Content commerce is a lot like avocado toast. Why? Because they are two things you didn’t realize work well together: avocado and toast, content and commerce. They could also be expensive if you’re not smart about it. Lastly, content commerce sells well just like avocado toast. Content commerce could also be what your store needs to have a leg up in the very competitive marketplace of the internet.
There are two types of content commerce, content-driven commerce and commerce-driven content.
Content commerce is about using the content as leverage to sell (products/services) or for profit. Let’s dive a little deeper.
Content commerce or content-driven commerce is almost the same as the inbound methodology or inbound marketing. It’s about giving audiences value through content and using that to convert them into customers.
According to Investopedia, marketing “refers to all activities a company takes to promote and sell products or services to consumers.” Content commerce uses content to achieve this purpose.
We have determined that content commerce is a form of inbound marketing. This approach is the opposite of traditional or outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing involves ads you see on billboards, tv, or newspapers and the ads you see in your feed and hear on the radio. It pushes out media that explicitly promote a product or service.
Outbound marketing describes what they’re offering and convinces you to buy because of that description.
Example: Buy these wonder shoes. It makes you walk sexy and burns your calories.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, are the ones you see online, mainly. Blogs, articles, short videos, stories, vlogs, whitepapers, documentaries, etc. These are all content. They don’t explicitly promote a service or product. Instead, they are created to give value to the audience. This then draws people in. That’s why it’s called inbound.
Example: Ten exercises you can do at your home… At the end of the article: Still strugglin’ to lose weight? Try our wonder shoes. It helps burn your calories. Click here to buy now.
This is the parallel universe equivalent of content-driven commerce.
Commerce-driven content is almost similar in execution, but with a very different intention. Customers still get value from the content but it’s not the first priority. The aim of the content if it’s commerce-driven is to directly profit off of it through affiliate links, direct selling or through influencers. Here’s a two-pronged example:
A YouTube video from a famous YouTuber titled “How I keep on being sexy”. In the middle of the video, he/she says “One way I stay sexy is by wearing these wonder shoes. They’re great on your feet and help in losing weight. Links are on the description down below.” Also, part of the premise is the YouTuber is not really a part of the wonder shoes company.
Here’s a breakdown. The purpose of the content, which is the video, is really for the YouTuber’s audience to click on the affiliate links. The YouTuber gets a portion of every purchase through that link. Also, the company of wonder shoes has a higher chance of selling shoes because of the YouTuber’s influence.
The customer might still get the value of being entertained or being informed of how to stay sexy, but the ultimate goal is to get the viewers of the video to click on the links and purchase the shoes.
Because of this reason, commerce-driven content is harder to do. It walks the fine line of authentic content and being a full-blown ad. Consumers have an expectation of being sold to. But if done too much, especially by the content they are consuming, it might put them off.
We recommend starting with content-driven commerce first.
Benefits of content-driven commerce
Content-driven commerce is a very valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. Here’s how it could help your online store.
Markets are always saturated today. Standing out is the biggest step a business, especially an online store, needs to establish first. Frankly, it needs to be a big part of the focus and investment in starting out.
Anyone can set up a shop on the internet which is great, but it can and also be bad for us.
The good: Setting up shop is easier and more intuitive than ever. Not confident in setting up shop? There are experts like us that make it even easier.
The bad: Since the population is literally growing every minute and everyone can have a shop, being seen amongst the competition can be a challenge.
It matters to have a great product, but how will people know that you have a great product when there are thousands of shops offer similar things you do? How will you have people browsing your store? By drawing them in using value.
Value derived from content.
Giving value to customers
This is the same marketing concept physical stores are doing, just adapted to the digital age. Offering something that gives customers value to draw them in has always been there for ages. It’s like giving a free sample of some kind to lure them in. This is the execution of inbound marketing.
Here are the advantages of giving value.
Free stuff is always appealing to an average consumer. I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?
- Giving value through content establishes trust to an otherwise doubtful customer, jaded by being bombarded by all of the ads they see and hear. It connotes authenticity.
- A consumer who received a helpful content from a will have a positive association with that experience. A happy customer is more likely to start spending sooner.
- Having a positive association should have triggered an emotional response from a customer. Positive emotional impact is not only helpful for being top of mind, it’s a surefire way to be in customer’s subconscious and long-term memory.
Value that audiences receive from content is not limited to information or education. According to one of the best marketers in the world, Jeff Bullas, content should also entertain and inspire those who consume it.
Personifying your brand
Given a choice, we’ll always choose to buy something from someone, rather than buy something from something.
We’d prefer to talk to a human rather than a robot when there are problems with our purchases.
There’s this ease of trust and comfort when shopping at a small store run by a family than a huge, fully automated store.
Humans are naturally social, personality-driven beings. We prefer a conversation rather than a transaction. Content gives that impression to customers.
Content is the proper vehicle to express anything that will elicit emotions. To inform people, make them laugh, inspire them by your charitable work or educate them about a certain topic. These are human emotions and to make your audience feel these things, your personality should shine through the content.
Making it right: Proper content-driven commerce
The only way for content commerce to be beneficial is to do it properly. Like avocado toast, it only has simple ingredients but it has to be done in a certain way for it to work. Here are some pointers:
Content should have a specific attention given to it. According to Neil Patel, another renowned marketer, the number one reason why content commerce fail is because businesses have no content strategy. This falls under content focus.
Content should have goals, so it could be planned properly and have its results tracked. It should always be part of business meetings. Creating, preparing, scheduling and posting content is a time and money intensive process. There should be oversight of all these processes.
Another aspect of focus is sorting content out depending on the customer’s intent.
Valuable content aimed to bring people in should be separated from content that highlights the products. When people go to an online store to shop, they don’t want a story, they want to shop. In and out.
But, if people are in search for information or entertainment, they don’t want ads. We feel that as consumers ourselves. Nailing headless commerce is super important to keep the customer’s trust, which is the separation of the front-end (content in general) and the back-end (commerce, where products are).
One of the biggest factors that makes a consumer purchase something is brand trust.
Online stores bring back the experience that old, trusty, little stores have. You can stroll in, the store owner knows you, what you want, and you could have an honest conversation with him/her about the products that you need or questions you might have.
You trust them because their product or service is their specialty. It’s a very pleasant and authentic buying experience.
Producing content around your products and services gives an impression that you are the go-to guys of your field. It’s planting a seed of positive interactions with customers which could greatly influence their outlook with your store, making them easier to buy. It’s all about relationships instead of numbers.
You look at your trusty barber as your friend, and that should be the goal for your online store. To be that helpful friend that happens to sell products you want.
Don’t think of pumping out content just for content’s sake. People smell BS from a mile away. You have to be passionate or a least interested about the content your produce.
Let’s say that the trending topic right now is automation and the use of robots. Yes, you can use that to your advantage to make a content optimized for search engines. But if you are just using that topic to ride the news wave, it’s not going to be valuable for consumers. It’s just like engaging in small talk with your customers.
“Have you heard about the news?” That state could have them engaged in a short span of time, but it would not make them stay. What could make them stay is a passionate or an interesting topic. Something you specialize in, something amusing or something you really care about.
Having stories about things that you are good at, know much about or passionate about is a very good start. It’s very relatable and engaging. You could also talk about those things on and on for days. Nothing’s more authentic than meaningful conversation. The openness of the internet invites conversation but what gives it meaning is content.
Content should not just be a part of your online store’s marketing program, it should be a part of your culture. Programs end, while cultures are deeply ingrained. Culture breeds behavior and outlook. This behavior and outlook will reflect on the content and it will draw more people in. Cultures are contagious and the best reflection of authenticity.
Avocado Toast: Bite into content-driven commerce
Content is the avocado toast of your online store. One piece of content can lead to buzz and virality just like this food sensation. It may look simple, with two ingredients, but it takes special attention to make sure it will be awesome.
Start with what you’re passionate about, what you’re interested in. Think of things that you will read/watch yourself. Focus on what will be valuable to you. Next, think of your audience. What are they rabid about? What do they want and need?
If it’s valuable to you and your audience, that’s your ideal content. Make it, produce it, or hire experts to make and produce it for you. Writers and graphic designers abound. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
Make every contact point you have with a customer a start of relationship. Ingrain content in your culture. It will be less of a chore and more of a passion project.
Nail this recipe and have your store be the hottest thing since sliced bread.