The “Final Four” in Content for Retailers

To many, the month of March means March Madness, and March Madness means basketball and brackets. As it turns out, I’m not a great bracketologist – my bracket was done several games ago. Instead, I’m turning my attention to the role of content in retail, and in our last days of March Madness, I’m sharing my Final Four content ‘teams’ for improving retail sales.

CONTENT IS KING — how many times have you heard that? We are inundated with mantras about the importance of content in building brands and creating winning customer experiences that will result in increased sales and loyalty. But the What, Why, How, When, and Who are the special sauce to creating memorable and impactful content. Here’s my take on the Final Four content types that can improve sales and loyalty.

1. Product Content

Most retailers get it – product content is crucial – after all, you need it to “romance” what you’re selling. With the high level of pre-purchase research done by consumers both on- and offline, the main role of product content is to help shoppers make the right purchase decisions – that is – shop from you! Good product content includes much more than a title and description. It should also include detailed product specs such as color and swatches, size, dimensions, materials/ingredients, and multiple images (product views and lifestyle). Great product content includes ratings, reviews and Q&A, How-To videos where relevant, and highlights other relevant products. Depending on the brand, the product, and the purchase decision cycle, the optimal level and depth of product content will vary. The most important thing to remember is to always develop your product content strategy and plans from the perspective of your own customers – what kind of content will inspire, inform, and guide them through the purchase process.

2. Sharable Content

Social media can be overly hyped at times, but it has been proven time and time again that people like to share engaging and relevant content. It’s important to understand where and how your customers are using social media to inform your social media marketing and content strategy. Younger generations like to discover products, sites, and information through interactive and shareable channels, and want to be the first to do so. Building brand recognition and loyalty among younger generations is a process, as their desires are fickle and sometimes fleeting. Retailers that target this segment must be committed to listening and playing into their desire for creativity with unique and interesting content through relevant social media. The one golden rule in social media and shareable content is to keep content fresh and unique – otherwise you’ll risk boring your customers and end up driving them to the next new shiny thing.

3. Unique Customer-Generated Content

Brand advocates can be your best (and the least costly!) marketing tool. Support and encourage this behavior by making it easy for your customers to share their experiences – from reviews and ratings, to uploading user photos, and participation in community forums. Find out who your most passionate brand advocates are and encourage them to produce content on your behalf. Leverage Pinterest for user-created boards, create hashtag campaigns to encourage sharing and integrate customer-generated content on your site, run contests and sweepstakes for videos and photos of the most creative use of your products, and so on. Peer-written reviews, commentary, and images are powerful tools that can give other shoppers inspiration and information they need to make better purchase decisions. Finally, make sure that you are collecting, mining, and drawing insights from all these user-generated content sources.

4. Branding/Lifestyle Content

As the retail landscape becomes more competitive, your brand is more important than ever. Promote your brand above and beyond the products you are selling. The tone of your site and the content you provide contribute to your brand and the lifestyle you are trying to promote. Omnichannel retailers need to ensure consistency across all channels and leverage content to drive crosschannel traffic. Your customers should be able to relate to your brand through your content. Understand your customers and engage them through lifestyle content that is relatable and inspirational. Whether it is done by creating community forums, peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing, videos, or blogging, the ultimate goal is to get shoppers more engaged in your brand.

The Slam Dunk of Content Strategies

While the goal of bracketology in college basketball is to predict the final four and ultimately the winner, the ultimate goal in retail is securing a sale and creating a loyal customer base. Instead of competing against each other, the final four ‘content teams’ on any retail bracket will reach the best results when working together. Although a bit of an overused clichè, content is indeed king and retailers need to be creative, fresh, and innovative to get that slam dunk shot. Through a combination of the Final Four, retailers can create an environment that offers an engaging, valuable, and interesting experience which will draw in shoppers, increase loyalty, and overall conversion rates.

For some excellent examples of sites that are taking content to the next level, download the FitForCommerce whitepaper, Content Driven Commerce: Differentiating and Driving Sales with Content in Commerce.

3 HOT TIPS:

  • Create a content strategy from the perspective and needs of your own customers.
  • Be consistent with your content across all channels and leverage it to drive crosschannel traffic.
  • Use interactive content platforms, such as social media and peer forums to drive engagement and loyalty.