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.