With the digital world brimming with content, opportunities abound for brands and retailers to capitalize on it. Complexities have emerged, however. The ultimate question to answer is how to monetize and personalize digital content while also staying ahead of the competition.
I recently took part in a 30-minute webinar entitled Monetizing and Personalizing UGC, Rich Media, and Influencer Content at Retail Think Tank, hosted by Retail TouchPoints’ Alicia Esposito. During the session, we dove deep into the new content trends and challenges. Below are the steps we suggest that online retailers take to grow their business and attract customers.
Over the past year, consumers have been spending more time and money online, which has led to a surge in e-commerce. Consequently, retail brands must take note of these priorities for online consumers:
- Speed. Speed is of crucial importance for digital experience—even more so for e-commerce. More than 40% of users would abandon a webpage that doesn’t load within three seconds. To ensure that consumers can efficiently ingest new information, your pages must load fast, first of all. Plus, the page content, especially video, must be clear, compelling, and crisp. Most videos nowadays last for only 15 seconds or less.
- Relevancy. Consumers get frustrated if bombarded with content they aren’t interested in. Also, content that’s irrelevant to them falls flat, potentially leading to site abandonment or behavior switch. To win engagement, personalize content that speaks to consumers’ lifestyle, preferences, or tangible needs
- Rich content. Visual components play a key role in driving business results. Even though today’s consumers do less in-store shopping, they still desire sensory experiences. So, create rich content that enliven online experiences, such as by offering 360-degree product views, video of the product in use, or interactive elements that mimic a hands-on feel.
Nearly two-thirds of all consumers prefer to watch videos that are shorter than 60 seconds. The content that performs best on such platforms as Instagram and TikTok speaks to that fact.
Remember, too, that many viewers default to watching videos without sound. With features like overlaid text and subtitles, you can speed up comprehension of content and make it accessible to all.
The following techniques heighten the likelihood that consumers will engage with a video in its entirety:
- Highlight reels. To entice viewers to watch the full video or to attract clicks, add rich media to the snippets on viewer feeds.
- Seek out promotions from brand influencers. When viewers see someone they trust using or championing a brand or product, they are more likely to check it out.
- Cater content to 1:1 link sharing. Given the limited real estate available for showcasing your brand, optimize embedded content that is sent from peer to peer. For example, the way a video appears in an unfurled text-message link or on a social network differs from how the video looks on a website.
Above all, each piece of your content must be compelling on its own, and your content must be consistent across all platforms.
Branded content is evolving to offer a similar experience to all social networks in the form of short, eye-catching, and relatable messages. That is especially true of UGC: Properly collecting and promoting UGC can boost brand perception, demonstrating authenticity and influencing purchase decisions.
For all that blending UGC with branded content is a superb marketing strategy, unique challenges arise in content harvesting. Be sure to take these steps:
- Moderate your UGC. Ensure that the UGC you share online is not offensive. Given the cultural nuances in different regions, what is offensive to some might be acceptable to others. Pinpoint your target audience and go from there.
- Keep your UGC consistent. Since UGC might not always be as high-quality as branded content, have a process in place that converts UGC to an appropriate format for your channels.
- Adopt an effective security system. Put up guardrails to prevent bad actors from uploading content that could harm viewers and damage your brand.
- Make UGC globally accessible. The user experience for uploading, downloading, and viewing content must be fast and available—no matter the time of day.
- Comply with legal requirements. Verify that you have the right to leverage the UGC that has been uploaded to your site. Also, establish a process for removing or replacing content quickly in case of legal issues.
Nuancing visual content to the audience is a big boost for user experience. You can derive cues from the interests that viewers communicate through search history or past purchases. Incorporate relevance by taking into account the season, current events, and such.
Two major requirements for creation of personalized content are scalability and reliability. Success calls for balance, i.e., create rich, personalized content on digital channels at scale.
Also critical is optimization of content for the viewing device. For example, you must deliver the right file formats and encode the content to reduce file size while maintaining visual quality. A wise step to take is to set up your architecture to cater to all devices with a media-experience platform like Cloudinary.
With its laser focus on media, Cloudinary is committed to enabling brands to build highly engaging visual experiences that convert viewers through creation, organization, and optimization of content—no matter the geographical location or viewing device. In particular, Cloudinary’s Programmable Media can achieve optimization by automatically delivering images and videos in the format and quality that suit all viewing devices, browsers, and connection speeds.