A customer interacts with a brand roughly 20 times before making a purchase; and the post-pandemic consumers visit more than just the brick-and-mortar stores and retailers’ website for inspiration. That is the reason businesses must have a robust content marketing strategy at each stage of the customer’s journey. Failing to leave a favourable impression at any point will impact sales negatively, either resulting in a shrinkage of shopping carts or reduction in the number of transactions.
Consumers’ decision to buy is influenced by many factors, some of which are beyond retailers’ control. For instance, Instagram shopping hauls are reaching millennials and generation z, helping them discover new products. Thus, having control over the brand story across all sales channels and touchpoints is crucial, making content marketing strategy an integral part of retailing.
Let’s consider some of the opportunities retailers have for content marketing:
- Brick-and-mortar stores:
Good products and service is not enough anymore. Consumers are demanding transparency and retailers must tell their stories in order to create a community. Physical stores provide a great opportunity for retailers to tell their stories as consumers can truly immerse themselves in the brand using all of the 5 senses, which isn’t possible in the online world.
Interactive content in-stores can be highly engaging for consumers (the effectiveness of visuals over words cannot be disputed). So, having interactive screens, as opposed to static posters, educating consumers on the brand values will improve readership. Similarly, Virtual fitting rooms, or mirrors across stores which shoppers can play around with will also improve customer experience, time spent in store, and ultimately conversion.
In this digital era, Brick-and-mortar stores can take advantage of mobile phone usage in store. For example, a simple instagrammable space can encourage shoppers to post pictures of the store on social media and promote the brand on behalf of the retailer. Another examples is adding QR code to products which consumers can use to find more information, stock availability, and sizes will also leave a positive impression.
These digital innovations are fun and convenient for consumers and for retailers, they can be used to market the brand by engaging consumers with relevant information.
- Social media
Social media has now become a sales channel with companies such as Facebook and Instagram having created branded shops for retailers. 34% of shoppers, in a survey by emarketer, have said they purchase products directly through social media.
Many top retailers like Zara and Shein are already on board with marketing via social media. Their use of influencers showcasing products is clearly an effective marketing method.
However, retailers should not stop at product displays; social media can be used to tell a story behind products using multimedia, sharing lifestyle content, and provide helpful tips to shoppers. The social media community is loyal when a strong connection is created.
Therefore, retailers must focus on offering consumers a lifestyle which ultimately will lead to conversion and loyal customers. This method of passive selling has proven to reduce the path to purchase to days or hours on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Due to the sheer number of shopping channels and touchpoints available to consumers, it is difficult to know how consumers discover specific products. However, if a consumer wants a pair of black jeans, the most likely place they will look is Google. This is where Google Ads can help retailers reach with in depth product information.
Retailers have increased website footfall by using Google Shopping. Since Google is used at the discovery stage of shopping, consumers spend time exploring the options provided by Google Shopping.
Google also likes multimedia so promoting pictures, music, videos etc will increase the readership. Keeping in mind the consumers, retailers can create ads that are helpful to consumers and not just product pages. This will allow retailers to cut through the noise and stand out.
Retailers must focus on nurturing existing customers since the success rate of selling to existing customers is 60-70% whereas the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%. Brands like JD and Lulu Lemon have gained popularity by doing exactly that: JD has an app with special promotion for members as well as events; and Lulu Lemon has weekly yoga sessions.
Content marketing for existing customers is easier when the data is available. Promotions and information can be passed through newsletters, emails, social media etc to keep the brand at the forefront of customers’ mind. It could be a simple update about a company charity initiative, showing the use of the products, a blog. The most important thing is to be in control of your brand story.