Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Websites have evolved so much since the inception of the World Wide Web. I recall first receiving a book on HTML for my 13th birthday and being incredibly excited to begin making my first Web pages. (Note: for those asking why I was coding HTML at age 13, I often ask myself the same question.) Back then, you had your website published on something like Geocities, Angelfire, or some other free provider who was willing to take on the expense of hosting while displaying horrific ads to monetise their business model. Only if you were serious did you have a domain!
Fast forward to now, where RSS is a standardised means of syndicating content worldwide, and deploying a website on any number of content management systems (CMS) like Wordpress, Squarespace, or Drupal is hardly cost prohibitive at all. New, fresh content is a must on any website if you want to keep anyone's attention. Additionally, short bits of content help keep people engaged and grab the attention of all site browsers.
Implementing a CMS requires your team to keep the content fresh to keep people coming back, but what I find is that marketers have challenges trying to transfer this content as part of their marketing strategy without having to do a lot of copy & paste across channels. So when you want to send an email out with "What's New" on the site, how can you avoid copying and pasting information from articles into your ESP or email platform?
Of course, because I work at ExactTarget Australia, I obviously believe you should have <insert radio salesman voice> a strategic, multi-channel strategy in syndicating content to the right people at the right time through the right channel. That being said, my main advice is to just keep it simple: design your content with the end in mind.
Here are a few simple of steps & thought processes to create a more integrated customer experience:
- Design content to be used in a multi-channel way. Take into consideration that this content may be repurposed. Since most marketers publish blog posts, press releases, and other timely content across email & social media, think about the key components that all things share: the headline (website, social, email), a feature image (website, email), the content summary/abstract (website, email), and the full article/press release/what-have-you (website).
- Use RSS to syndicate content across channels. A lot of B2C and B2B email marketing software providers can empower you to seamlessly integrate your website content to create a digest of content sent out in an automated fashion. Twitterfeed is a great example of a tool I use when bookmarking cool sites, posting to Tumblr, or updating a blog so that it automatically posts to Twitter. Not a ton of social marketing theory there, but it's painless.
- Allow people to opt in for updates. Send out regular updates via email, Facebook, and Twitter to notify people of what's new. That can pull in content via RSS.
- Tag your content. Tagging is a fairly ubiquitous component to any standard CMS in today's social web. Attaching tags to your content can help personalise & tailor the message across other channels based on your customer's/subscriber's preferences.
Content-rich sites rely on up to date content that engages customers, which implies they also need engaged customers. Providing a seamless web to email experience can close the gap to create increased page views, decreased bounce rate, and a customer who always knows what you have going on.