What is Content Experience?

When Tim Berners-Lee ushered in the beginnings of the World-Wide Web with the release of the first web browser in 1991, he may not have foreseen its massive impact just a few years later. While he very much intended to make content more accessible online, his invention was the key to open the doors to how we publish and consume information today.  

About 5 years later, in 1996, Bill Gates authored an essay entitled “Content is King”, in which he predicted that the Internet would evolve to become an unprecedented global repository of content. “Over time, the breadth of information on the Internet will be enormous,” Gates wrote and argued that this information will result in a “marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products-a marketplace of content.”

Bill Gates Was Right

Another 25 years later, we know that Gates’ prediction was, mostly, accurate. According to web analytics firm Netcraft, there were almost 1.2 billion websites live at the end of September 2020. Google does not release numbers how many individual pages are in its search index, but claims that its index alone is more than 100,000,000 Gigabytes, or more than 95 Petabytes, in size. The amount of information at your fingertips, the amount of content, in 2020 is truly mind-boggling.   

For the better part of the past 30 years we have been creating content largely based on metrics of quantity. More content is generally considered to be a requirement to be successful, meaning that more content may increase your chance to acquire and convert. More and more content is competing for our attention not just on more websites, but in more channels and on more platforms.

Unfortunately, content produced through metrics of quantity comes with a substantial downside. There is more content produced than there are people to consume it. While we can still drive more and more content into our distribution channels and while we can still be heard, the majority of content dissipates into a sea of noise. It is increasingly difficult to find ways to be read and listened to. A content strategy based on metrics of quantity is not necessarily the path to content success anymore and we anticipate that strategies purely focused on content volume will be less and less effective.

From Acquisition to Engagement to Conversion, From Strategy to Experience

Of course, the current trajectory of content publishing that is focused on goals of acquisition, engagement and conversion means that content strategy is getting a whole lot more complicated. Breaking through the noise requires content to be considered not just in terms of metrics of quantity, but in terms of quality as well. Understanding not just the exact needs of your business, but especially the wants of your target audience at any given stage of their content journey raises your ability to deliver the right content to the right user at the right time considerably.

Welcome to the era of Content Experience (CXP), a progressive content architecture that leverages deep data insights in user behavior squarely aimed at the space between business needs and audience wants. It builds on our knowledge of content strategy but integrates additional content practices to create an increasingly harmonious and conclusive content ecosystem that is targeted at not just increasing acquisition, but improving engagement and maximizing conversion.

In Its Core, CXP Is Built On 3 Defining Components:

  1. Content Strategy, as a data-driven master plan that is based on an organization’s goals and will define core elements such as site content structures, taxonomies, personas, content journeys, channel optimization and analytics to guide implementation.
  2. Content Tactics (Marketing), as the layer that is responsible for the execution at iteration of content strategy.
  3. Content Governance, as instance that connects people, processes and tools that not only acts as the glue between content strategy and content tactics, but also improves an organization’s ability to deliver a content experience in a predictable and reliable way.   

We are witnessing many organizations today to employ content strategy, content tactics and content governance in some form. However, few organizations have implemented all three in a cohesive structure and very few are targeting these practices at deliberate content outcomes such as audience acquisition, engagement and conversion, which is what content experience is specifically designed to do.   

Content Experience Is Not A Matter of Size

CXP is not an approach that only large organizations can use. Strategies, tactics and governance can be applied to content teams that may only include 2 people and can be implemented with dozens of staff members. The key to success is to understand the individual challenges and opportunities in all three components, implement in a disciplined fashion and grow with its success.

And when you’re ready to shift your content ecosystem to a content experience approach, we’d love to show you how it can work for you and be your partner on your business journey.


About Author

Wolfgang Gruener
With deep roots in journalism and business strategy, Wolfgang has designed and run content focused websites for more than two decades. As digital strategist and lead for content experience (CXP) at Americaneagle.com, he closely collaborates with our clients to create websites that are built on an experience first foundation. He specializes in strategic data analysis, user behavior models, information architecture (IA) as well as content strategy and governance.


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