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Word of web getting a strong hold in online marketing
''Don’t go away… we will be back in a minute,” is the familiar refrain you come across even from celebrity TV hosts while announcing commercial breaks. Why is it that customers prefer to flip channels and move away from the carefully crafted TV commercials? The reason is obvious. Customers today no longer approve of marketers intruding privacy with their labels carrying tall claims of product superiority, service excellence, etc.

Quite obviously, the rules of engaging customers have changed. The net-savvy, new-age customers are smart and hence brands have got to be smarter to connect to them. No one has understood this phenomenon better than the online retailers in the e-commerce space. Quite naturally, e-commerce players such as Flipkart, Jabong, Shopuli, Snapdeal are discovering new methods of connecting to the customers.

As e-commerce is gaining an increasing share of the customers’ wallet, for online retailers, the Word- of-Web (WoW) is emerging as a very potent marketing platform, replacing the age-old word-of-mouth. WoW offers a wider platform offering text, pictures, videos, graphics, etc. and it has led to the emergence of content marketing as a powerful marketing tool.

Through a well-articulated strategy, content marketing aims to engage the customer communities in a constant dialogue with the brand at a human and social level in areas, which interests the customers. In the process, the company is able to project its brand personality within the community, gain its trust and tactfully lead them to the product.

While engaging the customers and acquiring their wallet-share is a fine art, e-commerce players must follow a well-defined content marketing strategy as well in order to hit big.

Getting a foot-hold in the web space is easy, but the test lies in stamping a foot-print there, separating men from the boys. The more your brand gets noticed and talked about, the better is the top-of-mind recall, which would ultimately help in customer acquisition. Relevant and topical content delivered through social media, blog posts, etc. help a company in evolving a brand personality and leaving a foot-print.

For winning in the e-commerce space, you must follow what successful online retailers have done in the past - avoid pushing sales in the first go. Their content marketing strategies have carefully covered the three-step journey :

Create a Customer Community: develop an authentic fan-base, relevant to your brand. This exercise would require identifying the target customer community, choosing the appropriate online platforms and sharing suitable content and communication to attract the eye-balls.

Build Trust & Credibility: If you are perceived talking about issues relevant to your industry, employees, social and topical issues, in a transparent manner, you are more likely to win the customer trust and connect with them. The content must inform, educate and do some value addition to the customer. If done effectively, the company will also gain credibility within the community that it knows its stuff.

Suggest Solutions: After establishing the customer-connect, you may suggest solutions where your product would figure. However, it has to be done in a softer manner. Any effort to push the offers is only going to be repulsed by the customers.

Any systematic content marketing strategy has to be supported by an on-going  analytical exercise, which should bring out critical factors such as the no. of fans and their growth rate, ratio of fan creation between organic and paid efforts, distribution of fans in terms of geography, age, sex, etc., rate of engagement, depth of engagement – likes, comments, posts, sharing, etc., analysis of daily interactions in terms of day of the week, time of the day and impact of promotions on daily interactions. The company has to reinforce or re-orient its strategies, depending upon the results.

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