The marriage of e-commerce and content marketing
A study by Deloitte earlier this year pegged the value of the eCommerce market in India at $16 billion for 2015 - that's a staggering 300% increase.
Over the last five years, eCommerce has exploded in India primarily due to the rise in mobile Internet access and improvements across payment and delivery infrastructures. A study by Deloitte earlier this year pegged the value of the eCommerce market in India at $16 billion for 2015 - that's a staggering 300% increase from $4 billion in 2010.
This revolution, initially driven by eCommerce pure plays like SnapDeal, FlipKart and Myntra, has fundamentally changed the way many Indian consumers behave, providing more traditional, offline focused businesses with a wake-up call, and further driving them to build strategies that ensure they are able to engage with consumers wherever they are.
At the same time Content Marketing has become an increasingly important part of the marketer's toolkit and, when CXO Today interviewed 380 Indian CMO's, 84% of them said they would be increasing their content marketing budget in 2015. Subsequently, there has been a lot of attention paid to how eCommerce and Content Marketing fit together.
A commonly held belief, and one that I was exposed to when I ran Apple's eCommerce affiliate partnerships in Asia Pacific, is that eCommerce is all about getting the highest number of sales at the lowest cost per acquisition and that Content Marketing is not the most efficient way to do this. This limited view leads to a larger percentage of advertising budgets being directed towards the bottom of the "sales funnel" to convert existing demand to sales, but not enough towards building affinity and demand via a meaningful dialogue and long-term connection with customers. It is the digital equivalent of asking someone to marry you on the first date.
Indian brands are now creating more content than ever before and this is particularly applicable around the festive season, when digital brands really step up their activity to elevate themselves in consumers' minds. There are great examples of brands using content to engage, build recognition and ultimately drive demand amongst consumers. Hindustan Unilever has its BeBeautiful.in hub, which layers together a wealth of health and beauty content with relevant products in order to create real value for its consumers. Elsewhere, United Spirits uses its brand neutral liveinstyle.com hub to provide interesting articles on lifestyle, parties and drink recipes: areas that are synonymous with the brands it represents.
Outside of India, we also see many instances of brands successfully marrying Content Marketing with their eCommerce strategies. Take for example the UK-based fashion brand Reiss - through cleverly executed Content Marketing, it managed to create a blog experience that became a 'must read' with its audience and through topical, relevant and informative content resulted in a 36% higher average order value when compared to sales coming from display media.
Another great example is US luxury and lifestyle brand, The Line, which used its own content hub to convert readers into shoppers. In just 3 months it saw an increase in transactions of 72%, which translated to a staggering rise of 640% in revenues generated from last-click conversions.
Here at Outbrain, we work with brands to distribute and amplify their content as recommendations on India's largest premium publisher sites. In the last couple of years we have seen a definite shift as digitally savvy brands begin to understand the value of employing content marketing at all stages of their digital strategy.
In fact, and this is something we have tailored our business around, we have seen a mindset shift from brands who previously focused on traffic at the lowest cost and who are now viewing their efforts through the lens of 'positive outcomes' - whether that is driving engagement, newsletter sign-ups, lead generation or transactions - resulting in a shift in how return on investment (ROI) is measured in relation to content creation.
Take Automotive as an example, the purchase is highly considered and rarely takes place online but brands in this area are adept at using online content marketing strategies to build a dialogue with consumers, generate demand and funnel this through to an expression of interest, brochure download, test drive booking etc.
On the other end of the spectrum, transaction focused online retailers are having great success using content distribution platforms to distribute and amplify curated, product-led content such as "5 great gift ideas for this Diwali" and are finding better performance when compared to other digital acquisition channels.
Additionally, brands are also using content to drive purchase intent and build custom audience segments for retargeting - naturally someone who has read a cell phone review will be more likely to click on a subsequent cell phone advertisement and go on to purchase. It's a great example of smart, relevant and timely Content Marketing through a combination of content and eCommerce.
In conclusion, my view is that smart eCommerce and well executed Content Marketing complement each other and ensure that there is engagement between brand and consumer at multiple touch points throughout the purchase cycle. It is true that digital as a discipline still forms a relatively small part of overall marketing spend in India and these are both (rapidly) evolving areas. But, as advertising becomes increasingly targeted and personalized, and brands strive to find better ways to connect with their target audience, Content Marketing will become the key to their future strategies.
Chris Mockford is Director, Account Strategy, SE Asia, India & New Markets for Outbrain.