Studies show that consumers buy products and services in channels where they are comfortable — on a traditional website, for example. But they look at other channels such as social, mobile and search to support their decision making process.
To uncover which channels B2B and B2C companies are using to drive transactions, EPiServer conducted a survey at the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, the world’s largest e-commerce event.
Survey respondents included CEOs, Vice Presidents, Directors and e-commerce Managers at more than 100 attending organizations including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, cataloguers, web-only merchants and local-retailer.
The findings reveal that B2B plans to go big on mobile, and they should! As long as they employ a content strategy that atomizes content into small chunks that’s easily consumed across channels and devices.
B2C plans to continue to go big on web and mobile, and they should also plan to employ an atomized content strategy that allows for bite-sized content that’s easily consumed on those devices.
So what type of content strategy should you use and where should you start?
In working with our customers within both B2B and B2C industries, I’ve made several noteworthy observations. If you need to jumpstart a content marketing campaign to drive transactions, consider the best practices below to help you create strong brand and customer loyalty:
• Cater to the connected consumer: Consider how you use your own smartphone or tablet, or better yet how your customers use these devices. Do they read email on their phone? Do they follow links to articles? Do they follow updates on social networks for business or consumers? Thanks in part to mobile devices, the content discovery and consumption process has been completely altered. Consumers are more connected than ever, but they not only expect the right content to be instantly available on the device they’re holding—they also expect it to be consumable on the most convenient screen.
• Leverage content and commerce: It all starts with optimizing and improving online customer experience online. That’s where you can engage current customers and develop long-term relationships to build brand loyalty—the core of selling. Once you have small, digestible content prepared for several channels, find a way to place your products or solutions close by. Many cutting-edge e-commerce sites are beginning to provide short content that informs the decision-making process with convenient “product placements” as we’ve seen done in the film and television entertainment industries for years, as well as offering an alternative to grid-style navigation.
• Stop selling and start informing: You know all the great reasons you think someone should be interested in your product or service—but don’t forget to think from the customer view and ask what else might they want to know to help them make a purchase decision. Many times this information comes out in ratings and reviews, so consider creating this sort of user-generated content (UGC) if you’re not already doing so. Consumer demands are higher than ever, but by intertwining content and commerce to create meaningful experiences for and relationships with customers, marketers can “sell without selling.”
• Develop shorter, more consumable content: Consumers need content and messaging that they can processes quickly and effectively. Small, “bite-sized” chunks of content instead of tedious, lengthy whitepapers hold the most weight and marketers must format content for consumability to impact purchasing decisions. We all have short attention spans in our busy work- and life-styles, so atomize the content as a starting point towards multi-channel experiences.
Many marketing leaders that I speak with have aspirations to achieve a “digital transformation,” preparing them to compete in a digitally transformed economy. But you don’t need to wait for a broad plan to be developed. Take a page from the agile marketing playbook by starting small and making regular progress. Think like a customer, prepare for atomized content, and then consider how to get all your digital channels to work together. Connected customers and connected workers have limited time yet an increasing desire to make the right decision the first time – let your content help them be successful.
About the Author: Bob Egner is the VP of Product Management at EPiServer, which connects ecommerce and digital marketing to help business create unique customer experiences which generate business results.
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