The Right Content at the Right Time in the Right Place

“I passed on Slack. I didn’t get it. I still don’t get it! What is it, is it email, is it a chat room?” -Monica, Silicon Valley

A few months ago, my coeditors at UX Booth began using Slack. Like Monica (thanks Silicon Valley!) I didn’t get it. It annoyed me – popped up at inconvenient times, and generally got in the way of me accomplishing other work. When my team at Mad*Pow started discussing the possibility of switching from our chat client to Slack, I was vehemently opposed. I couldn’t believe we would be so stupid! I HATED Slack.

I was overruled, and to my shock, Slack has been a fantastic communication tool for the Mad*Pow team. Yet the UX Booth team Slack channel continues to interrupt and generally annoy me. Why? It doesn’t get me the right content at the right time.

The Right Content At the Right Time

We talk a lot about the placement and timing of content, but we rarely think about what this really means:

We get content to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

  • To the right people, sure. That’s personalization, and knowing your audience.
  • In the right place, that means getting content to appear on the homepage, or in the app, on the phone or on the tablet, great.
  • But at the right time? We often merge this with personalization – we make sure to send the bill after the service, or the reminder email 2 weeks after they visit the site.

Content in Context

Reaching people at the right time also means acknowledging that we are not the most important part of their day. It means realizing that our audience has other things going on. When I’m at work (where I spend between 6 and 10 hours of any given day), it’s convenient to receive Slack notifications from coworkers. But that’s the same time that my UX Booth editors tend to chat, and it’s the wrong time for me to get those notifications. It’s not the right content at the right time.

In this case, due to Slack’s configurations, I can fix the problem by muting conversations during specific hours. In many situations though, we as content strategists are the ones who will determine the timing of a message, notification, feedback, or other communication.

We need to remember that “the right time” relates to context of use, as much as timing within the user flow.

Intelligent Content Needs Rules

Intelligent content – that is, breaking up our content into types, and organizing them semantically – helps get the right content places. But we also need to build business rules to tell the content when to appear, and to whom.

The same is true of our email messaging campaigns. We need to think about when it’s most useful for people to hear from us. Equally with personalized messaging. How do you do it?

  1. Start by identifying the user goals
  2. Separate out personas
  3. Develop a journey map to identify the best touch points for each persona
  4. Consider the specific scenarios – not just the best case scenarios!
  5. Build business rules that support each scenario’s touch points
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