How Content Can Ring Up a Better Retail Experience

How Content Can Ring Up a Better Retail Experience

In fact, the retail landscape is so rich with opportunities that all you may need is the right content experience – and a bit of creative ingenuity. Every retail brand must continue to be highly strategic when it comes to its marketing spend – including how to allocate your content marketing budget and team resources. Fortunately, content marketing’s overall cost efficiency makes it a highly accessible technique for retail brands at any budget level – a strong selling point when it comes to getting the executive buy-in you need to be successful. Furthermore, as Shopify’s content marketing lead (and co-host of 2018 Content Marketing World’s retail and e-commerce lab) Casandra Campbell points out, content marketing can even help retail brands to decrease paid traffic customer acquisition costs (CACs) and build more sustainable businesses. As new devices, new media channels and platforms, and other tech trends emerge, they create remarkable opportunities for retailers to deliver desirable and even personalized content experiences on demand. Amazon Prime customers who want to take advantage of a specially discounted deal of the day (delivered via opt-in text messages) must pick up the merchandise in person at a designated Treasure Truck location in their city. Not only can these deals set the stage for generating new revenue streams, they can help you offer a differentiated experience that your consumers will appreciate. Content that sells a brand’s advantages Need a little inspiration for your next content effort? When it comes to retail marketing, one of your most important audiences may be your built-in army of brand supporters – i.e., your employees. Not only did the app correctly identify the mug, it offered up a product that came close to the mark: Apple always had its Genius Bar in retail locations; but in 2017 the company expanded its educational content by offering in-depth training sessions in all 495 stores under the brand Today at Apple.

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If you want to significantly disrupt consumer shopping patterns, it doesn’t hurt to invent a sales holiday.

That’s just one of the many retail marketing takeaways to learn from the success of one of retail’s most powerful forces of nature: Amazon. The so-called “everything store” launched its members-only one-day shopping extravaganza, Prime Day, in 2015 and has continually chipped away at the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday’s sales supremacy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to alter the calendar to influence your audience members’ purchasing process or convert them into customers. In fact, the retail landscape is so rich with opportunities that all you may need is the right content experience – and a bit of creative ingenuity.

Let’s look at a few of the biggest forces impacting retail and e-commerce businesses, as well as some top content opportunities you should explore to remain competitive and prepare for the next wave of challenges poised to shake up the marketplace.

Retail content is a mixed (shopping) bag

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Outlook, U.S. retailers stand to benefit from a robust economic outlook and confident spending throughout 2018 thanks to a strong labor market, low unemployment rate, healthy stock market, and rising rate of disposable personal income.

However, recent economic tension between the United States and some of its strongest trade partners – including China, Canada, and Mexico – could result in trade wars. And that could send the cost of goods and services sharply higher in the near future, affecting nearly every retail segment.

Cost containment is increasingly critical

Even without the possibility of a trade war, profit margins in the retail industry are notoriously thin. Every retail brand must continue to be highly strategic when it comes to its marketing spend – including how to allocate your content marketing budget and team resources.

Fortunately, content marketing’s overall cost efficiency makes it a highly accessible technique for retail brands at any budget level – a strong selling point when it comes to getting the executive buy-in you need to be successful.

Furthermore, as Shopify’s content marketing lead (and co-host of 2018 Content Marketing World’s retail and e-commerce lab) Casandra Campbell points out, content marketing can even help retail brands to decrease paid traffic customer acquisition costs (CACs) and build more sustainable businesses. “Using tactics like blogging, you can create warm traffic to remarket to later, with a much lower CAC than cold traffic,” she says.

Execs aren’t the only permission you need

Even if you manage to secure the buy-in to build stronger customer connections through content, there are plenty of other hurdles to overcome. For instance, there’s the data complications and flood of opt-outs marketers anticipate as a result of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). In an industry like retail, where success depends on a brand’s ability to continually re-engage interested consumers, content marketers stand to be particularly impacted by the new data collection standards and practices ushered in by GDPR.

As Robert Rose recently remarked, the implications of GDPR’s vaguely written rules for personal data aggregation and opt-in transparency may not fully come to light for years. But for now, he advises marketers to view the new data privacy regulations as an important opportunity to lean in to the insights supplied by those consumers who decide to remain on your contact lists.

Fragmented audiences still demand frictionless experiences

Beyond issues of cost, executive support, and consumer permission, there’s the need to continually adapt your content marketing strategy to account for one big disruptor that all marketers must contend with: the rapid pace of digital innovation.

As new devices, new media channels and platforms, and other tech trends emerge, they create remarkable opportunities for retailers to deliver desirable and even personalized content experiences on demand. But in fragmented landscapes like this, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the consistency and quality of your content experience across every possible consumer touchpoint, let alone keep tabs on and analyze all the interactions happening.

To maintain some measure of control, Casandra recommends tracking and measuring every piece of customer data your content can help you generate. “You never know which data will provide great insights down the road,” she says. The more accurately you measure performance, the easier it will be to make smart decisions on how to iterate and scale your content marketing.

The rapid pace of technological advancement also has elevated the service expectations of demanding retail customers. While not everyone subscribes to the belief that human attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish, evidence mounts that tolerance for digital frustration has become alarmingly thin, especially on mobile. If…

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