Most of us think of big sites like Amazon and Ebay when we think of online commerce. These sites rely heavily on products to inspire sales. But publishers are beginning to see e-commerce for the untapped opportunity that it is. Increasingly e-commerce content is being treated in a similar way to other news content which is neatly packaged, making it easier for content consumers to digest.
Content commerce is the process of obtaining revenue from your digital content, whatever form that content comes in (book, music, video, newsletter, picture, etc.). There are innumerable examples of content companies moving into the product space. One of most notable examples for me (because I am a huge beauty product junkie) is Emily Weiss who started her blog, Into the Gloss in 2010 before launching her own line of beauty products, called Glossier in 2014.
“…what I wanted to do was approach beauty from a consumer perspective and think about what I really wanted to see from a beauty brand across the board, and think about it as though there’s never been a beauty brand before.” Weiss says in an article on Fast Company last year.
We’ve seen the evolution of content in commerce throughout the years but, typically, it has been product-centric: rich imagery, better product descriptions, videos, reviews, etc. While some are still very focused on product-centric content, others are using content to connect emotionally with customers throughout the path-to-purchase via trend stories, lifestyle and aspirational content. The latter is really where we’re seeing the greatest transformational impact. Through relevant editorial content, they are building meaningful relationships with customers by engaging with them and giving them a reason to come back.
Here are three ways marketers can use content to grow digital commerce along the entire buying journey:
Surprise and Delight Visitors
Helpful content, and not discounts, should be the centrepiece of awareness efforts to attract targeted buyers to your brand. Provide well-crafted, tailored content to attract qualified visitors, differentiate your brand, evoke a lifestyle, and surprise and delight your visitors.
Showcase Products in Context
Use in-house talent and customer contributors to publish well-rounded streams of engaging content that inspire action. Starwood Hotels & Resorts created the Guest Gallery to lend a more personal touch to the brand. The gallery becomes a digital showroom of authentic social content for visitors to peruse before they book a room. That can be a significant conversion lever given the beautiful locations of many Starwood properties.
Deliver at the Moment of Truth
Replace aggressively retargeted ads and email offers that alienate visitors with engaging content that’s focused on the motivations, needs, values and beliefs of your buyers. Many retailers and brands have developed planning tools, configurators and augmented reality tools that allow consumers to see or envision product-related content in the context of its intended use in a way that smooths the buying process. Think about the growing relationship between brands and fashion bloggers/influencers. Emily Schuman of the fashion and lifestyle blog, Cupcakes and Cashmere recently did a partnership with retailer Shopbop. There is a seamless blend between the clothes and the stylish photography she features on her blog.
In the ever-changing marketplace that is e-commerce, brands, retailers and businesses need to consider the entire customer journey and build experiences that will help them stand out. Building a strong brand and relationship with the customer is key, and content is critical in achieving that. It’s all about the customer experience. And in today’s omnichannel world, it’s all about the total customer experience across all channels. The key drivers behind delivering this ideal customer experience are relevancy and context.
Top image via iStock
Bottom image via Fast Company