Picture the scene: you walk into a stunning boutique or the perfect shop for your favourite pastime. You find yourself surrounded by all the treats you have been promising yourself for ages. These are combined with an array of new products that you have never seen before, but that you want even more.

The shop is filled with people you like: some you know, some you admire. A few are chatting, openly swapping tips and opinions and inviting you to join in the discussion. A welcoming salesperson walks over to you, recognises you, sits you down on the VIP seating and offers you a drink. They talk with you, no hardsell, they listen to you and then offer profound, useful advice around what you might want. 

OK, so now you are feeling really comfortable and thinking you probably know what you want to buy. Suddenly the salesperson’s demeanour flips:

“GIVE ME YOUR CREDIT CARD”, they scream at you!

At this point, you become a little more uneasy, perhaps cornered, and less sure of your potential purchases. You attempt to rewind to some of the earlier, relaxed conversation, but they are having none of it:

“I SAID GIVE ME YOUR MONEY….” the salesperson shouts. “..... And what is your date of birth? Where do you live?….And is your card still valid, what’s the expiry date? ….And what about those three numbers on the back?”

“Look, I haven’t got all day,” they say impatiently. “My session will expire in three minutes!”

Welcome to the average online experience.

The Right Start

Everyone is aware of content driven marketing. Companies are at the start of a truly exciting journey, finding innovative ways to play with the new array of digital marketing tools and channels. And yet, shopping basket abandonment, what in old-world language would be called “failure to close”, remains one of the largest challenges for any online operation.

Content personalisation rolls out a red carpet for customers, which gently entices them down the sales funnel. Companies now have the ability to coordinate customer interaction across fixed and mobile web, social media and emerging formats such as digital TV. Knowledge gained online can even be blended with the customer’s real world brand experience.

This customer insight now places profound new power in the hands of the digital marketer. In many businesses, digital marketing is taking on more of the role of low-level sales. But any good salesperson knows the importance of “the close”. All the enhanced interaction, well-judged conversation and enticement are rendered meaningless without the ability to make the final sale.

A Fail on the Sale

After having romanced the customer with sophisticated digital content and interaction, in far too many cases the online checkout process takes the customer to a brash, disjointed, impersonal environment where the final sale falls through.

One common reason is poor integration of the company’s ecommerce software. Website content, apps, email and social campaigns are increasingly being tied together with CRM and refined digital marketing tools. These systems share knowledge of the customer to deliver a more meaningful, personalised experience. And yet, most ecommerce systems remain separated from all this, sitting isolated behind a “store” button.

Too many ecommerce systems are built to provide a catalogue: dry, vanilla product detail. These perfunctory systems are built to handle transactions, to interact with stock control and accounting software. In short, they are built to serve the company’s business needs and not the customer. And all too often, this is exactly how it looks to the customer.

The red carpet of personalised content and messaging instantly stops. Suddenly you are buying an unromantic 2 line product description, one with added VAT and a delivery charge. If your credit cards are in the other room, you may decide to come back and complete the purchase later. Actually, maybe you should shop around, check that you can not get the product cheaper elsewhere.

Content Driven Commerce

Imagine the same checkout process, with just a simple video running in the corner: something that shows someone using the product in an inspirational setting. Content that keeps that shopping buzz flowing right through to the order confirmation. Imagine, in the checkout, offering your customer tips on where and how to use the product, maybe links to a user community.

What you have is content driven commerce: the ability to continue to deliver meaningful, personalised content that maintains the customer’s excitement level right through the check-out process and beyond. “The close” is a major part of any sales technique. Integrating advanced content management more tightly into the ecommerce solution gives digital marketers a whole new raft of possibilities to perfect this online.

 

By Christopher Justice, Chief Marketing Officer at Magnolia CMS


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