Skip to content

This Week in Content Marketing: Most Brands Failing at Customer Experience

PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

Episode139-01In this week’s episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I ponder whether or not the future of advertising will resemble Big Brother in George Orwell’s famous novel 1984. Next, we marvel at global agency WPP’s gigantic investment in Facebook advertising over the last year, and discuss whether a new cooking magazine launched by a digital agency is news or a non-event. Finally, we dissect the results of a new survey that says the majority of brands aren’t meeting their customers’ expectations. Rants and raves include a fresh look at why we shouldn’t underestimate the attention span of our audience and the surprising parallels between stock trading and content marketing. We wrap up the show with a This Old Marketing example from Maui Electric.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on July 9, 2016; Length: 1:00:54)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

Today’s episode sponsor

  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is offering a free 14-day free trial plus a special 30% discount of their marketing toolset for PNR podcast listeners only. The discount will only be active until September 1, 2016. Go here for more:


1. Content marketing in the news

  • The creepy dystopian future of advertising (7:32): In the not-too-distant future, advertisers will know everything about you. They will be able to find you anytime and anywhere, according to this opinion piece by Steve Tobak. Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, will inevitably be used as advertising vehicles, he adds. I don’t think the future is as dark as Tobak predicts. Robert agrees; it’s doubtful that most advertisers will be able to master the ubiquitous consumer tracking the author describes.
  • WPP spent $1 billion with Facebook last year (17:57): WPP last year pumped $1 billion into advertising on Facebook on behalf of its clients, up from $650 million in 2014. This year, the global agency expects to place more than $5 billion in advertising with Google, its biggest media relationship, according to Ad Age. Robert and I agree this rate of growth is astounding, and we point to Facebook’s role as a powerhouse player in the world of online advertising.
  • This ad agency created an ad-free, niche cooking magazine (18:27): A new niche cooking magazine called Sous-Vide hit newsstands this week, and the team behind it might surprise you. While the concept for the ad-free print publication came from company Cuisine Solutions, 95% of the content created for it was composed by creative agency HZDG’s content studio. Robert views this as another example of the ways in which the worlds of agencies and publishers are colliding; I consider it to be a non-event — just another custom publication produced with an agency’s assistance.
  • Keeping up with customers, not competitors, is becoming the greatest brand challenge (27:09): More than nine in 10 companies are struggling to deliver digital customer experiences that exceed their customers’ expectations, according to a new study from Accenture Interactive. Only 7% say their companies actually do accomplish that goal. Robert points out that the concept of expectations is too nebulous for a survey. Plus, these are advertisers rating themselves, not customers reflecting on brands’ performance. I emphasize that marketers tend to be compensated based on short-term goals, not the entire customer journey. This must change in order for the customer experience to improve.

2. Sponsor (38:21)

  • Episerver: As a digital marketer, you face both external and internal challenges — from declining organic reach on social to software issues that sap your team’s productivity. At the same time, you’re tasked with managing content that increases lead count, boosts sales, or raises customer loyalty. Four Steps to Simplify Digital Experience, a new guide from Episerver, covers the four fundamental steps of the digital customer experience, and gives hands-on advice on how to work more effectively using Episerver’s CMS and Digital Marketing platform. Each step is accompanied by concrete examples that show you how Episerver helps you simplify the digital experience for your customers. You can download it here:


3. Rants and raves (40:16)

  • Robert’s rave: Robert finds this opinion piece from The Guardian, titled The Attention Economy and the Demise of the Middle Ground, tremendously inspiring. It points out that as content creators, we don’t necessarily need to focus on message simplification (snackable content, infographics, etc.) — after all, consumers binge-watch complex dramas such as Game of Thrones and House of Cards for hours at a time. Perhaps we need to raise our expectations of our audience’s attention span and their ability to follow complex narratives.
  • Joe’s rave: I recently picked up a book called High Probability Trading by Marcel Link. In it, the author points out that people go into trading with little or no experience and expect to be wildly successful. In fact, over 90% of them lose money. Many content marketers do the same — and are experiencing similarly dismal success rates, as a result. I walk through several trading success factors, which also have fascinating parallels in the world of content marketing.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (53:33)

  • Maui Electric Company: The Hawaiian Electric Company started operations on the island of Oahu in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, it had not only extended the availability of electricity to the rest of the Hawaiian islands, it also produced and sold electric appliances to its customers. In 1926, the utility (of which Maui Electric is a part) started its Home Services Department and began demonstrating the benefits and uses of electrical appliances to residents of Hawaii in the auditorium of the company’s historic King Street building. These cooking shows became so popular that they had to be moved to larger venues several times. In 1995, they were transitioned to television, followed by the web in 2005. Today, the Hawaiian Electric Company maintains its “food connection” with the community through the publication of recipes in its monthly newsletter Ho’oku’i, a weekly column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser food section, and on its website. It’s a great example of a company modifying its content distribution model over time and is a wonderful example of This Old Marketing.

Hawaiian-Electric4Image source 

For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

How do I subscribe?


stitcher logo