A review of the SheerB2B Conference – content is king!

Thursday 7th July started bright and early for myself and my  colleagues (Ben and Lucy) as we headed up to London for the bi-annual SheerB2B eCommerce conference.  As mentioned already in Lucy’s post (6th July), SheerB2B is an online community that brings together a delightful mix of luxury and premium brands, as well as a directory of recommended suppliers and agencies.

Their conferences are really valuable, especially as the world of e-tailing continues to grow and expand at an impressive pace, meaning competition is on the increase.  Shoppers now have a huge amount of choice available to them, so standing out from the crowd and differentiating oneself from the competition has never been as important as now for all those many thousands of e-commerce retailers out there.   It’s not enough just to create a shopping environment that conveys your brand values – fickle shoppers are now looking for engagement and more of an experience online.  And the key to creating this engagement is with content.

Content was therefore the theme of the day at the eCommerce conference.  We listened to a number of very well qualified and experienced experts working in the world of premium retail, including our very own Head of Social Media and Content, Lucy Freeborn; More 2’s Kevin Spadden; Google’s Kerem Atasoy, and Fiona McIntosh from my-wardrobe.com.

The keynote was given by Neil Saunders from Verdict Intelligence who kicked off by talking us through the current marketplace and what’s to come for retailers.  On a plus, we’re set to see overall growth from the retail sector from 1.6% – 3% by 2015, however the % growth varies according to which retail sector you’re in.  Food, Beauty and Clothing are set to see the biggest increase, with Furniture, Homewares, DIY and Electricals lagging behind the average.
Online is (unsurprisingly) set to take a much bigger bite out of the retail spend pie over the next few years.  From 8% in 2010 (equating £23.1bn) to just over 20% by 2020 (£63.2bn).  That’s a lot of potential revenue up for grabs….providing you get it right in such a competitive marketplace.

According to Kerem Atasoy (Google) there will be over 5B users of the Internet by 2020 (as opposed to 1.8B currently); mobile subscribers are set to grow from 4.6B to 10B users; and the amount of digital information set to be sent by 2020 is predicted at around 53 zettabytes (picture that if you will!).  New behaviours are accelerating the demand for new experiences and this is all driven by content.  Kerram went on to highlight some great examples of how Premium and Luxury brands are responding to these changing behaviours by driving richer content experiences and engagement, such as Burberry’s Art of the Trench and Acoustic campaign;  French Connection’s You Tique channel on You Tube and Vera Wang’s Live From the Runway.

We put content at the heart of everything we do here at Leapfrogg, as we firmly believe that relevant and original content is the key driver to any successful ongoing online marketing strategy.  We live in a world where it’s important to connect emotionally with your customers – on whatever platform they choose – be it through imagery, text or video.  We need to understand our customers’ lifestyles, interests and passions in order to serve up engaging content that will not only lead them to your site in the first place, but will keep them coming back and become advocates of your brand to their friends and family.   This insight into your target customers will then help drive the type of content to serve up, be it through Blogs, Interviews, Video How-To’s, Advice Guides; Behind the Scenes Footage; Meet the Team, Gift Guides….the opportunities are almost endless!

Lucy Freeborn, our Head of Social Media and Content, explained how important it is to maximise this content in her presentation, Strategic Success Using Online PR. It’s great having great content, but if you don’t do anything with it then it’s wasted. She went on to give a very engaging talk around how PR supports your wider digital strategy (including SEO, Social Media and, of course, your own website) by building better quality links back to your site.  Our theory around the Evolution of Link Building illustrates this perfectly – there’s nothing particularly wrong with older school tactics such as Article Sharing, Competitions and Advertorials, but the better quality links will come from more advanced techniques such as Blogger Relationships; Badge Schemes; Hot Spotting and News Hijacking.  She summarised by suggesting 5 key things to action, which I would suggest any retailer out there should consider:

1) Have another look at your digital marketing strategy – are you approaching it holistically?

2) Put a date for your content workshop in the diary – get your creative juices flowing & pull together a solid content plan

3) Remind yourself what you “want to be famous for” – what search terms are relevant?

4) Put financial targets against your site – have a solid understanding of what you want your site to achieve and time lines

5) Are you tracking effectively? – do you have set KPI’s that are delivering against your targets?

We’re firm believers at Leapfrogg that taking a strategic and holistic approach to digital marketing is the key to a successful website.  Content certainly is king, but it has to be seen in context alongside your other online marketing activities and ultimately what it is you actually want to achieve in the long run.

Overall, the conference was a great success with lots of networking and exchanging of ideas going on throughout the day and into the evening (a nod of appreciation here to the ladies at Sheerluxe for putting on the free wine & beer after the event!).  I’ll certainly be attending their next conference in September which focuses on Social Media, and if you’re a premium or luxury retailer reading this, I suggest you come along too!

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