Content’s Role In The Customer Experience

0aaaArjen van den Akker SDL

Any retail marketer knows that customer experience is critical. With numerous touch points — web site, in-store, Amazon, advertisements, contact centers and more — retailers are more responsible than ever for providing a great experience for customers regardless of the channel.

The one aspect that factors into every customer touch point is content. Whether it is product information or a content marketing campaign, all details must be consistent — and in the customer’s language. According to a recent Forrester report, 80% of business leaders believe that content challenges prevent them from delivering on their business objectives. This is not very surprising when you consider the volume and velocity of digital content that makes its way across all of the customer communication channels. This level of content can be tough to manage if businesses do not have the right strategies in place.

For global shoppers, experiences should be as positive online as they are in-store. Customers should be nurtured at each access point — whether consuming earned, paid or owned content, and regardless of the language they speak. Clearly, customer experience hinges on content management at every point of the sales cycle.


While most retail leaders understand the importance of content, only 30% believe that the customer journeys they provide are consistent, according to the Forrester study. Essentially, there is a disconnect between what business leaders know and what they are actually able to execute.

How can a company overcome this disconnect?

Take Advantage Of Automation

First, get rid of manual processes that prevent the digital transformation that every company craves. Stop relying on disparate Web Content Management systems, network drives or document management systems and manual translation. These create far too much space for human error and result in ineffective and inefficient silos that disrupt the flow of content through each channel.

It is vital that businesses institute a content management strategy that creates an automated “content supply chain,” and makes sure that all product information across all channels and marketing tactics is consistent. The automation factor will allow the content to be customized and personalized for a user’s need in any given circumstance.

On a similar note, ensure product information is kept up to date. When you strip away the frills of delivery method and marketing strategy, product information at its core is what entices a customer to buy. If the information is not correct across all of your channels, you risk confusing your customer and losing the sale — all of your efforts will go to waste.

Automation allows for easier testing. Even the best code can sometimes experience glitches, and there is nothing more frustrating for a content editor than broken functionalities — especially when that same functionality was previously working fine the day before. These glitches cost both money and time to fix, but the sooner you find them, the easier they are to resolve. Additionally, automated testing can prevent problematic updates from ever being sent out, reducing the risk of content management workflows from ever even being impacted.

Go Global, The Right Way

Many large retailers are already global, multinational or are planning on becoming so in the near future. While there may be a primary customer market, translation and consistency across languages is key. Retailers need to focus on Neural Machine Translation (NMT) to account for the natural ambiguity and flexibilities of the human language that earlier, phase-based machine translation models are not able to accommodate. NMT systems have evolved to a point where brands can now engage with customers in almost every language, even the most challenging like Russian, Chinese or Korean.

The way machine translation works is through artificial intelligence (AI). AI is experiencing varying levels of success across numerous industries, and smart companies need to evaluate their AI solutions. The best way to test is blind — where specialists score translated phrases without knowing if they are human translated or machine translated. Then they use a Likert scale where one end is “completely wrong,” and the other end is “perfect translation, i.e. human level.” Results may fluctuate based on the content in question, but generally, the NMT’s level of effectiveness will be revealed.

Finally, use a global content operating model (GCOM) to ensure all content elements are integrated. GCOMs align people, departments, language translation and AI to support operational objectives and perpetuate the flow of content.

Moving Forward

Overall, all successful retailers understand the importance of a powerful content management strategy. As content effects every customer touch point, it is vital that the information being provided to the customers is consistent and accurate. In doing so, retailers will be able to better connect with their audience and ensure a positive customer experience.


Arjen van den Akker is Product Marketing Director, SDL. He has 25+ years background in computer engineering and marketing and has worked at a series of international B2B software vendors. He joined SDL in 2012 and works as Director of Product Marketing for SDL’s digital experience and content management solutions.

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