How an Ecommerce Marketing UX Spun Me a Story and Took My Money

The concept of ‘narrative’ in eCommerce marketing is often misunderstood.

It’s understandable, especially as the use of ‘narrative’ is conceptual in nature – very few conversions have been landed by campaigns which begin “once up a time”. So, in a much less conceptual light, I came across a great user experience on an eCommerce form which told a different kind of story: it told my story.

The customer’s story counts in eCommerce marketing

I found this little slab of UX nirvana while signing up for PactCoffee, a coffee home-delivery service.

Now, never before have I written a sentence which makes me feel quite so middle-class, but how could I resist? A promoted tweet of theirs was offering me a slab of rich, life affirming coffee for £1. £1! Stop judging me.

Their beauty lies in reversing a lifetime’s feelings of ill will towards registration forms. How many reg forms do you suppose you fill in in a lifetime? Where does all that data go? More pertinently, what does handing over that data, selecting that check box, satisfying the needs of that drop down menu do for you, the customer? It’s easy to end up in a blind fog of filling in fields with no indication of what you are getting out of the process. Often your only guide is a progress bar which can even result in encouraging customers to abandon forms altogether.

Instead, PactCoffee hit me with the eCommerce equivalent of a choose your own adventure story – delivering a very precise narrative on how my choices were about to change my life, as the image indicates.

A registration form from PactCoffee

The PactCoffee ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ eCommerce form

I started with a slab of text with blank elements, which were filled up as I progressed through the form – a user experience which allowed me to ‘create’ my own story. These blank elements essentially created a vacuum to suck me in, present my choices and even encouraged me to play – I must admit, I did flirt with the concept of self-identification as a Daily Drinker.  It’s a nuanced touch that certainly made me feel engaged in the process of completing an online form and handing over my card details (and how often do we say that?). It gave something back: clear information and an injection of humour. I mean, I didn’t go out and high five the nearest stranger, but then, that might say more about me than them.

Content Strategy – Tone

A PactCoffee package

Tone of Voice is consistent across all channels

It’s a humour which resonates through every encounter I have had with Pact – from update emails to packaging. It speaks well for Pact’s overall content strategy – it’s a nice even voice, it’s humourous, it’s a pal – it brings you coffee, what’s not to like? This is where a lot of marketing departments can learn from start ups, because their messaging output is so slender, it’s easy to have a clearly thought out plan of attack.

So for marketers it’s worth considering, like PactCoffee, does your team:

  1. Have awareness of every messaging point your brand has (and I mean every point, not just your own).
  2. Use a clear, interesting voice that defines the messages? (if you aren’t selling coffee maybe it needs to be more formal, but does it really need to be grey and devoid of life?).
  3. Have a strategy statement which defines this voice, allowing you to scale up as you adopt more channels?

A promoted tweet worked, who knew?

Just one final word from me on how Pact have added to my caffeine dependency – their promoted tweet actually caught me. Since the introduction of promoted tweets I’ve been staunchly dedicated to ignoring them, so what went right this time?

  1. It was well targeted (coffee is oxygen, right?).
  2. It had an offer that couldn’t be ignored (£1!).
  3. It followed it up with a smooth, simple process.


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A review of 2014 and what to expect in 2015

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  • What were the major events of 2014 to impact the ecommerce industry?
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Saul Sherry

Saul Sherry

Head of Content, Nuffield Health

Saul Sherry is Head of Content at Nuffield Health.

Saul helped to launch and run TFM&A Insights for the best part of 2014, also covering the TFM&A and eCommerce Expo.

January 30, 2014

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