In the realm of commerce, content is communication: brands speaking directly to us, honing our attention to a message, a theme, a product, a value, an action. And we respond: click, watch, like, forward, buy. This is how buyers get to know brands. A creative effort transitions into an exchange of data, adding momentum, and furthering the consumer relationship.
Responsible for the overall clarity, cohesion, and consistency of representation across product, campaign, and brand, content strategy is a crucial aspect of any omnichannel effort. Do out-of-home ads connect with digital messaging? Is the brand uniquely represented on various marketplaces? Are the latest search optimization tactics in place? Are product descriptions accurate and up-to-date? What can we learn from competitive analysis, experience benchmarking, sentiment analysis, and personas? This is content strategy.
“This discipline focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, syndication, and governance of content. It incorporates information architecture, user research, project management, and performance measurements to produce useful, consistent, and accessible words and images,” according to Alexis Bruning, Director of Content Strategy at Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology.
Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, a main component of the content strategy practice is discoverability. This entails keywords, alt text, and other aspects of SEO. If you can’t find or access it, does it even exist? Designers create beautiful imagery, copywriters write clever, informative words, and content strategists ensure it’s consistent and findable.
BE CLEAR, STAY ACTIVE
Online shopping has limitations. For something that can’t be viewed in person or touched, words and images are everything. Particularly for luxury beauty brands, for example, describing the details and texture of makeup matters. Showing its color and consistency matters. Comparing it to other products matters. In addition to product descriptions, content also includes the words you might not think about: product warranty details, safety info, import status, and various category-specific data requirements. Overall, eliminate barriers to purchase with information. “Answer the questions before they’re asked.”
Successful content relies on operational health, media support, information architecture, and thoughtful UX. Working closely with sales, operations, creative, and media is crucial. Directing traffic to a product that is being promoted or liquidated makes sense. Monitoring product ratings and reviews makes sense. Being informed if items arrive damaged and reprioritizing stock makes sense. Acting on sentiment feedback makes sense. Also important in this collaborative communication is measuring the cross-team efforts.
“There's a lot to consider when thinking about KPIs and content. It makes a lot of sense to be really aware of direct sales metrics including average order value, sales conversion rates, and orders. We're also going to be aware of things like traffic, search, visits, in-stock, and glance views.”
Bruning continues, “We also prioritize content health scorecarding. This is a bird's eye view into quantitative scoring. In the retailer ecosystem, we look at things like number of images, completeness of bullets, length of titles, and overall best practices to understand how content is scored against competitors.”
STEP UP, STAND OUT
In addition to being one of the major influencers in the conversion funnel, content is also an important opportunity for brands to distinguish themselves. Product and lifestyle communications serve as a direct differentiator and preference driver. To Bruning, this is a huge opportunity, a chance to, “break through the noise within a category, create memorable experiences, and drive brand discovery.”
Another aspect of content to consider is its value and durability. Even in streamlined budgets, prioritizing consumer communication makes sense on several levels. Continues Bruning, “Investing in durable, optimized content can have a strong ROI to build credibility, brand awareness, and drive conversion for brands on the digital shelf.”
With digital channels proliferating, understanding the range of audiences is pivotal. Are consumers at this retailer more price sensitive? How can we tailor content? What details would lead to a good customer experience? Ensuring all these facets come together is critical for clarity, cohesion, and consistency — at both the product and brand level. This is content to influence conversion. Be useful, be accessible, and be consistent.
Continue the conversation on Commerce Confidential. Alexis Bruning joins the podcast to discuss strategy and details for Content Strategy & Cross-Channel Commerce.