Director of Consulting, Amplience
The Retail Engagement Summit 2018 will take place at New York on 22 February and at London on 6 March. The Amplience team together with selected industry experts will be showcasing new tools and processes which help retailers deliver more contextual and persuasive content. Chris Haines, Director of Consulting, Amplience, tells us about the challenges facing content marketers today.
As a Content Strategist, what do you believe brands should do to drive personalization in their digital marketing efforts?
The single greatest challenge facing retailers and brands today is to create the volume of content that is needed to power true personalization. Until now, product recommendations have pretty much defined personalization but consumers are savvy enough to know that these are automated and based on product variables—not on whether they meet the customer’s actual needs. To meet consumer demand, brands must create content that is tailored to individual customer journeys. The days of one-size-fits-all content are over.
Unfortunately, most brands aren’t set up to create content in the volumes or velocity that this new approach demands. They’re using antiquated processes and tools that weren’t built for purpose. In a dynamic, digital world retailers need to adopt leaner, agile processes and tools that will allow them to scale the volumes of content without increasing the number of people creating it. We’ve seen in client observations that retailers could double the volume of content, as well as increase the velocity, if they’re using the right tools, like “headless content management” that allows them to publish multiple pieces of customized content from a single source of truth.
What sessions are you looking forward to at the Retail Engagement Summit?
I’m especially looking forward to Neil Gibb’s session on the Art of Storytelling. People talk a lot about storytelling in retail but it can mean many different things, so I believe it’s important to look at tangible examples that give retailers a sense of what’s working in this mobile-first world.
What advice would you have for aspiring Content Marketers?
It’s necessary for today’s Content Marketers to rethink the entire content production process and essentially turn it on its head. Historically, retailers created campaigns to move the inventory they had on hand and these were typically organized around calendar events like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. But that’s not how people shop anymore. A consumer shopping for a new dishwasher in February could care less about Valentine’s Day jewelry promotions, yet that type of marketing still dominates the e-commerce landscape.
Instead, Marketers need to begin with the customer when they create campaigns. Content needs to be based on need states—like shopping for a flat-screen TV—rather than whatever holiday is next on the calendar. By focusing on consumer need states, Marketers can create evergreen segment-based content that is guaranteed to engage and increase conversion. Although plenty of retailers present engaging product journeys (shopping by TV screen size for instance), few are delivering the kind of educational content that helps a consumer make a decision. An article on the difference between LED, OLED and 4K television formats will educate a customer in a way that will help them make an informed decision. Like a really great sales associate, it will also build brand trust and provide a reason to shop from that retailer rather than Amazon, which is difficult to beat on price and selection.
How do you believe content marketing has changed in the last two decades?
Prior to the arrival of digital technology there was no such thing as personalization in marketing. Brands created one-size-fits-all calendar-driven campaigns that were aimed at moving the inventory they had in stock. The arrival of the Internet changed all of that. Suddenly retailers could learn what their customers really wanted—and felt—through the endless feedback loop of social media. This means that content marketing has gone from broadcasting singular messages to listening and responding to multiple messages. If a Kardashian posts an Instagram of herself wearing a bomber jacket, retailers need to be able to react in real time to meet that demand if they want to remain competitive. This is a complete inversion of the traditional approach to marketing, but brands who get it and adapt will be the ones that succeed.
How would you use Dynamic Content to drive the ROI of the marketing spend?
Marketers need to stop thinking in terms of pages and page views and focus instead on customer journeys. Virtually every retailer out there invests huge amounts of time and resources to design, build and update home pages daily, when only 40% of traffic ever sees those pages. In fact, heat maps often show that home page activity is limited to Search and the top navigation, meaning that all the content “below the fold” never gets seen. By focusing on customer journeys instead, Marketers can leverage “slots” rather than pages. Slots provide opportunities to deliver customized messages based on a journey, so someone coming to the site through a Google search gets a relevant message that leads them deeper into the journey they’ve already begun. Of course, this means that each shopper has a unique experience of the retailer’s home page, but that’s the objective. To achieve this, leadership needs to relinquish its iron grip on home page real estate and instead serve it up dynamically based on customer mission, rather than presenting every product category with equal weight.
Thanks for chatting with us, Chris.
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