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HSN exec: Strong video content strategies lead to commerce opportunities

PALM DESERT, CA – An HSN executive at eTail West 2016 revealed that the brand sees nearly half of its orders placed while on-the-go, suggesting that its use of video as a top marketing channel is paying off.

During the keynote session, “Making Video Content Shareable To Drive Engagement,” the executive doled out advice on how to create video marketing strategies from scratch, including using celebrity influencers and experimenting with live streaming. HSN has recently been undergoing a revamp to break out of previous stereotypes and cater more to the mobile savvy customer, who frequently makes purchases while on-the-go.

“We weren’t going to exist in the future if we weren’t going to disrupt our business model,” said Jen Cotter, executive vice president of television, content and programming at HSN. “We understand there were stereotypes around our business and we wanted to break them.”

Creating connected communities
HSN bolstered its storytelling methods by focusing heavily on digital video to complement the television-watching experience. Some of these tactics include teaming up with celebrities to sell items on-screen, as many consumers respond positively to recognizing well-known personalities on the shopping network.

“We had content and that created a community for our customers, and that led to commerce,” Ms. Cotter said. “Our customers have always engaged with us around storytelling, which has fueled our content strategy.”

Consumers want to know the story behind a brand, which is something marketers must keep in mind when developing their next advertising initiatives. Because video content is typically expensive, businesses must quickly pinpoint their niches and form an understanding of the overall landscape.

“You really have to know where you want to do high-quality work that’s going to make an impact,” Ms. Cotter said.

This can be accomplished by defining your brand essence and celebrating core competency. While desktop and mobile are important portals for communication, marketers must ultimately know why video is going to matter to their audiences.

“I can’t imagine there’s a brand that wouldn’t benefit from video,” Ms. Cotter said.

Hitting the right categories
HSN hones in on three separate categories when developing its video materials: product support, inspiration and information. Customers need to know how to use the products being sold on mobile or on television, leaving open a wide opportunity for HSN to get creative with tutorials.

Inspiration is also necessary in driving sales. For example, the network recently tapped E! host Giuliana Rancic to star in a video discussing outfit ideas, giving apparel fans the perfect nugget of inspiration to browse HSN’s current offerings and potentially make a purchase for their closets.

Moments of disruption are also a hit among consumers. When David O. Russell’s film Joy arrived in theaters last Christmas, HSN saw an opportunity to re-launch the Miracle Mop featured in the biopic, which centers on Joy Mangano, a product inventor frequently seen on the shopping network. HSN ended up selling hundreds of thousands of units.

Additionally, the brand delved into live streaming on mobile with the help of tennis star Serena Williams during New York Fashion Week. Ms. Williams has a fashion line with HSN, and was present while the brand conducted interviews with her and streamed the runway show on several different channels, including Periscope.

The mobile-first initiative was also featured on Vogue and AOL’s channels. It garnered more than three billion media impressions.

“We really got a lot of out of this and we’ll be continuing this as a strategy,” Ms. Cotter said.