Kevin P. Nichols gave an overview about omnichannel content approach for #ICC2014.

Content Strategy, Personalization, and Omnichannel

Kevin P. Nichols (@kpnichols) of Sapient Nitro talked to the Intelligent Content Conference 2014 crowd about creating an omnichannel content approach for their organizations. Whether large or small, principles of the omnichannel approach can help any content strategy.

Every big box retailer is now looking at omnichannel and making significant investments. It’s a shift from creating content by organizational silos into creating content solely for the user, but for the betterment of the business.

Omnichannel approaches should be familiar with people, whether content-savvy or not. Think: Martha Stewart. Nichols believes she is the Mother of Omnichannel.

Martha Stewart’s company is not a product company, it’s a content company. Cookbooks, television, cooking utensils, etc.—she’s an omnichannel empire.

He reminded us that omnichannel is NOT a fad, as it’s a serious discipline for many large brands globally.

Nichols walked the crowd through some definitions, some rules of engagement, and a quick roadmap on how to deploy an omnichannel content initiative.

Definitions

To Nichols, content is any information that we can record. With that definition, content are the building blocks for an experience.

At Sapient Nitro, the content strategy framework includes the content experience, delivery method, and governance that sets it all up.

Omnichannel and Personalization

While multichannel means “for more than one device,” omnichannel provides content at every customer channel and considers time, manner, and place. It asks questions like,

  • Who’s your user?
  • What do they need to do to make a decision or accomplish a task?
  • What’s the journey that they need to take to complete their task?

Omnichannel addresses the entire customer experience, across channels and throughout time. The relationship between user and brand content is constant and cyclical.

Personalization within an omnichannel approach includes data usage that personalizes how we experience content across channels. For instance, sniffing out demographic data in browsers to alter and customize customer experience. Something like, “Oh, hello Mr. Nhem. Looks like you LOVE Portland (based on browsing data). Buy our rain jackets!”

Rules of Engagement

  1. Customers are in an always-on world. They want information when they need it: immediately. This always-on mindset should be a guiding principle for our content and storytelling.
  2. Singular channel engagement is dead. Most users experience your brand in more than one channel.
  3. It starts with the user. We need to know more than who they are. We need to conduct user research to generate customer insights, quantitative and qualitative personas, use scenarios—anything we can use to understand the user. The content strategy needs to consider whom the user is at all times during the process.
  4. Crafting an omnichannel approach requires understanding the user journey toward completing a task.
  5. It’s performance-driven. Requires evaluation. Evaluation drives future decision-making.

How It’s Done

Nichols walked us through a roadmap for a big business omnichannel scenario.

Creating a Foundation

  • Who are your users? Compare users to their user personas periodically and evaluate if the journey and user tasks are still accurate.
  • What business objectives need to be met? This is quite subjective, depending on the organization. Bottom line: the approach needs to accomplish something for the business!
  • What tasks do they need to accomplish? E.g. Buying a product, signing up for an event, sharing content with others.
  • Define the journey across channels: Map out the user tasks across the different channels and figure what kinds of things they can do within the channels towards accomplishing their tasks and satisfying your business objective. User journeys for omnichannel approaches are often non-linear and very dynamic. It’s much different than the typical business customer sales funnel (start to close).
  • Define metrics to gauge performance. Collect user data to validate the user journey across channels. Measure things from web analytics to click streams to conversion frequency—anything that lets you evaluate the omnichannel performance.

Evolution

Get what you need to launch on the channels you can. Remember that omnichannel is performance driven. Create opportunities for review and optimize the omnichannel approach.

Enrichment

Identifying tasks towards improving the omni approach, such as applying specific technology to enrich the customer experience or modifying and improving processes toward increasing the performance of the omnichannel approach.

Anyone Can Jump In

While Nichols deploys omnichannel approaches for Fortune 100 clients, he encouraged any and all organizations to use principles of omnichannel for their content success. Even small business can do it. We just need to take best practices to touch upon the entire customer journey as much as we can.

Throughout our own journeys as content strategists that craft omnichannel approaches, we need to keep asking ourselves, How do you continue to meet user needs after your initial experience? How do we continue to meet those needs throughout the entire journey?

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