Jennifer Quigley-Jones CEO and founder of YouTube Marketing agency Digital Voices looks at the best ways ecommerce brands can benefit from the huge rise in interest in online video.
With the dramatic change in consumer behaviour brought about by COVID, ecommerce brands have been beneficiaries with increased sales and awareness. With a tentative reopening of physical retail and more competition arising, these brands will be keen to stay ahead of the pack and retain their market share. Smart ecommerce players can deepen their engagement by looking beyond the traditional bid-driven platforms. Sponsored content though online video is one really effective way to achieve this objective.
As we are spending far more of our lives digitally, online video is a medium we have been turning into in our millions. According to GlobalWebIndex, 38% of people are now watching more online video as a result of coronavirus. Online video’s strength is its immediacy and ability to provide a connection during our time of social distancing. YouTube has become the platform of choice for relevant news, information and education relating to the virus and how to cope. Website visitors are up 15.3% overall, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile people are turning to Facebook Live for gigs or TikTok for humorous distraction.
Heroes of lockdown
Online content creators are able to get to market quickly and react to consumer needs. In the UK Joe Wicks has become a hero of lockdown with his daily YouTube classes becoming the COVID equivalent of Strictly in terms of family viewing. Locked down families are bonding over burpees and quiz questions, rather than paso doble and bad jokes.
Many ecommerce players will be adjusting their thinking to engage with these influencers. The ability to work with influencers who can weave brand messages into their content in a relevant way offers huge benefits. While influencer marketing has been seen as something of the ‘wild west’ in the past, tracking ecommerce success is easy. Unique URLs and discount codes mean sales can be monitored effectively.
Also the increasing sophistication of targeting means it is easier to see which messaging and genres convert customers and build awareness. The ability to combine different micro-influencers and scale their reach is also crucial. This can be more cost-efficient than working with one big name.
But for ecommerce brands looking to work with influencers what are the top considerations for those attempting it for the first time?
1. A data-led approach to decision making - Just like with other digital advertising platforms, brands need to be clear about the audience they’re trying to reach and what the key success metric is. If the aim is to raise brand awareness, views or impressions will be key. If it is purchase consideration, then click through rates and email sign ups should be measured. If it is sales, the focus should be on building custom landing pages and issuing each influencer discount codes.
2. Have one clear Call To Action - Often brands want the influencer to overwhelm their audience with information. This creates confusion and risks everything being ignored. If what is offered is one clear next step, brands are much more likely to inspire action.
3. Trial with at least three creators – If they are trialing a new marketing strategy, retailers shouldn’t just depend on one influencer – they could always be an outlier. It is vital to engage with three different influencers from different verticals to judge which approaches are most successful. A campaign leveraging multiple micro-influencers could well be more effective.
4. Be clear with deliverables and expectations - Influencers are often in high demand from brands and agencies. It is crucial to be clear and upfront about which content and assets are expected, timelines and dates, reporting and budgets.
5. Be flexible with how your brand is integrated – Dictating how a brand is interwoven simply won’t work. The huge benefit that can be gained from product placement can only be accrued if it appears authentically. Influencers’ audiences engage with them because they enjoy their style of content. It is crucial to work with the influencer as a partner who knows their audience. Retailers who take this approach will see the most benefit.
As we return to some normality in the future online video is set be a lockdown habit that stays. Online retailers can be well placed to reap the benefits by engaging with trusted content creators who can be their advocates.
By Jennifer Quigley-Jones
CEO and founder