We’re marketers – and we should all know the value of content. But while we can deliver great content and take pride in creating it, sometimes it feels like an uphill struggle.

Emotional engagement with customers is critical in building human connections and delivering personalized experiences. And content is at the core of making it happen.

But given the volume needed to drive personalized digital experiences, as marketers we often feel like we simply can’t keep up and meet demand. This is what we have called the content crisis – and it’s a problem we need to try and solve so we can meet the needs of the modern consumer.

Sitecore has technology that can help you plan, create, produce, and publish content with more efficiency, and we also recommend focusing on a content strategy that leverages storytelling and creates a powerful sense of empathy with your customers. 

A successful content strategy

When you take the time to create content that shows you truly understand your customers’ wants and needs, it has more impact and ultimately means you won’t have to create as much of it. Less can always be more, as long as you make your storytelling relevant and relatable.

In recent research we co-sponsored with the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), half of the marketers we spoke to said that the top factor contributing to the success of their content strategy was the ability to understand and connect with the audience’s values, interests, and pain points.

In reality however, while identifying the key to better results is one thing, implementing it and achieving the desired outcomes can be a different matter.

Less than a quarter of marketers (23%) said their organization was either extremely or very successful with strategically managing content across the enterprise. That’s despite 78% of marketers saying their organization takes a strategic approach to managing content.

Prioritize audience needs

Further CMI research sponsored by Sitecore reveals that only two-thirds (66%) of content marketing programs always or frequently prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their organization’s sales and promotional messages. That figure rises to 88% among the top-performing marketers. In other words, those who are prioritizing audience needs are experiencing greater success.

This all points towards the importance of staying true to the requirements of your audience and tipping the balance of content away from salesy messaging and towards customer-focused content. After all, when did you last hear a consumer complain that they hadn’t been pitched at enough by an organization that was clearly intent on selling a product? 

Focus on targeted content

Of course, you’ll probably have to do some groundwork to understand and connect with your customers. Try to look at different personas and what topics they care about. Conduct research with input from customers and internal stakeholders to build a detailed picture of the themes and the stories that are going to build loyalty and drive experiences.

Prioritize the needs that you uncover, the challenges customers are facing, and what they want to hear about. Then aim to build your content around those topics and convey your messages in the right way. Work out what kind of stories your brand wants to tell and start using them to demonstrate that your organization cares about the same issues as your audience. 

As marketers, we naturally want to message the features and benefits of our products. And sometimes it can be difficult to take a step back to ensure we’re addressing specific customer pain points.

But if you share an understanding with a customer, you can build on it. And the best way to do that is to focus on targeted content that shows you know them and that you care about the same things – taking time to create empathy, not content.

Paige O’Neill is Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.