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Main Feature Marketing APAC

What’s NEXT: Shoppable Content: The convergence of content and commerce

Crossing Over to Shoppable Content

As far as internet real estate goes, digital marketing has become a much more precise science. It’s no longer an open house where anyone can come in and salespeople can only hope that the right people would notice the high ceilings or marble countertop and be convinced enough to take the deal. These days, marketers bring the content right in front of their audience in an experience as personal as any, the digital analogy of leading the consumer right toward the cash register. Shoppability isn’t just a new catchphrase. In the world of content, it is the new normal.

The Consumer Conversion

In narrowing the gap between commerce and consumer, big brands are moving from a publisher model into an e-commerce one. Consider the biggest merchants in the world. They all become media at one stage. They have journalists in-house that produce numerous articles and videos, becoming brand publishers in the process.

Net-a-Porter, for example, has become more of a magazine online than a retailer. Amazon is now a media company that produces content all around the world. L’Oréal has invested tens of millions of euros to build platforms like hair.com and skincare.com. Those websites attract a lot of traffic which enable L’Oréal to gain traction and build up visibility among their users with free organic visits. 

On the other hand, those who are already in publishing, like Allure or Refinery29, are looking at newer ways to gain revenue from their audience beyond the unpredictability of paid advertising. Through the years, they have come up with more than 10,000 product reviews from different brands around the world. They aggregate those product reviews to develop search-based content, SEO traffic, and organic visitors for free from Google and eventually convert them to shoppers. So, when the audience discovers a product via Allure.com, they’re redirected immediately towards e-commerce websites like Walmart or Clinique. Allure then earns some commission based on the traffic and conversations that they’ve generated to the brand. 

The need to drive those organic visitors into shoppers has led to a convergence between content and commerce. In the last six months, there has been a massive transformation of online platforms into e-commerce websites. It’s become a formula to drive value, engagement, and sales. 

Becoming Shoppable

In the foreseeable future, more and more companies will be adopting this strategy into their brand.com websites, turning them into shoppable platforms. They will take their existing content management systems, embed seek-out, needs-based content for users, and add products within those pages. The result is a richer, dynamic, personal experience that engages the audience – and conveniences them – while giving significant commercial benefits to brands. 

How it works is that you take an audience-attracting piece of content, like an article. The article contextually features advertising based on a keyword on the page by displaying smart product placements based on an algorithm that is carefully chosen by the merchant or brand. Then and there, the audience can ‘add to cart’ without going through the hoops of multiple redirections or manually inputting a separate site. 

Allure and L’Oréal are only a few of the brands that are now relying on this formula. With shoppable content, the consumer is captive right at the moment of influence. For example, IKEA’s revolutionary augmented reality app, which lets users see how its products would look in their space, allows customers to buy that particular piece right then and there.

The aforementioned luxury retailer Net-a-Porter takes things further by turning even the analogue into a shoppable channel. The Edit is its weekly digital magazine that expectedly leads the audience to product pages upon clicking on editorial layouts. However, Porter is an actual, tangible print magazine. When readers scan over the images with the Net-a-Porter app, they can immediately purchase the featured products. 

Taobao has attracted millions of shoppers via live stream shopping. YouTube has installed a direct-response ad format with browsable product thumbnails underneath the video. Pinterest has turned its top-performing organic Pins into shoppable ads. TikTok has launched an integrated shopping feature, virtual teleshopping, and even dance contests that link to in-app purchasing. 

The progression of social media as a shoppable content venue is as organic as they come. It has a built-in audience that depends on social media channels for entertainment, inspiration, and now a procurement of those first two. Yet, these are only the tip of the iceberg when coming up with shoppable solutions for content. 

A More Meaningful Experience

When a company makes more engaging content and realises its commercial potential, it does not only benefit the brand but the consumer as well. Using performance-driven data offers consumers a more personalised and authentic journey. These numbers instigate a better understanding of people and their behaviours and inspire content that is much more relatable. 

Content marketing answers people’s questions at the right place and at the right time. Shoppable content takes that a step further – presenting benefits for everyone in the journey. It is as measurable as it is personal. It’s not just the next big thing. It’s here, now. 

This article is written by Sven Lung, CEO & founder of performance-driven content agency Green Park Content.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Boost your Chinese New Year sales with irresistible shoppable content

Chinese New Year (CNY) is the first major holiday of the year in Southeast Asia (SEA), and a tremendous opportunity for marketers. In 2021, this opportunity has shifted online, with surging online activity in the region and e-commerce skyrocketing with blockbuster year-end 9.9, 11.11, and 12.12 sales.

This year’s Chinese New Year will be celebrated on the 12th of February

This CNY, we welcome the year of the Ox, the zodiac animal marked by traits such as diligence, reliability, and inspiring confidence – values that brands can lean into this season as they strive to bounce back from last year’s crisis. With a fresh sense of optimism, marketers would be wise to parlay the immense growth in digital adoption into exciting opportunities as the SEA region fully embraces online shopping. Especially during the holidays, shoppers are looking for online, immersive experiences that translate to retail therapy.

One sure-fire way to meet this need is by introducing dynamic and personalized shoppable content. Channel the festivities and optimism of the year with these exciting forms of shoppable content across food, fashion, technology, and more.

Showcase curated and irresistible shoppable content

Brilliant and engaging content that feels authentic, with a high level of conceptualization and interaction can reach and engage consumers who are averse to ads while capturing the holiday spirit.

One example is leveraging powerful storytelling and leaning into branded entertainment such as a shoppable video. Consider an interactive film – a heartwarming story of a family celebrating the festivities amid social distancing, while introducing products, shoppable within a click, that fit within that experience. This way, a brand can take their consumers through an authentic journey that shapes positive brand association, while also providing a direct path to purchase – making every moment shoppable.

Another tactic that works well for fast-moving consumer goods such as food items is a shoppable image carousel or hotspot, with easily recognizable products and images. This allows for quick browsing and an instant path for shopping. For brands that would like to go big with a splash, a customized landing page provides unique, can’t-be-missed experiences that create a large impact and draw in the user to make a purchase.

Drive discovery and inspiration

What’s another way to make your shoppable content hard to miss? Be discoverable. As consumer behavior shifts towards experiential e-commerce, customers want to find and learn about new products online. A study by Valassis and Kantar Research showed that customers are making more informed buying decisions than ever, with 60% researching their products online before purchasing. A research by Verizon Media also shows that people go online to search for inspirations and ideas while they shop, where in Europe, around 35% of consumers searched online for ‘gift inspirations’ during the holidays and we can expect this to be a growing trend globally as e-commerce continues to boom.

When it comes to shoppable content, not everything has to be a hard sell. Look to combine value with information for the shopper. Shoppable editorial articles, for example, can deliver valuable and informative content, as well as build customer confidence and trust in their purchases. 

Also consider gift guides for shoppers with distinct themes, such as an interactive gift guide for CNY with the latest styles and colors that will bring luck and positivity for the year. As for undecided buyers, a shoppable quiz or poll is a fun and interactive way for them to discover new items, gift wrapped with personalized shopping advice.

Introduce interactive and immersive experiences

While online shopping certainly provides the conveniences that physical shopping cannot, certain factors of the brick-and-mortar experience are still not easily replaced. Yet, as more and more shoppers rely on e-commerce and lean on mobile shopping, the demand for reimagined sensory physical shopping experiences becomes all the more necessary.

Shopping for clothing and makeup heavily relies on ‘window shopping’, or the buyer’s interaction with the product – with decisions largely based on how it feels or fits. When it comes to shoppable content, experiences can go beyond mere interaction and become immersive, with rich and dynamic XR experiences aiming to bridge the physical-digital realm.

This is an opportune moment for brands, especially fashion, and beauty, to create innovative experiences through multiformat, tailored content. Consider forms such as AR-enabled shoppable content that not only strikes inspiration for shoppers by letting them view multidimensional facets of an item, but also allows them to try the items on for size: think of it as a ‘try before you buy’ feature where a shopper can virtually try on clothing or a makeup product. Other formats can enhance social experiences through rich forms of interactive content, such as being able to watch shoppable videos with friends

To really take online shopping up a notch, brands need to create a frictionless, relevant experience as consumers interact with content they trust. With 5G launching across SEA, 5G-enabled devices will set the stage for more innovative, personalized, and engaging experiences, especially for shopping.

Truly engaging and effective shoppable content requires a masterful mix of information and context, inspiration, and action. In order to scale shoppable content to the right audience and amplify positive results, it is especially useful to complement this with other forms. Enhance its impact by going omnichannel and pairing shoppable content with native ads, prominent front-page display ads, social media, and even DOOH – easiest if done with a one-stop-shop demand-side platform that allows for omnichannel buying across a diverse set of channels in a single platform.

With supercharged shopping experiences online and a rebound in consumer interest – 2021, the year of the Ox is shaping up to be promising for marketers. As CNY rolls in, good fortune and prosperity await brands who are able to capitalize on the opportunities emerging, and pivot to innovative, engaging, and dynamic offerings online – this year and beyond.

This article was written by Rico Chan, co-head of Verizon Media for APAC.

Verizon Media is a division of Verizon Communications, Inc., which houses media brands such as Yahoo, TechCrunch, and HuffPost to help people stay informed and entertained while creating new ways for advertisers and media partners to connect.