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Alexandra Barcelona
Director of Marketing

Content and Commerce: How Data, Content and Microservices Drive Sales

Aug 14, 2018

By: Alexandra Barcelona

The modern consumer doesn’t show up at a store, talk to a salesperson and make a purchase. Those days are over.

Furthermore, the modern consumer doesn’t just flick through your online store catalog, either. Today, a consumer will research their target product or service by checking out customer reviews, unboxing videos and professional review sites. As a result, customers are now better informed than ever before — and they crave that feeling of being in-the-know before they make a purchase.

Brands like Amazon have cleverly integrated their content to create a customer journey which can be accessed on any device, whether it be an Amazon Echo, smartphone or tablet.

The Role of Content As a Relationship Builder

With both B2B and B2C customers preferring to do their own research, content is now more crucial than ever. The time adults are spending on digital media and digital platforms has nearly doubled in the space of 7 years. Figures from 2008 show users have spent 2.7 hours on digital devices, this raised to 5.6 hours in 2015. This increase highlights an opportunity for eCommerce brands to create content that is tailored to them.

Effective content marketing can help eCommerce brands to escalate their conversion rate by almost 6 times. Also, the following statistics show how effective content marketing is:

content-marketing-stats

Content aims to teach, entertain and engage, not sell. Effective content marketing can help to arouse a variety of positive emotions within the customer, thus helping to build strong customer relations and deliver an excellent customer experience.

Customer experience is essential, especially for eCommerce brands. In fact, a recent Walker study has stated that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Hyper-personalized Content

We are entering the realm of hyper-personalization. And brands can only achieve delivering a truly personalized experience if they analyze data from predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to get a better understanding of their customer so they can deliver content that has been uniquely tailored for each customer. But more importantly, brands must ensure they have a flexible and future-proof IT infrastructure in place (i.e. a microservice architecture), so they can deliver this personalized experience.

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How to Deliver Data-Driven Content to the Consumer

Delivering data-driven content can be explained in three parts:

  • Part 1: Integrating Content
  • Part 2: Challenges of Integrating Content
  • Part 3: Planning for the (previously) unexpected

Part 1: Integrating Content

To integrate content, brands must analyze all the available analytical data from predictive analytics, AI and ML. This will provide a better understanding of consumer behavior trends. And will also provide the foundations to create a customer journey roadmap.

In a recent webinar, David Ebel, CEO Sabae Group, gave an example of a Vancouver fashion retailer Aritzia. During the demonstration, he showed how Aritzia integrated their content from their social media accounts and their own photos to create a customer journey. He highlighted how Aritzia didn’t lead their customer directly to the product or catalog page in the first instance. Instead, they used pictures to show their customer of what the product will look like when worn. And also directed their customers to the latest trends and featured designer collections.

It is no secret to say that this Aritzia’s customer journey had ignited some form of desire within their customers. And the user interface and integration of content created a memorable customer experience.

Part 2: Challenges of Integrating Content

Even though integrating content is the perfect solution for creating a customer journey, it does have its challenges. There are three main areas that organizations must address, and they are brand objectives, technological requirements and management:

Brand

Content Production: When integrating content, brands must decide what content to use and how to incorporate it. In some cases, some brands will not need a content strategy. In the recent webinar, Ebel gave the example of wholesaler BJ’s — they knew a content strategy would not be feasible since their customers only wanted to view the product catalog in the first instance.

Frequency: Brands must determine the frequency of delivering their content. I.e. should the content be delivered in the morning or in the evening? Brands must also identify when their content is getting the most customer engagement and on what device.

Purpose: Finally, brands must determine the purpose of their content — what is the end-result of their content strategy?

Technology

Existing system integration: When conducting a data-driven content marketing strategy, IT teams must evaluate whether their current systems can deliver it. If not, then investing in a microservice architecture is the way forward (more on this later).

Ease of Update: The content will be reviewed and updated by brands on a regular basis depending on consumer trends and consumer behavior. IT teams must ask if the existing system can allow for this?

Ability to Measure: Brands must be able to measure the success rate of the content strategy.

Segmentation/Personalization: As we embrace the era of hyper-personalization, can the current infrastructure deliver?

Management

Analytics: Analytic tools provide the foundation of data-driven content strategy. Management needs to have access to this information to make the next step in their content strategy.

Operation Dashboard: Can organizations manage their content strategy from one platform or multiple platforms?

Omnichannel: Can content be delivered to various devices?

Part 3: Planning for The (Previously) Unplanned

As with everything, when implementing a data-driven content strategy, you will encounter something that you may not expect. Ebel suggests to try and plan for the unexpected through looking at previous examples. Ebel provides the following examples in his recent dotCMS webinar:

Customer Service

- Does your team understand how to order on behalf of the customer?

- How are you integrating your great content in the physical experience?

Organic Search

- How do you enforce keyword strategies with your developer?

- As you replace content over time, how can you maintain the links previously generated?

Cross Department Collaboration

- How do you align your purchasing department, planning, IT and digital services?

How Can a Microservice Architecture Aid Data-Driven Content Delivery?

The complexity of digital commerce is reaching new levels as more transactions are executed through an increasingly diverse range of channels.

With a microservices architecture, brands can build individual applications for each touchpoint using API calls to call in headless content. Thus, each microservices gets to enjoy a clear separation between the content they deliver and the front-end delivery layer. Moreover, this architecture allows developers to work with the technologies and frameworks that make most sense for the touchpoint in question.

This all results in a better customer experience for every touchpoint, rather than experiences that are ported over from channel to channel.

For eCommerce brands specifically, microservices can help when it comes to building native mobile retail apps, progressive web apps (PWAs) and single page applications (SPAs) at scale, without worrying creating content individually for each touchpoint. Instead, you create data-driven content once, and deliver it anywhere.

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