3 Ways Retailers Can Work Smarter to Create Content
Whether it's blogs or banner ads, promotions or product pages, search ads or social posts, marketers and merchants are tasked with creating an extensive amount of content.
They need copy and images to fill blank pages, to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time, and to keep their site current and fresh. All of this comes at a cost of time to create and implement, as well as the value of one piece of content to generate one interaction compared to another. Many retail organizations, however, are none the wiser about their return on investment for these efforts. Almost half of B-to-B and B-to-C organizations, for example, aren't measuring the ROI of their content. Fortunately, there are three primary ways retailers can work smarter when it comes to content creation by using new and existing data:
1. Minimize net new.
Content creation often starts at the drawing board, either by someone being assigned to create a product description, a landing page, an article or anything else requiring words. When people need to start net new on anything, they go through various stages of hope and despair. One minute they think they're a creative mastermind, the next minute they have writer’s block when their ego was crushed by someone’s figurative red pen. Creativity takes time, and while some people work better under pressure, imaginations are typically stifled when "get anything on the page" wins.
Creativity can find a friend in data. Rather than create net-new content, marketers can look to their preferred analytics platform or content management system (CMS) for content that's already performing well. High-trafficked and high-converting assets can be repurposed into countless other formats. For example, a highly viewed lifestyle image of a woman can be deconstructed to form outfit ideas on product pages. If these outfit ideas help generate more clicks or conversions, they can then be turned into a seasonal lookbook that's emailed to opted-in customers. If the email performs well, perhaps the lookbook is turned into shoppable Instagram ads, with all of these assets working together so the shopper stays on track with relevant content each time they click.
While there are some resources involved here in the repurposing of content, the ideas can start flowing from what's already performing well. By using similar copy, colors, images or layouts, retail organizations can begin to make decisions based on data to reduce time impacts and revenue repercussions since these assets are known to perform well against other assets. Once companies start to create a habit of analyzing data to create content, they can set processes in place to track their assets.
2. Establish top reporting metrics.
Many companies don't have the digital maturity to understand how to apply data feedback to their organization. The use of data analytics to impact business decisions is a very mature and advanced capability, and there are many late adopters still considering baseline technologies.
For those organizations that are analyzing their content marketing, they typically look to capture the revenue impact that creative decisions have on their website or in marketing campaigns, such as:
- If I feature product A on the homepage, does that generate more revenue than product B?
- If I feature a specific brand in a section, what kind of revenue increase can that mean for the brand and how can we quantify that back to the brand to show value (and possible additional ad spend)?
- What are typical topics or keywords that drive traffic to the site and keep users engaged with the brand?
- Can we analyze the topics we're producing content about to then cross-promote in other mediums (email, in-store, etc.)?
3. Define data needs.
Marketers need to communicate to IT what data points need to be collected and analyzed to make decisions. The platforms chosen by IT must have the capacities to capture and report on these data points in an efficient and accessible way (e.g., linking CMS to CRM to pass visitors’ purchasing behavior to enrich marketing leads).
Another example of necessary communication is the relationship between marketing and merchandising. Are website content decisions being made as part of merchandising deals (e.g., content shown on the homepage is related to a deal secured by the merchandising team)? How can that decision impact general lead generation as a part of the marketing funnel? Is the data in place to capture the impact of that merchandising decision to supply feedback to other teams? Can we learn from those campaigns to help drive future decisions?
Marketing decisions have resonating impacts across the organization to drive revenue and growth. These decisions should be made considering as much data and analytics as possible, giving them the highest probability of success. If you're not using data to drive these decisions, you're making them blindly with the possibility of failure that could have been avoided by simply executing on your data practice.
Jeff Cheal is the director of product strategy for personalization, campaign and analytics at Episerver. He has an extensive background in advertising sales, software and marketing strategy. He's based out of New York, serving the North American market as an ambassador for the Episerver product suite, staying connected with both the partner network and customer base. Follow him on Twitter @badiehard.