By Josie Klafkowska, Global Marketing Director at Wunderman Thompson Technology
In this digital-first era, where demand for personalised experiences across multiple channels is driving a proliferation of customer segments and context-based decisions, businesses are typically grappling with hundreds of thousands of assets to fulfil the extraordinary burden that this puts on content delivery.
Organisations need to be able to ready their brand assets to successfully engage customers and deliver upon their growing needs. Achieving this takes a sophisticated content strategy with a well-planned taxonomy at its core to enable greater engagement at each interaction and across the whole of the customer journey from discovery to conversion.
Rising to the challenge
Building outstanding customer experiences relies on creativity, but to truly unleash that creativity and master the omnichannel challenge, businesses need the right technology, strategies and processes to support the end-to-end creative production process. The experience life cycle is complex, comprising ideation and creation of assets, production and adaption, storage and enrichment through to distribution and finally measurement and attribution. Typically, a number of systems might be engaged, with channel-oriented solutions underpinned by some kind of formal solution for asset storage.
Content and asset management systems drive a number of efficiencies for businesses, with more than half of decision-makers surveyed for our recent Building Better Experiences report citing improvements in time to market and campaign and asset creation workflow (both 53%) as key benefits. Another benefit is improved content flow between brands and external parties. Collaboration is key to success when it comes to achieving greater content liquidity and today’s DAM systems are not simply asset libraries, they are working ecosystems in which multiple parties cooperate, housing both work in progress and production and channel-ready assets.
Having the right technology in place is the first step towards maximising the value of your content and assets. But keeping track of and managing such large volumes is no easy task. The ultimate goal is to have a set of evergreen assets, readied for deployment on any channel. This is where taxonomy comes into play. Simply put, it allows you to categorise information about assets based on different attributes – a crucial aspect in enabling content authors to find, use and reuse and control what they are publishing.
While taxonomy is used to classify assets, it relies upon metadata to help organise them. Essentially, this is data about data; the labels that sorts them into different categories. There are two main types:
• Descriptive information about an asset which is used for discovery and identification
• Extra details about a file like asset types or tags, for instance a jpeg image or video
• Specifies information such as the name and the characteristics of the asset
• Describes the types, versions, relationships and other characteristics of digital assets
Tagging assets with these different types of metadata means they can be quickly and dynamically distributed to the right channel, whether web, social or commerce – or a combination of all of them. Indeed, one of the main benefits of good metadata is easing the distribution of content across many channels, while also playing an important role in improving the searchability of assets and helping to get content noticed by promoting SEO.
Without good metadata, even the most sophisticated DAM is just a digital library. Just 32% of the respondents in the Building Better Experiences survey strongly agreed that their businesses use a highly controlled metadata taxonomy which suggests there is plenty of room for improvement. Creating a good model requires brands to be truly forward-thinking in terms of how they will be using, interacting with and sharing content. With the prevalence of automation, they also need to consider attributes of content that will allow AI and machine learning to operate on it.
Meeting the demand for personalisation
Good metadata is also key to a crucial dimension of digital customer experience: the ability to personalise content at scale. Customised brand interactions have become more and more desirable with the digital content explosion of the last couple of years, with a 2020 Salesforce survey revealing that 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalised, and another finding that 84% of people say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to them. Making customers feel as though you value them enough to treat them as individuals is thus the holy grail for any commercial business.
This demand can only be met with content that can be reused, scaled and surfaced at the right time. According to James Squires, lead consultant at Wunderman Thompson Technology, “Metadata enables marketers to deliver a personalised experience to specific audience segments in real-time, based on their interactions. Without metadata tagged content and assets, you have no way to dynamically retrieve those that are of the greatest relevance to an individual to increase customer engagement and conversion events. This isn’t only important for personalisation, but is also essential for headless content delivery, a content management model we’re seeing more and more organisations moving over to.”
A well-designed taxonomy is essential for optimising content and assets and should be planned in at the early stages of developing any content and asset management system. Designing a taxonomy is an art in itself. It needs to be well structured; take into account a site’s overall taxonomy; categorise and describe products and content well by tapping into a brand’s institutional knowledge and language; and have strong governance to maintain its integrity over time.
As the experience challenge grows ever more complex, businesses should think strategically about the content life cycle as a whole and use taxonomy to drive the right messages to the right customers at the right time. Applying it will transform the way in which you communicate with customers, leading to better engagement and brand affinity.