Practical Ecommerce

5 Ecommerce Content Marketing Trends for 2016

Trends in organizational structure, machine generated content, and video content could drive changes in ecommerce marketing next year, as small and mid-sized retailers increase their content creation efforts.

Content marketing is one of the most important areas of ecommerce promotion. It will continue to grow in 2016. So it is worth watching for trends that could change how content is done or how much money is spent doing it.

Content Marketing Might Stand Apart

In 2016 and beyond, online retailers may separate content marketing and content creation from other marketing activities, like advertising or search engine optimization.

Although content marketing sometimes has a similar aim — attracting and engaging potential customers — as other marketing efforts, it requires a different skill set and, in many cases, more time. What’s more, as companies move further down the content marketing path, content marketing goals often change as compared to the goal of, say, a banner ad.

At large or mid-sized ecommerce businesses, it may to the case that content marketing is outsourced to an agency or service specializing in content creation while other marketing tactics like pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, and SEO remain an in-house activity.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Condé Nast have all created content agencies that will help fuel this trend.

In a few cases, the split might be reversed, with the retailer keeping content marketing, which sometimes requires greater skill, and outsourcing other marketing tasks. In these cases, the content marketing team may have an in-house video or photography studio and different goals than other departments within the company.

This change in organizational structure may mean that ecommerce businesses will take money from other marketing tactics. Some believe that SEO budgets will be a prime target.

Machine-generated Content Could Be a Hot Topic

While the vast majority of ecommerce related content created in 2016 will probably be written by humans, machine-generated content could become a hot topic and a possible solution to a nagging ecommerce problem, writing product descriptions.

As an example, online retailers struggling to generate unique product descriptions for the items in their catalogs may now turn to companies like Automated Insights, which use product source data and an algorithm to quickly generate machine-written product descriptions.

Watch for the emergence of companies like Automated Insights, which create content programmatically.

Watch for the emergence of companies like Automated Insights, which create content programmatically.

Getting product details online is one of the largest and most difficult problems that mid-sized multichannel retailers face, and automation will help significantly. For mid-sized companies that have been struggling with product descriptions this trend might become vital.

Videos Could be Increasingly Important

According to some published estimates, video content will account for nearly two-thirds of consumer Internet traffic by the end of 2016. A majority of the video consumed will be television shows or movies streaming on service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. But this fact does not take away from one simple conclusion, almost everyone online is becoming increasingly familiar with watching videos via the Internet.

With this in mind, don’t be surprised if online retailers continue to use video for content marketing. Consider, for example, what craft supplier Michael’s has done with its YouTube Channel.

Video is another trend that could see ecommerce retail marketers increasing their investment in content, as they purchase equipment or pay specialists.

Small and Mid-sized Stores Will Rely on Content

The more focused a business is, the more effective content marketing may be for that business. If this is true, small and mid-sized online retailers with narrow or even niche product lines may enjoy the most success from content marketing.

The online electronic parts and tools store iFixit has more than 17,500 crowd-sourced repair manuals on its website. These manuals provide step-by-step instructions for repairs, such as replacing the speaker on an iPhone 6.

iFixit is both a community-driven electronic repair reference site and an online retailer of electronic parts and repair tools.

iFixit is both a community-driven electronic repair reference site and an online retailer of electronic parts and repair tools.

Content Saturation Will Be a Concern

Overall, 2016’s content marketing trends will be positive, as online retailers become better at producing high-quality content that should ultimately lead to customer engagement. Some experts, however, may begin to express concerns about content saturation or the idea that there is simply too much content for folks read or watch.

With this trend, expect to see a lot of data about just how much content people do read and watch. For example, venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers estimated this year that Americans send 5.6 hours per day with digital media, including almost three hours on mobile devices. How much more time could consumers spend with media will be the question.

Although the Kleiner Perkins data seems to point to growth in how much content folks want to interact with, some may see it as an indication of saturation.

Although the Kleiner Perkins data seems to point to growth in how much content folks want to interact with, some may see it as an indication of saturation.

This trend might discourage some small online retail marketers from making good content. This is unfortunate, since content saturation is probably not a real trend, while concern about it is. In truth is there are almost limitless opportunities for content marketing.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Carlos Rivera December 8, 2015 Reply

    Great points about content saturation and machine-generated content. I have been thinking a lot about the latter, and how quickly it could develop into a technology that builds entire websites from scratch and improves them via automated AB testing. How quickly technology changes!

  2. Matt December 9, 2015 Reply

    Unique product description really matters as well as key words (keep in mind that wrong choice deprive a chance of any page being in the top 10). Product description needs to be creative and I thing it is a great necessity for every marketeer to forget about the occurrence of mimesis. What do I mean? It is better not to imitate others ( for such kind of job copycats were born). If you want to achieve high goals in your business, do NOT plagiarize. Have ever heard the story about Jayson Blair from The New York Times? He was fired for plagiarism, ha. I wonder did not he know about plagiarism checkers? Unplag for example. We are all Tech kids, so use technologies for your business. And Thank you Armando, the idea of making video is really cool. What do you think about podcasts?

  3. Ivona Vukovic December 15, 2015 Reply

    Excellent article Armando! I agree that videos will play an important role in 2016. However, I’d say that we’ll see retailers not only adopting the strategy of producing or sponsoring videos, but also bringing carefully selected collections of videos from social media to their pages. This strategy will enable saving time and resources for retailers who can’t produce their own videos or those who specifically want that authentic flair of user-generated videos brought from YouTube. Either way, video will be an important thing to have to attract and engage shoppers.

  4. Peter Miller January 6, 2016 Reply

    Really good points on content saturation and it would be really helpful to use it for marketing. I was wondering how it can be effectively used for marketing campaigns like guerrilla marketing, as I have prepared one for my business with Grassroots Advertising and hope that’s going to be a successful one.

  5. Prashant Telang March 27, 2016 Reply

    In our experimented work on Machine Generated content for eCommerce carts we detected that Google doesn’t favor it. Somehow it tends to detect it as machine generated. The algorithms used in creating machine generated content is yet not advanced enough. You can easily spot a pattern.
    TransPacific Software

  6. Kalen Jordan March 29, 2016 Reply

    Nice piece, Armando. Do you see outreach and PR becoming more important as content saturation becomes more of a concern?