Five content basics to drive commerce

Jul 26, 2018 | 10:45 AM

Content fuels commerce and is the backbone of all great digital experiences. While there are few cases where content and commerce flopped, most of the evidence points to positive effects when both are paired to work optimally. Here’s a quick sweep of five points to consider, with some statistics and success stories.

1. Basic building blogs

Blogs have become the mainstay of featuring unique branded content, as these figures show:
- Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than those without.
- After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of US online consumers made a purchase. (1)
- B2B businesses that use blogging as part of their marketing strategy get 67% more leads. (2)

2. Go visual and interactive

Customers have to see the product in their life, not just on a model. This is one reason that organic, Instagram-style, user-generated content (UGC) photos increase conversion rates by 25% over professional photos.

Vanity Planet takes content that its customers create (e.g. photos or videos) and features it on its site or social media channels, for instance using the #VPBeauty hashtag when posting images to Instagram. Apart from being visually appealing, this encourages customers to post on Instagram and tag their brand.

For Vanity Planet, this led to a 24% increase in checkouts. The checkout rate of its most popular item rose from 6.6% to 8.1%, which added up to an extra $8,900 in sales over 10 days.

3. The power of video

Intelligent video content is a highly effective way to raise consumer interest, leading to higher profits. For example, Home Depot’s online outlet got a 68% increase in orders and a 92% jump in overall profits after launching a video marketing strategy.

Other research reveals that:
- E-commerce stores that use video content have a 80% higher conversion rate than those that do not.
- 73% of customers are more likely to purchase when shown informational video content.
- A 1% budget increase on active video marketing translates into a monthly average of $13,000 for a company.

4. Social media, social proof

With the popularity of mobile technology and channels such as Instagram and Snapchat, consumers have come to expect and prefer engaging visual content when shopping online or following news and events. It’s no surprise that brands are starting to use visual content at the core of their commerce and marketing strategies.

As of September 2017, Instagram reported that it had more than 800 million active users who post more than 95 million pictures and videos each day. Most of this content comes from brands and their customers. Instagram reports that 60% of people say they discover new products on the platform. In addition, 75% of people say they’ll buy something after being inspired by a post. (3)

Instagram is just one of many social media channels. Taken together, more than 2.7 billion people use Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter at least once a month. (4)

5. Tell stories, spark emotions

Individual content types and channels are just one part of the equation. What really pulls it together is the power of original content and great storytelling.

Purina’s “Puppyhood” video has gone viral on YouTube, with 10 million views and growing. The short video tells the story of a young man who buys a cute puppy and comes to love it. The video is a very subtle ad for Purina dog food; a logo only appears at the end.

On top of that, Purina’s microsite is a great resource for new or would-be puppy owners, with content ranging from training tip articles and trending list-style stories, to interactive tools like a breed selector and name generator.

The moral of the story

Content comes before brand. While Purina’s end goal is of course to sell more dog food, it does this through content marketing that is first and foremost about being helpful.

Storytelling can be an effective way to engage your audience. Partner with influencers who can amplify your content promotion and reach new audiences. Content is not about you, but about your audience. Create a relationship based on trust and loyalty so that you are top of mind when they are ready to purchase.