2017: Why Content Is the Queen of e-commerce

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By now you’ve all seen the headlines about the burgeoning success of eCommerce compared to the relatively drastic decline in transactions for brick-and-mortar stores during the holiday season. ComScore data showed desktop online sales in the last two months of 2016 rose 12%, and are expected to rise to 16-19% once the mobile commerce numbers are tallied.

This steady downward trend for brick-and-mortars has been caused by a variety of factors. Amazon has carved out a desire for free, fast shipping and one-stop shopping. The rise of “fast-fashion” pushes consumers to buy mass-produced and cheap clothing that is easiest to replicate online, and the wide-spread usability of eCommerce and mCommerce sites make the experience of online shopping hassle free.

Many organizations have relied on the in-store experience to garner loyalty, so now the question is how to achieve that same experience in the digital realm as foot traffic to stores falls to all-time lows.  The answer lies in understanding your users and tailoring content, not just products, within your communications.

Cheetah Digital’s studies have shown that by incorporating editorial content into email, overall audience engagement can rise by up to 28% over audiences that don’t receive content-driven messages. That’s an increase of over 20% in opens, clicks, and transaction rates! Now to be clear, this is content that is NOT focused on the sale, but rather, how the products, services, or organization can better the user’s life. Let’s dive into this a bit more deeply by talking about the types of content you can weave into your communication strategy:

  1. Product Tutorials

This is the easiest to execute for those wanting to digress from the discount epidemic plaguing us all. Instead of flaunting a low price, highlight product versatility, create a video showing ease of use or wow the audience by demonstrating transformative effects with before and after photos. Bring the experience to them virtually rather than relying on a showroom to demonstrate the value. The more you draw your users into this experience, the more likely they are to remember your brand.

  1. Social Highlights + Celebrity Bloggers

Many organizations spend a great amount of time and energy developing a solid social strategy, but fail to bridge the gap between social, email, the website, and even in-store experience. Pull favorite items, the highest rated products, or user-generated content into email to add a personal, more relevant touch to your brand. Also consider bringing any celebrity or blogger content to the forefront of your eNewsletters to achieve the same goal.

  1. After Your Purchase

Cheetah Digital’s has found that Welcome Emails containing a “Thank You” message for those that purchased produced 20x the revenue per email than promotional welcomes.  These users are primed to purchase again as they have already shown interest in your organization, so why not incentivize another transaction immediately when appropriate? However, don’t forget that the user journey doesn’t stop at the transaction. A huge part of customer satisfaction comes after the credit card has been swiped. Send communications to ensure the user knows how to care for their product, prepare for their service, or simply send a survey after their journey is complete. Including additional options to purchase should be secondary to making sure you get THIS transaction right.

  1. How It’s Made

Is your product made in America, handcrafted, or come with special care that makes your brand stand out? Are your services or designers top rated for good reason? Give your customers a behind the scenes look to entice them and peak their interest in your brand.

  1. A Bigger Purpose

Does your brand have a mission that will resonate in the hearts of your consumers? Is there a give-back program you think your audience will care about? If so, bring that bigger purpose to the spotlight and give your consumers a reason to be a part of your community.

As your content strategy becomes more advanced, consider profiling your audience to understand their messaging preferences, and then test your content across these cohorts. Not all content will resonate with all customers, but finding the right content marketing mix will surely help your online presence stand out in a time where the digital experience is more important than ever.

Ashley Lockridge

Associate Director of Strategic Services – Cheetah Digital: Ashley Lockridge has been a consultant specializing in cross-channel marketing strategies with a digital emphasis for the past 10 years. Ashley has built extensive experience in advising fortune 500 clients in the retail, internet media, entertainment, beauty, and travel verticals. Prior to joining Cheetah Digital, she focused on working exclusively with non-profits to develop websites, mobile, social, and offline fundraising and awareness strategies.