The missed opportunity for online retailers
I have always been a big fan of eCommerce. It’s at the coal face where the £££’s are earned. It’s also easy to turn into a highly tuned operational machine. Most eCommerce marketing departments spend their lives tweaking page design, running the operations (adding products, fulfilling orders etc) and enhancing systems one project at a time. With a pure focus on the shop businesses are quickly becoming less competitive, more price sensitive and leaving a lot of business on the digital table. In my humble opinion.
The fact is, most people don’t buy from you
No matter how hard you try only a tiny percentage of people ever buy from you (we are not all Amazon or Alibaba). You will not solve this in a sustainable way by optimising the shit out of your shop. So what else should we be doing?! My answer is lead generation. The definition from wikipedia being:
In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. Source
This has a very B2B focus on it for me and should be thought of from a much wider perspective. If lead generation is about data collection of potential future customers we have to design ways to do that. This is where content marketing meets CX. If you get the process right it should have multiple benefits including:
- Creating a marketable list to sell to over time
- Providing the content needed to engage with an audience and capture search/social traffic your products and services can’t do onion their own right
- Creating new data sets that allow improved insights on business growth and improved personalisation of future communications
Framing lead generation the right way, value creation
To make lead generation pay requires that your business creates things useful to its audience. This usually manifests itself in content, a majority of which is freely available, it peaks interest, provides visibility and gives you something to talk about that’s not your most recent discount! A % of your content though should be behind a “data wall”, this could be a subscription to ongoing content, a downloadable piece of content such as an app, PDF, white paper etc. With the right infrastructure (for another blog posts, coming soon) you should have a users personal data to enable follow up but also behavioural data to allow you to build out engagement scores, purchase intent models etc.
Arriving at the right content is a real art from and requires a brutal focus on your customers and some bravery on the brands part. It’s not a project or campaign its a new operational model to overlay onto your shop. Creating a seamless journey between content and commerce is a skill in itself and while it can start simple it should evolve into an efficient and personalised journey across multiple channels.
Applying a simple model to it
Looking at it as simple as possible, based on a paid media spend to an existing platform, here’s what you could expect (Hypothetically):
If you were to spend a little more money investing in content and the supporting tools / processes here’s how it could look:
This is looking at a moment in time and very linear in it’s thinking but I just wanted to demonstrate the opportunity. It would be better to turn it into an always on system and process over time so you can mature it as you.
Questions to ask of your eCommerce business:
- Do you feel like you are in the weeds, making tiny tweaks through complex projects?
- Does your marketing provide you with a true competitive advantage?
- Have you got the skills and technology available to you to run content / inbound marketing?
- Do you know your audience well enough to have strong ideas on how to engage and inspire them?