5 ecommerce content trends that will dominate 2019

From augmented reality apps to skyrocketing social commerce, 2018 was a year of exciting digital content trends. As content continues to dominate online marketing strategies across a range of ecommerce sectors, 2019 promises more innovation and evolution. We predict the trends that will define the industry next year. 

Content hubs to combat GDPR

For the last few years, online retailers have become increasingly content-centric, with fast-growing editorial brands such as Marie Claire Edit and Glossier demonstrating the sales-driving power of the written word. Now, with 2018’s introduction of GDPR legislation fuelling a boom in inbound marketing techniques, we can expect to see more and more brands coming round to the way of the content hub.

Whether through subscriptions or gated content, content hubs enable brands to gain the ‘unambiguous consent’ they need from their customers for a fair price: curated content that offers real value. Furthermore, by using search-optimised articles or videos to answer popular consumer queries, content hubs hold the potential to drive strong organic traffic: stats from Google show that searches beginning with ‘how to’ have grown by 140% over the last 14 years.

Authenticity

Following a year of ‘fake news’, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and concerns over ecommerce data breaches, it should come as no surprise that consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical of brands and businesses – especially where their data is concerned. Research from Ingenico shows that 55% of shoppers think Black Friday discounts are false, while 83% of customers now believe that businesses are actively seeking ways around GDPR laws.

As shoppers grow ever more canny, content that’s authentic and genuinely helpful will play an increasing role in helping ecommerce businesses earn consumer trust. Alongside hero campaigns and advertising, brands must work hard to provide an exceptional customer experience on their own websites, taking care to offer relevant, informative content at the crucial point of purchase, in the form of best-in-class product descriptions and buying guides. 

Businesses that use this content to help customers make the right purchase decisions will see not only a reduction in product returns, but also a positive effect on brand perception and repeat custom. In fact, according to research by Quill, 36% of consumers agree that retailers who offer great advice are more trustworthy, while 34% are more likely to make a repeat purchase from a website that features how-to guides.

Mobile-first optimisation

Mobile commerce has been on the up for a while now. Sales made on smartphones have more than doubled over the past six years, from representing 7% to 17% of all purchases. And, as of Google’s 2018 move to mobile-first indexing, it’s now mobile content – not desktop – that holds the greatest sway over search rankings.

As 2019 kicks off, however, we will see this trend push further into new territories. 5G will finally arrive, making browsing via mobile even speedier – and reducing the appearance of the dreaded ‘buffering’ symbol. Mobile-happy Gen Z, who make 32% of their online transactions via mobile devices, are now emerging fully into the market. And home hubs such as Amazon Alexa and other smart gadgets, many of which operate through mobile apps and use device-adapted display, are finally seeing true uptake.

As the surge towards mobile browsing continues, brands will need to adapt their digital channels accordingly. From frontloading essential information on webpages to ‘chunking’ longform text, mobile display demands a different approach to desktop. Take a look at our infographic, Mobile content: a best practice bible, for a handy summary of the key differences.

Vertical video

The importance of online video has been widely touted for many years now. Besides imparting benefits to SEO, strategic placement of video on ecommerce landing pages has been shown to boost conversions by up to 86%. It’s also great for customer service: according to Wyzowl, 79% of consumers would rather watch a video how-to guide than read text on a page, while 84% have been convinced to make a purchase after watching a video.

One current trend certain to accelerate in 2019 – and already being pioneered by Netflix and Mercedes-Benz (among others) – is vertical video. Shooting vertical helps your video content meet both web accessibility and mobile content best practice. According to research from YuMe, 79% of first-time vertical video viewers agree that vertical creates a more engaging content experience, while 69% believe that it delivers a less intrusive mobile ad experience.

Post-purchase content

Research from ecommerce fraud prevention agency Riskified predicts that repeat custom will be a $1 trillion market in 2019. In fact, repeat customers account for an impressive third of all global ecommerce revenue, spending three times as much as one-time shoppers. With further studies suggesting that retention-focused businesses see faster growth, forward-thinking digital marketers will make boosting customer lifetime value a priority in 2019.

How should this affect content strategy? From content- and editorial-supported loyalty schemes to boosting engagement via personalised, dynamic post-purchase emails, content can play a vital role in priming customers for repeat purchase. Marketers should begin to view the customer journey less as a purchase funnel and more as an hourglass – opening out post-purchase into a fresh consideration process, requiring its own compelling content offering. The brands winning repeat custom in 2019 will, therefore, be those who use content to add value after, as well as before, the sale.

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