If you have an e-commerce site, you may be struggling with how to implement an effective content strategy. You may have found that product and sales pages don’t easily lend themselves to compelling, share-worthy content. This is why many business owners get stuck: they think a content strategy only works for online publishers; not for e-commerce sites. They know the benefits of having a solid content strategy – increased traffic, organic search rankings, brand awareness, conversion rates, and sales – but don’t know how this works (of even if it can work) on an e-commerce site.
This article will walk you through some strategies for using content to achieve the benefits listed above for an e-commerce website.
1. Guide your visitors through the sales funnel by focusing on intent
You likely already know that your website visitors arrive at your site at various stages of the buying cycle. If we assume a very simple cycle – awareness, research, evaluation, purchase – it’s easier to see which topics will be most effective at each stage.
Great content can help guide your visitors through this sales funnel without ever making them feel like you’re pitching them. This ‘Find Your Perfect Fit’ Jean Guide From American Eagle is a great example of how to help consumers move themselves further along in the sales funnel.
The guide, which visitors can access on the main jean category page, helps users self-select which styles they’re looking for. This allows users to feel like they’re in control of their own purchase process, and can move from the research to purchase stage at their own pace. This guide is a good reminder that website content doesn’t always need to be text-based; providing multiple high-quality images or interactive content may be preferable to long, detailed descriptions in certain niches or industries.
2. Valuable information trumps a sales pitch
While there’s a time and place for moving your visitors to make a purchase, the bulk of your content should be aimed at providing practical information to help your visitors make purchase decisions. If you’ve done a good job of helping them through the first 3 stages of the buying process – awareness, research and evaluation – they’re much more likely to complete their purchase on your site.
The screenshot above shows how one window and door retailer is using content to simplify the buying process for their website visitors. This page ranks highly for the competitive search term “How to choose windows”, and does a great job of simplifying the process of selecting windows and doors. Here are some ways this content does a great job of providing practical guidance:
- The repeated use of words and phrases like ‘simple’ and ‘not that complicated’. They put their visitors at ease by stressing how buying windows doesn’t need to be difficult
- Clean, easy-to-navigate design that moves visitors sequentially through the entire process
- The use of links to relevant products and other helpful content
They could have provided most of the same information through a simple list of links or buttons, however the copywriting and design they use is far more likely to help establish a sense of trust.
Another important way to provide valuable content is through your business blog. Your blog should be regularly updated to provide useful information to your audience. Some ideas for posts that bring value to your customers include:
- How-to posts and videos
- Product demos
- Buying guides
- Your analysis of current industry trends and Issues
- Product reviews
3. Create an experience
Research suggests that women who shop online are looking for more than just a product: they’re looking for an experience: “When shopping online, women look for a relationship in addition to convenience. Women enjoy websites where they can browse, chat, ask questions and feel a sense of community”. So, how can you actually create this sense of community on an ecommerce site?
Enabling blog commenting, providing a discussion forum, and allowing users to review and rate products are all ways you can help facilitate this. Setting up a Q&A section on product pages can also help reduce risk and increase a sense of community. Amazon does this especially well.
If you don’t have the capability to provide these types of tools or features, consider directing visitors to ask questions or give feedback via your social media accounts. You could even create a dedicated Facebook group for customers to ask questions, get product-specific help or watch demos or tutorials.
4. Your product descriptions are content too!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include best practices for writing engaging product descriptions. These will often be read in the evaluation stage of the buying process, so it’s critical that they compel readers to actually make the purchase.
Following are some best practices for writing product descriptions that are optimized for search and that persuade visitors to buy.
- Write with your ideal customer in mind. This is where understanding buyer personas is so important.
- Always include both features and benefits. This means describing not only the details of your product, but the problems or issues it helps your customers solve.
- Include social proof where possible. This could be product reviews, ratings, customer testimonials, media mentions or number of products sold.
- Your unique value proposition (UVP). How is this product different or better than other similar products?
- Use simple images and videos to show visitors everything they need to know about the product. ThinkGeek is especially great at this.
- Make sure your descriptions are a minimum of 250 words long. This is important both for SEO and for providing sufficient product information.
- Use your desired keywords in your copy, but don’t go overboard: this can be a serious turnoff to visitors. Use keywords in your URL, headline, subheadings and alt image file where appropriate.
- Use bulleted lists for easy reading. Buyers are unlikely to read through every word on the product page, so make it easy for them to skim through your description.
When creating content for your e-commerce site, remember to focus on first providing valuable information to help your prospects make purchase decisions. Your end-stage content – the content they reach in the evaluation and purchase stages of the buying cycle – should then gently nudge them towards a sale. Keep in mind that your site likely isn’t the only one your prospects are visiting, so make sure your content helps build rapport and trust at every stage of the buying process.
This article was written by Jayson DeMers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.