Ahead of her presentation at our Digital Transformation seminar, Figaro Digital caught up with Fiona Fleming, head of content, AXELOS Global Best Practice, to talk about what digital marketers can learn from their print-based counterparts, and why the customer is the perfect creative catalyst for content at your business.
Is there a transitional step between print and digital content?
It’s not really about steps in between the two; it’s about how best you can integrate both so that they work seamlessly together, and not at odds with one another. That’s usually the most difficult part. When digital really started making waves in the publishing industry (which is where I’ve spent the majority of my career), there was much hand-wringing and doomsday talk about the death of print; it’s all anyone seemed to be able to talk about! But here we are today, and print publishing is still thriving! I think where publishing has succeeded – where perhaps other industries have struggled (e.g. music) – was that we got over that talk pretty quickly. We adapted, and we started to embrace all the potential that digital offered; to enhance how people consumed the written word, and the stories behind those written words – what we all refer to today as “content”. At the end of the day, it’s about having your content as accessible as it can be, to the widest group of people possible, and in whatever format that might take.
Obviously there are a lot of benefits to moving businesses into the digital space, but what’s the most important benefit from this transition?
Without a doubt, it’s the ability to have more of your content seen by more people in more places more often. Even though some companies might see this as your biggest risk, with risk comes opportunity. Strongly linked to that is the ability to connect with those people who are consuming your content – nothing breeds better content creation than engaging directly with your audience and getting their feedback first hand. Even if that feedback is “Do better next time” or “I really didn’t like that blog post”, that’s great. You’re listening to your audience, and learning more about what they want. If you can then capitalise on that by producing what they want, when they want it and how they want it, then you’ve hit the jackpot! Although this doesn’t mean you have to do EVERYTHING your audience asks of you. You’re allowed to pick and choose your battles!
So the customer is really at the centre of the creative process?
The customer is absolutely at the heart of what any good business should be doing. Whether you are content led or product led, what your customer wants should inform absolutely every decision that you make. Otherwise you’re just shouting at people, and that’s never going to build a long-term relationship. That’s what all businesses are looking for, a long-term relationship with someone who’s going to shout from the rooftops how great they are. That doesn’t come from telling them everything, it comes from engaging with them, and making them feel like they have been part of the creative process with you.
Are there any characteristics of print-reliant content strategy that digital content strategy can benefit from?
While it might not be seen as “strategic”, the permanence of print means that we put a lot of effort into getting content right the first time: not just the message we want to tell, but how it’s put together, including things like correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You pay a lot more attention to those things if you’re doing a print run of 25,000 books, or 50,000 marketing brochures; you can’t just spot a big mistake post-print run and start again! The ephemeral nature of digital can often mean that people don’t really pay as much attention to those things – but the devil really is in the detail. Get it right first time, no matter what platform you’re working on. First impressions really do count. Pay as much attention to what you put online as what you would put in print.
So do you think that digital content runs a risk of becoming less valuable?
No. I think businesses see the value in [digital] and see the potential risk of not doing things properly. I think marketers have got a lot to learn, and that’s ok. People are much savvier when they’re searching for digital content than they were 10-15 years ago. When I first started using the internet, using Ask Jeeves, it was so bizarre- you just assumed that because it was on the internet it must be factually accurate. But people are wiser to that now, they don’t put up with second best, and so I think digital content will reflect this in its quality.
How does a business such as Axelos connect content to your product and measure its worth?
This is definitely one of the biggest challenges we face. But really, our business is content. Yes, we package that content into various products, but content is at the core of everything we do. It’s all about aligning the message, and making sure that the story is consistent – from a single tweet, to a webinar, to a text book, to an exam. It’s about ensuring that every team’s objectives align to the story you want to tell. Underpinning all that are robust metrics sitting tracking everything from engagement ROI (e.g. active members on our community pages; number of members on LinkedIn groups, retweets, likes, etc.) or revenue ROI (sales of books, number of exams taken, number of membership sign-ups). We find that our content ROI is often engagement-led, and our product ROI is revenue-led. When your product strategy and content strategy sit side by side, it’s easy to measure the worth of both and make the right decisions to move the business towards long-term success.
For more insights on the hottest topics in digital transformation, join Fiona and other expert speakers at the Figaro Digital Digital Transformation Seminar on 31st January. Register here now.