Content on Display
Remember Audrey 2, the huge, bass-voiced, carnivorous plant whose need for blood grew insatiable and whose incessant demand “Feed me!” had everyone on Skid Row scurrying to fill her bottomless maw?
Well, my theory is that Audrey 2 is the internet, and blood is content. (Sorry. That sounds way worse than I thought it would. But I’ve put the image out there, so let’s just go with it.)
The internet’s need for sustenance knows no bounds. Content marketing takes full advantage of the consumer’s hunger for information and experience by “…creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” (For more info, check out this breakdown.)
Smart retail marketers know that to succeed in this omnichannel world they must create multiple touchpoints – physical and digital – that engage shoppers in ways that are calibrated to meet specific desires and needs. Branded content has quickly become one of the most powerful ways to do that.
Content marketing, which has outpaced digital and traditional advertising in terms of spending, allows brands to connect rather than simply interrupt. This is not product placement. The goal of branded content is to organically bond with shoppers, and provide them with a satisfying experience. It works because shoppers connect more strongly with good branding than they ever could with traditional marketing.
Retail marketers should take the long view of brand content marketing. Rather than focus solely on the sale, consider instead the idea of sustaining the relationship. Think beyond what the products are, to why the shopper buys them. What’s ultimately at stake here is long-term customer loyalty.
I’ve written about how the industry best served by social and digital marketing is retail, and how it is mandatory that retailers link the in-store and online shopper experiences. The in-store experience must live up to the expectations set by personalization, must feed back into digital efforts, and must sustain the connection to online activity. Great branded content serves as the bridge. It is also a challenge to create, especially on an ongoing basis. But don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. Look at ways to update classic communication vehicles. Editorial and magazine-style content is currently de rigueur. (Net-A-Porter is doing some beautiful things.)
Consider, also, these five short(er) cuts to developing killer retail branding that can link in-store with online:
Collaborating with shoppers to tell the brand story ensures that things stay highly relevant (and takes the sole burden off the retail marketer). A dialogue is created between brand and shopper that informs marketing and product choices going forward – and moves product. Sephora gets it.
It is not difficult to animate existing content, and the attention it garners makes it worth the effort. And with that heightened engagement comes deeper insight into exactly what the shopper is responding to. Philips, a razor company headquartered in the UK, literally draws shoppers into the story.
Every marketer knows that video drives strong engagement. Amp up that involvement with serial content that shoppers can come back for on a regular basis. It’s an opportunity to step out of selling mode and have fun telling stories. It also provides raw material the marketer can break up and re-use in a variety of channels, including social media, blog and email. Check out Kia’s Getaway Guide.
Interactive in a more personal way, quizzes and assessments are easy to put together, and people love them. (Come on, who doesn’t take at least 2 BuzzFeed quizzes a week?) These interactive gems increase time on site and social sharing. Plus, tracking the results of assessments and tests provides data from which to glean shopper insights. Zenni does a great job of linking pop culture and eyewear.
Shoppers are hungry for fresh information, and no one gives good info like an insider. Tap industry leaders, designers, chefs, stylists and garden-variety celebrities to create static and dynamic brand content. The implied endorsement is as meaningful as the content itself. Gatorade’s From Virtual to Reality uses a sports hero in a unique way.