3M Provides 5 Key Takeaways on Product Content for Customer Experience

John DeMarco (3M) and Jeff Hunt (Snap36) presenting at B2B Online 2018 in Chicago.

Since the emerging desire for big data hit the scene, consumers have started to use information as a currency that determines where they will spend their hard-earned dollars. The formula is simple: more information equals higher purchase confidence which often leads to a conversion.

At B2B Online 2018, John DeMarco, the Manager of Digital Marketing Operations for 3M, led a discussion on the correlation between customer experience and the quality of a business’ product content with Snap36 CEO, Jeff Hunt.

We’ve compiled 5 key takeaways below:

1) Data Alone Isn’t Enough

“As manufacturers and distributors, we are all in the publishing business,” said DeMarco. “Data alone is not good enough. We can have all the data points, but it doesn’t mean anything until it’s meaningful to the end user.”

Product photography is a major data point that is often viewed as an attribute that should be checked off the list, rather than one that provides significant value to customers. Unfortunately, these assets are often overlooked, leading to a significant missed opportunity.

2) Invest in Customer Experience

“Companies that focus on customer experience have a performance gain of 45%, while companies that neglect customer experience have a performance decrease of 34%,” said DeMarco. “Our job has become increasingly complex as we try to address all the interactions and expectations to ultimately lead to satisfaction.”

DeMarco questions why distributors and manufacturers are generally willing to spend millions on Product Information Management (PIM) and other data management software, but struggle to sell themselves on creating the content assets that populate these systems. Without quality data, the money spent on these systems will never be able to reach their full value.

“There are a lot of different delivery channels for content, and there are a lot of ways to store it, but ultimately the focus needs to be on the experience with the content,” DeMarco said. “It’s all about what the visitor, partner, and hopefully customer is actually going to see, experience, and realize.”

3) Learn From Your Customers

Enhanced product content is not only extremely beneficial for customers, but also provides businesses with valuable information about its customers and their journey throughout purchasing process.

“With 360° product photography we’re providing customers with all this extra product content and image angles to learn about what our customer cares about,” said DeMarco. “We didn’t know people wanted to see the back of a post-it dispenser, but they do.”

This gives companies an objective analysis of what consumers find most important throughout the purchase journey directly from the customer. Additionally, it unveils the most effective methods to market their products as they gain a better understanding of how customers navigate from the home page all the way to clicking “Buy Now.”

4) Use a Content Quality Decision Tree

While some manufacturers or distributors are quick to assume that enhanced content will not benefit their products, it’s important that companies deploy a strategic process to question that assumption and understand why creating only the most basic will hurt digital initiatives.

DeMarco uses a content quality decision tree, like the example shown below, to break down content quality into four tiers and guide which content requirements are necessary for 3M’s products.


In today’s world manufacturers and distributors can’t afford (or shouldn’t pay) to create product content for a single use. According to DeMarco, companies need to think about how they can use an asset in 15 different ways and then focus on developing a content database that can be created, managed, and optimized to support republishing.

360° product content is particularly valuable as an asset because of its ability to be repurposed across so many channels: websites, social media, email newsletters, partner portals, print campaigns, and even Amazon—just to name a few.

“3M has products sold all over the world,” said DeMarco, “If I can use our 360° product content in 90 countries, I didn’t just save the company money, I made the company money.”

Claire McCracken
Claire McCracken

Claire is a Marketing Coordinator at Snap36. She recently graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in Communications and Marketing. Before working at Snap36, Claire had a marketing internship with a construction company in Chicago.

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