Unless it’s art, an experience isn’t generally considered “content.” Experience is something that happens, something with which we’re involved. And while it can be involving, content is something you consume (view, listen, read, watch, etc.). But in the world of marketing, customer experience can quickly become content, and modern marketers are increasingly factoring customer experience into their marketing plans. As a professional with feet in both customer success and marketing, I can’t help but think about the connection between customer experience and demand marketing.

Many of us have seen depictions of the “hourglass” funnel or the marketing-customer experience infinity loop. These are smart representations that help funnel-centric marketers think holistically about the customer life cycle, and the discipline of customer life cycle marketing. But as is often the case, real life is messier than the pretty pictures we see on slides at marketing conferences. Customer experience is comprised by many small touches, many beyond the traditional reach of marketing (beyond perhaps even the logo police). By this, I mean the seemingly minor touch points that nevertheless contribute to customer experience, such as contracts and billing. Additionally, deep organizational structures, such as sales and contact center performance management and compensation policies could be subtly at odds with brand values. This dynamic was put on full display in the recent Comcast customer experience snafu captured by Ryan Block (my colleague Omer Minkara has a great write up about that case from a customer experience / call center perspective).

We all know service failures that, at one time, might have resulted in a lost customer, can today be magnified hundreds or thousands of times over through the reach of the hidden sales cycle of social media.  I often talk about the imperative for marketers to influence buyers in the hidden sales cycle with high-value content. In Aberdeen’s May 2014 Content Marketing and the Road to Revenue: Answering the Questions report we outline the way content must answer the buyer’s critical questions at each stage of their decision journey.

As a marketer, your responsibility to is to use such opportune moments to answer buyers’ questions through content, or through interactions and experiences as well to deliver an unfair advantage to sales by providing prospects who have been swayed in favor of the differentiators you compete on. While critical in its own right from a revenue retention perspective, thinking about customer experience as content can provide fresh insight on its potential for new customer acquisition as well.

Have you incorporated customer experience into your content marketing efforts? Please feel free to add your own insights and experiences in the comments below.