When it comes to marketing, there are a number of rules to remember. The most important is engagement – particularly in an online context. If your audience is engaged then you know they’re paying attention. It means they are interacting with your brand and actively sharing your content. Engaging content has legs; it travels to new audiences without you directly spending money to reach them because people are freely sharing it.
But there’s another rule that’s also vital to your eCommerce marketing strategy, and that’s entertainment. Marketers have long known that they need to entertain or amuse audiences in order to keep their attention for longer than a millisecond. With an overwhelming media environment now creating intense competition for customer attention, entertaining your audience in order to engage them is more important than it has ever been.
Entertaining with purpose
Digital media allows brands to increasingly merge their eCommerce offering with entertainment features that makes the whole brand experiences a pleasurable one. Online clothing retailer Femme and Fierce have a playful online store that’s hard not to be charmed by, incorporating cartoon-style graphics into its product images that seem to echo the popular stickers used in photo apps such as Snapchat.
But it’s in video content where much of the entertainment value is being added for brands already active with an entertainment strategy. Not many brands achieve the dream of their video content going viral in the way that Dollar Shave Club managed to do. That’s an unusually good result for a very low-cost video. Generally, brands have to spend a lot more money to create memorable video content that will dazzle audiences.
You’ll find fashion houses embedding their entire catwalk show into their home site, not just to parade the clothing but to dazzle with their creative concept from start to finish. Gucci is just one example.
Luxury fashion brands are now creating increasingly impressive catwalk shows and sharing this content outside the event itself in order to both entertain their audience and showcase the products. You have to get the customer’s attention to really engage with them and sometimes that can involve creating some serious media content.
Fashion blog Man Repeller took the play-to-shop idea to the maximum when it launched its online store. Enter the funky site and you’re immediately asked if you want to shop or play. But the playfulness continues whichever option you pick – graphics dance across the screen, products are displayed in bizarre ways and the whole experience is very random and achingly cool.
Remember though that entertaining your audience isn’t about creating pointless apps; a mistake many brands have stumbled into. Most marketers hopefully know by now to avoid making apps for the sake of it but somehow apps get churned out that don’t really seem to suit any purpose besides a vague idea about a brand experience.
Provence-themed toiletries brand L’Occitane created their Seeds of Dream app where users tended an online farm in order to celebrate Provence’s biodiversity. There’s no obvious ROI to this app. To really maximise the value from your spend on entertaining audiences, it needs to be tied into the shopping experience.
In western markets, social eCommerce never quite seems to have taken flight, whilst the social eCommerce experience seems much more established in Asian markets. One excellent example of an app that’s successfully integrated fun into the shopping experience is Shopee, which has gained hotly-contested market share in Asia by offering wildly popular in-app gaming well integrated with social media.
From a base in Singapore, Shopee has managed to expand into several other regional markets across multiple languages united always by the common theme of fun eCommerce with a social element. Shopee has excelled at weaponising entertainment to aggressively gain market share in a highly competitive marketplace.
A challenging approach
Many eCommerce companies find it hard enough making the eCommerce experience a hassle-free and seamless one for their customers. Making it an entertaining experience is just a further challenge.
If you’re given the choice between making your existing eCommerce experience smoother and easier for the consumer and making it more entertaining, the answer is almost always to make it easier.
Making the experience easier for the customer should always be your primary aim. Only once that goal is achieved should you start thinking about taking creative risks and entertaining them.
With intense competition now the norm between online retailers, most surviving brands have already done all they can to improve the seamlessness of their eCommerce experience.
That’s where the role of entertainment comes in – making their online offering more pleasurable in order to beat the competition. Today’s increasingly demanding and jaded customer is known to be fickle, and your brand’s ability to entertain them could be what finally tempts them away from your competitors.