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How branded content engages online shoppers

July 30, 2015 03:29 PM

In an age where digital information rules, content is king—and this is particularly true in e-commerce where brand marketplaces are ideal platforms for branded experiences and brand sales. Integrating content to create a branded shopping experience is one of the best ways for brands to engage with consumers on a deeper level. It can help brands retain existing customers and attract new ones. However, there is one caveat. In order to distinguish a branded shopping experience from a non-branded one, it is critical that a brand provide unique content as part of its e-commerce offering.

While most third-party content aims solely to inform consumers with brief product descriptions and stock images, branded content can deliver a wealth of information infused with a brand’s values, identity and core message. Brands are uniquely positioned to best leverage their existing assets such as brand-owned media, marketing campaigns and promotions to curate great content that only they can provide.

Not all content types are created equal when it comes to driving e-commerce sales. The right branded content helps brands build connections with consumers, in a way that only a brand can. Content that is narrative-driven, informative, and entertaining can further develop and sell your brand and work wonders for brand image. If substantiated with customer reviews, detailed specs, and other quality product information, content can drive an authentic brand shopping experience.

So, what are the various types of brand-specific content and how do they affect consumers?

Data-driven content

For today’s discerning consumer, evidence is important. Brands can implement data-driven content in a few ways, but some of the best include: case studies, customer surveys, and proprietary sales information. SanDisk created a case study to demonstrate the benefits of its solid-state drives by replacing thousands of hard drives in its own laptops. By using data to show increased computer longevity and battery life,  SanDisk was able to promote its product without blatant promotion.

Educational content

This type of content develops the brand as a thought leader in the industry and is simple to develop as long there are identifiable areas in which your brand has expertise. Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, creates short branded videos on Vine with home improvement tips. You may already have training videos or materials that can be repurposed.

Curated content

Like educational content, curated content shows customers that a brand is knowledgeable about its industry. It leverages the popularity of thought leaders to promote your brand. For brands, one of the most convenient ways is to curate content from an existing stock. You can also curate content from people you admire, as long as it’s relevant, and you reference them. Curated content is a great way to build up your organic search standing.

Entertaining content

Entertaining content is an umbrella term for any type of content you deliver that your consumers enjoy, without trying to sell them. Burberry created an acoustic series on their website featuring music videos of popular musicians. Not only does this entertain consumers, but it also gives Burberry credibility as a “cool” brand. You can create visual, informative or socially-driven entertaining content. An easy way to create entertaining content is to align your content with popular Internet trends, and use multimedia resources.

Visual content

Videos, infographics, or slideshows can be used to tell a visual story with content. Apparel brand, Lane Bryant, began supplementing product pictures and descriptions with product videos as a way to show buyers what they’re really getting. These videos increased buyer confidence and engaged customers on new levels. This approach to content is not one that is widely offered by third party retailers because they lack the resources (and incentive) to create visual content for every brand featured. It is the perfect opportunity for brands to fill the gap.

Interactive content

A good interactive campaign engages customers even after they’ve left your website. Asking questions, offering prizes, and creating games all provide ways for customers to engage with your brand. As part of a big brand-level marketing push, Reebok created a ‘Be More Human’ microsite aimed at motivating consumers to reach their full potential. Users sampled interactive features, like calculating their ‘human score,’ discovering how fitness feeds the brain, and uploading sweaty post-workout selfies.

Branded content comes in many forms, and each type serves a different purpose in customer engagement. Above all, content must provide some sort of value for consumers to keep them coming back. It matters less whether that value is informative, entertaining, or something else; rather the type of content affects the type of engagement. Your brand image, industry position, and audience will all determine what is “suitable content” for your e-commerce marketplace.

Brandshop is a provider of digital commerce technology and services to branded manufacturers.

 

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