E-commerce has gained popularity ever since the advent of COVID-19. With everyone retreating into their homes, e-commerce became the primary method to exchange goods and services, as well as generate some income in a safe and convenient manner. Over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online last year, with retail e-commerce sales surpassing 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars.
Many e-commerce businesses have adopted thought leadership as a potential e-commerce marketing strategy to promote their brand as well as help people navigate this booming trend. As e-commerce continues to flourish, so does the practice of thought leadership, and in 2021, thought leadership marketing continues to push boundaries on how it can be done and what it can achieve.
The power of audiovisual media
When you hear the term “thought leadership marketing”, what comes to mind are blogs, articles, webinars and conferences, white papers, and so on. Over time, thought leadership content on the web has become saturated, and it becomes hard to get your content seen when there are dozens more like it. A way to break the mold and make your thought leadership efforts stand out from the rest would be to take an audiovisual approach to your content. Audiovisual media has been proven to increase engagement and retention, and a survey by Venngage shows that marketers are already pivoting towards visual content as of last year. Thought leadership is already on its way to adopt a visual approach to its content strategies, especially in the e-commerce field. Take for example this blog by Shopify, which uses simple graphics to make concepts and processes easy to understand.
Shopify’s graphic explaining multi-channel marketing
Another example is Davie Fogarty’s Ecom Fundamentals series, where he posts guides on how to do e-commerce through well-edited, condensed videos. There is also the audio-only podcast, which is easier to produce and offers your audience the option of not staring into a screen. Global from Asia’s E-Commerce Gladiator series invites guests to talk about e-commerce trends, updates and news from Amazon FBA. It may take more effort and resources to go this direction, but as similar types of media have already undergone this shift (newspapers to online articles, books into e-books and audiobooks), it might be prudent to consider the audiovisual approach as people’s sensibilities to consuming content start to change (and are already changing).
Another aspect of thought leadership marketing that e-commerce companies are starting to incorporate nowadays is interactivity. With the current state of the attention economy, businesses find it harder and harder to attract and retain people’s attention. Research in 2015 shows that humans now average around 8 seconds’ worth of attention span before getting distracted by something else. Interactive content makes a connection with the viewer or reader, making them more invested and thus more likely to take in the rest of your content.
The online shopping aggregator iPrice has an interactive chart where they list the top e-commerce players in the Philippines based on their rankings in the App Store, website visits, social media following, and many more. You can filter and sort the data to get an idea on what the state of e-commerce in the Philippines is currently, providing a means of interaction that keeps you reeled in and interested. A how-to guide by Shopify offers customer persona and customer journey map templates, which you can access and download for free for you to try it out yourself. There is also the Ecommerce Virtual Tour organized by Walcon Virtual Events, a truly virtual conference where participants enter a virtual space powered with VR technology and interact with e-commerce experts.
A peek inside Walcon Virtual Events’ Ecommerce Virtual Tour workshop
Thought leadership and social responsibility
Lastly, e-commerce companies have been focusing more and more on thought leadership marketing alongside social responsibility. The pandemic has raised people’s social awareness and have taken efforts to improve their current conditions, and companies are now expected to participate in social betterment as well. People now endeavor to find brands that not only align with their preferences, but also with their social compass. Thought leadership, then, is now utilized not only to dissect and relay insights and information, but also to contribute to the well-being of society.
An example of this is mClinica, whose blogs, newsletter and case studies seek to promote the importance of pharmacies and the dissemination of health information in Southeast Asia. Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce and e-retail company, has also included diversity and inclusion as well as their efforts to uphold it in their company as part of their thought leadership content. Supply Compass’s thought leadership also has articles dedicated to e-commerce sustainability, which also fits well with their brand. From 2021 onward, thought leadership should focus their efforts on forming bonds and breaking barriers between business and customer. Businesses can no longer be in a vacuum, not when there’s a worldwide crisis, and so thought leadership must follow the same route.
A screenshot of mClinica’s blog page
As thought leadership marketing observes and creates new innovations, so does its form of content. E-commerce is still a developing field, and e-commerce thought leadership aims to orient people and businesses to better places, results and ultimately a better society. This can only be achieved if thought leadership itself adapts and innovates to keep up with the times.
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Visual by: Russel Sastrillo