What’s the point of building an elaborate eCommerce content strategy if you can’t close the sale?
Your eCommerce content marketing should be designed to guide shoppers throughout the entire sales funnel, but from a business standpoint, the end goal is always that last little step where they click “complete order.” We’ve already talked about how to generate traffic with content, and now we’ll explain how to convert that traffic into sales.
What Kind of Content Works Best for Conversions?
Different content serves different goals, and content types like blogs or infographics don’t work as well for conversions as they do for generating traffic.
So what does work for conversions? If increasing sales is your top priority, focus on product videos, buying guides, and product page descriptions.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about all three. For each one, we include a description, explanation on why they’re useful for conversions, best practices, and some examples from brands that do them right.
We can’t talk enough about how great product videos are for sales. Just look at these impressive statistics:
- 73% of U.S. adults are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video (source)
- 58% of consumers consider a brand more trustworthy if they feature a video (source)
- 96% find videos helpful in online shopping decisions (source)
- 71% prefer videos over text in explaining products (source)
- Videos appear in 14% of search engine results (source)
- Videos increase time-on-site by 88% (source)
Click play on the video below for an example:
Source: Sweaty Betty
Product videos take away a lot of the fear in shopping online, mostly in buying a product you’ve never seen in person. More than a text description or even a photo, videos show the product in a realistic setting with multiple viewpoints, and can even include a visual explanation of how the product works.
A 2013 Multichannel Merchant study recorded that 65% of consumers say that videos can help them better imagine using a product. This instills a confidence in the shopper before they buy (or convinces them not to buy), and in some documented cases like Ice.com, has reduced returns by 25%.
But remember that product videos have a different set of best practices than video for more generalized content. Both have different goals, and while generalized videos aim more at entertaining and driving traffic, product videos are geared more for informing and educating the viewer on the product, in addition to entertaining them.
Click play on the video below for an example:
- Use a script — Plan out your video in a script beforehand and then follow it to keep your production organized. A well-written script from the start makes sure you say everything you need to say, including a list of features and explanation of use.
- Stay under a minute — The ideal range for a product video is 45-60 seconds.
- Include a 360° shot of the product — This is one of the main advantages of video over static images. To get this shot, try placing the product on an automated turntable and keeping the camera stationary on a tripod.
- Keep the same style across different products — As a means to build your brand, use the same style in every product video, including related backdrops, lighting, tone, and even an announcer if applicable.
- Outsource — You wouldn’t want a film graduate managing your business, so consider hiring a professional videographer. Treepodia, Tongal, SmartShoot, and even Fiverr are all sites that can help brands meet professional filmmakers.
No matter how you do it, videos are simply the best form of content to assure shopper fears, promote a product, and bridge the gap from “interested” to “ready to buy.”
Buying Guides for Content Conversion
As Sarah Arrow of Sark eMedia points out, “an educated customer is a better customer.” They’re able to make better decisions, and make them with more confidence. They’ll be happier with their purchase, and, as a result, fondly remember just how and who educated them.
Source: Volkswagen: Build Your Own
Buying guides are great for conversions because the reader is already prepared to buy. Giving shoppers the final information they need removes the last obstacles before a purchase. At the same time, your buying guide keeps them on your site, preventing them from finding that information elsewhere and essentially handing your competition a sale.
Another benefit of buying guides in relation to your brand is that they establish you as an authority on the topic. Buying guides confirm that you are the source to go to when the shopper needs help, a great advantage for repeat business and customer loyalty.
The drawback is that you actually need to provide the information shoppers are seeking, of course. To start with, Arrow breaks up buying guides into five separate types:
- First-time purchase guide
- After-care guide
- Comparison guide
- Additional products (upsells)
- Advanced/Pro-user guide
Once you determine the type, Write.com suggests answering the following questions in your writing guide to hone in on what your shoppers need to know:
- What can your shoppers do with the product?
- What are the different end goals of the product?
- What problems does the product solve?
- Are there different solutions for the same problem?
- What important or unique features stand out about each product?
- What are the benefits of those features?
- Are there any situations that make one product more advisable over another?
- Conduct a search for your product type and the keyword “problem” — This search reveals the frustrations and confusion most people need cleared up regarding the product type. It also sheds some light into who are the other authorities your guide will compete against.
- Include call-to-action links — The key component into turning your buying guide into a sales generator. Make sure all mentions of each product have the corresponding link to their product page, or even a direct “Add to Cart” option.
- Incorporate SEO — Buying guides can also help your SEO at the same time. Use keywords in titles, headings, and subheadings, plus link to relevant pages aside from specific products, for example category pages. You can easily do that with LemonStand’s new content feature.
- Authoritative tone — If you’re too casual or humorous, shoppers won’t take what you have to say seriously. The tone doesn’t have to be dry, but it does have to assertive and trustworthy to be effective. Remember, this is an informative document.
- Avoid bias — Earning your readers’ trust is more important that an upsell, or even successfully closing. Remove any bias and write for what the reader wants and needs. Putting the reader ahead of the brand is the best strategy for your brand anyway.
- Share it — Send the buying guide to your email subscribers, publish it on your blog, promote it on social media, and guest post it on friendly sites. The more visible it is, the more effect it will have on sales, not to mention the SEO benefits.
Buying guides are more important as a means to build relations with the customer than for promoting individual products. Write them to aid your shoppers, and save the sales techniques for the product page descriptions.
Product Page Descriptions
Just because you have a product video and some top-notch images doesn’t mean you can neglect your product page copy. In addition to providing the shopper with information to help their buying decisions, your product description is also one of the last chances you have to win them over.
Of all the three items in this article, product descriptions are the most straightforward. They rely solely on the fundamentals of communication to both inform and persuade. That simplifies their creation somewhat, but also puts extra pressure on your basic writing skill.
Your product descriptions should aim to accomplish two goals:
- provide the necessary product information in an engaging way (in other words, don’t just list out the facts)
- demonstrate the product’s value in a way that persuades the shopper to buy
While a great deal of a product description’s effectiveness lies in writing skill, there are other aspects to consider as well. Here is some advice on description writing we collected from sources like Derek Gehl at Entrepreneur, Dan Shewen at WordStream, Mark Hayes at Shopify, and Scott Martin at The Daily Egg:
- Feature benefits in a headline — Headlines are one of the most prominent — and most read — elements on a screen, so take advantage of them in showing your product’s value. Don’t talk about what the product is, talk about what it does for the owner.
- Structure as “problem => solution” — A classic persuasive technique that translates well to eCommerce, begin your product description by voicing a problem your typical shopper may have, and then explain how this product solves it.
- Focus on shopper with second-person perspective — This handy rule of thumb can be applied with a little effort but makes a big difference. Use the second-person perspective (you and your) to keep the focus of the narrative on the reader. This perspective has a greater effect on reader, and creates the impression you’re speaking to them directly.
- Spice up formatting — It’s a sad truth that your product descriptions are the underdog when competing for the attention of shoppers. To avoid your visitors scanning and glossing over the vital information, try spicing up the format of the text by varying the length of paragraphs and incorporating subheadings, italics, and bold. A surefire formula for all product descriptions: a paragraph of prose followed by a bulleted list of features. Looking around, you’ll see this formula replicated again and again.
- Use the voice of the customer — Avoid the dry, “product box descriptions” and write your own flashier version that’s personalized to your reader. If you have personas, break them out to determine the right fit of language. You can even use words and phrases described verbatim in user interviews and focus group testings.
- The 4 magic words for content conversion — Mark Hayes discusses four “magic” words proven to be extra effective in the results of behavioral, psychological, and neuroscientific tests. Use them as a shortcut to persuasive writing (an aid, not a crutch!):
- Similes and Metaphors — A literary technique for improved writing in any venture, similes and metaphors tend to have a more emotional effect on the reader. These poetic devices can suggest ideas and especially feelings in a more direct way than a blatant description.
- Stories — Another roundabout way to establish a connection with your reader is to frame your product description as a story, with a real or imaginary character, or even the ambiguous “you.” This narrative device paints an entirely new environment to show off the product’s benefits in a way a basic description can’t match. J. Peterman is the master of this style, as you can see below:
Source: The J. Peterman Company
- Be specific — Rule 16 of Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr.’s legendary manuscript on writing, suggests a writer “use definite, specific, concrete language.” Specificity may be a practical tactic for vigorous and entertaining writing, but it can also help for eCommerce as well. Rely on facts, figures, and statistics to prove your point, rather than vague statements like “moms love it.”
Have you ever read a piece of content that made you decide to buy a product online? What type of content was it? What made it so effective? Share your experiences with content conversion for eCommerce in the comments now.