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The Line banks on branded content to build ecommerce strategy

PHILADELPHIA - Luxury retailer The Line is using responsive Web design to support its focus on content as a way to draw consumers in and develop deeper relationships. 

During the "Don?t Neglect Branding: How Content Drives eCommerce Long Term" session at eTail East 2014, a retail executive predicted branded content will move beyond marketing to become the communication norm across an organization. According to research by Content Marketing Institute, 90 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing.

?Branding today especially in ecommerce has been replaced by this idea of attribution marketing,? said Charlie Cole, CEO, The Line. ?Attribution marketing is what you need to think of when you?re thinking about a brand."

Attribution marketing
Attribution provides a level of understanding of what combination of events influence individuals to engage in a desired behavior referred to as a conversion.

In order for retailers to make informed decisions, they must be able to determine the true value of their online efforts. Marketers often aim to discover which online channels have the most influence on purchase decisions. However, typical user behavior makes it very difficult to find a clear answer.

Online shoppers will interact with a Web site in a number of different ways over the course of a few days or even weeks before making a purchase. Some shoppers make impulse decisions, while others like to spend time comparing prices and doing research about the product or service. Examples of channels that online shoppers use to find Web sites include: organic search, paid advertising, referring Web sites, direct visits, emails, banner ads and social networks.

Online luxury clothier The Line, can be described as customer-obsessed and digs deeper to out-innovate its competitors by offering more authentic, relevant and personal customer experiences.

Photography and light editorial are used to draw in visitors, but do not as the consumer to take any action in terms of giving out personal information or flaunting prices.

If a visitor makes it through the 11 pages of text and images, a box at the bottom asks them for an email address not to receive a discount, but to continue to have the type of content that was assumed they enjoyed, delivered to their inbox.

This type of strategy that differs from the flashy and almost desperate attempts from other retailers helps foster empathy that leads to a deeper understanding of the customer.

Changing landscape
Content marketing is changing as the marketplace evolves.

Content alone is not enough for sustainability: it keeps audiences passive where brands conversely seek an active audience. That means using tools and communities to create interactive experiences for your visitors whenever possible.

Retailers also need to keep their audience, not just attract it. Email is a great place to do this. Offer something of value in exchange for subscriptions, and keep those subscribers with valuable, interesting, useful content.

Leveraging social media to expand on initial reach with every post should also be considered, as in-depth content is a must for core audiences, but that bite-size content is the way to boost exposure through social media.

Being unique is not just about producing unique content, it is about building a unique content brand.

?Your content in ecommerce in fairly ubiquitous,? Mr. Cole said.

?It could be your homepage or your email, it could be how you represent editorial on your Web site, it could be about how long your product pages are, but all these must be executed in a way that are brand appropriate for your consumers.?

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York