Content and Commerce: Finding the Right Balance for Your Brand
In the early days of e-commerce, it was enough to have a nicely designed website that sold goods. As competition heated up, that was no longer good enough. Retailers needed to differentiate themselves from the competition and began introducing site personalization, single page checkout and a slew of other features designed to help shoppers make buying decisions and quickly usher them through the checkout process. And yet, for today’s shopper, retailers realize they need to go even further. They need to be a trusted advisor in their respective field. Whether selling tools or toys, pets or polo shirts, retailers are integrating specialized content into their sites to encourage repeat visits, engender brand loyalty and, ultimately, increase sales. This is where content and commerce meet. There are a number of ways in which retailers are integrating content into their e-commerce sites. One popular way is by making the e-commerce experience more editorial in nature, which is often referred to as contextual commerce. For instance, a home décor retailer may offer advice and how-to articles to help customers achieve a desired look, while offering a seamless transition from content to product. Product-related content, on the other hand, helps customers with tools such as instructional videos and product configurators, much like Converse’s Design Your Own feature. Many retailers, especially those targeting younger demographics, are also leveraging user-generated content – blogs, forums, videos and social media (Instagram, in particular) to create branded e-commerce experiences for their customers. This content is often designed to inspire shoppers to achieve a similar look or style as their peers. But when integrating content with commerce, the challenge for many retailers is two-fold: finding the right balance of content for your brand (contextual vs. user-generated, for example) and shifting to a culture of content, rather than one solely focused on getting users from discovery to checkout as quickly as possible. Retailers that decide to integrate a content strategy will need to determine which content type is most on-brand and also rethink their KPIs and how they define success within the organization. Building and fostering a culture of content means highlighting key wins (repeat visits, longer site times, increased AOVs, etc.) early on to get all stakeholders on board with the new approach. In the end, retailers understand that an engaged customer is a loyal brand advocate and they need to find new ways to not only bring them into their online store, but to also keep them coming back time and time again. And, the content and commerce hybrid is proving to be an effective strategy to do just that.