- Content marketing and content, in general, are two very tricky and fun aspects of marketing you are dealing with, especially while starting up your business. So is good timing.
- This Australian ecommerce website knows exactly how to use the combination of to-the-point content with great timing, and nailed their content marketing and sales as a result.
- Is the Australian Research and Space Exploration (ARSE) program real? Hint: You'll have to keep on reading to find out how a f̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶space agency nailed their content marketing strategy.
"That's one giant step for man, one giant leap for down under."
It was upon reading this revamped one liner that the sad truth hit me. The Australian Research & Space Exploration (ARSE) was not the official name of Australia’s new space program.
It was painfully clear from both the acronym and the lack of any '.org.au' web address that this website was not the official page for Australia’s first space agency. However, it was never the creator’s intention to fool people, but an incredibly inspired and proactive approach to marketing an ecommerce business.
To put it simply, ARSE is a fake Australian space agency that was created for the sole purpose of selling t-shirts.
Ingenious? Ludicrous? I believe ARSE managed a little from column A and a little from column B, which is why their brand exploded overnight. But what was it specifically that made ARSE so popular in such a short amount of time? Let’s take a closer look.
The art of great timing and content marketing
Aligning your brand with a seasonal event is recognised by marketers as a foolproof way to increase brand awareness, engagement and store traffic. The NRL grand final, the Olympics, the premiere of the new season of Game of Thrones; aligning your brand with an event that is drawing a plethora of spectators will attract that audience to your brand.
ARSE capitalised on the federal government announcing plans to establish Australia’s first space agency. The news received nationwide press coverage as well as an abundance of chatter on social media. Amidst the excitement, ARSE had made their cheeky foray into the public domain.
Leveraging a popular event allowed ARSE to achieve a cut-through that wouldn’t usually be possible for an ecommerce business trying to establish their brand amongst a slew of competitors. In no time at all, people began to pick up on the faux space agency and started reporting on it instead of the actual news. At the time of writing this, their website has 87 referring domains, with over 14,000 backlinks.
While groundbreaking news doesn’t happen every day, any business who wants to improve their brand awareness needs to commit time to researching opportunities to get their name out there.
Using narrative-driven content and design to direct audiences to a product
The Australian Research and Space Exploration’s website is quite simple in terms of how users are expected to engage with it.
A basic rule of thumb for all ecommerce businesses: if your website is hard to navigate or comprehend, then users are more likely to bounce off your page than make a purchase.
The site layout leads the user on a visual narrative to maintain the illusion of Australia’s space agency. The language is positive, speaking about how this is our country’s opportunity to discover more about the universe and take a prominent role in shaping the future of the Earth.
Narrative-driven content is a powerful tool for promoting brand engagement and building customer advocacy. All of our social media applications allow us to create ‘stories’ - the role of the passive user is now a memory. In its place is the dominance of user-created content. People want content to engage with them, not speak down to them.
Other ecommerce services like online pharmacies or ticket vendors have a certain customer journey in place. A person seeking these kinds of items already know what they’re looking for; what determines their actions on the site are things like the brands available to them, pricing or location. Customers searching for these products are already at the evaluation stage of the sales funnel.
Clothing isn’t as easy, especially as the products on offer in this case are in a niche. Shopping for clothes requires more subjective decision making than picking groceries online. As such, the customer needs to be walked through the previous stages of the funnel - awareness, interest, consideration and intent - before they begin evaluating the products on offer.
The narrative on the ARSE site leaves the user with one action; if you want to support Australian space exploration, buy a t-shirt.
ARSE makes visitors to the site invest in the narrative they’ve woven. By the time someone has reached the products at the bottom of the page, they’re already an advocate for the brand regardless if they make a purchase.
ARSE doesn’t shy away from humour
Of course what I consider the lynchpin of ARSE’s success is their use of humour. A good name is half the battle when it comes to generating awareness for your brand and their name uses humour to make them memorable upon first contact.
Remember, if people don’t know about your business then you’re not going to make any sales.
So humanise your brand in order to make potential customers warm up to you, and there’s nothing more human than humour.
Making the acronym of your business name ARSE sounds silly on paper but in practice taps into the irreverent humour that Australians love to chuckle over.
After all, sharing humour with someone is an effective way to strengthen a bond. According to Jack Schafer Ph.D., “The Golden Rule of friendship states that if you make people feel good about themselves, they will like you—and laughter does just that.”
ARSE doesn’t use lewd humour to shock or be grotesque. They use humour to rise above their competitors in order to be seen by an audience who they can connect with immediately. Keep in mind that humanising your brand like this creates advocacy, an essential you need to drum up more business based on referrals as well.
Social media is the new word of mouth
ARSE succeeded where so many ecommerce businesses fail through using social media to their advantage to promote their fun, light-hearted brand message. Currently, they have 33,331 page likes on Facebook, 1,734 followers on Instagram and 1,452 followers on Twitter. That’s not too shabby considering they launched on September 25, 2017. At the time of writing, it’s been one month since ARSE launched and they have wasted no time accumulating a generous amount of followers, many of whom are becoming advocates.
Social engagement is a powerful tool to convert casual window shoppers into customers and turn one-time customers into lifetime customers. After building a strong brand e-commerce businesses need use creative social to amplify their message to the people.
It’s not about flogging your wares on Facebook. It’s about sharing the brand narrative with as many people as possible. Social media allows fans and followers to become your advocates, and in the e-commerce game, advocates are necessary for promoting the value of your brand and product.
To infinity and beyond…
E-commerce is a hard game. However tactical investments in clever branding, active audience engagement on social media and great timing allowed the Australian Research & Space Exploration to take off with overnight success.
While this kind of immediate success isn’t possible for everyone, it is possible to use the same techniques to improve the online presence of your e-commerce venture over time.
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