How online retailers can provide additional content to engage customers at each point in the purchase decision-making process.
This traditionally slow post-holiday lull is a good time for online retailers to improve their marketing. One area of opportunity is enriching content to support the purchase process. Content consumes 47 percent of users' time online, more than three times the amount spent online with actual commerce sites, according to 2007 research from the Online Publishers Association and Nielsen Net//Ratings. Examples of major e-commerce sites augmenting their sites with customer-friendly content are 1-800 Flowers' Celebrations and Amazon's High-Def 101.
Content Meets the Purchase Funnel
E-commerce marketers should define content broadly and consider customers' information needs at each point in the purchase process. Remember, customers are looking to buy the optimal product at the best price within their purchasing timeframe.
Because consumer's needs vary based on where they are in the decision process, use the purchase funnel's five major phases to better understand the content needed. Some types of content may serve multiple purposes.
Phase 1: Research
Phase 2: Engage
Phase 3: Conversion/Purchase
Phase 4: Post-Purchase Support
Phase 5: Advocacy
Engaging customers by providing additional content is one of the underused strengths of the Web. Such information enables customers to better use your products and helps attract and retain customers. And plentiful content often aids your organic search efforts.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
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