The buzz is still in the air from Sitecore’s biggest digital marketing conference of the year in Chicago. Leading brands from across the global like L’Oréal, Thule, and Pendragon took the stage to share how they Meet Every Moment to delight and inspire longtime loyalty with their customers.

But “an idea is a good idea only if we can scale it,” as Anne Guichard, L’Oréal’s Global Head of Digital Programs, shared. So to help you take learnings from Symposium and put them into action for your future marketing strategies, we’ve spotlighted seven key takeaways for digital marketers, content marketers, and brand strategists.

Did you miss Symposium 2022? Watch general sessions on-demand until November 18. Learn more

1. Only 5% of content gets 90% of customer attention

As digital marketers are often neck deep in the content creation and output, this is a key learning that requires us to look at our brand’s broader marketing landscape. As Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis shared during his keynote, companies tend to spend only 1% of overall revenue on content. As content marketing is expected to continue to grow by 20% over the next 7-8 years with emerging digital and immersive technologies, possibilities are immense if you can tap into that other 95% of content your team works hard to create. When you’re developing new marketing content, consider how you can re-purpose existing content, how you can maximize resources, and how you might be leaving out key opportunities to optimize for the future.

2. Changes in the market create new opportunities

Change is here to stay, and it will happen faster than it ever has before as it becomes normalcy for younger generations. With new trends continuously surfacing, this also means new engagements with customers and broader consumer behaviors from our target audiences. The key learning for us as marketers is that innovation is now fundamental as we shape our brand experience to not only become market leaders, but to also remain so.

During Symposium we heard from Kim Costello, Chief Marketing Officer at Pendragon, a leading automotive retailer in Europe representing luxury brands including Porsche, Aston Martin, and Ferrari. With supply chain issues, shortage of materials, and the inability to bring people into the showrooms during the height of the pandemic, Pendragon had to adapt its successful luxury car buying experience fully online. Now, it offers a seamless balance between in-person and digital, enabling customers to make purchases how they choose.

“[Car buying] can be a very stressful process and it’s not always customer focused; in the automotive industry, it tends to be ‘we want you to purchase the way we want you to purchase’,” Kim explained. “That’s something we’re working really hard to make seamless. You can interact however you want and we’ll meet you wherever you are as a customer in your journey and fulfill whatever you need at that point.”

3. Meet every customer moment in real-time

Brand experiences of today are defined by our customers as much as they are by our bottom line. Sitecore Chief Marketing Officer Paige O’Neill shared during her keynote that shopping preferences, for example, have shifted to nearly even across the board with 46% preferring in-store, 30% digital, 25% a combination of both. We as marketers should be asking: how do we meet these customer experience moments today and tomorrow? As with Pendragon, the experience a brand provides their customers should feel ‘in the moment’ and give them the flexibility to go from shopping to transaction, freely.

“We’ve embraced the digital world, we’re eager to get back to some facets of the physical world, yet we’re still trying to navigate what all our new preferences are,” Paige said. “Brands are trying to decode all of this in real-time; and they are expected to do this to meet consumer demands and be able to deliver the right customer experience.”

4. Authenticity is what customers really care about

Whatever the experience customers choose to engage with, there comes with it a strong desire to connect with your brand. Paige shared, consumers want to engage with brands that align with their values and understand their needs ‘in the moment’, including 86% saying this empathy is what drives better relationships. The takeaway for marketers, we can help our brands be more authentic with the customer service experience with 82% of consumers saying they will become loyal, if they know customer service can solve their problem.

We heard about the unique way Thule, a global outdoor brand, builds authenticity into its DNA using a four-step strategy that includes ambassadors. Mats Gyldorff, Thule’s Global Director of Marketing Communications, explained the journey is touch, tell, sell, and care. It starts with first-touch awareness content to inspire people to be active, educating them on how to find the best products for their outdoor activities, and making the buying process easy for them. The care stage provides ambassador content featuring skilled outdoor enthusiasts sharing their stories and advice.

“The care part is more about the users of Thule that we want to become our fans,” Mats shared. “We’ll have more content for, if they want to go out biking, we have ambassadors that will tip them on the hidden gems or the best bike paths.”

5. Stand out by embracing new content strategies

Everything in this list so far points to more — more change, more flexibility, more authenticity. Differentiating your brand today is more about shift. Recently, TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular search engine in the world. And Content Marketing Institute reported this year that 79% of companies have a different content marketing strategy from two years ago. From a marketer’s perspective, Paige shared there are three key things shaping these new content strategies: the desire to differentiate, audience interest over sales and product interests of the company, and the ability to map increasingly complex buyer journeys.

L’Oréal’s Anne Guichard took us through how the company creates unique, interactive, and personalized experiences for its diverse global customer base by hyper focusing on adapting to local culture and new content types every year.

While the brand is experiencing a ‘content explosion’ from factors including e-commerce advancements, an increase in platforms that require unique content, and more complex buyer journeys, it has shifted from product focus to customer focus by scaling localized content and interactive services across its 600 global websites. It positions L’Oréal to look ahead to predictability and immersivity as marketing continues to shift toward emerging technologies.

“When L’Oréal goes to a region, we adapt our content and our product to this culture or to this region,” Anne explained. “So this means as many content [types] as geographies.”

6. Design an inclusive marketing strategy

Diversity, inclusion, and representation are consumer expectations with 83% saying they want brands to be inclusive of all their customers in their marketing. As Paige explained during her keynote, this is a welcome shift, but you can’t ignore that it adds complexity in terms of marketing for global brands. As marketers, the key takeaways here: it’s an opportunity, be intentionally inclusive across content from the beginning, and — as more technologies emerge with AI, machine learning, and the metaverse — start with the human way first and scale.

We heard these themes widely referenced throughout Symposium including the Women of Sitecore 2-part super session exploring inclusion and ethical considerations across personalization, user testing, AI and automated human decisions.

“There is no ethical personalization if the brand is not ethical,” said Daniela Millitaru, Sitecore Senior Sales Engineer.

“I think we’ve got the right path,” said Deepthi Katta, Verndale Technical Director. “We just have to keep going, and then raise some of these issues, talk about it, and see, together, what we can mold to change the gears and put it on auto drive.”

In a session on inclusive design for people with disabilities, Jennifer Chadwick, Senior Digital Accessibility Consultant at Siteimprove, shared the disability market is larger than China. Three billion people with disabilities worldwide are using technology and 75% of users with access needs feel accessibility is more important when making spending decisions than price.

“If your digital properties are inaccessible, then you are creating barriers,” Jennifer said.

7. Get ready for moments of tomorrow

Immersive experiences are here. Paige shared in a new Sitecore survey, 1-in-3 marketers are already experimenting with metaverse in their current marketing mix to solve challenges such as experiencing products before buying, improving remote collaboration, and replicating physical stores. It also found that 75% of marketers believe consumers will shift to spending more time in the metaverse over social media in the next five years.

There are two key ways marketers can prepare for the unknown ahead. First, prepare by understanding who to target in these environments and how your customers want to engage with your band within these environments. An example can be access to exclusive content, representation, or creating ways for your audience to be part of a community. Second, prepare for more content types.

We saw an on-stage demo of how Touchcast, Microsoft, Sitecore, and Triumph Motorcycles have partnered together to create a metaverse storefront experience that works within a user’s web browser without the need of a headset. Shoppers can choose to engage with a local seller as they experience a real-time guided view of a motorcycle before going into a showroom or making a purchase.

“We’re really just at the beginning of tapping into the kinds of experiences that can be created with these immersive technologies that are evolving today,” Paige shared. “Now, is really the time to think about building boldly and investing in moments of the future.”

To learn more, visit the Symposium website for on-demand content and more top insights.

Hannah Grap is Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.