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.
This is part II in our story of the new landscape and reality for you as marketers. In this part, we will set the stage for examples on how to focus and prioritize when mastering this new reality.
Research from HubSpot found that the top three marketing objectives are converting contacts into customers, growing website traffic and increasing revenue derived from existing customers. Social selling is also more of a priority than ever before. Online content is key to achieving these goals because it allows you to connect with customers in the micro-moments – when they’re browsing that product, or standing in a shop comparing prices. In those valuable moments, you need to have the right content in the right place at the right time to attract customers’ attention.
Just go to an everyday situation in your life, a little bit of stress on your way home from work, drizzle and slush, you feel a bit cold. Or on your way in the morning, morning sun, crisp autumn air, and a warm coffee in your hand. These are totally different moments but if you can be reached and understood in either of these moments it will create trust and loyalty to that brand or for that product. This is what product storytelling is about.
To be successful at this we believe that you need to look at this from two different perspectives: the inside and the outside. One part of it is to collaborate to create your product stories in an efficient way. Another is to have everybody knowing what I in my role contribute to in this chain of product story telling.
At the other end of this, you must be efficient in how you syndicate your products to all selling touch-points. To have your information flowing easily between these touch points, without constantly having to manually do cumbersome touch-ups for the information to work in the different contexts.
Look out for the "5 Absolute Musts" blogposts, my five steps for taking your products to market successfully, in the coming weeks!
Jimmy Ekbäck, Executive Vice President Products & Services, inRiver
The digital transformation of commerce brings new challenges, but also opportunities for companies on a global scale. Because consumers want instant, rich, and personalized experiences as they scan the digital marketplace for products that can meet their highly set expectations. What used to be a predictable and predominantly linear customer journey is now fragmented across several devices and channels.
In these times of revolutionary digital change, the giants of the digital era help us to understand the high expectations of consumers of today, and how we as vendors must act in terms of providing the best possible experiences.
Forrester describes this in terms of Digital Intelligence; “The practice of developing a holistic understanding of customers across digital touchpoints for the purpose of optimizing and perfecting the experiences delivered and decisions made by brands during moments of engagement.”
But there are others to guide us here. Adobe for example has minted the concept of “Last Millisecond Marketing” which gives marketers the opportunity to be either heroes or just average. Last Millisecond Marketing comes down to this; as an event is triggered, either by clicking a link, logging into a site, entering a web page, loading an app, etc., only milliseconds after the action has been made, the consumer has to get the right, personalized experience delivered.
Adobe suggests that we need to execute on four key pillars:
You need to understand where your customers are spending their time, not only in physical locations, but in social, app stores, etc. Every interaction through any touchpoint is truly relevant. You need to think about when and how they try to interact with you, and in what way they try and want to do so. You need to think about every digital use case – from a PC, tablet, phone, car, store, etc., and deliver a personalized experience in that instance between an action and the next step in the consumer’s journey. It is clear that you need to go to your customers, or they will not come to you.
In a similar fashion, Google declares that life is lived through micro-moments. These are the moments where consumers suddenly have an urge to get inspired, to learn, get information, or even to buy something that will either help us or just to make us satisfied. These micro-moments dictate the way consumers act. They have dramatically fragmented the customer journey. What used to be a linear path of making a purchase is not anymore. And right now, people all over the world are trying to make the most of every moment. The question that Google asks is - are you there to satisfy their needs?
Today, marketers have so much data at their disposal. They are not really asked to do more with less, but rather, do more with more. They need to connect the dots of all the data that they have at hand in order to deliver the most compelling offering, in the right moment, across exactly the right channels – where the consumer expects to find it.
This is where the Product Information Management (PIM) is added as a crucial part of the equation. A PIM solution is designed to put marketing organizations in control of the creation and flow of consistent product information across all channels. Successful companies rely on PIM to make sure that the right content, for any type of interaction, through any touchpoint, can be delivered in the exact millisecond or micro-moment, exactly when the consumer expects a personalized experience.
Where marketers can connect the dots to deliver great content in these moments, that is where the big results start to happen. When companies engage in every touchpoint, to deliver great consumer experiences, it can make a real difference to the business.
Henrik Béen, Vice President Product Marketing, inRiver