Over the last decade, ecommerce has continued to grow at a steady pace, consistently increasing its share of total retail sales in the US. That steady growth doesn’t even account for the explosion of ecommerce in burgeoning global markets.
Since ecommerce became a viable and preferred purchasing channel for consumers, the role of content in ecommerce has changed. But, what hasn’t changed is the fact that content still has an important role in ecommerce.
Content marketing should not be a separate entity from a brand’s ecommerce channels. If you want your content to do what it’s supposed to do—i.e. help drive sales—you must infuse it into your e-commerce platform, and vice versa. Cross platform integration of ecommerce and content marketing align your messaging, boost your reach, and increase engagement. So how can you integrate ecommerce with content?
Use Content to Direct Consumers to Your Website
When developing content for content marketing purposes, it’s important to always keep in mind the ultimate goal of marketing, which is to sell your product. Whether your content is blatantly promotional, or mostly entertaining, you need to direct your consumers somewhere where they can make a quick and simple purchase, if they’re so inclined.
The folks behind PooPourri have this linking business down to an art. Not only do they integrate the purchase links into the content—as seen in the below video—but they do so in an obvious, but unobtrusive way.
PooPourri’s main video actually features three links, all of which send the user to the same branded retail website where users can follow a few simple steps to become customers. When directing users to your website through content, a few simple rules will keep consumers engaged and make them think more highly of your brand.
- Keep linking minimal and consistent. Don’t send people to 20 different websites with 20 different links.
- Make the links easy to find, but not overbearing. Customers should be able to find a way to buy, without having to turn on their ad blocker to disengage from your loud advertisements.
- Be transparent about purchase channels. Explain where you’re linking, why you’re linking, and don’t try to be tricky about it. It’s better to build trust with users than to try to trick them into becoming purchasers.
Sell Tips Not Products
Content should be useful and provide value. It’s a far stretch to assume that selling your products is always of value to your viewers. Instead, use your product niche to develop your brand as a thought leader. Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, took this idea of selling tips over products and hit one out of the park with their #FixInSix campaign on Vine.
In a series of a six second videos, Lowe’s was able to subtly market products that they sell, without exploiting any marketing tactics. Instead, they provide value in the form of both entertainment and information. If, for example, a user were to watch the above video, they could then head to Lowe’s and pick up some sandbags to keep in the back of their car in case of an icy day. But, the real transaction that’s going on with these #FixInSix videos is a transfer of information and entertainment.
Understand your user base, and offer them information and entertainment that plays to their desires. Make sure to keep your content in your brand’s wheelhouse, but don’t go overboard with the promotions.
Use Catchy Copy
Ecommerce, even at the bottom of the funnel, is a perfect opportunity to infuse a little flair. While most ecommerce professionals think that the bottom of the funnel is only to sell, it’s also to tell…your brand’s story that is.
Instead of inputting copy that’s solely informational (and probably boring), creative copy can positively alter your clients’ perceptions about your brand. They’ll likely think of you more as a friend with awesome products, rather than as a brand who’s trying to sell as much as possible. As Nastygal does, they aren’t shy about providing specs and useful info (e.g. “Runs true to size”) and neither are they shy about getting a little edgy with their words. For example, “a rad denim dress” suddenly becomes more appealing because it’s rad? The words reflect the target demographic, millennials who feel closer to slang than to specs.
Allow Users to Engage with Products
When it’s time to sell your product, enabling user engagement through content is a way to involve your customer in your brand and its products. Things like 360-view, and the ability to select sizes and colors make the purchase process more fun and personal for the consumer.
Nike is one of the best known pioneers of commerce that is engageable and customizable, and their Nike ID service is the pinnacle of this. More than the basic eCommerce products, for which users can customize size, color, and of course quantity, Nike ID allows engagement with each element of a product—in the above example, a shoe. Plus it’s also possible to view the product from various angles, which automatically update depending on your step in the customization process.
The more your customers feel involved in the purchase cycle, the more drawn and connected they’ll feel to your product. After a customer spends an hour or so creating a product, they’ll feel more inclined to buy it. If you can take a note from Nike, learn how to engage customers in the creation of their products.
Content’s role in ecommerce doesn’t have to be boring, and e-commerce’s role in content doesn’t have to be promotional. Content and commerce are symbiotic realms of development. To sum up you can infuse one in the other in a few ways:
- Use content to simplify the purchase process
- Offer value to consumers when selling your products
- Content should add some flair to your digital commerce
- Allow your users to engage with content, when making purchases
If content marketing doesn’t play a role in optimizing your ecommerce, you should re-evaluate how it might help you sell more online. Content and commerce should be part of the same strategy if you want to sell more and sell better.
Elisabeth Bradley is Director of Marketing and Administration for BrandShop