With the tidal volume of branded content flooding the internet these days, it’s easy for brands to get lost in the vast ocean of content marketing, not to mention the challenge for consumers to navigate through it all to find relevant content. Recent surveys from the Content Marketing Institute indicate that 90 per cent of brands surveyed engage in content marketing, but just 39 per cent have a clearly defined and documented content marketing strategy. This lack of organisation dillutes content marketing efforts and ultimately results in negative ROI. Branded content is often seen as a way of driving brand awareness or brand equity, but increasingly, more savvy brands are looking for their content to drive conversion to commerce. To achieve desired results and to cut through the deluge of content, branded content has become more sophisticated, helpful and conversational. In 2015, the brands that will see a positive ROI from content marketing will be those that provide a seamless user experience from well-placed and engaging content through to commerce. Crucially, however, branded content has many forms, some more effective in driving commerce.
Blogs and editorial content are most effective as a content type when blog articles link directly to product pages or “buy” buttons, or when blog content is promoted from a brand’s homepage rather than being isolated in its own section of the brand website. In redesigning their website in July 2014, Estée Lauder increased its focus on editorial blog-like content with the introduction of “The Estée Edit”. Estée Lauder features branded editorial content in the form of interviews, video features, user-generated-content (UGC)and product comparison tools. Embedded into each story on “The Estée Edit” are products from cosmetic, skincare, make-up and fragrance categories. Featured products at the end of each post can be purchased vialinks directly to ecommerce. Strategically-placed content can accelerate consumers’ buying decisions by reducing the time spent in the purchase funnel.It can also benefit brands by decreasing dependence on media expenditure.
The explosion of video content, fueled by consumption on mobile devices, provides another tangible option for brands to drive conversion. Shoppable videos or shoppable tutorials can be highly effective in providing a seamless consumer journey to ecommerce. Over the last few years, Gucci has had tremendous success with shoppable videos. Hotspots appear in videos that link directly to “buy now” buttons, allowing users to purchase and return to the video upon completing checkout. Other brands like Anthropologie, Philips and Burberry have all had success from shoppable videos. Shoppable tutorials show products contextually, illustrating uses and applications while linking back to commerce. Additionally, brief videos or tutorials, typically less than 1 minute in length, are excellent ways of conveying product attributes and linking directly to product pages. “Think with Google” reports that videos top traditional media in encouraging purchase decisions both in store and online.
Lastly, marketers in Asia, specifically in China, South Korea and Japan have found that UGC-marketing delivers the highest return from content integrated onto product pages. Two global campaigns from Coach, adapted in China, illustrate the brand’s success with UGC. In late 2013 Coach launched the #CoachNewYorkStory# campaign showcasing a collection of personal profiles of models, artists and entrepreneurs. The campaign, which received upwards of 25,000 discussions on Sina Weibo, asked users to share their favourite profiles for a chance to win a Coach purse. Coach’s #MyFirstCoach# Mother’s Day 2014 campaign asked users to submit photos of themselves with their mothers via Sina Weibo. Over the three week campaign, Coach received upwards of two million impressions and nearly 5,000 submissions. In both campaigns, UGC content from Sina Weibo was then displayed on Coach’s China brand site.Coach’s success with UGC is based on understanding how to contextualise products with UGC content and how to use hashtag campaigns to solicit UGC and link back top products, providing a seamless user-experience.
To avoid drowning under heavy content development costs with little or no ROI, brands need to invest smartly. Content should be engaging, contextual, relevant, and provide a seamless user experience with a clear and direct link to commerce. Without greasing the pathway to purchase, brands will continue to generate content that only contributes to “Content Shock” without helping the bottom line. Smartly-placed branded content combined with quality product information leads consumers to mentally commit to a product or service before making a purchase via ecommerce or at a retail store. Successful execution from brands enables consumers to put the last mile first,stimulating the purchase decision. Expect to see the most enlightened brands marrying content with commerce in 2015.
The write up is part of the DMA Annual Report ‘What’s Trending 2015‘. To book your own hard copy of the Annual, write to email@example.com