The Role of Content in eCommerce

Oct 17, 2016 | Content Experience

Last year a study conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council revealed only 5% of respondents had highly or tightly integrated content and commerce compared to 64% who said they had projects underway or plans to improve this. The findings were based on input from 287 marketing leaders located around the world. This article looks at the current rate of progress brands are making in merging their content and commerce to drive improved sales performance.

eCommerce sites increasingly focus on the overall buying experience, not just the selling aspect, in order to more effectively engage customers online. Unlike physical stores, online retailers can offer shoppers the convenience of unlimited product choices, but fall short in providing some of the experiential benefits of shopping in-store eg. seeing and touching the product, instant gratification and social shopping.

Innovative, compelling content experiences enrich the online experience, providing shoppers with reassurance about making a purchase, and keep them coming back for more. Whilst on average only 15% of customers are repeat customers, they account for one third of the total spend. Look no further than Amazon to understand the accelerating profitability of returning eCommerce customers.

A recent McKinsey study notes “Improving customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also lifts revenue of retailers by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%”.

Brands like Fitbit (wearable fitness tech devices)  and Mr Porter (menswear eCommerce) are demonstrating the power of content rich eCommerce websites. Fitbit’s “Find Your Fit” buying guide helps visitors to find the right device for their requirements, whilst Mr Porter creates extensive lifestyle content that is used to leverage products on their eCommerce site.

Content investment growing faster than content effectiveness

From the earliest days of the internet when the 3C’s of content, commerce and community were described as the building blocks for digital success, content was at the forefront of the digital revolution. And yet, whilst ‘community’ morphed into social media and spawned 1.7 bn users on Facebook, and eCommerce created with $100bn+ annual revenues, content has been the late developer.

However, in recent years content marketing has grown rapidly as a priority for companies and brands who  recognise the pivotal role content plays in attracting attention, increasing word-of-mouth, engaging effectively, encouraging purchase, increasing customer acquisition and growing relationships.

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In 2015 Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, pointed out that “more content is being created in 48 hours than what was produced from the beginning of time until 2003.” Global content marketing spend is forecast to grow from $145 billion in 2015 to $313 billion in 2019 (source: PQ Media).

Impressive statistics, yet there are also a raft of equally eye-catching statistics highlighting how much content is either wasted or not used effectively by brands today. The truth is that whilst brands have undertaken content strategies and switched more investment to content, many have yet to work out how to make that content work as hard as possible to improve ecommerce performance.

Importance of mobile eCommerce/mCommerce

There are now more than 2 billion smartphones globally, and according to eMarketer, mobile devices now account for the largest share of digital media time (51% for for mobile devices vs. 42% for computers). Interestingly, according to the CMO Council, mobile commerce will account for almost 25% of total eCommerce revenue by the end of 2017.

Importance of mobile eCommerce mCommerce - knexus blog

The role of mobile devices during the buying process is therefore a critical factor for brands considering how to integrate content with commerce, achieve the most effective customer experiences and maximise sales. The fact that shoppers will use multiple devices for the same transaction and switch between devices during their check out increases the complexity of getting the experience right (eg. researching a purchase via a smartphone and checking out via a laptop) . 

Smartphone users have a strong preference for retail apps (78% of the smartphone users globally, according to the CMO Council), as the more streamlined information and journeys provided through apps align with the expectations of busy people on the move, looking for quick results and using a small screen.

However with tablet devices, where the screen size is larger and shoppers are less likely to be in transit during use, 56% prefer a browser to a mobile app when accessing online retail (source: Chief Marketing Officer Council).   

From a content perspective this requires that brands strike a fine balance between making the buying process as quick and simple as possible on the one hand, yet engaging, entertaining and reassuring on the other.

ROI is compelling – delivering effectively is the challenge

The potential for creating content in eCommerce to improve conversions and engagement is increasingly well understood by brands.  Content has a crucial role in driving site traffic, building brand authority and when delivered to the right customer at the right time, improving conversions.  

Content personalization is a key building block in creating great customer experiences. Sales data from MyBuys’ database of over 250 million shoppers indicates customer-centric marketing delivers a 25% increase in total online sales and a 300% improvement in customer lifetime value.

A survey from Infosys found 86% of customers would be willing to pay up to 25% more for a better experience, whilst a study by Listrak and Harris Poll showed 71% of consumers value messages featuring items based on their online browsing behaviors.

ROI is compelling - delivering effectively is the challenge - knexus blog

However, successfully delivering personalized content experiences is more challenging.  Brands face critical tests both in terms of understanding what content experiences will work best for customers and their ability to deliver engaging, personalized content in the right places and times within the buying journey.

Knexus delivers optimum, personalized content experiences using a powerful content matching engine that searches a brand’s relevant content (across multiple systems) to match with user data (eg. CRM, transaction history, social behaviour). Delivery is fully automated or manual.

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