Why Investing in and Optimizing Recipe Content Is More Critical

Consumers used to turn to their favourite brands and grocery stores for help in finding the best kid-favourite recipe, providing step-by-step instructions on planning a weekly menu, or setting an elegant table for the holidays. As online grocery shopping has increased, online intermediaries and digital-first grocers are boxing brands and grocers out, dictating the terms of the consumer relationship.

Why Investing in and Optimizing Recipe Content Is More Critical
Why Investing in and Optimizing Recipe Content Is More Critical. Photo by hao ji on Unsplash

No longer the go-to source for anything to do with food, brands and grocers are finding it hard to connect to their audience through food content and are having to navigate new challenges in the online world. In this article, Whisk and Food Dive identify those challenges and provide solutions to create a content recipe for success, including:

  • Gaining consumer attention in a digital world
  • Driving repeat engagements
  • Aligning tightly to the customer journey
  • Capturing data throughout the entire customer journey
  • Tying content to other ecosystems

Table of contents

Challenge #1: Building Customer Loyalty
Challenge #2: Maintaining Fresh Content
Challenge #3: Driving Repeat Engagement
Challenge #4: Discoverability
Challenge #5: Data Insights
Challenge #6: Participating in the Customer Journey
Generic content platforms missing an ingredient
Solution: Build customer engagement through a recipe-specific content platform
Optimizing food content through a recipe content platform
Building loyalty and repeat engagements with recipe content
Gaining and optimizing insights through analytics

hat’s for dinner? It’s an age-old question, and when it has to be answered 365 times a year, meal preparation becomes a chore. Perhaps that is why only 10% of Americans actually enjoy cooking, and most consumers stick with fixing a regular rotation of seven to nine recipes they already know.

For years, food brands, grocers, recipe sites and influencer bloggers tried to address this problem by creating a wealth of information to help consumers cook. From simple to complicated recipes to step-by-step instructions on planning a meal, setting the table or determining meat doneness, numerous food sites are ready to make the consumer’s job in the kitchen easier. For grocers and brands, branded recipe content has a lot of advantages. It helps the companies create meaningful relationships with consumers, drive demand for more of their products, provide inspiration and establish a way to influence consumers from the very beginning of their path to purchase.

While it’s a known tactic, recipe content is more relevant than ever as consumers increasingly shop for groceries online, leaving fewer touchpoints for brands and grocers to connect with their audience. This is exacerbated when online intermediaries and digital-first grocers are boxing brands and grocers out, dictating the terms of the consumer relationship.

Recipe content can be a powerful way to help grocers and brands acquire and retain customers and provide data insights to help create personalized and compelling experiences. But to get the most from food content, grocers and brands must address several challenges.

Challenge #1: Building Customer Loyalty

Grocers and brands must fight for consumer attention in the digital world. Food content, like recipes, helps capture consumer attention and build brand engagement, but so much content exists it is hard to reach consumers or have them find you. For example, Epicurious.com has 34,000 recipes on its site, and Allrecipes contributes 34 billion pages of food content.

Although brands and grocers provide food content to answer consumers’ hunger for new recipes, there’s a bigger goal in mind: to create a long-lasting relationship with consumers. The marketplace is growing — especially online (and even before COVID-19). New products emerge constantly, and consumers are not loyal to stores or brands.

As part of building those long-term relationships, brands want to influence consumers’ purchase decisions. In the war for search engine rankings, recipes are appealing to and aligned with consumer search behaviours, so it is more likely to be a portal to a brand’s site in comparison to a product search.

This connection is also key in reaching grocery customers who no longer want to shop in-store. “Grocers normally compete by sending out coupons for customers to redeem in stores. But if people aren’t going into stores, what does that process look like for them?” asked Ethan Held, senior product manager, Whisk at Samsung NEXT. “Content is a proven way to attract people, but today, content also provides an opportunity to deliver personalized experiences and build consumer loyalty.”

Challenge #2: Maintaining Fresh Content

Creating and maintaining a fresh, personalized content portfolio is time-consuming and costly. Brands and grocers must update food content frequently to stay aligned with consumer trends, such as meal preparation for keto, vegan and non-dairy dietary needs. Consumers want recipe content that is current and that contains detailed nutritional information so they can gauge if a recipe meets their lifestyle and preferences. However, that level of personalized nutritional detail can be difficult to deliver in large quantities, and brands and grocers struggle to provide that information manually.

Challenge #3: Driving Repeat Engagement

Content is only valuable when it drives repeat engagements. This can be achieved through personalization strategies that tailor recipe content to the individual consumer’s interests and through developing value-add consumer experiences that leverage recipe content in new ways. Connecting recipes to online or in-store experiences, offering the ability to save a recipe or creating a meal plan increase the value of the content for consumers. Also, making it easy for consumers to use and access this information with omnichannel flexibility is critical in developing repeat engagements and loyal customers. Even though most grocery purchases are made offline, 77% of those decisions are influenced digitally. Using a variety of methods and timely, useful content to reach customers is key.

Challenge #4: Discoverability

Content must align tightly to the customer journey. Consumers may search for a holiday recipe weeks in advance, or they may look for dinner ideas as they make their weekly grocery list. Or they may search for the name of a specific spice for a recipe when they are in the grocery aisle. Content must be optimized for SEO so it appears at the beginning of the consumer journey when consumers are just starting to plan meals or make purchases and are looking for inspiration. As that optimization occurs, consumers can quickly type keywords into the search and find what they need. Besides aligning with intuitive search behaviours, making sure consumers can save, plan and shop from recipes increases the likelihood that the recipes are actually made.

For grocers and brands, it’s not just about making their content easy to find and use. It’s also about helping consumers turn those recipes into reality as seamlessly as possible, whether that’s incorporating recipes into a grocery store’s digital circular or using add-to-basket functionality. It’s about infusing inspiration at all stages of the consumer journey of engagement, discovery and purchase.

Challenge #5: Data Insights

Brands and grocers must capture data throughout the entire customer journey to inform content strategy and loyalty programs. “This is area grocers and brands frequently struggle with,” said Jacklyn Trejo, product manager, Whisk at Samsung NEXT.

Even when brands and grocers create and market recipes, they are not fully using the data they get from the content they create. They may not know how to get or track the recipe analytics needed to develop better marketing strategies. A recipe content management system that provides data on SEO, engagement and product purchases helps brands and grocers create recipes that meet consumers’ tastes more effectively, Trejo explained.

Challenge #6: Participating in the Customer Journey

Brands and grocers cannot create “walled gardens” when creating food content. Instead, they need to be customer-centric, using more of ecosystem strategy when it comes to creating food experiences. This means focusing on creating connections with consumers and not limiting those interactions to only your own platforms. Instead, brands and grocers must share interactions on social media platforms and tie their content into ecosystems where customers can save recipes alongside other favourites and build their weekly shopping lists. Forward-thinking content creators realize they need to find ways to work with partners to connect their food content to customers’ existing behaviours throughout the customer journey or risk getting left behind.

Generic content platforms missing an ingredient

When grocers and brands create a recipe, they usually add it to a content management system (CMS). Most businesses use one of two types of solutions. The first solution is to use a headless CMS, which is flexible but requires a lot of configuration or customization. “That can be fairly time-consuming for brands who want to use this specifically for recipe content,” Trejo said. The second is to hire a third-party development agency and build a custom software tool from the ground up, but any change has to be modified by that third party. “Over time, these systems become really outdated.” Neither solution is designed for marketing recipes effectively. Neither technology is designed for marketing recipes effectively. And, in either scenario, it is challenging and expensive to create a robust library of recipes that is easy for marketers to navigate and leverage effectively in new ways—making existing content more discoverable, connecting recipes to loyalty programs and powering personalized recommendations.

A solution such as a to recipe content-specific platform can enable brands and grocers to seamlessly publish recipes across platforms, creating an omnichannel presence, Trejo said.

Solution: Build customer engagement through a recipe-specific content platform

Inherently, recipe content is just a list of ingredients and instructions on a page, Held said. But with a recipe content platform, that information can be so much more useful for brands and grocers, he added. “We can take that recipe content and show you where your customers are using it for meal planning and what ingredients they opt to buy for that recipe. It gives a down-funnel view of how end customers are using that recipe.”

“That type of feedback on engagement is very valuable because it helps content marketing teams learn what’s working well and what’s not,” Trejo said. “Of course, before they can make recipes actionable, they need a very tactically structured recipe template and a way to publish those recipes. Then they can add features that allow them to answer some important questions. Are readers cooking and saving my recipes? Are my readers choosing my recommended branded ingredient when they go to check out at a grocer?

When a recipe content platform works, both the businesses and the consumers benefit. Nearly one-third (31%) of shoppers surveyed in the IDC Consumer/Shopper Digital Retailing Survey said that having recipes and inspiring content was an important part of their planning process. What’s more, the survey also found that when retailers offer that content, they can expect a sales lift of 6%.

But creating recipes is expensive. Developing a single recipe can cost $1,000, Held said. And some brands make 10,000 recipes a year. Brands and grocers must make the most of this investment. That means finding the recipe content platforms that provide the most utility.

Optimizing food content through a recipe content platform

A great recipe content platform creates “smart food content,” said Aly Holmes, B2B marketing, Whisk.

Smart food content is:

  • Structured & tagged: Makes recipes easily navigable, discoverable via SEO and makes personalized recommendations possible
  • Informative: Contains the information they need to make smart choices, including nutrition facts and alignment with dietary preferences
  • Functional: Easy for consumers to find, save, shop and cook from
  • Flexible: Easily leveraged for engaging omnichannel experiences

Smart food content makes recipe creation easier for brands and grocers, Holmes said. “Creating recipes is just labour-intensive, and each time, recipe calculation takes time and investment from numerous nutritionists, who can instead spend their time on higher-value activities.” With a recipe content platform, recipe calculations are instantaneous, she said. Additionally, the recipes are labelled correctly, with digital tags for categories such as the type of meal and ingredient. This makes it easier for consumers to search for and quickly find specific recipes. “The recipe content most brands and grocers have today is not labelled properly, so it’s next to impossible to deliver personalized content,” Holmes said.

Being able to “push” content out to consumers is a much-needed strategy these days. “If your customer isn’t coming into the store, your touchpoints are somewhat limited,” she added.

Once the content is developed, food and brands can incorporate recipes and offers into their digital circular, creating a digital space for customers. Using a recipe content platform’s omnichannel flexibility, brands and grocers are accessible to customers wherever they are, on various mobile devices.

Building loyalty and repeat engagements with recipe content

Brands and grocers can use recipe content to create repeat engagements and consumer loyalty. Using options such as recommendations, shopping lists, meal planning and recipe box, recipe content becomes a sticky consumer experience.

Recommending recipes based on a consumer’s preference and enabling consumers to add, share and collaborate lists create new digital experiences that use existing content to drive repeat engagement and loyalty.

Gaining and optimizing insights through analytics

The ideal recipe content platform will also give businesses important marketing insights. This is an aspect that brands and grocers may overlook.

“These insights can help brands and retailers know the effect of content on specific product sales,” Holmes said. “Using a recipe content platform, you can trace every step of the customer journey, starting with recipe inspiration.”

With a recipe content platform, the brand can see if, after reading the recipe, the customer added ingredients into the grocery store basket, made a purchase, and if they did make that purchase, which products were selected. By tying the journey data with the purchase data, brands and grocers can identify trends, learn more about customer behaviour and ultimately inform product and marketing strategy.

Food brands and grocers are not making the most of their recipe content. Recipe content platforms help brands and grocers create higher visibility, develop an omnichannel approach and personalize information, which helps deepen customer relationships.

What’s more, businesses can use the analytics available from platforms to create a targeted, timely approach. As a result, their food content becomes an integral tool for building customer loyalty and creates a competitive advantage.

Source: Industry Dive Brand Studio

Published by Silvia Emma

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