Creating an asset library: Building quality content for ecommerce content management
As more brands are getting involved in the ecommerce arena, businesses of all sizes quickly learn the value of establishing a creative contact or team to manage the content requirements of online marketplaces. Online content across platforms such as Amazon and eBay are an extension of your brand’s DNA and with a greater reliance in retail on digital presence than ever before, businesses are acknowledging that it is no longer enough to fill ecommerce channels with a few bullet points and product images. Customers browse and shop online in different ways depending on the channel, therefore brands will often require creative, specific content created for their chosen platform to meet standard requirements and, beyond this, stand out from the crowd. In lieu of an in-store experience, finding the right messaging to highlight unique selling points and address customer queries before they have been asked is pivotal.
Building an asset library that can support multichannel activities reflective of the specifications of each platform is therefore essential for maintaining competitiveness online. Not only this, but establishing a creative library can help brands take advantage of new promotional features as they become more widely available, such as Amazon’s expanding selection of advertising formats and the introduction of livestreaming. Whether you are just venturing out into the world of ecommerce or are an established marketplace seller, we have summarised our key recommendations for looking after your digital assets.
Audit your asset library: What digital content do you have?
Of course, 2020 doesn’t mark the beginning of ecommerce, but undoubtedly the contextual backdrop of a global pandemic has shifted significant focus on building an online presence for brands. During the first lockdown in the UK, nearly 16,000 ecommerce businesses were created between March and July. An additional 176,000 start-ups were also launched in the second quarter of 2020, the highest for any Q2 period on record. This indicates a hunger to take part in the growing capabilities of online commerce. Marketplaces like Amazon took advantage of the huge acceleration in global popularity by expanding their creative content features across new territories. The extension of the Amazon Storefront feature into multiple territories globally, as well as the introduction of Sponsored Brands Video advertising format, have presented brands with an even greater opportunity for trying something new with existing content. To get the most out of upcoming opportunities, get in the habit of periodically auditing your digital content to understand what you have. Do your assets still meet your content, marketing, sales and business development plans?
If you own an ecommerce brand, you need to form a checklist of your digital content. Beyond the traditional product imagery and video footage common across most platforms, digital content extends to product copy, product guides, FAQ sections, infographics, tables or charts, content templates and beyond. Dutifully organise your content in relevant folders and ensure this includes a way to save and track copy from across your different stores. Tracking this information, whilst time-consuming, allows you to compare how your content has changed over time and how it differs between platforms. Data gathered such as frequently asked questions from across website chatbots can also be utilised to improve marketplace copy, therefore keep centralised documents to store any information you can.
Alongside your content, revisit your core documents such as brand guidelines. Brand guidelines are commonplace for businesses but often fall short of incorporating the nuances that marketplaces have. Different module sizing within platforms could mean that you will require oddly shaped images or may even require custom font overlays in a manner that hasn’t been used before. Do you need to give new meaning to your core documents, or are they up to date for your current channels of communications with customers and methods of promoting?
You may also need to take on additional resources to support your online growth and, for consistency of branding and for time efficiency, storing sketches, wireframes and other templates can be hugely beneficial. Understanding what you have will lead to better conversations with your teams and will greatly assist any future agency staff hired. Lastly, of course, understanding your digital asset position prepares brands for building a strategy to optimise those assets for each particular third-party channel.
Develop a creative team: Do you have the resources to maintain content on all your channels?
Not all brands will require a full creative team to meet their objectives, however, sellers should not neglect the fact that selling online does require creative support, not just operational. A resource can be made up of an in-house team, agency or specialist help, or a mixture in between.
What considerations are there for in-house?
Consider establishing a creative team with enough resources and expertise to execute consistent content schedules on platforms. There are plenty of options for getting that content out there. The way companies are hiring is changing, with more creative and ecommerce specific roles available than ever before. Online growth over the past year has created positions such as ‘Marketplace Coordinator’, ‘Listing Executive’, ‘Digital Content Specialist’, focussed solely on optimising digital assets for marketplaces and growing the brand’s presence.
What can specialist help look like?
Alternatively, if in-house isn’t for you specialist agencies or freelancers can provide a synergy of knowledge. Internal positions such as ‘E-commerce Coordinator’ are also becoming more common, acting as a liaison between brand and various agencies or freelancers who work closely to either manage a brand’s accounts or collaborate on a project basis.
Take your content to the next level: Are your creative team equipped?
Initially, small teams shouldn’t feel like they haven’t got much to offer! Repackaging existing content and imagery is often sufficient to get started. With regular updates to marketplaces, brands should maintain up-to-date knowledge of the requirements of each platform, normally through specific guidelines. Beyond traditional product photography, get in the habit of developing lifestyle imagery showing your products in their intended use as a subtle way to highlight your product’s USPs.
Developing value-adding, engaging content for your customers, aligned tidily across your various marketplaces, can prove a cost-effective method for maximising the amount of outreach your brand has. This is particularly useful during the contextual environment of lockdowns and working from home. Building a hub of information across your channels is a perfect content booster, supplementary to paid advertising and other traditional marketing methods. Content should build a customer’s understanding of your brand and product, and this is supported by the growth of ‘how to’ content and tutorial style graphics across marketplaces. More and more businesses are tailoring their online content to appeal to a growing audience who are used to instant gratification. Often, consumers want actionable quick tips for a variety of everyday problems when they encounter difficulties or want to find facts about something they have seen or bought. Content that provides solutions is now considered key for many brands looking to cross-sell and grow wider brand awareness with customers.
Lastly, there are plenty of free, or cheap, design software solutions that can reimagine your raw assets and tailor them to channel-specific elements. The ability to create templates that can be updated to feature seasonal text and imagery helps to maintain consistency and saves time. As you develop your presence and build your product range, you may find that you require a content schedule specific to your marketplaces to ensure product launches are prepared for and to account for seasonal events such as Valentine’s Day or holidays. Products enjoying seasonal uplifts in sales may benefit from custom banners or graphics during these periods.
The goal for brands should be to establish clear, concise processes that enable internal teams and solution providers to get their message and story across consistently. The subtle and not-so-subtle nuances between channels will mean a varied range of content layouts, formats and design will be required to best engage with your customers while maintaining consistency across channels.
Brands should expect content to become a much more prominent part of how businesses communicate with their customers and therefore, take the time to analyse and establish an effective strategy to target customers.
Stuart Conroy has run Activ8 for 20 years and has operated across multiple channels in Asia, Europe and North America. With an understanding of the latest technology, logistics and outsourcing opportunities, Activ8 provides strategy consulting and hands-on solutions to brands looking to manage risk and scale opportunity in online commerce.
Activ8 utilise their experience of being on the Fast Track 100 on two occasions to help brands navigate the scaling process and operate a risk-averse multichannel strategy.
Having worked in investment banking before starting an ecommerce business as well as creating and working with a number of start-ups, Stuart has a great understanding of the challenges facing businesses of all sizes in the modern, digitally-influenced arenas.