Guest Column: Improving customer experience with a content-driven approach

One of the buzzwords throughout the retail industry is customer experience.

It’s all about improving the customer experience, creating a better customer experience and deploying technology to secure a superior customer experience.

The primary reason for this shift is that retailers who create better experiences for customers based on their unique interests will have a better chance to build customer loyalty and turn customers into lifelong fans.

Yet while retailers constantly talk about providing a superior customer experience, it’s harder than it looks. The key to achieving success is to map out a strategy that takes advantage of technologies that can deliver personalized content to the right person at the right time on the right device. The icing on the cake is to deliver information to the customer that focuses on the content that will help close the sale.

Here are three companies that have successfully taken a content-driven approach, which has increased sales and improved the customer experience.

Sharing content across multiple social media channels
Cosmetics, especially for millennials, is a very competitive business as fashion trends tend to come and go quickly. Being nimble and able to create and share new content with tight deadlines can be very challenging.

But for Urban Decay, the challenge was that its e-commerce platform was not well-suited to supporting a global content marketing strategy across many channels, nor did it empower digital marketers to create content quickly.

In order to give its customers a deeper, more immersive experience, Urban Decay launched a program called UD All Access. This interactive platform allows customers to review different product’s social media channels, such as Instagram, and interact with other social content such as blog posts, press coverage, makeup tutorials and product overview videos. In addition, customers could browse and shop the Instagram photos tagged with #UrbanDecayCosmetics.

Urban Decay created a better customer experience by incorporating their own content with content created by customers. This was a huge coup since customers were able to explore, learn and participate in sharing their make-up secrets. Videos of customers applying make-up and trying different styles were also easy to share. One of the most exciting aspects of UD All Access was that the content, including videos created by customers, could be shared on YouTube, with bloggers and social media influencers.

Targeting content for global customers with different interests
For global companies that have multiple target customers, providing content on websites that meet each customer’s unique interests can be challenging. For Geberit, a leading European manufacturer of bathroom ceramics, showers, bathtubs and sinks, the challenge was how to create different online experiences for their three main target groups: architects, dealers and DIYers. It also wanted to provide the kind of content each group needed and wanted, such as installation videos and worldwide sales campaigns aimed at each group.

Geberit devised a strategy that allowed the digital marketing team to target each of the three customer groups with content unique to their interests. Similar to Urban Decay, the strategy meant that images, videos and all other content was specifically targeted to each customer. The key, however, was that Geberit was able to capture information about each customer to make their experience more specialized as they continued to make purchases.

This system allowed Geberit’s roughly 100 digital marketers to not only produce new content, but easily reuse existing content, rearrange it for use in different publication channels and sales campaigns, or publish it as a website. This means that new content does not have to be authored as frequently, which saves costs.

Content that leads customers to take action
An internationally recognized outdoor retailer steadily built its business by combining direct-to-consumer sales with exceptional customer service. Based in the U.S., the company initially sold its patented hunting boots and other outdoor gear through mail-order catalogs, and later expanded to include brick-and-mortar stores.

However, as mail-order catalogs and call center ordering began to cede to online shopping, this retailer needed to find a way to shift from having customers simply buy products (think transactional) to having them shop online based on establishing a content-driven experience.

The retailer deployed a new technology strategy that empowered its digital marketing team with a single, unified view of product catalog content (from the e-commerce platform) and the promotional content from other sources. This allowed the team to easily manage the entire content and commerce experience, while infusing critical pages to convey the promotional themes for merchandising and selling with the marketing messages, themes, and media assets that drive better customer experiences.

By making it easier for digital marketers to share personalized content and helping customers make smarter purchasing decisions, retailers can go a long way toward ensuring a consistent revenue stream and turning customers into lifelong fans.

Michael Gerard is the chief marketing officer of e-Spirit.