When Caesar crossed the Rubicon river in northern Italy in 49 b.c. it led to his demise on the Ides of March. Caesar didn’t cross the Rubicon alone. His army came with him. Rome viewed Caesar’s action as irrevocable. Rome’s republican principals were at risk.
Today online merchants face a large river too. There is a huge gulf between online commerce and content. Ecommerce’s Rubicon must be irrevocably crossed too. Why? The world is irrevocably social, mobile and connected. The web’s hall monitors such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are sitting at the cool kids table and not everyone is going to be invited to join.
This post shares 5 innovative ways to cross the Ecommerce Rubicon between content and commerce. Many of these tips came from working with Moon-Audio.com. Moon-Audio.com, founded by Drew Baird in Cary, NC, sells audio cables that make even the best headphones sound better.
5 Ecommerce Content & Commerce Rubicon Tips
- “Magazine” your content
- Curate from brands
- Curate from customers
- Lean & Visual Win
- Tie In Email, Social & Mobile
Magazine Your Content
Google’s QDF (Quality Deserves Freshness) rule means your content needs to evolve over time. Gone are the days when you could post content and never think about it again. Today you need to support content with social shares and frequent updates.
Updates are easy. Curate content from easy to find and filter sources such as brands and customers (covered in the next two sections). Including social widgets and comments helps too. Social widgets provide feedback loops. You know what content is resonating and what isn’t.
Online merchants need to think like Magazine editors. What is content you can refresh monthly, weekly or daily. You want more and more of your content to come from curation or User Generated Content (UGC). Moon-Audio.com and most Small to Medium Sized ecommerce merchants are downing in TO DO lists.
Create an Ambassador program (link is to my Ambassador profile on Moon-Audio.com’s) and ask for help. Once your site’s magazine sections are established ask an Ambassador or Ambassadors to help curate, write and edit what goes into each month’s “issue”.
Here is an example of how we will create a branded magazine for Moon-Audio.com:
The key is finding evergreen content such as brand company profiles AND mixing in frequently changing content such as reviews summaries (reviews come into Moon-Audio.com daily), news, features, Q&A, contests and games. Think like a magazine editor who understands the web (rare) and mix QDF (Quality Deserves Freshness), curated content and evergreen content in your “magazine”.
Ecommerce sites need to win visitor hearts, minds and loyalty. CONTENT is the key to all three of those important missions, so “magazine” your content.
Brands are winning brand searches. Google’s algorithm changes DESTROYED an entire class of middle-men “link farm” sites. Brands are becoming SEO search engine authorities on their brands.
Don’t be stupid. You will make money online surfing waves Google gives you than yelling at the sea. Curate content like the picture of Chord Electronics founder surrounded by beautiful women (above) and you will be surfing Google’s brand content wave.
Be sure to include attribution and toss a “no-follow” link back every now and again. The web’s sharing quid pro quo is important to understand and use. Don’t steal do SHARE.
Social Media: It’s The conversation, stupid – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Curate Customer Content
The world is RICH in brand content. Easy to pick up, riff and a great source of legitimacy (their brand values reflect on your brand by association) curating brand content is important. Want to know what is even more important?
Curating customer content creates amazing and immediate benefits including:
Benefits of Curating Customer Content
- Helps Form A Tribe
- Identifies your “proprietary audience” or 1:9:90 Rule
- Says you CARE and are LISTENING
How many followers are you following back. If you follow less than 50% you don’t yet understand social media marketing. Social media is a conversation. When you follow back a tiny portion of those who follow you send a clear, “We are too good, big and uncaring for you,” message.
Can ANY brand afford to tell their customers and advocates to go to hell these days. Answer: NO. Mark Schaefer even introduces the idea of a “proprietary audience” in his excellent book Content Code.
Content Code’s proprietary audience reminds us of the 1:9:90 Rule. 1% of a website’s visitors will share valuable User Generated Content, 9% will share a site’s content especially when it comes from the 1%ers and 90% read. Schaefer talks about how 5% of your audience are “proprietary” meaning they do MOST of your content’s advocacy work.
Know, support and empower your proprietary audience by curating their content into your site and social networks. Create public facing profiles, Give your advocates links, kudos and digital support (follow back, link and share their content with attribution and regular “features”.
“Yeah but none of our customers want to talk about our products, we sell X,” we’ve heard this objection many times and it is always false. Every business has advocates. Every business has people who love, care about and advocate them or they wouldn’t be in business.
Another way of saying that last sentence is EVERY BUSINESS has a network of supporters they rarely tap, don’t recognize and wouldn’t know how to empower. They don’t cross the Rubicon. Life on the other bank, the bank that doesn’t seamlessly blend social, mobile, content and commerce, isn’t going to be rewarding or fun soon.
Cross the Rubicon by curating customer content.
Lean & Visual
Here is an email Moon-Audio.com sent this morning:
This is a “newsletter” email so it is less lean than a promotional email. Note the incorporation of customer content (curating customer content) and use of major brand names (Apple, Audeze) and timely themes (Back-To-School or BTS). Most of Moon-Audio.com’s customers aren’t in school anymore.
Doesn’t matter. BTS is a riffable convention. When you surf an existing wave such as BTS you do less work and win hearts, minds and loyalty faster. Who doesn’t want that (lol).
<h2>Tie In Social, Mobile & Fun</h2>
We’ve noticed an important trend. Tasks customers used to love to help with on their laptops and desktops get more response when THE SAME TASK is requested on mobile. Smartphones seem to make “boring” tasks like writing reviews FUN.
If there wasn’t strong reasons to think MOBILE FIRST before that opening paragraph should have every merchant wondering how they can RETHINK their approach. How can you make your content an ongoing game, a contest where everyone wins and you get what every video game or loyalty program is built to create – more game play, loyalty and advocacy.
Gamify your content marketing and you cross the rubicon between content and commerce. Gamify to win hearts, minds and loyalty.
GAMIFY Content Marketing – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires