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The Right Content at the Right Time

This is the seventh post in an 8-part series called “Building a Content-First Organization." See posts one, two, three, four, five, and six.

B2C marketers are spending a quarter of their budgets on content, and nearly two-thirds plan to increase spending in the year ahead, according to the Content Marketing Institute. But just 27% have a documented content marketing strategy, and only 23% believe they can successfully measure the return on their content marketing investments.

Compelling content can help your brand rise above the clutter in a digital world in which 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. For retailers and branded manufacturers, integrating content and commerce operations presents an opportunity to provide a more engaging experience along the entire path to purchase.

But the traditional separation between marketing, which owns brand communications, and commerce, which oversees product and transaction information, creates significant challenges. In its Intelligent Report on Content & Commerce, research firm L2 identified three common content-related pain points among the 80 global brands it studied:

  • Ownership: When e-commerce owns product-related content creation and marketing manages brand content, rifts can occur that impact the type and quality of the site experience.
  • Objectives: Many organizations still don’t embed brand content - blogs, videos and the like - across the commerce site, which limits its impact on driving sales.
  • Globalization: Brands have a U.S.-centric approach to content creation, often taking a decentralized approach to content management with fragmented platforms that impede asset delivery across regions.

Integrating brand marketing and commerce operations requires a more holistic approach to content development and delivery. Content needs to be tuned to engage a customer wherever they are on their buying journey – from discovery to checkout.

In addition, a variety of formats – including blogs, video and social media – must work together to drive engagement, conversion and return visits. Successful retailers and branded manufacturers are blending different types of formats at different stages of the purchase cycle to create wonderful stories that integrate the brand story with the commerce experience.
Here are three great examples:

UK-based cosmetics maker Lush that reflects the company’s rich brand spirit from the moment a user enters the site until long after they make a purchase. For example, the Lush Kitchen section combines a daily menu of exclusive products that feature an interactive list of ingredients and stories of how the products are individually sourced, turning a transactional commerce experience into a story-fueled customer journey. The site also deploys a responsive design that delivers a seamless experience across multiple devices and screen sizes without sacrificing the engaging and entertaining storyline.

Athletic apparel company Puma consolidated its e-commerce and brand properties into a centralized website that can be tailored for consumers in local markets. Puma has also embraced the art of storytelling around athletes such as Usain Bolt, creating an integrated shopping experience that’s fueled through a YouTube channel and other social media. The highly visual and engaging experience has improved conversion rates by up to 20% and increased average order value by 12%. “Any company wants to inspire customers,” Chris Hardisty, general manager and head of e-commerce at Puma, told Digiday. “This [integrated] site gives us a much better vehicle to do that.”

Watchmaker Timex also is building a storytelling engine around a unified content and commerce platform that it launched last November. Its new website offers a mix of content and product information targeted at different personas such as "Weekender" or “Ironman” – a key part of the company’s ongoing strategy to grow its business by engaging with customers across many different channels.

Way back in 1996, then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates penned an essay titled “Content is King,” predicting that “much of the real money will be made on the Internet” from content. In the evolving world of digital commerce, content has finally reached royalty status as a way to attract and engage consumers, build affinity and loyalty, and increase sales. Brands that integrate compelling storytelling with commerce capabilities across digital channels stand to gain a huge advantage over their competitors.

See the eight and final post in this series: Core Metrics for a Unified Content/Commerce Strategy

See the series ebook: Why Retailers Need to Reorganize for Effective Content-driven Commerce

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