A marketer’s job is to make it easy for buyers to buy. As a result, marketers know content is the biggest thing representing products in the digital channels and 'Content is King' has been a mantra since the early years of e-commerce. To a large extent, this is still true, and your customer's expectations of product content are higher than ever. Content needs to be engaging, descriptive, accurate and exciting, but without context, it may not be relevant. And relevance is what helps customers make buying decisions.
Chris Anderson, the author of The Long Tail, wrote, "In a world of infinite choice, context—not content—is king," and I have to agree. Even the best content in the world fails if it is created and disseminated without consideration of the context surrounding it and the buyer's situation. If the context is wrong, the content is rarely relevant.
What does context mean for e-commerce and the customer? It depends on the product category and the customer's situation. For a customer who needs to buy a spare part for a car, the context is the make, model, year, and trim of the 'vehicle,' together with the placement of the part. For customers looking for a new sofa, the context is the living room, so 'shop the room' becomes an excellent tool for them in their buying journey. A customer with a new mobile phone that wants to buy an accessory wants to be guided to products that are compatible with their 'device.' Even though you might not be selling 'rooms,' 'vehicles,' and 'devices,' you need to connect these merchandizing objects to your product content to create context and relevancy.
According to an article by McKinsey, making the digital journey relevant is more significant than ever. Context can also vary even when shopping for the same product. Customers may look for backup parts for a product they already own, or others may want to purchase accessories for an existing product. Both sets of customers might end up buying the same product, but they are entering the buying journey differently, and that is impacted by their needs.
However, both want a frictionless, individualized, problem-solving experience. Relevancy is crucial to provide that and to enable them to make a buying decision. This is especially true in the micro-moments where they seek instant gratification or quick solutions to their problems. Product content must be immediately available and suitable for each situation to be relevant to the buyer.
The product experience is all you have in the digital channels, and that experience can never be great without relevance. Merchandizing objects like 'room,' 'look,' 'device,' and 'vehicle' are vital to making it easier for your buyers to buy and for you to sell more products. Don't waste time and resources on e-commerce solutions that aren't designed to make it easy and efficient to create contextual product experiences for your customers.
Otherwise, they won’t be your customers, and you’ve wasted valuable resources.
Learn more about why context matters via the infographic, State of B2B e-commerce.
Erika Goldwater, B2B marketer
Erika Goldwater is a B2B marketer with almost 20 years of experience in demand generation, public relations and global events. She creates marketing that drives revenue. Goldwater is a CIPP/US and has been consulting for leading SaaS organizations including Protagonist, Leadspace, Eloqua and ANNUITAS, a demand generation strategy consulting organization.
I want to start with a warning: this post contains a lot of technical and conceptual thoughts around information logistics and how to be less exposed to unknown risks when implementing a technical platform. If you still are reading, let me start by giving this some context to elaborate.
You as an organization have tried to communicate a digital offering to the market. You know that it is a big challenge to organize your customer touchpoints (Channels, eCommerce stores, mCommerce, and catalog). It is a relatively straightforward thought process to decide on colors and strategies for achieving a great customer experience on paper, because these are all very visible challenges. But to generate the content that will create the story of your products, and get it out to all customer touchpoints with consistency is very hard over time. However, this content is the foundation for giving your customer that great experience. The information you want to get out to your channels must be rich in content to tell an inspiring story around your products. This is basic information logistics.
There are three basic rules when working with information logistics and moving product information across channels in an efficient way:
These are all contradictory rules, which is why it is a challenge to keep a consistent and inspiring story around your products in all customer touchpoints over time. The challenge is to know where to draw the line; you must know what information is needed for generating a great customer experience, but you must also know where the line for flexibility and adaptability to all customer touchpoints goes.
Here I would like to stop and highlight inRiver´s fantastic partner community with well over 600 certified consultants from the inRiver Academy. With the skill, knowledge and ingenuity that this community has acquired, combined with the way inRiver is architected, we have a very good recipe for creating and building flexible and agile solutions for our customers. This is something we believe makes us very strong: our community.
If we take a look at a specific area where this mix of Community & inRiver Architecture is very useful, it is in the decision-making process where a business challenge is addressed. Should this challenge be addressed within the platform, or should it be addressed in the framework around the platform? Obviously there are a lot of answers to this question, but these arguments can be made:
One area where this is truer than others is information logistics, where information travels in and out of different domain models. More often than not, these models change in either format or the information they require to perform.
So when information is onboarded to a platform, the information arrives as data in a specific format. When it is released, it goes out as enriched information, with more data in a new format. To excel at this, it must be easy to add new fields, or new content - but also easy to adjust the format of the data structure when building a solution.
When making a platform choice, I believe you should seek to minimize your exposure to risk, and maximize the gains (create better product stories and customer experiences) for your organization. We all know that implementing a large platform is always tightly linked with corresponding large risks. You can never have 100% control over the risks involved when implementing new platforms, but by choosing an agile, purpose-built, best-of-breed platform, you will probably minimize your exposure to unknown risks when moving forward.
-- Jimmy Ekbäck, CTO --