Everything is changing. Consumer habits and preferences. Technology. Platforms and formats. Organisations are struggling to keep up with this exponential change, and nowhere is this more obvious right now than with content. But we can’t let it fall behind. Something has got to give.

Content 3.0 is here.

The blurred lines of the real and digital worlds

We don’t ‘connect to the internet’ because we’re always connected. The virtual and real worlds are overlapping. We buy, date, play, search, hire, subscribe, watch­…we do just about everything online.

As the online world becomes more immersive, collaborative and connected, we’ll spend even more time in the digital world. Adults are already in front of a screen for an average of 11 hours each day. We’ll stop speaking of ‘online’ versus ‘real-life’, which will have a massive impact on how we interact with brands.

Data knows us better than we know ourselves      

And everything is being tracked. Every. Single. Interaction. But for the most part, it’s a good thing. We’re already starting to reap the rewards. We get services that are personalised to us, internet searches that are more useful because they’re customised to our interests, and we’re served with content that we value more highly.

We even choose to track ourselves: we let our smart thermostats change the temperature based on what it thinks we’d find most comfortable; we wear smart watches to see how fit and healthy we’re being; and we will soon let smart fridges order our favourite snacks when we’ve eaten them all.

Data’s everywhere, so suck it up

As marketing gets smarter, we’re getting much better at soaking up as much data and insight as possible to understand our customers at an ever more granular level – right down to the individual. Not just in the context of a brand-customer relationship either, but for a brand-human one.

We use that data to understand our customers’ intentions, pain points and preferences, and to become a partner that continuously adds value to their lives. Our objective as marketers should be to create a symbiotic relationship with our customers. One where everybody wins.

And then what?

We need to prove that we understand them and that we’re always looking out for their interests by proactively helping them solve their latest challenges.

We need to pre-empt the big problems of not just tomorrow, but of the next five years. Businesses should be ceaseless problem-solving machines.

New technologies, new experiences

Add the insightful data we can capture, layer it with emerging technologies including sensors, IoT and natural language processing, and you’ll see that brands are starting to respond to us, talk to us and feed us contextualised interactions based on what we want at that moment in time.

Amazon is experimenting with a range of sensors, cameras, facial recognition and deep learning technologies to make shopping in brick and mortar stores seamless. Shoppers can simply pick up items and walk out the store without scanning a single barcode, with payment made automatically.

In one KFC restaurant in China, you don’t need cash, a credit card or even your smartphone to pay for your chicken. You simply smile in front of a camera and the bill is settled.

Think about all the things we tell Alexa or Google Assistant to do, from playing us our favourite music to ordering groceries. Soon, they’ll even consider what mood we’re currently in.

Brands are using technology and the data they hold about us to create services that change from second to second as we interact with them, reacting to what we’re doing and what we want.

They come to us with what we need, when we need it and where we need it, rather than us having to search them out. These personalised, interactive and contextual experiences are designed to make our lives more convenient, and ultimately, to make it easier for us to spend money.

And yet…

…We’re not quite providing the kinds of interactions and contextual experiences through content.

Bill Gates’ famous phrase, “content is king,” has been around for decades, yet we haven’t gone much further than whitepapers and eBooks and blog posts. They’ll likely always have a place in marketing strategies, but with a little imagination and effective use of technology and data, content can work so much harder.

Enter Content 3.0

Content 3.0 is the next giant leap we need. It lets us use technology and data that exists today to create content that understands the context in which it is being consumed. It builds a two-way conversation and engages your audience to continuously take them through the buying journey, while letting them stay in control.

It’s about using real-time data to create marketing experiences that are personalised and react to what a user needs and wants at each moment in time. Results can be tracked, helping us to keep improving the experience.

Getting the data necessary to make it work shouldn’t be a problem anymore. We not only have access to our own data, but third-party data too, which shows us what they’re doing in digital platforms other than our own.

Now all we have to do is learn from the technological examples above and apply the same principles to our content marketing.

See it in action – FuTuraBank 

What does the jump to Content 3.0 look like?

We built the FuTuraBank tool as part of Oracle’s long-running Digital Bank of the Future campaign. We created a fictional bank of the future, powered by Oracle Financial Services. The interactive tool gave banking executives a tangible example of the kinds of services and experiences that they could provide their customers in the future.

Instead of just reading about the future, they can experience it for themselves in a way that’s highly interactive and contextualised.

The FuTuraBank experience provides just a glimpse of what’s possible with Content 3.0.

Take your content to the next level

It’s one thing talking about Content 3.0, but now it’s time to put it into practice.

Before you can evolve to Content 3.0, you must first get to grips with what stage you’re at right now.

Attend one of our Content 3.0 workshops, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of it and look at how to provide your audience with personalised, contextual content experiences. Our Content 3.0 workshops are designed for senior brand, demand gen, operational and field marketers, through either a face-to-face or virtual session.  

If you’d like your team to take part, you can learn more and book a workshop here – the first few organisations that sign up will get the content audit and workshop for free.

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