Elevating the Brand Experience: Complementing Commerce With Content April 19th, 2016 Randy Kohl, Gorilla Group Randy Kohl, Gorilla Group Randy Kohl, Gorilla Group Author BioRandy Kohl is Director of Content Strategy at Gorilla Group, an award-winning digital commerce agency. Randy works with B2B and consumer brands in a variety of industries to devise and implement strategies that engage customers across digital channels and drive growth. This has led to contributions to 5 webby awards. Randy has been cited and quoted by Forrester Research, is a featured contributor to The Future of Customer Engagement & Commerce, a past contributor to Internet Retailer magazine, and guest lecturer at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Read More About Randy Randy Kohl, Gorilla Group Brands have invested a lot into creating elegant, functional ecommerce channels. They’ve implemented on-brand design, made sure their sites are responsive across devices, simplified the user experience and optimized information architecture. These are all essential elements of an immersive customer experience, and yet, they’re not enough. To stand out in a very crowded marketplace and enable long-term success, brands must turn to content to add value beyond the products or services they sell. Content has the power to create and sustain brand differentiation, improve SEO, attract new customers, entice current customers to pay repeat visits, and provide the fuel for marketing and social campaigns. Getting there means adopting a publisher’s mindset and making a commitment to produce exceptional experiences. Think Beyond the Offer People (customers and prospects) don’t want to be sold to; they want to be engaged. Presenting them with promotions is a form of engagement, to a point. But after a while, it just becomes noise, and customers develop “discount tolerance,” which requires sweeter and sweeter deals to grab their attention. Rather than the ask (i.e. the offer), try giving in the form of content. Your content should fuel your email and social campaigns, keeping your brand top of mind and giving your audiences reasons to visit your digital channels beyond shopping. Every visit holds the potential to end in a transaction. When audiences see that you’re providing them with relevant, engaging information that doesn’t require anything from them, they will naturally become more receptive to the offers you do send. Own Your Sector or Industry No one knows your business and industry better than you. Demonstrate that. Offer customers content that aligns with their goals and needs. Better yet, engage them and let them tell you what they want. Become a go-to source for industry news and information. Educate and/or inspire your audiences in ways that help them work or live better. There’s no need to be self-serving. It doesn’t always have to be about you. (Think with Google is a great resource for retailers, but the content is always positioned to sell their products.) Offering high-quality, unbiased engagement establishes your expertise and credibility, expands your search footprint, builds user trust and engenders loyalty … all things that are becoming ever more difficult to earn. Become a “Magnet” for Customers Currently, customer acquisition is mostly fishing in the form of SEO (organic discovery) and paid digital channels, including affiliates. These channels are critical, and will be for the near-term. But brands need to begin attracting customers to them, pivoting now to be prepared for what comes next. In 2015, ad blocking usage grew 41%. Google has removed text ads from desktop search result pages. Click fraud accounts for 33% of all ad spend. Messaging apps are rapidly gaining share of time spent on mobile. The moral: The way people interact with brands is changing. Their motivations, on the other hand, haven’t. They still have wants and needs, and they can still be influenced when the message is authentic and relevant to them. Content is the glue that ties the commerce experience together. Give your customers reasons to find and engage with you, and the value you provide them will translate to greater customer value for you. To learn more about Gorilla Group, visit our website.