When it comes to content strategy, the key to an ecommerce success is education. Yes, you got it right. It means that at every point in the customer’s journey on the website, from search to purchase, we should provide information that would enrich their understanding of the product range.
The benefits of this kind of content expansion are numerous: from the overall customer nurturing to more efficient SEO strategies that encompass keyword research, content creation and marketing, as well as link building.
Read on to see how to build a content strategy relevant for four kinds of online shoppers: uneducated, educated, those that need that final push to make a purchase and those that have already decided to buy something.
1. KNOW THE BASICS
Before you begin to expand your content strategy and revamp your ecommerce site, you should know a few things about consumer behaviour.
Take user searching, for instance. A user who searches for ‘women summer shirt’ cannot be presented with the same kind of content as a person who searched for ‘women Hilfiger dress’ or ‘summer dress Hilfiger vs. Topshop’. In the first case, the customer doesn’t have a particular product in mind, in the second – he or she knows very well what they want and are most probably shopping for price or availability. The third case is also completely different – here the customer isn’t sure what he or she wants, but narrows it down to two categories and is now looking for pointers to make a more informed choice. Each of those queries should generate a completely different content.
One way for the SEO specialists to deal with this is by getting a firm grasp on the nature of buying cycles and its various stages that affect consumer behaviour. For a detailed analysis of consumer buying cycles, check this informative article by David Skok.
This kind of customer is at the very first stages of a buying cycle – he or she is searching for various options under the keyword ‘summer dress’ and browsing product and category pages for results that match their requirements.
Those customers need to be guided – you must provide practical information that will assist them in making the most informed choice possible. Of course, specific user demographics play a crucial role here, but there are a few things that work for the general audience you can try right now.
2. CATEGORY PAGES
Grouping products categorically and including some relevant sub-categories will serve not only the searcher, but search engines as well. In creating a category page, it’s best to focus on two-three most searched keywords and include a short introduction to the category products. This will offer a context to get a sense of what the page is actually about and make it act as a landing page, rather than a simple navigation section.
3. ‘HOW TO’ GUIDES
To enrich your category page, it’s useful to include a shopping guide to help customers choose products that best suit their needs. Consider this guide on how to choose running shoes from Asics:
This guide is practically targeted at those shoppers who are still in the early phases of their buying cycle. After reading a guide like this, customers will be able to make a more educated buying decision. Even though Asics didn’t do resort to this method, it’s not a bad idea to include related product feeds in sidebars or between text paragraphs for a better conversion rate.
4. PICTURE GALLERIES
This is especially relevant for the fashion folks – for them, visuals can be a deal-breaker. The rising popularity of services like Pinterest is going to influence the taste of shoppers who might find more inspiration in photographed products than simple product or category pages. Fashion people are more and more visual in their searches – they use Google Images or LOOKBOOK.nu to search for products. Image galleries offer a way of improving the shopping experience of those who like to shop visually – take a cue from Zara, which often features inspiring lookbooks and special edition photographic sets like the one below:
Contests are great for building social followers, as well as for email acquisition and increased brand visibility. Users enticed to participate in a contest will fill out a form and leave their email to be added into your newsletter base. Have a look at this contest organised by ASOS, which involves both Instagram and Twitter to create a group of people who will share a similar experience and connect to the brand:
To make your contests even more efficient, make sure to promote them via social media and specialised websites like ilovegivaways.com for link building opportunities.
Welcome to the land of educated shoppers! They are still waiting to be educated some more to make truly informed buying choices. Those are customers located further in the buying cycle, so the conversion rates from their visit tend to be higher than from those of the uneducated and undecided ones.
Providing useful content to those visitors will give an additional value to your website, which might result in a purchase, or at least boost audience engagement. Below you find a selection of strategies aimed at further educating customers that visit your store.
It’s a great idea to offer a free download (shopping guide, ebook, interactive tool, a game) in exchange for acquiring an email address. Be it a free guide to the best products in a specific category or an exclusive interactive tool that helps to search products that fit certain user-derived criteria, the freemiums are something that will satisfy the needs of the visitors that are set on buying the best option out there. Acquiring email addresses has its value too – offering opportunities for later marketing campaigns and targeted newsletters.
The thing to remember here is that freemiums should attract the right kind of customers – those that have a high chance of making a purchase once they’re educated and build your brand awareness by sharing content on social media and beyond.
Even though they were recently the victim of a backlash, infographics are something that users simply like. That is, as long as they provide a value by representing unique data in an interesting angle. Think along the following lines: What are the most popular items on my website? How about the most interesting product on sale right now? Channel this information to produce a unique infographic that will inspire your customers to make a purchase.
8. SPECIALISED WRITTEN CONTENT
Perfect for targeting long-tail keywords, featured blog posts and articles are a great way to enhance the experience of an educated shopper who still isn’t sure about which product is right for him or her. Posts and articles should answer potential queries customers might have – detailed articles are simply a palatable way of bringing all this information to them.
Great articles can drive traffic, capture the customer’s attention and lead him or her down the purchasing tunnel through linking to category and product pages included within the text itself or sidebars that show related product feeds.
9. EXPERT OPINIONS AND INTERVIEWS
A different shade of the written content discussed above, the expert opinions and interviews serve not only to establish a brand awareness, but also give it credibility. An expert opinion provides a trusted stance on a topic – experts additionally bring in their audience as they share information about their recent contributions in their own channels.
Inviting experts to participate in a live interview, shared via Youtube or Google Hangouts, is a great idea especially for those ecommerce ventures that feed on experience rather than products itself, like cooking. Getting Gordon Ramsay to talk about his favourite cookware can boost the sales and provide great link building opportunities – an event like that will surely echo in the web.
10. PRODUCT REVIEWS AND COMPARISONS
The ‘summer dress Hilfiger vs. Topshop’ search keyword mentioned before is a kind of query typical for educated customers who want to know more. They’re looking for an objective source of information that will differentiate between two products, pointing out their specific feature.
When it comes to summer dresses, practically all that counts to make an informed choice is personal taste – other products, especially hi-tech, can really benefit more from such comparisons and detailed reviews. Including those on your website will help customer to choose the best product available – you’ll be their exclusive source of information.
11. USER-GENERATED CONTENT
Nowadays more attention is paid to the marketing potential of social media than that of forums, but they’re not an obsolete form of building an audience – American Express resorted to this method by creating an Open Forum, where customers can interact, discuss the products, collaborate and provide practical advice to each other. A forum like this can help customers to get emotionally invested in your brand and build a community around it.
For Undecided Shoppers
Some shoppers will still want to validate their buying decision and it’s your job to convince them that the products they chose are a great fit for them. The way to do this is to target the keywords of queries concerning your ecommerce venture, your coupons, sales, shipping and return policy etc. That way, the customer will find everything on your website without the need to refer to external sources, and you will manage your reputation.
12. ABOUT PAGE
We know it – it’s a bore. But edited accurately and focused on your employees, it can become a great way to promote your website – you’ll give the impression that your team loves the products they’re dealing with, and drive some traffic when people search their names. This kind of brand transparency can be a deal-breaker to a customer who’s still in doubt whether to trust your venture to deliver his or hers desired product.
13. COUPONS AND DISCOUNTS
Customers love coupons and discounts. If you see that they often search ‘discounts’ in conjunction with your brand name, maybe it’s time to include some of those offers on your Sales page? Even if you’re not in the middle of the sale season, a small page offering discounts could be a great addition to your website and a reward for those who lingered around long enough to spot it.
For Shoppers on the Brink of a Purchase
Those kinds of shoppers are ready to buy and are probably looking for some specific information like your contact info, shipping rates and other mundane, but equally important things. Your job here is to make it easy for them to find answers for those queries.
Your homepage is the best place to target the most searched keywords, true. But more importantly – it’s about your brand. If you spot that your website is not ranking No. 1 in search results for your brand term, review your meta title to ensure that it features the brand name, include your brand name in homepage content and build some more links to show to search engines that your store is the first thing behind the brand name.
In building the FAQ page, it’s good to know what users actually ask about – you can do it thanks to a feature of Google Analytics. FAQ page is where users go to get answers to their practical questions about things like shipping and return policy, contact methods, customer service etc. There’s no harm, however, in making things a bit more interesting – you can offer fun answers, links to ‘how to’ guides and helpful articles. This is also a great opportunity for creating a link platform, where you can share a variety of product and category pages.
16. STORE LOCATION PAGES
If you’ve got real, brick-and-mortar store locations, consider having a landing page for each one of them – here you can provide details on the store’s address, phone numbers, opening hours and some positive reviews from your customers. Just like in the About page, you can feature store photos and short employee bios to make for a more engaging and intimate buying experience once a customer actually visits your store.
Having those 16 tips in mind, there’s practically nothing standing in your way to sketch and implement a successful content strategy.
The article was authored by Monica Wells of www.bizdb.co.uk.