This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting our 2021 Media & Marketing Trends. The pandemic has transformed the way consumers interact with brands, their products and the retail environment. Most notably: a new digital customer journey.This shift in buying behaviour is far from temporary. Consumers have grown accustomed to the ease and efficiencies of e-commerce. No matter what we're buying, we expect a seamless, user-friendly experience.Take the results from the Vividata Winter 2021 Survey of the Canadian Consumer:Almost three-quarters of Canadian adults shopped online in the past month. (The most popular items to shop for? Clothing, footwear, books and electronics.) Half of all Canadian adults report an increase in their online shopping in comparison to their usual habits pre-pandemic.
"Consumers have learned to navigate a new customer journey - one that is purely digital, "says Dave Dolejsi, Associate VP of Content Strategy at SJC. "There will be a time when people once again return to in-store shopping, but I don't think consumers will abandon the online experience, nor do I think they will even go back to pre-Covid levels. Consumers have gotten used to the conveniences and personalization of shopping online.”
As digital dependency gains momentum, brands need to think more than a simple “buy here” button on their brand site. Customers require deep content experiences that guide them into an e-commerce platform. Content like how-to videos, service articles and interactive experiences drive those meaningful connections.
“The role of content marketing has gone way up in the customer journey since Covid began," said Jacqueline Loch, SJC’s EVP of Customers Innovation in the 2020 webinar Content Marketing: Growth, Opportunities and Spending.
Are you are taking advantage of content marketing opportunities to inform, inspire and convert? Here are five multi-platform ideas to consider:
First up, mobile. Mobile phones have become a lifeline, connecting users to family, friends, colleagues, and the outside world. An increasing number of consumers use their smartphones for product research, brand interaction and shopping. In 2020, mobile sales made up more than one-third of ecommerce sales, a growth of 26.6 per cent versus the previous year.By creating content tailored for smartphones, brands can get in front of this growing demographic. Gen Z and millennials in particular are turning to mobile to meet their everyday needs for entertainment, information and connection.
“The pandemic vaulted digital adoption forward five years, and mobile content consumption rose in every brand category,” says Jacqueline Loch. “The direct-to-consumer path to purchase now requires multiple types of mobile-first content at every stage, from inspiration to product information to sales conversion. Mobile-first is a huge content play that brands can’t afford to miss out on.”
Smartphone app usage has experienced unparalleled growth over the course of the pandemic. In the first half of 2020, the average in-app spending increased by 39 per cent versus the previous year. This presents an ideal opportunity for brands to reach their target customer through an existing framework.Take Flipp, for example. The popular retail technology app offers consumers convenience and affordability by turning weekly flyers into a digital, interactive experience. Brands can go beyond product and price, and incorporate visual merchandising content that informs and engages consumers while within the Flipp platform.SJC Content creates Flipp-tailored content for Eastlink. More than a collection of product shots and coupons, the visual content incites users to learn and explore. A click on the Flipp content brings users to the Eastlink website to make the purchase.
Amazon is fast becoming the first, and sometimes only step in the customer journey. Consumers use the platform to research product options and complete their transactions. Prime members are especially faithful to the e-commerce giant, according to Deloitte's 2020 Holiday Retail Outlook.Competition is fierce on this platform, with saturated product categories and global competition. Brands are now using Amazon for more than to drive product sales. Increasing customer awareness, product testing and building brand awareness are also key functions.As with Flipp, brands have a content marketing play to go beyond product descriptions and price. Engaging service-driven content is key to standing out in this cluttered market. Beautiful photography and how-to-videos are two such examples.LOréal Paris provides an example of a successful direct-to-consumer brand strategy on Amazon. SJC Content worked with LOréal to populate its Amazon page. How-to videos, storytelling content, and even a virtual make-up try-on tool provide a complete experience.
“LOréal Paris' storefront on Amazon now includes content that, pre-Covid, would have lived primarily on L’Oréal’s website and e-commerce portals,” says Jacqueline Loch. “Now Amazon is that home for massive amounts of content – content that’s engaging, highly curated and inspirational. It takes the customer experience and journey to a whole different level."
Serta Canada recently partnered with SJC to promote its Serta Spectrum collection on its Amazon store. High-quality photography and easy-to-digest videos showcase key product attributes. Consumers gain helpful information to lead them in their digital journey of purchasing a mattress.
The appetite for shoppable social media is growing. Instagram has integrated shopping throughout the user experience. Twitter has announced it is testing new e-commerce features for tweets. But in a time when Canadians are craving inspiration, Pinterest is the ideal platform to meet customers on their buying journey. It's a place to explore and discover and brings back the fun of browsing (and shopping). The number of users shopping on Pinterest grew 50 per cent in the first half of 2020. And 50 per cent of Pinners have bought a product because they saw it on the site.
“Pinterest is the platform that lets us collect inspiration for the future, which is why I think it’s the perfect, non-problematic, optimistic platform for the pandemic,” says Sasha Emmons, Managing Director of Branded Content for SJC Media.
At its recent Pinterest Presents global summit for marketers, Erin Elofson, Head of Pinterest for Canada, Australia & New Zealand explained Pinterest's unique position like this: Context makes a difference. Positivity matters when it comes to conversion. And 80 per cent of Pinterest users feel positive when they're on the platform (compared to 30 per cent for social media in general.)The Shopping Spotlight feature launched in May 2020 is one off the ways Pinterest is making shopping easy and inspiring. Pinners gain expert recommendations and curated ideas based on the current Pinterest trends, all of which they can shop.
With over 450 million active users and growing, and over two billion searches per month, it will be an exciting year for marketing on Pinterest. We’ll be taking a deep dive as part of our 2021 Media & Marketings Trends series, later this year.
Shoppable Content allows consumers to buy and redeem products straight from the images, articles or videos on their screens. Publishing is an especially rich opportunity for this direct purchasing model. Consumers are introduced to new products through editorial content that provides trusted, curated insights. Consumers can then shop these products with a seamless click of a button.SJC Media's portfolio of magazine brands is introducing new opportunities for shoppable content. Here's an example of Chatelaine Shop.
"Shoppable content allows us to guide the entire customer experience within our trusted ecosystem: from awareness to purchase to redemption," says Jason Maghanoy, Head of Business Development for SJC Media. "In the end, we can create content that is a complete e-commerce experience."
__________While Covid incited a rise in the digital experience, consumers will continue embracing e-commerce even after the pandemic is behind us. But with all businesses and brands now online, it’s more important than ever to stand out. Content marketing provides the opportunity to do so. Inform, engage, inspire and entertain your audience on platforms they are already using – and they just might make that decision to buy.Next up in the series of articles spotlighting our 2021 Media & Marketing trends: Media Brand Trust.