Customers experience your brand through multiple touchpoints – and they don’t differentiate between the experience they have in store or via your app. These mobile, social and vocal customers demand a brand that focuses on meeting their needs as they occur – they don’t care which department or channel you’re planning for.
The huge volumes of data now available to marketers provide a powerful view of customers, but only when analysed and used effectively. The insights gained from this data are essential for planning content and communications, and hugely beneficial to brands looking to reach and engage their customers in increasingly competitive spaces.
By using data to support communications and customer experience planning at every stage of the customer decision journey, you can create content that is truly customer-centric.
In this blog post, I’ll explore the connected customer planning process, giving you an overview of the approach we take at Brilliant Noise to putting the customers’ needs first.
The need for connected customer planning
Making assumptions about the needs of the customer and planning for channels rather than customers can lead to marketing campaigns with conflicting strategies and objectives. This creates a huge impact on budgets as it leads to teams not operating as efficiently as they could. By bringing together teams from across your organisation to plan content and communications around the customer, you will be closer to the needs of your customers and be able to provide the seamless experience they now expect.
Connected customer planning brings your brand closer to its customers by staying focussed on the entire customer journey.
Starting the process
The first step of the process is to understand the challenge. During this research-focussed phase, we work with the brand to understand the business and customer needs as they see them.
We audit content, social, markets and competitors to gain a clearer picture of the context we’ll be operating in. We focus on establishing the strategic challenge, objectives and available resources.
With a solid understanding of the strategic context and a framework in place to guide us, we can begin to better understand the customers and how we can connect them to the brand.
Connecting customers, data, teams and purpose
Next we take customer insight gathered from qualitative and quantitative research and distill it into a set of data-driven personas. Creating robust personas that offer a true view of the customer is vital. All too often, personas are defined using assumptions or inaccurate, unverified sources of data, and do not reflect who customers actually are or their behaviours.
Connected customer planning brings teams together with a focus on the customer. In some organisations, there is a risk that customer data and insights remain siloed within teams with no collaboration across roles or functions. By bringing together content, strategy, data and communications teams with those who are tasked with leading the development of the brand, we ensure that everyone has a clear picture of who the customer is.
The beliefs of the brand need to be represented alongside those of the customer to create a balanced, full picture of the creative tensions at play. To do this you must define the common purpose – the intersection between what matters to your brand and what matters to your customers.
This is done as part of our 6Ps content planning approach, which helps to ensure that everyone understands the fundamental strategy behind the work.
We combine qualitative and quantitative digital and face-to-face research approaches to define exactly who the customer is and what our common purpose should be. By using a suite of research and data analysis tools, we’re able to build both broad and focused views of the customer, their needs, behaviours and motivations, to sit alongside our own deep understanding of the brand.
Making and measuring
The key to turning any connected plan into an actionable programme is working collaboratively both with and across the organisation. We emphasise collaborative working to ensure that all content is aligned closely with the brand’s needs and beliefs.
One of the main collaborative elements at this stage of the process is a content planning workshop. This is where content and experiences are mapped to the customer decision journey for key personas, ensuring that customer needs can be met through content at each stage.
Once the connected customer plan is in place, we can begin to plan the detail of the content, communications, distribution and measurement.
Setting the metrics on which we can judge the success or failure of our work is critical for constant improvement. All planned activity needs to be related back to the measurement framework. The result is content that is created not only in line with our common purpose, principles and customer needs, but in line with tangible business goals and ROI.
To ensure that our view of the customer and their behaviours is as accurate as possible, data is fed back into the connected planning process through regular reporting and monitoring of live dashboards.
Connected planning is a comprehensive way of accurately representing your customer and their needs when creating a content marketing programme, updating or launching a new brand, or reviewing any element of the customer experience.
Get in touch to learn more about how our connected content planning approach will work for you.