By Andrea Fryrear published August 16, 2017

A Content Success Story: How FedEx Operations Now Delivers a Better Customer Experience

drew-bailey-content-marketer-year-finalist-fedex-content-operationsEditor’s note: Drew Bailey is a finalist for 2017 Content Marketer of the Year. We will be sharing insight from all CMY finalists in the blog before the winner is announced at Content Marketing World this September.

Redundancies, overlaps, and a general lack of communication kept good content marketers from delivering a better content experience for FedEx customers.

Drew Bailey wanted to change that when he took the reins of content operations at the company. “My team’s job is enablement,” says FedEx’s manager of content strategy and curation.

Clever problem-solving, a clear strategic road map, and a few counterintuitive steps have helped Drew’s team start to meet this goal, and earned him a nomination for the 2017 Content Marketer of the Year.

He’ll be the first to tell you that it’s still early, but initial results have the entire content team at FedEx excited for what’s coming.

Solving content strategy problems with ABLE

Drew, an IT and project management transplant, found no shortage of areas for improvement as he explored his new environment in the world of content strategy. To shift the process and technology responsibilities from the content creators to the strategy and curation team, Drew spent a lot of time listening to wants and needs.

“It was never about creating more great content,” he says. “It’s about connecting the dots for the customers and letting the content teams do more for them.”

To focus his efforts, Drew used the ABLE problem-solving method to break down each issue one by one.

Assess

This phase includes a root-cause analysis to discover what really contributes to a disjointed customer experience. For example, one customer received 13 unrelated emails each month from FedEx. The team wanted to know why. By carefully evaluating people, process, measurement, inputs, and technology, they found small changes that could deliver immediate improvement.

Build

Like most content teams, requests for their support come from multiple sources. In this phase, the content team needed to determine what should be accepted into the content development pipeline, how it would be reviewed, and which audience segments would be prioritized.

Groups now complete content request forms, which include:

  • Goal of the project
  • Target customers
  • Customer-centric value proposition
  • Customer experience impact
  • Strategic fit
.@FedEx now uses internal content request forms to prioritize creation, says @skinnydude06. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Notice how central the customer is in all the fields? Drew says that is one of the biggest – and best – changes at FedEx. In the past, the go-to-market team would get requests for content centered on a new product or service being launched, and they’ve now flipped the paradigm.

“We have people saying, ‘Here’s the story we want to talk to our customers about based off their buying journey or their learning journey,’” he says. “It’s based off the customer. It’s much more customer-centric.”

Launch

In FedEx’s analysis, the launch phase standardized the process for planning and executing content. The new process incorporated checklists, editorial calendars, themes across segments, and execution plans. Drew led his team to establish workflows to visualize and monitor content from ideation to publication.

With seven regions around the globe creating content, redundancy was a major source of waste in the launch phase. Drew’s team developed a digital asset management platform and taxonomy to prevent creators from having to reproduce content that exists elsewhere.

Set up DAM & taxonomy to prevent content creators from reproducing already existing content. @skinnydude06 Click To Tweet

Evaluate

The final phase set benchmark improvements and identified channel-specific best practices. FedEx measures content by engagement and revenue produced by the targeted customer segment. Drew’s team provided a measurement structure to ensure consistent tracking across teams, as well as a campaign status dashboard and metrics via Adobe Analytics. The teams now use a closed-loop feedback process to share results with stakeholders and drive continuous improvement across all their content.

Provide a measurement structure to ensure consistent tracking across teams, says @skinnydude06. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

After a few iterations and several major new technology rollouts, FedEx has measured savings in the thousands of dollars annually per each full-time content team member thanks to less redundancy and a more systematic approach to content marketing.

Drill down further

And it’s not just the big picture that’s looking brighter. Several of the FedEx content team’s channels have seen substantial benefits from this operationalized approach.

Early in his tenure, Drew heard CMI founder Joe Pulizzi challenge the audience at a transportation marketing event to think about whether their email newsletters really serve their subscribers. Drew realized FedEx’s emails didn’t. “I pitched a totally new approach to my management team,” he says.

Management was on board, even agreeing to stop the newsletter for several months to make the pivot effectively. Prior to the new approach, FedEx had five agencies creating 80% new content for each monthly newsletter. The revenue derived from the newsletter was barely enough to break even.

Now two agencies handle the newsletters, and 20% of the content is new. Eighty percent is curated, turning the emails into a powerful amplification channel. Not only has the reboot reduced the cost associated with the newsletters, it’s also delivering double-digit revenue increases from subscribers in the months since the pivot.

GO! in a global structure

The email turnaround is a micro-example of a much larger change in how FedEx handles content. The new process has been dubbed GO! and extends from executive vision to tactical execution.

The GO! process is a go-to-market strategy that centralizes content operations for U.S. marketing teams (and soon several international marketing regions).

It defines clear roles and responsibilities, creates a content and channel governance process, produces a shared road map across all campaigns and channels, and provides a defined system for marking project requests.

To keep this process running smoothly, every layer of the marketing organization participates. This starts with Go! Vision, a monthly meeting of marketing vice presidents to maintain and update the strategic perspective.

Directors have a GO! Direction meeting every couple of weeks during which they measure what the teams have been working on against the larger organizational objectives. During GO! Channel, the GO-to-market team and channel leads, the boots on the ground creating content, meet monthly to keep communication freely flowing among various teams.

The increased levels of communication have proven their worth, allowing teams to deliver better, more consistent customer experiences and to hit their business objectives. For instance, one team’s A-B test revealed that a simple image change delivered a 20 to 30% increase in conversions. Thanks to the regular GO! Channel meetings, they shared their findings quickly with their colleagues who could duplicate their results in their own work.

One A-B test revealed a simple image change increased conversions by 20 to 30%. @FedEx @skinnydude06 #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Operationalizing excellence

Putting the right tools and processes in place may not be the flashiest part of content marketing, but FedEx’s story proves that it’s a valuable one. By establishing lines of communication and removing complications, Drew and his team are well on their way to achieving their goal of enabling content marketing excellence.

Make plans to attend Content Marketing World Sept. 5-8 in Cleveland, Ohio, to hear who wins Content Marketer of the Year 2017 and learn from industry experts so you may create an award-winning content marketing program yourself. Register and use code BLOG100 to save $100.

Editor’s note: A special thanks to Ardath Albee who scoured the planet looking for the best-of-the-best content marketers. She was instrumental in helping us find our 2017 Content Marketer of the Year finalists.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Andrea Fryrear

Andrea is the president and lead trainer at AgileSherpas, a training, education, and consulting company designed to help marketing teams transform their work from frantic to fantastic. Her most recent book, Death of a Marketer, chronicles marketing’s troubled past and the steps it must take to claim a more Agile future. She geeks out on all things agile and content on Twitter.

Other posts by Andrea Fryrear

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