In today’s distracted consumer environment, great content can make or break a product marketer. Online sellers that embrace product content are positioned to be winners in an increasingly crowded marketplace on Amazon and elsewhere.
Fact: when they are in research and decision-making mode, online shoppers expect comprehensive, easily-consumable product information at their fingertips. Make them search for it, and you lose the sale more often than not. Case in point, 52% of shoppers report that they take their business elsewhere when a retailer doesn’t make video available to aid in product research (2016 Omnichannel Outlook: Why Shoppers Want Video, e-tailing group)
This is why the most successful sellers increasingly think and act as much like publishers as they do retailers. They enjoy a strategic advantage because they are flush with content their shoppers desire — while the vast majority of their competitors suffer from Content Deficits.
It’s easy to understand why these deficits exist. Creating engaging and easily-consumable product content (e.g, video, imagery, interactive) requires a significant investment in time, thought, and funds— especially when you have a large catalog.
So how do you go about erasing a content deficit? Here are three steps toward building a strategic visual content creation program:
Step one – Challenge your assumptions about what it takes to create engaging visual content. The number one reason that video and enhanced imagery are passed over for consistent investment is that most sellers don’t personally understand the medium and rely on old heuristics to gauge cost and level of effort. Usually this nets out to an opinion that enhanced content is “way too expensive and time consuming”. If you lack the proper experience, skill set, and tools to create this content efficiently, you can bet this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can either build these capabilities and experience yourself over time (many have), or you can leverage specialized partners to lower the learning curve and efficiently get you to scale faster and with less risk.
Additionally, many marketers make the mistake of placing the creative standard bar for product content so high that is outstrips their ability to scale and fund the effort. Think pragmatically about creative endeavors, especially if you’ve got a big content deficit to erase. For example, when designing product video standards, a good rule of thumb is to overweight conveying product feature/ benefit information and underweight pure branding considerations. Constantly ask yourself, “Will this creative element add complexity (see: cost) in production, and will investing in it help the majority of shoppers make a more informed purchase decision?” As you develop your enhanced content strategy, finding a balance between brand and product information, relative complexity and efficiency should be a major focus.
Step two – Prioritize. If you sell more than a handful of products and you haven’t already made enhanced content a standard in your marketing mix, you’ll want to walk (or crawl) before you run to minimize executional risk and prove it’s a worthwhile investment. When prioritizing for which products to initially create enhanced content, product “complexity” is a great filter to use. Complex or differentiated products require more shopper education than commodities. Complex, high-consideration products or categories are ideal candidates for enhanced product content and should be at the top of your to-do list. Other considerations are product shelflife and frequency of return. The traffic and sales lifts associated with enhanced product content are enjoyed over the life of the product and therefore you can expect higher overall return for longer-lived products. Some sellers use customer feedback from product returns to drive their enhanced content efforts. If you do it consistently, creating content that addresses specific reasons for product return can be very powerful for reducing the cost impact of that behavior, and is yet another way to justify the investment in enhanced content.
Step three – Measure & Optimize.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This marketer’s mantra applies to product content as much as it does product inventory. Fortunately, current web technology allows for an unparalleled amount of transparency and measurability for sellers that use content to fuel their businesses. Multivariate testing software, generalist web analytics tools, and even video platforms are all useful to sellers looking to justify their investment in enhanced product content and optimize its impact on their business.
Primary metrics to manage your shopping content can be grouped into the high-level “buckets” of Engagement and Conversion. Simply put, these measures can help answer the questions “are shoppers engaged by my content?” and “does my content drive conversion?”. Typically, engagement measures like views, view rate, sharing rate, and attention span are easily captured through standard web analytics tools. They are, in most cases, directional metrics that help you steer the ship. Conversion metrics for content are harder. By far and away, the most insightful way to measure conversion impact of content is to run a controlled a/b or multivariate test. It requires access to and understanding of testing tools, but results in the most useful data. Your results may vary, but on average, enhanced product content should drive 5-10% sales conversion lift. If you can’t or don’t want to go through controlled testing, the next best way to measure content conversion is to compare the observed rates of conversion between two shopper groups: those that engage with your content and those that have an opportunity to but do not. Viewers vs. Non-Viewers. While you don’t need a testing tool for this type of analysis, you do need to be skilled at running segment reporting within your analytics tool, or you can use a video platform with conversion analytics built in. For product video, the average difference in conversion rate between viewers and non-viewers should be 50%-100%.
Ultimately, you’re on the hook to prove to your boss (or yourself if you’re the boss) that your product content strategy is creating a positive return, so ensure that you’ve got a testing or measurement plan in place early in your journey to erase your content deficit.
At Invodo we help online brands and retailers erase their content deficits. We’ve been creating engaging product video and imagery for a decade, across every consumer category, at speed and scale. With over 30,000 videos and images under our belts, we have the experience, process, and tools to help you quickly deploy 100’s or 1000’s of conversion-driving assets to your product listings without compromising quality or brand standards. Start a conversation with us at www.invodo.com.
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