ground in the first place... when you were playing project manager.
You’re a content marketer. Your responsibility is creating incredible content and matching it with a world-class content experience. Your responsibility should not be “making it work with the tools my company uses for our website”.
Without a world-class content experience, how can you truly understand what’s working? A great video or white paper that lacks a great user experience may not perform well and, as a result, may drive you to conclude that it’s the content’s fault. That lack of accurate insight will naturally push you to make the wrong decisions next month when you’re evaluating what content types and topics should fill your content calendar.
Using a traditional CMS to manage your content experience is not too dissimilar to writing your next article on a stone with a chisel. Yes, it works, but c’mon — it’s 2016! We have better tools at our disposal.
Your content deserves a world-class experience
Content experiences are a core aspect of your process. Making your content look pretty and on-brand is only a part of the battle.
How are you managing these experiences?
How are you remixing and repurposing your content?
How are you handling lead generation in a painless, scalable way?
How are you leveraging content down the funnel for the rest of your buyer's journey?
How are you measuring the success of your content?
These are all necessary elements of content marketing, and are part of what I refer to as the Content Experience Pillar — an aspect of the content marketing process that is just as essential as creation, distribution, and generating insights.
Content marketing is no longer the new kid on the block. If you’re not already feeling pressure to prove that your efforts are working, you will soon. I urge you to give your content the world-class experience it deserves.
Your job may soon depend on it.
If you’re interested in evaluating the right tools to build a well-optimized content experience, I go deeper on the subject here as I explain how to build your content marketing software stack.