7 Ways to Blend Content and Commerce to Boost Sales

Most marketers know the best way to increase sales is by sending the right message to the right customer at the right time. Yesterday, a CMSWire webinar explained how to do that by following seven strategies.

The presentation, sponsored by HP, was built around a case study involving Nikon's site for the US, NikonUSA.com. It featured a mix of technologies from the hybris cross-channel e-commerce platform, HP's TeamSite and Kanban, the engineering firm that led the project.

You can watch the webinar by clicking here or on the video at the bottom of this story.

Selling Emotion

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"Some of the things we're talking about are consistency across sites with ratings and reviews, and being able to easily select products and drill down to the products you want," said Chris Saam, ISV technical alliance manager for hybris.

"In addition, you're really selling emotions -- the look and feel of the product — not just presenting the product, but trying to connect with your customers with your brand."

Another important factor, he said, is the customer experience, which he defined as "making it easy for customers get what they want with relevant content, localized experience and filtering."

Finding the right balance isn't easy, especially when working with a large, global company like Nikon, which set a budget, a 10-month deadline and requirements that included a lot of rich media. Kanban was able to deliver the project -- on time and within the budget -- by following principles that fostered discipline and focus, according to Philip Wisniewski, the company's executive vice president of client development, and CEO Josh Manton. 

The 7 Principles

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1. Surface and mitigate the silo syndrome. Wisniewski pointed out how an org chart can get in the way of aligning teams and goals. "These organizational silos can stifle innovation and even worse, can derail your most important projects," he said.

Sometimes the complications stem from conflicts in different parts of the IT or marketing teams, or between the business side and the marketers. At Nikon, one team owns commerce, marketing and communications, which made things much easier. "Decisions are quick, goals are aligned, teams focused and the result in an exceptional user experience," said Wisniewski.

He compared that with a current Kanban client which has three domains, three navigational structures and two catalogs feeding one commerce flow. "We can really goose ROI when breaking down these silos," Wisniewski said.

2. Start with a sound content strategy. Wisniewski said a content strategy defines how content will engage the audience and drive revenue. That includes "how the content is sourced, created, structured, enhanced, transformed, published and delivered," he said. "We call that portion of content strategy content engineering."

By calling it a sound strategy, Wisniewski said he means it has to be well-documented. "It's not going to work unless it's written down," he said. A sound content strategy will enhance flexibility and scalability.

He explained that Nikon's strategy was to "educate, inspire and engage" the audience. The company accomplished that with more than 300 articles that were created, sourced and endorsed by Nikon. "They manage to subtly intertwine articles about Nikon technology," he noted.

On top of that, Nikon added a layer of personalization so that the assortment of articles was tailored to the individual visiting the site, including translation to the appropriate language. The system also delivers variations of the same images to Google, Amazon and other sales channels where consumers would interact with Nikon's brand.

3. Select the right integration architecture. Manton said choosing the right architecture depends on a company's previous investments, existing capabilities and goals. Kanban has developed three different design options: hybrid, e-commerce driven architecture and WCM driven architecture. (See image below)

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Nikon had already invested in HP's LiveSite platform and wanted to keep that. Also it had outsourced commerce platform in the past, but migrated to hybris as its new internal e-commerce system.

Following a variation of the hybrid model, Kanban built and embedded APIs that delivered the commerce content to the CMS. The combined system also embedded rich CMS content into the cart and checkout flows.

4. Streamline content and product workflows. To manage content across platforms, the tools must be simple, said Wisniewski.

"We could spend a lot of money building systems and tools for our teams to use, but if they're not used effectively, we're going to have a pretty poor return on our investment," he said.

TeamSite includes wysiwyg creation tools. Once a piece of content is created, it triggers action in hybris that controls the up-sells, cross-sells and other commerce variations.

5. Serve structured content and components. "A solution that successfully implements structured content and modular components is better prepared for success in today's omnichannel environment," said Manton.

In a system like the hybris-TeamSite combination, content is mapped into reusable components.

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"This allows for greater content reuse, it allows for a reduction in document translation costs and it allows for more targeted personalization," Manton said. "Nikon is able to syndicate structured content across channels such as retailer websites, Google, Shopping and Amazon."

6. Seize the rich media opportunity.  Nikon wanted a lot of rich media. So Kanban created an add-on for TeamSite that allows users to push video to Brightcove's video services.

"Once the video is uploaded, it is transcoded into different formats and bit rates. A LiveSite component was created that can reference videos on Brightcove's servers," Manton said.

"This significantly reduces bandwidth requirements for their hosting facility and increases the quality of the delivered video," he added.

7. Strive for focus, then agility. "This is a principle of maintaining the discipline to deliver effectively on large, complex integration projects," Wisniewski explained.

While you may be tempted to make changes to harvest "low-hanging fruit" during the development effort, it should be "carefully considered" because changing requirements could have an unintended impact on the system.

Adhering to this principle allowed Kanban to meet the original goals while also managing an ecosystem of vendors.

A Prettier Picture


Nikon's project turned out well, according to the Kanban execs, who said that within six months, order sizes jumped 72 percent, cart conversions rose 42 percent and visits to product pages climbed 35 percent. Use of the "where to buy" function was up 28 percent.

The final speaker, Shabih Sayed, HP's product manager for TeamSite, pointed out other advantages of the product, including the ability to create personalized experiences once and then pushing them across web, mobile, print and email.

Real-time tracking give marketers data they can use to improve the user experience further by sending additional information, he said.

Title Image by Tooykrub / Shutterstock.