By Rachel McConnell, Head of Digital Content at RSA

Over the years I’ve worked in brand, marketing, social and digital teams and I’ve gained some interesting insights.  All of which have helped me gain a much broader understanding of the different priorities that often occur between marketing, PR and digital teams, and how we might be able to mitigate them.

Whilst we all know that sales and retention are the end goal, how can we make sure we’re really working together as an effective team (and learning from each other) to hit everyone’s targets.

Lay your cards on the table

In large organisations it’s common for different teams to have different KPIs when it comes to content.

Your marketing team may be measuring click-throughs and conversions, your PR team may be measuring page views or awareness, and your social team might be looking at reach. The friction often occurs when a digital team is more interested in page dwell times or engagement metrics.

The truth is that each of these metrics in isolation only tells part of the story. You may have had a very high click-through rate but if your dwell time was low or your bounce rate was high then your content hasn’t engaged your customer.

This is where analytics and a good Content Strategist can really help to bring the results of campaigns together and tell the whole story.

Looking at the whole story will give you much better insight into content that works and you plan for the future.

Collaboration is crucial – if you can all be upfront about what you each need to measure, you can content plan effectively to help achieve all of your KPIs.

Think broader than your campaign 

Be honest, how user-centred is your CRM?

Do you push out business-led content or do you start with customer insight and create content accordingly?

Content designers in digital teams know that the most effective content starts with a user story.  Before you even start creating content spend some time really getting to know your customers, their needs and pain-points.

Spend some time getting to know your end-to-end customer journey. Mapping out where your communication slots into the entire journey gives you context for your work.

Where will customers go after your communication, what will they see? What experience will they get if they pick up the phone?  Ensure you have a clear purpose for your communication – otherwise it’s just unnecessary noise.

Once your customer receives their communication what will their ‘happy path’ look like.  A happy path is the most efficient route you want the user to take to get to their task without barriers.  It’s no good sending out a great communication piece if the user hits at stumbling block as soon as they reach the website.

Walk through the journey yourself with your customer hat on, or even better, user test it (more about this later).  Your digital team will be happy to help.

Even Google has now cottoned onto the value of a good user experience and takes this into account in their search algorithms.

Again make use of your digital teams to understand more about user stories and journey mapping, as it’s invaluable for content planning.

Think mobile-first

Content writers like me have to be very sparing with the words these days.

Your campaign is likely to be viewed on mobile devices, so if you plan mobile and have responsive design, your desktop view won’t be an issue.

Think about what mobile viewing means – it’s likely your user will be multi-tasking and skim-reading; looking for navigational clues or snippets of copy. It means that you’ll need to have clear and easily clickable call-to-actions. It means you’ll absolutely need to avoid pop ups and overlays that are hard to get rid of with fat thumbs!  These will be a sure-fire cause of irritation and abandon rates.

If users are multitasking the chances are they’ll be pretty task-focused. There’s no time to stop and appreciate flowery language or superfluous design.

Keep your communication friendly but functional. If you don’t serve a purpose to your user they’ll move on quicker than you can say ‘iPhone’.

Use both qual and quant

It’s great to use A/B tests to optimise your content and designs. But one thing that being in a digital team has taught me is that quantitive results can only tell you so much.

Watching users interact with your content and getting first-hand feedback is a real eye-opener.

What people say they do in a focus group, and what they actually do when you watch them in front of a screen, is often very different.

You can take user testing to any level you want.  From guerrilla testing (getting someone on the street to read your copy to check it makes sense) through to formal lab testing (watching a user interact with your content from behind a two-way mirror), you’ll get a real feel for what users think and how they behave.

Nothing drives you to improve your work more than the cynical eye of a customer telling you they don’t understand your copy!

Be human

Getting into a digital team and learning more about usability has taught me more than ever that our content needs to be accessible.

I teach people to think about aiming their copy at a primary school aged pupil.

Not only that, but we need to get rid of the industry jargon that so often creeps into email communications.

And think about your tone of voice. Is it still appropriate for your core target audience?  If you’re in a brand team be open to watching user-testing to see how your users react to your language. There’s no reason not to adapt.  Even functional copy can be fun and friendly (some examples below from Oscar and Boden).  Look the other brands your target customers engage with, and see how those brands are speaking to them.  Is it similar to your own?

Have a plan

So your brand, marketing, PR and digital teams are all collaborating effectively and producing some great content?  Lucky you.

But now you’ve reached your targets on social followers, and have some regular returning traffic to your site, what are you going to do with those customers?

Could you use them to become brand ambassadors by offering them exclusive access to a new product?  Perhaps you could use them to get feedback on a new web journey?

You could even take it a stage further and use them to help you develop a new product or feature user-generated content in your campaigns.  Companies like Made.com and Boden do this really well.

Loyal customers can provide a goldmine of insights –what do they love most about your brand?  Why do they recommend you to friends?  Is this a proposition you could use in your campaigns?

Fans and followers are great – but if you’re not harnessing the power of them then you’re only doing half the job.  And to create the best customer experience we need to get the most out of our best customers.