Content today is at the heart of everything we do; brands, businesses and people are stories. Advertising and content marketing needs to provide solutions for needs and pain points of its audience. Launching a content offering without the integration of a transactional layer misses an opportunity to convert audience to customer, and ultimately to that essential trust between brand and consumer.
Customers deserve value when they navigate to an online shop. An eCommerce website should be socially immersive, built around digital storytelling and narrative. The key is integration — combining valued facets of customer experience on a single platform; interweaving them to become indistinguishable features of a unified experience. These building blocks of a working online retail approach are content, community, and commerce; providing this seamless progression: → Inquisitive visitor → interactive participant → Customer → advocate. This allows content to hit people at two parts of the sales funnel: both top and bottom, serving a dual purpose and carrying two sets of KPI’s.
Retailers have always known that getting a product featured in a glossy magazine ensures a sell-out line. However now that web has allowed democratization of editorial, brands are now attempting to do this for themselves by reversing the trend. The evolving interconnectedness of the web has given rise to new business models offering consumers a more seamless path allowing retailers and publishers to tap new revenue streams.
The social networks represents 17.4% of social media revenue for eCommerce sites, a figure expected to grow to 40% (according to Converto). Multiplatform optimization will play an increasingly important role for the ongoing integration of content and eCommerce as brands continue to build meaningful connections with customers across all platforms.
Readers are now more sophisticated, compiling personal newsfeeds and relying on Facebook and Twitter friends to serve as their editors. eCommerce sites like Groupon are hiring writers, publishing editorial content and are becoming more like magazines. Rather than relying on someone else’s content, they are now investing in their own, wrapping it around the products in an editorial style.
Fab.com is a fantastic example with a mixture of curated products; It offers a European site model that is a fully integrated Social Commerce Platform with Facebook and a live feed of best-selling items. Marks & Spencer is another example, with add-to-basket links weaved into video content. Brands that have this additional non-interruptive commerce functionality integrated with video can see basket values increase by an average 30% and repeat visits from customers who have built a loyal and trusted relationship with the brand.
Another driving force on the path from content to commerce is social media and Pinterest, for it’s editorialized style to the design display. The content curated on boards by consumers and brands provides a fantastic referral platform.
Black Friday (the fourth Friday of November) and Cyber Monday (the first Monday in December) used to be about customers hitting the stores en mass to get the best deals. Now online retailers are trying to expand their offers and prolong the shopping period.
We are rapidly entering a world which is no longer confined to specific sites or apps, is spread across a decentralized universe of endless blogs and social platforms. Brands must navigate this mix of inspiration and transactional content to deliver a new retail experience and consider their role as editors and curators carefully.