It used to be that consumers could engage with a brand in one of a few ways—their catalog, their site, or their physical stores. The advent of social sites, shopping apps and blogs, however, have proliferated the points at which consumers discover and engage with products. It should come as no surprise that the anatomy of an interaction is now more complicated than ever. Consequently, the type of content that drives those interactions has changed, too.
In a world where consumers discover, engage with, and purchase products on multiple channels (both online and offline), with numerous devices (in and out of the home), and in a variety of formats (photos, videos, GIFs), how can direct response marketers develop a content strategy that converts?
1. Feature photos your customers want to see, not the ones you think they do.
Is your creative intuition spot on? Maybe, but why gamble when it’s easier than ever to gain insight into the type of content that resonates? Image-led channels like Pinterest, Tumblr, and others provide a deep level of insight into what customers want to buy as well as which image characteristics drive clicks. Put your visual data to work. By analyzing how your customers interact with your product photos (on your website, your social channels, your blog, etc.) you can better equip your creative leads to understand which colors, styles, angles, patterns, and other stylistic details are most compelling.
This isn’t just about individual marketing initiatives either; rather, it’s about rethinking your brand’s narrative. What do your product photos say about your business? How can you make your merchandise—and therefore, your brand—more accessible and relevant? Rather than defaulting to a white backdrop, for instance, try demonstrating how your clothing complements an occasion, how your home accessories brighten a room, and so on. Show your customers what a product looks like in action, so they can envision owning it.
2. Pair your own product photography with your customers’ photos.
Peer recommendations weigh heavily on consumers’ purchase decisions—especially the millennial segment. Harness this behavior, and ask your customers to share photos and tag your brand. There are many ways to repurpose this content. By featuring UGC in newsletters, emails, ad campaigns, and front and center on your website, you can celebrate your fans and inspire new ones. (It should go without saying that user permission is a must.)
This is as much an investment in customer loyalty as it is a tactic for immediate ROI. An example we love comes from Z Gallerie, a home and design retailer. On Z Gallerie’s social channels and website, the brand balances traditional photography with their customers’, showcasing both functional features and lifestyle shots. The latter allows an online shopper to see what their furniture and decorative items look like in real life.
3. Measure, Measure, Measure!
One of the biggest benefits of social and digital media is that marketers are able to analyze traffic and conversions at a really granular level. I recently spoke about this very topic with Maya Shaff, an account director for the social and digital agency Room 214. “At Room 214,” Maya says, “we recommend tracking both assisted and last click conversions when measuring social ROI. While some channels, like search or display, have more straightforward click-throughs to your website or landing page, social has a tendency to influence purchases at many steps along the consumer’s path to purchase.”
Maya adds that setting clear goals can help marketers to better understand how specific initiatives and audience interactions result in a purchase or desired action.
Photo by adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stacy Goodman is content strategist at Curalate.