Ecommerce Club Interactive: content and commerce

The latest Ecommerce Club Interactive took place on 29th September, exploring the links between content and commerce and how brands can take advantage of the opportunities that content can bring to ecommerce.

The day was spent with a combination of great guidance on the best way to produce and implement content, as well as to how to use it effectively to use it to increase brand awareness and ROI, and an exploration of how these things might work in practice.

One of the biggest challenges

David Sykes, account director at Amplience, identified the six things that brands need to be aware of when integrating content and commerce:

  • Mobile
  • Visual
  • Social
  • Localised
  • Agility
  • ROI

Brands need to ensure that their content is adaptive and optimised across channels. Mobile is the biggest area where brands need to ensure that their content works. A recent Deloitte report said that mobile now influences $1 trillion in retail sales in-store on a global basis. In the UK, half of the UK’s online shoppers buy from their beds, with 70 per cent of them checking their phones on waking. It’s been said that 11 per cent of shoppers even shop on the toilet, but that’s a demographic that we don’t necessarily need to focus on.

Where brands need to be careful, as Jamie Merrick at Demandware pointed out, is the organisational challenges inherent in the disconnect between marketing and retailing. There are challenges to generating fresh and engaging content, which include those organisation challenges, but also include the difficulties in ensuring content quality and managing resource constraints.

The most successful brands tend to prioritise content investment in four key areas: blogs and microsites, user generated content, video and tutorials and guided selling tools. Whatever choice a particular brand makes in content development though, remember that two things should always be front of mind. Does that content drive conversions, and does it build brand equity at scale?

One of the biggest areas of contention is measurement, with the majority of people looking at site and traffic metrics, whereas brand metrics might be more effective in measuring the impact of content. According to Axxon Research, one in three organisations are unsure whether or not their content investment has increased sales. Metrics worth exploring include SEO ranking, qualitative feedback, social media sharing, inbound links etc. And when assessing sales impact, customer loyalty, sales leads, increases in company and product awareness all have a significant role to play.

Once again though, the most exciting part of Ecommerce Club Interactive was working with fellow brands to come up with strategies for different parts of a business. The idea was two-fold: to make people think about the strategy and the impact of decisions across different departments; and to get outside perspectives on some of the decisions that can be made.

Created for the purpose, Mystis Media is the company whose content and commerce strategy was put under the microscope by delegates.

Company Type: Games and electronics retailer

Company Description: Mystis Media has been selling games, apps and electronics for seven years. They originally started as a games studio but their ecommerce business took off and is now much larger than their games business. They have a steadily growing customer base, with loyalty programmes for customers and a membership programme that enables customers to trial new ideas by games developers. They are fairly niche but are growing into the mainstream, by ensuring that their hardware offers are top of the line, and by keeping a broad range of electronically delivered games.  While 40% of their online only audience is outside the UK, they have no international approach.

Turnover: £35 million

Country’s working in already: UK, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland

Expanding countries for business: Europe & US

Objective: Mystis Media are looking to develop their ecommerce services into the mainstream, in terms of developing new games, the sale of games and apps and the sale of associated hardware. They are considering the development of a merchandising arm to drive membership. The goals are to increase online sales, manage international logistics (as currently only digital deliverables are available outside the UK), drive repeat and new business and to move into new territories.

 There were then a series of table tasks that had to be addressed by groups of delegates:

Developing a content strategy

Identifying the content available, the content needed, the role of personalisation and how to make the most of your content to drive sales growth. The expectation for this roundtable was not to develop an in-depth strategy for the company, but to explore potential approaches and the impact they might have on company growth.

 Developing KPI’s for measurement of content impact

Understanding the value of content and how this impacts customer behaviour. How can we measure content and its impact, what measurements will help support strategic content development and what elements need to be considered? This session was to explore which measurements can be helpful and why, how one structures the measurement of a content campaign and its impact on how customers behave, building loyalty and driving conversionsContent in a multichannel environment

What considerations must be observed when using content across channels and for physical and digital objects: user generated content, expert analysis instructions, videos, blogs, microsites, social media shopping? This session was intended to discuss what drives conversions, and the considerations that come with a rich content environment.

  Some of the most interesting feedback included a recommendation that the company had too many goals, and needed to focus on specifics – that’s a lesson that many a company could stand to learn. While it was accepted that internationalisation of the site’s offering was key, it was also noted that of critical importance was the selection of the right markets.

Being true to the brand was also seen as a prerequisite for success, being able to leverage the character of the brand, and sticking to its original unique brand niche. Obviously personalisation came into play as an important part of the development strategy but again, what’s important is making sure that the right kind of personalisation is implemented. The suggestion in this case was that it should suggest games and videos that the customer might like, but that this should be strongly linked into (and responsive to) social media.

The importance of Twitch and Youtube shouldn’t be underestimated, and increasing amounts of UGC should be embedded within the site’s service. One of the things that shouldn’t be underestimated is social word of mouth – after all Ted Baker has built an international design brand avoiding traditional advertising and engaging with its followers on social and in the real world.  And, of course, ensuring that customers feel special is an important part of any journey and building a membership programme with exclusive content and previews could be a great way to build engagement with customers.

Another important point that was made is the fact that real world engagement, such as at Game Cons, should be part of the content and brand development. Multichannel access isn’t just a sign that bricks and mortar retailers should go online, but also a sign that online retailers have got to learn to talk to their audience in their own way and at their convenience.

And while internationalisation is an important element of the company’s growth, one of the areas that needs to be checked is that segmentation and profiling works across national and language. If this is done right, then Mystis Media could begin to create a global community through shared interests and patterns of behaviour.