Content is King!
This year proves to be different from the past few for social commerce publishing. Historically, (as far back as the mid-80s) e-commerce was generated by the use of e-mail, while today we have multichannel platforms such as mobile web, video, embedded messaging, QR codes and more. Social commerce publishing has improved capture rates, improved sales and generated much more top line (and bottom line) revenues for e-commerce retailers on a global scale. It isn’t about the size of the e-mail list any longer. While deals of the day rely greatly on the e-mail listings, marketers have several additional tools in their belt than the past. The “deals” phenom drove cost of customer acquisition through the proverbial roof.
Firms like Groupon, Living Social and a hundred others may have their place in the retail world, but the cost of doing business is quite dear. Not only must the retailer agree to heavily discount the advertised daily deal, the vast majority of the revenues generated during the deal period goes to the procurer rather than the retailer. It is my opinion that working in this fashion is akin to “running a going out of business sale.” Social commerce publishing is anti-deal of the day!
Today’s marketers have a plethora of social commerce publishing programs and tools with which the drive toward top line revenues is a much leaner (cost effective) process. Social media channels, the blogosphere, landing pages in their expanded web pages, mobile ads, QR codes for mobile discounting, streaming video email and embedded video in online magazines, and a host of other content rich media like online catalogs, buying guides, etc. turn the simple process of e-mail and snail mail direct marketing obsolete.
Then there are the myriad of offline methods to supplement and drive the online aspects of retail, traditional advertising. While traditional brick and mortar retailers are “getting into” digital marketing, they are sorely behind the online retailers by far. Brick and mortar giant Wal-Mart however, has developed a mobile app that is driving new revenues ahead much more quickly and powerfully than first expected. Listed as one of the top mobile apps of 2011, they are one of the few traditional retailers that have embraced the digital media fully. Their social commerce publishing efforts have transcended traditional retail efforts more so than their competitors have.
Direct sales performed electronically is the most cost effective method, and surpasses traditional retail in all metrics. Once the classic buying and selling means by which commerce happened, the manufacturer selling to the wholesaler, then the jobber/middlemen, then the retailer is sorely outdated. Retailers like Old Navy, Nike and a few others have planned to move toward direct-to-consumer retail within the next couple of years. Old Navy has also been listed in the Best of 2011 Mobile Apps listings due to their novel approach in digitizing retail.
Content rich publishing of brand supportive media has become the “way” to do business, and many retailers that initially embraced all things digital are resting rather than driving their efforts, which will prove to be catastrophic in the end, as the digital revolution will hit full steam this year by all accounts. Remember the days gone by when going to speak to the in-store sales person was the way to find out about a product? Two decades ago that was the preferred method for new product information. Now, the minimum wage clerks know little if anything, and are there to help find things and ring them up, period.
Consumers search out engaging content on the internet to learn why and where to buy what they are looking for. They don’t want to be sold, they want to be informed. As far as social commerce publishers go, content publishers are the norm; not the unusual. Companies and company brands are built through their content, their customer engagement and relationship partners (writers, marketing agencies, webmasters, and mobile media experts).
Some retailers have embraced this model, while others have yet to jump in. Unfortunately, for the lag behind’s, it is a question of when, not if, should survival and sustainability come to mind. Consumers in the selling seasons ahead will participate in all market channels, whether they be traditional advertising, mobile media, online content like blogs, embedded video and display ads. Digital publishing is cost effective, timely, with a strong return on investment. Those fully integrated in the social commerce publishing movement will find themselves well ahead of the competitor that has yet to embrace it.
Good & Happy Marketing!