by Dean Ilijasic

March 9, 2017

Before you promote your product, enhance your brand, or engage in any form of communication with your target audience, be sure you know what content will attract them. If that sounds like a basic statement, it is. But it’s far easier said than done. And, given the ever-changing digital landscape along with the increasing amounts of content being pushed out to your audience, it’s becoming more difficult every day. You cannot rely on what has worked in the past.

Your customers are in content overload due to the volume of information being directed to your audience and the increasing number of channels delivering that content. As a result, people are becoming ever more selective on what reaches them and what they decide to consume. But it’s not just the volume of advertising we are exposed to, we are doing it to ourselves. We love our content. According to Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Total Audience Report, U.S. adults spent 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media in the first quarter of 2016. I personally can’t wait until the next season of House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot and Stranger Things (and that’s just a start). Then, consider all of the news, books and articles I can never get to – and that doesn’t include what I need to consume for work purposes.

Source:  The Nielsen Total Audience Report, Q1 2016

The reason for this onslaught is twofold. First, it’s easier than ever for content to be created. Nearly everyone can now become a publisher of content by simply forwarding an article we liked via social media. The technology industry is also fueling the publication industry. Google launched its own open-source platform for publishers with Twitter; Facebook launched Instant Articles; and Apple has a propriety news app. Additionally, more companies are transforming themselves into media entities. Remember when LinkedIn was just an electronic Rolodex? Now, with over 467 million members developing, curating and sharing content, LinkedIn is one of the largest media companies in the world today. There is a reason why Microsoft paid $26.2 billion in cash for them in 2016.

The second reason is that the options or channels through which we receive our information are changing rapidly. Not only are more companies evolving into media companies, there are countless news and information aggregators that make it easier for people to select what information they want to read. Although the majority of the U.S. population still likes to get their news by watching live TV, for those who prefer to read their news, 59% would rather consume it online, compared with 26% who favor reading their news in print, according to a 2016 Pew Research study.

Source:  Pew Research Center.  The Modern News Consumer.  July 7, 2016

More people are also getting their news via mobile. The number of Americans who receive their news on a mobile device is up from 54% in 2013 to 72% in 2016. This trend has led to numerous apps, such as Pocket, Flipboard, Feedly, SmartNews and Linkedin Pulse, that help readers filter and organize the news they want to read.

How to get through to your customer

The bottom line is that although there is more content out there, people are consuming it more selectively, due to the overwhelming volume as well as concerns about accuracy.  They are also consuming it more often via mobile channels.

The only way to ensure your information can get through is to know your customer. The best way to know your customer is to conduct research and acquire the digital intelligence necessary to be relevant and effective with your delivery.  There are a number of ways to begin to know your customer from both a qualitative and quantitative research perspective. Using a customer journey map is one of our favorite and most powerful methods to understand not only what people are doing, but also what they’re thinking and feeling. This holistic perspective provides an insightful view into how they consume content, what type of content they consume and why they consume it that way.  Understanding the “why” of your customer is the basis for your content strategy.

Depending on your company’s level of digital sophistication, amount of content being generated, and your need, this may be sufficient to vastly improve your content creation and delivery, or it can be the basis to inform your content strategy. Keeping up with the exponential growth in content and technology can be daunting.  However, understanding your customer is an effective way to gain the clarity on how to navigate the growth and constant change. Take the time to conduct the research to understand your customer. Otherwise, you will be wasting your marketing and communication resources.

If you’d like to talk more about content audits or customer journey mapping, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’d love to talk about it.