Three adaptive content strategy trends for omnichannel marketing

Demand is high for content management and delivery that’s timely and personally relevant in multichannel, cross-channel, and omnichannel contexts. Adaptive content underpins them all.

Having done various sessions on adaptive content, customer journey mapping, and content modelling recently – and because my head is full of new ideas thinking about the online OmnichannelX Conference – I decided to pull out some trends that I’ve not covered previously online.

Three trends to watch

I have identified these trends:

  1. It’s proven: channels don’t all need their own creative. Get over it!
  2. Omnichannel and adaptive content are proving vital but need new content strategies
  3. Content personalisation is getting a bad name, but that’s our fault

1) Channels don’t all need their own creative. Get over it!

I’ve been saying it for years. Don’t want to listen to me? How about listening to Google:

What if instead of reinventing the wheel for each digital campaign, you could transform your print ads into six-second bumpers by adding motion graphics?

In the spirit of finding these efficiencies, Clinique partnered with Google’s Unskippable Labs to challenge the maxim that each platform requires different creative. The goal was to show that it’s possible to do more with less.

Most of the time I can’t publicise client case studies because they keep their strategies close to their chest. I’m delighted to see players like Google coming out and talking about cross-channel reuse and using the phrase “Omnichannel marketing that doesn’t break the bank”.

That said, this example is a bit of a hack. We should applaud the reuse of resources and focus on consistency across channels, but it’s a retrofit to take one content’s creative and repurpose it after the fact.

Google's challenging the maxim that each platform requires different creative ( But the methods most brands use are still inefficient retro-fits. We need purpose-built #crosschannel strategies Click To Tweet

A strategy that was built from the ground up would have allowed many more channels to come into play and unlocked even greater efficiencies. So, good that it’s happening, but these days we can do better.

No brand can afford to throw away money. Omnichannel takes wasteful multichannel strategies and makes them integrated and customer-centric.

No brand can afford to throw away money. #Omnichannel takes wasteful multichannel content strategies and makes them integrated and customer-centric. Click To Tweet

One of my favourite simple examples of this is from the Content Marketing Institute itself. It’s really simple and beautifully illustrates how various channels can reuse without any loss in quality for end-users, and it’s from back in 2015.

We’ve been doing cross-channel reuse for years, that should be proof enough that it’s possible!

2) Omnichannel and adaptive content are proving vital but need new content strategies

eConsultancy’s Digital Trends 2018 report lists 5 top priorities for marketers, which are, in order:

  1. Content and experience management
  2. Analytics
  3. Audience and data management
  4. Omnichannel marketing, and
  5. Personalisation
Top marketer priorities table reproduced eConsultancy Digital Trends 2018 report

First, I’m delighted that “omnichannel” is being recognised as the term of choice over multichannel. They’re not the same.

Second, Adaptive content fits squarely into “content and experience management”. The combining of these two under one heading suggests that managing content and managing the experience that content facilitates are becoming unified challenges. Good. More of this, please!

Experience management needs #AdaptiveContent: You can't manage individual experiences if you're managing traditional web pages. You need flexible, well structured underlying content. Click To Tweet

I addressed this a while back in my first thought-leader interview with Cruce Saunders which compares and contrasts CXM (Customer Experience Management) and CM (Content Management). We talk about the relationships and differences between the disciplines and also the differences in functionality you need to expect from their respective supporting management systems.

Adaptive spills naturally out from this merging because you can’t manage an individual’s experience if you’re managing static, traditional web pages. The content and experience must be managed together, allowing what each person sees to be contextually appropriate.

Relevance is job 1. You can’t manage individual experiences if you’re managing static, chunky web pages. You need flexible, well-structured underlying content.

Simple animation displaying fields of an adaptive content model flowing into different channels and contexts.

The subsequent priorities – analytics and audience and data management – both feed up into the top priority. Without audience data and analytics, you can’t manage content or experience effectively. Once you can, then doing it across channels effectively (i.e. implementing omnichannel) is the next highest priority.

With all the top 5 priorities addressed, you can do holistic, personalised, and contextual content delivery at scale

Here are some examples of how a simple thing like a call to action might adapt in a personalised or contextualised campaign. Content can be personalised, contextualised, or both. Don’t be afraid to implement adaptive to do one or the other. You don’t have to, and probably can’t, do everything at once. Especially not on mailers, web, app, and social as shown here.

#Personalisation & contextual content delivery aren't the same. Don't confuse them, but do learn about them! #AdaptiveContent enables both in an omnichannel context Click To Tweet

3) Content personalisation is getting a bad name, but that’s our fault

The research says personalisation is great:

It also says it’s a mess:

  • 60% of marketers struggle to personalise content in real time – yet 77% believe real-time personalization is crucial (
  • For ~60% of marketers and executives, personalisation still acts as a channel-specific solution that is integrated with only some elements of the tech stack (Dynamic Yield:
  • 92% of consumers are unlikely to engage with marketing that addresses them by name (pure360:
  • 93% are unlikely to engage with birthday emails. Consumers are demanding that personalisation adds real value, and most brands aren’t delivering (pure360:

Why? Because we’re doing it wrong. We’re deploying capable content management software without a robust or unified content strategy, much less a content management strategy or content model.

The result is most personalisation or contextualisation is easy-to-implement fluff, like “Happy birthday” emails or adding things “Hey, Jane!” when we should be adding value to our audience’s journeys.

Personalisation is getting a bad name, because #marketing departments use it for things that don't add real value. Consider customer journeys & adapt content to advance user goals Click To Tweet

So, what are you going to do now? Join us online from anywhere at OmnichannelX!

Is your organisation exploring or implementing omnichannel, cross-channel, or adaptive content strategies? OmnichannelX is going online this year via and all ticket holders get free access to the recordings for 1 year after the conference. We’ve turned the pandemic into an opportunity to demonstrate the principles of omnichannel, so are planning multi-touchpoint digital learning and networking experience involving live interaction via the LinkedIn Community, main website, Zoom, and

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