Content to commerce play

Creating affinity and motivating to buy or donate

How can I motivate people to donate more or how can people buy more products or services?

There is no new norm for this question. Don’t get me wrong, no one is out for charity. We all are in a profit-making business. From a marketing perspective in the digital world it can be answered in two ways:

  • The simple and largely preferred way is investing money in digital advertising, keep bombarding the user with ads, and eventually, hoping the consumer will donate or buy the product. This is the push mechanism. It works but it is a short term play.

  • The second way, laborious and ignored way is motivating the consumer by content. Solve a problem, create an affinity, and hope the consumer to select you when the buying decision occurs. It isn’t easy, requires patience and investments. But if done right this could be your long term play.

I am a believer in the second route - Content to Commerce. The pull mechanism.

During my stint in the agency world, I had sold the same idea for a fashion eCommerce brand. The agency liked it as a digital route. Digital was the supplement to creative routes, and it fell apart. The pitch was lost. I have always wondered why are ideas medium focussed. You should have one idea and then work on how you can execute it and integrate mediums based on your target audience.

Still, we will walk(now it is happening in Zoom conferences) into the business meeting with 5 ideas, 200-page slides, and then in a 60-minute presentation, 20 minutes we will waste in talking about a five-year-old campaign. And on the fly only present 50 slides.

After a few months, the brand implemented the same content play model integrated with TV and mobile pitched by another agency. Obviously, the idea was a better fit, medium agnostic, and better fit for the brand.

I have more thoughts listed here - Why brands need to think like publishers

How India is shopping right now

February 2020 or the pre-COVID-19 era, I had shared that the Indian consumer is willing to buy environmentally friendly products. “22% of Indians say that plastic waste is the top environmental concern – significantly higher than the global average of 15%. Besides, 53% of Indian consumers will pay more for environment-friendly products.”

Approximately more than three months of lockdown and accepting that there is no going back the consumer has evolved. And the choices that she is making are not ground shaking unless as a marketer you were too busy collecting awards and ignoring the consumer.

The consumer has become mindful when it comes to shopping and changing to less expensive products. When there is so much uncertainty in the environment from economy to border tensions to a vaccine, the last thing you would look for luxury shopping.

According to Mckinsey: The Asian mindset is winning with India leading for the month of June 2020. Indians have not only become mindful but they are researching brand and product choices before they buy. My parents have been saying the same from the day I was born. But I hardly listen :)

India has also shown positive growth and acceptance of online shopping in the COVID-19 world. The latest report from Flipkart and Bain & Company informs that over the past year, consumer engagement with online platforms has increased but a visitor spends less than nine minutes per visit on an e-retail platform.

“For the next wave of online customers, peers and community play a much larger role in influencing purchase decisions than for the current online shopping base. In the last five years, we have seen more than 50 private equity and venture capital (PE and VC) deals in India focussed on social commerce.”

Flipkart once again has entered the market of social commerce with its independent value platform - 2GUD. “2GUD’s social commerce platform will allow users to have an uninterrupted video shopping experience with their favourite influencers showcasing the latest fashion trends, reviewing gadgets, sharing beauty tips and so much more.”

At some point, it might integrate with the Flipkart Video Platform. The eCommerce platform also has 'Ideas' feed has content - articles, videos, photos - from publishers and influencers, prompting users to shop on its app.

The brand mentions that these consumers need easy discovery, inspiration, and 'post-purchase hand-holding' as they navigate through the e-commerce platform. But at some point, it will have to simplify (I haven’t tested the app. No intent to buy anything for the rest of the year other than masks.)

Content to Commerce play for Nonprofit

Nonprofits also face similar problems like a brand. Even if you are doing for a cause and greater good but it all boils down to one thing - how can I retain my existing donors and find new donors.

Justin Wheeler, CEO of Funraise posted a simple but hard-hitting question on Linkedin: Nonprofit friends, why are your websites SO bad? 

I can't believe I have to say this in 2020, but most nonprofit websites remain some of the most horrible sites on the internet. The mission you are so passionate about is the most compelling asset, yet when I visit your site, I'm not compelled.

He also introduced the Equal Justice Initiative, voted this year's best nonprofit website by The Webby Awards. Trust me I was blown away by the simplicity and the communication displayed by the nonprofit website.

“Their work is complex, but the way they communicate their impact is simple and easy to understand. Their digital content strategy is very welcoming and provides a level of education on the issues they are working on in a very compelling way.”

The website has transformed itself into a publication with the job to inform and then influence for their causes. If you see on mobile or desktop EJI showcases the path-breaking work in the second or third fold. Even the donate button is not popping on your face, it is there and the consumer will figure it out. Not many will believe this way of thinking so do what works for you.

After the home page, I believe the blog or your content portal is the biggest asset to convince the consumer to donate. “Your blog is the validation about what you are preaching or are passionate about is being executed and showing results.”

EJI has mastered the art of content via its blog by keeping it simple and easy to understand. Your work is the biggest motivator for people to donate and how you showcase it is the diffrentiator.

The final aspect that ties the content to commerce play for a nonprofit is the donation page. EJI has a simple donation page with the required information: Trust certificates, a clear demonstration of one time and recurring donations, and the individual details required for the payment process.

Right before the Donate Now button with the amount EJI has given links to Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Much required to gain the confidence of the donor even if she might not click.

And that’s about it. No never-ending footers, long pointless stories, and complicated details, etc. EJI has reduced all anxieties for the donor by the communications on the home and blog page.

Another example that you should take note is of Children International. Earlier in the day, I received a July 2020 newsletter from the nonprofit emphasising on the snapshots of life during a pandemic. They could get rid of the word newsletter from the email title.

The photo essay takes me to the blog which showcases 10 images of children from across the globe how they are battling the pandemic. For example, Muhammad, a sponsored child in India, practices resilience skills and self‑calming activities like gardening to cope while under stay-at-home orders.

The blog ends with a bold call to action - “See the latest updates on how your support continues to help us adapt” rather than a donation page link.

The nonprofit smartly reverses the communication from how it is supporting the society to how people like us can support the causes. Even when you sponsor a child, the nonprofit wants you to learn first about the specific child’s struggle.

For example, Aaliya who is from India tells about herself, her family, her house, and poverty in India. In addition to this the nonprofit gives you complete details about how sponsorship works, what can a sponsor expects, and details about the financials. Just shows out the effort of the nonprofit not only offline but online also with content.

Finally the obvious question: “We don’t have the money to hire a world-class design and tech agency.”

You don’t have to hire an expensive design but you can always do the research, see the design, think like a donor, and simplify the entire giving process. You can use a piece of paper and pencil to draw a rough design. You don’t need to be an artist. Post that you can get it executed and fine-tuned by a developer or an agency. It isn’t rocket science. 

However, first you will have to believe in the “Content to Commerce Play”.