Every day we interact with companies and brands. More often than not, those interactions aren’t with people, they’re with content. Just think about it. How often do you actually talk to a company’s sales reps or attend its events? Probably not very often, if at all. Instead, most of the interactions that we have with brands are driven by content. Our perceptions of brands are shaped in large part by things like the ads and posts that we see in our social media feeds; the blogs, news items, and other information that show up in our Google searches; the emails we receive telling us about a new service; and even the instructions we read when trying to use a product.

Admittedly, a lot of other factors go into shaping our perception of and experience with brands. My point, however, is that content is usually front and center for a lot of it. Let’s take a closer look at why that is and what it means for you.

When Your Customers Are in Control, Your Content Is Your Lifeline

By now you’ve probably seen the stats that say just how far along the buyer journey today’s customers travel on their own before ever contacting a vendor. I’ve seen estimates that vary from 57 percent to 90 percent, with plenty of other sources citing percentages in between. Regardless of which of those numbers is correct, I think we can all agree that they point to the same conclusion: The nature of selling has changed.

The reality is that thanks to the internet, which has made huge amounts of information available to everyone, today’s customers are in the driver’s seat. They’re no longer reliant on company sales reps to share information with them because they can find it all online for themselves. Fundamentally, what that means is that if you want to have a relationship with them, you need high-quality content, and plenty of it.

That’s because your content is your lifeline to your customers. It’s the way you can communicate your messages out to them, engage them, and get them to take the next step on the path to purchase.

Content Helps Shape Customer Experiences

Since many of your customers’ experiences with your brand are tied to your content, it’s safe to conclude that your content has a direct impact on those experiences. In other words, what you say and how you say it affects how customers experience your brand. Let me give you some examples of how:

  • It can make your customers feel respected. Most people are pretty time poor and don’t appreciate having whatever time they do have wasted. Your content can create a positive experience for your customers by being concise, to the point, and most importantly of all, useful. People are rarely looking for fluff or noise (there’s already more than enough of that to go around), so by offering your customers content that’s valuable to them and that gives them what they need, you can create better experiences for them.
  • It can demonstrate that you pay attention to detail. If your customers notice typos, grammatical issues, errors of fact, or other mistakes in your content, it says to them that you’re not particularly worried about the details. While a misspelling here and there may seem like forgivable offenses, if your customers notice those mistakes it will impact their experience on some level. At a minimum, it might make them stop and ask themselves, “If your company is being careless with its content, is it also being careless with other things?”
  • It can help your customers feel engaged. The tone of voice that you adopt in your content can go a long way toward making your customers feel like you’re talking to them rather than at them. The right tone can convey that you understand your customers, that you’re on the same page, and that you’re in touch with them and their needs. All of this is important because it can make your customers feel more engaged, while helping them to enjoy each of their interactions with you all the more.
  • It can help create consistency. In my last post I cited some research from McKinsey & Company that noted that consistency is the most important driver of customer satisfaction. One aspect of that consistency is communication, and the key to consistent communication starts with the consistent use of language and content. Everything from applying the same tone of voice to ensuring that the right words and phrases are used to describe your business and its offerings are critical to creating a consistent experience. When your content isn’t consistent across every touch point, your customers will notice and, trust me, it won’t go down well with them.

If you take away anything after reading this post, let it be this: Content has a growing and critically important role to play in shaping customer experience. That means that you need to be paying lots of attention to the quality and consistency of your content, so that you can help create the best customer experiences possible.