In this post, CEO and co-founder Morten Hellesøe Poulsen discusses the importance of content marketing to the future of e-commerce. We have no affiliation with the companies mentioned in this post, but we are in awe of their incredible content strategy.
E-commerce Trends 2016
Consumer behaviour is changing. Offline and online shopping are slowly merging and it’s becoming more difficult to keep up with demand. Consumers are no longer satisfied with low prices and fast delivery. They also want the “amazing shopping experience”.
Let's not kid ourselves, we are all consumers, and we know that this is what we deserve; after all, we are the ones who shell out our hard earned cash. But if this amazing consumer experience is the goal, ecommerce has a particular challenge: how do you create an excellent shopping experience online when you can’t engage your customers face to face?
The answer to that question is this: a solid content strategy.
But in the current state of things, content marketing often feels like screaming over the ocean. There is too much wind and too many waves to be heard. Having exclusive content is key to successful eCommerce and beating the competition because it generates more inbound leads. You no longer have to yell for attention when you offer consumers exclusive, personalized experiences that make them want to come to you and no one else.
Creating that unique shopping experience for consumers through specialized content will, without a doubt, be a vital factor for success for any ecommerce business in the near future. Some e-commerce businesses have begun to adapt and innovate. A stellar example of what I am talking about is VFILES.
VFILES is more than just an online clothing store, VFILES is loud. When you enter their website, you initially believe you are in a social networking site for the fashion forward. This is no mistake; that is exactly what it is. What you’ve entered is successful hybrid consumer experience platform where users can shop, share their own content, and discover inspiration from an extensive online community.
The magic is not only in the virtual sphere, but extends into the real, offline world. They hold fashion shows and parties where their users can step out of the screen and meet face-to-face. On April 1, they will be launching a print magazine called WOMB GLOBAL, which is wholly curated by their users.
The takeaway here is that it is not enough to offer one-dimensional involvement; true engagement and exclusive content is the way forward.
Exclusivity is back, and it’s the new black
Regardless of the industry, the “wanna be” is no longer a trend, being unique is the new black, even if it means wearing your grandma’s old Maison dress that doesn't exist anymore. For decades, being exclusive had been forgotten. Until recently, online businesses have felt pressures to imitate and replicate successful companies like Amazon. In 2016 we are going to see eTailer breaking this trend and make a move toward being unique. Companies like VFILES are going to own this stage.
They are gaining attention in the fashion media world and competing with traditional journalism by curating their own content: attending events, getting backstage pictures and producing editorial to create their own voice while at the same time propelling the voices of their consumers onto the internet. They call themselves “fashion democracy” and they mean it. The user generated content helps to re-enforces the exclusivity of their community.
So yes, exclusive content is key to new e-commerce. The rub here is that you have to produce content that is authentic and targeted. The exclusive movement has been creating different channels, platforms and consumer niches. What works for one company, is not guaranteed to work for another. As a consequence new metrics are required to analyse the sales and creative strategies demanded to keep it growing.
Secrets of success
It is no surprise that VFILES are masters of social reach. They have a unique intelligent marketing technology whereby products are targeted at users via hashtags accompanied by elaborated content and direct access to the store via your personal Facebook account.
Their success is due to their web analytics software which tracks and measures user behavior on all of their marketing channels. This allows them to analyse user behaviour across´social media platforms and understand things such as;
- How controversial should an Instagram post be in order to become news in the main fashion media outlets?
- What other products are their customers “liking” on the web
- What topic/subjects are their customers engaging with and sharing on Twitter?
All this information allows them to build a detailed profile of each customer and target them with the most suitable products. In this way they are able to create an environment where their users want to participate and interact with them. It does not feel like the bombarding of useless information, but rather a targeted service more akin to a relationship.
VFILES content strategy and analysis is brilliant in this way because it allows them to engage in personal conversations with their customers, really understanding their wishes and provide products with high value in real-time.
This is not to be taken lightly. Monitoring and analyzing your sales funnel is a no-brainer. Those who do not analyze the way consumers interact with their products in a timely fashion will be left in the dust. But as shown by VFILES, those who do not track user behavior in depth will lack the foundational knowledge they need to give their customers what they desire. And that is where your business will suffer. How can you really expect to deliver the type of experiences your clientele want, if you recognize their trends and preferences too late?
Long story short, if e-commerce businesses wish to remain competitive, they better invest in their content strategy. Entice and incite with exclusive content, or you might as well start digging your own generic grave.