Quantity versus quality.

That was a point zeroed in on by Alicianne Rand, vice president for marketing at NewsCred, in her presentation, “The Content Marketing Imperative.”

According to Rand, “We as marketers face two challenges — we need quantity and quality of content.” She noted that her firm works with 200 enterprise clients on a global basis, and said that “content powers the entire customer experience.”

Rand emphasized that “content is the customer journey,” and noted that omnichannel shoppers buy eight times more than those buying from single channels.

Of the shopper statistics that are available, Rand said 87 percent look for information before buying, while 82 percent look for information while they are in a store. Another 35 percent look for information after they visit a store.

In fact, there’s so much competition grabbing the attention of shoppers that retailers are no longer competing with another store, but now are also competing with bloggers and news feeds. And with the clutter of information out there, the challenges faced by marketers aren’t just about the quantity of content, but the quality of content as well.

According to Rand, the ability to connect content to revenue is one area that can bring success. Conversions by the audience to customers can result in brand loyalty. And the connection through content can drive both conversion and upselling. The key is in mapping content strategy to the customer journey. Even better is having content that interacts with the e-commerce strategy. That means having consumers go to the site for the content and then having the content drive them to the e-commerce component for the purchase. This is one way to map the journey to guide purchasing behavior at every step of the way.

Customer loyalty is about whether you’re keeping the brand topmost of mind for consumers. From the perspective of editorial content, the question is where can the content fit? Rand gave an example of content from a blog about the top must-have products, which could list the products and styles, as well as how to wear the look featured. That’s an example of blog content that drives the consumer to the product page — for example, see the item and color options for purchase — and then back to the content site for information on how to accessorize the look or determine proper sizing.

Rand also said one has to focus on retention just as much as acquisition of customers.

She gave as an example the site Rue La La, which had a problem of being unable to reengage its customers. Many who made their first purchase didn’t return to the site for a second purchase.  The revamped strategy included publishing 12 to 15 pieces of content each day, whether done in-house or licensed, which increased the engagement from customers. It’s an example of consistency in the amount of content posted each day as well as the compounding effect of that content. “The more you publish, the greater ROI you get,” Rand said, adding, “Content marketing is not a sprint. It is a marathon.”

Rand also noted, “You don’t need to be everywhere. You just need to be focused in the channels where your customers are.”

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