Tis the season for shoppable content

With all these twinkling TV ads around, you might be confused into thinking it was Christmas!

The battle for the best 30 second commercial is now more talked about than the race for the #1 spot in the singles chart, and sometimes their soundtrack actually becomes part of it.

As you can see from the huge volume of penguin related items currently available to buy from John Lewis (a whopping 155), this content isn’t ‘just’ for Christmas – it’s shoppable, and it’s just one of many attempts by businesses to use content as a way to tap into the festive buying frenzy.

There are many different ways to successfully connect the content you produce directly to the shopping basket.

And anything you can do to shorten the user journey and take away the number of clicks it takes from someone to get from content to the store is generally a good thing.

Few retailer websites now exist without some form of content – whether it’s interviews with celebrities, sending bloggers on exciting days out, or giving social fans a sneak peek behind the scenes of their businesses. Being seen as contextually relevant to the lives of their customers is almost as important as developing the right products.

While there is no standardised solution for making this shoppable, most can be categorised as:

‘In This Article’ Links

By far the simplest option for you to adopt is the process of summarising your content with the products people have seen while reading.

Outdoor clothing store Norrøna have done an excellent job of this – not only do their products look great mixed in with their storytelling content, but when you get to the end you can mix and match colours of the product you’ve seen without leaving the page, before adding them to your cart.

One thing you need to consider though is how many people actually reach the end of your articles? Your web analytics should give you this insight.

Contextual Clicks

From videos, look-books, or plain old product imagery, it’s now possible to add hotspots to reveal more info to interested viewers either in situ or taking them off to a product page.

This is music to the ears of content creators who have often been challenged on the ROI of what they do – the 6m YouTube views you achieved can now actually show a tangible return of people who click on the areas you make clickable, and not just the somewhat fluffy awareness metric you previously had to rely on.

Since purchasing a Kindle Fire, I’ve become massively reliant on the excellent Amazon X-Ray feature. As well as putting an end to wondering who actors are and what they’ve been in, a quick click on the screen gives me various bits of trivia, and even the opportunity to buy the soundtrack without interrupting my viewing pleasure.

If this is an approach you’re looking to apply to your video content, it’s something that needs to be considered very early on in the planning stages – there’s no use showing an exhilarating downhill snowboarder and asking people to chase him around the screen to click on his jacket. Similarly having 16 links to all the products on show isn’t much use to your users looking at it on a 4.8 inch screen.

Think about points when a purchase should be pushed, and engineer shots into the storyboard that allow this to happen seamlessly.

Social and Shoppable

Using functionality such as Twitter Product Cards, embedding social posts and integrating social APIs means you’re able to weave both amplification and conversion opportunities into the same piece of content, tying the two channels together. Your visitor may not be in a position to buy, but they may well want to share what they see, which is great, especially if it’s the type of product they want peer input on before purchasing.

There’s also a UGC element to this. The #thisishardrock social feed gathers pics from the 12m Hard Rock Café fans from across the world and applies product tags to each. Like what you see? Then you’re just a click or two away from owning that t-shirt, or buying that gig ticket or booking that table.

The internet is full of things that look beautiful but don’t work - whether you’re developing a gift guide, advent calendar or any other form of seasonal web-fodder, make sure you focus on the tangible mechanism as much as the visuals to get those shoppers clicking.

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