Jun 13 2012

8 Content Strategy Tips to Sell More Products Online

ContentStrategies

Product pages, blog posts, social networks, and newsletters are the various distribution channels brands can leverage with compelling content. Using these channels in innovative ways is what sets companies apart from their competitors and how consumers decide where to spend their money. Your website needs to convey trust, rank high on search engines for visibility and be found by people searching specifically for your products with intent to purchase. Here are eight important strategies to improve your website’s content and help you more products.

1. Analyze your competitors content as well as your own – Create a list of criteria to review other websites so your research is objective-oriented. Becoming inspired by how relevant websites use content in creative ways may shine a new perspective on problems you’re facing.

  1. Which products are top selling and how are they marketed?
  2. Is there an outstanding use of content that helps demonstrate product value?
  3. What is the personality and tone of their content?
  4. How is content being used throughout the payment process?
  5. Are there any product reviews? – note what customers talk about.
  6. Once a product is purchased, is there actions a user can take in the confirmation email for more engagement?
  7. Do they offer any promotions, giveaways or host contests?
  8. How are they using blog posts and social networks to promote their products?
  9. What content and products are most prominent on their mobile site/app?
  10. What could be improved about their content overall?

User feedback is the most direct method of knowing if users are grasping the intentions of your content. When users embrace your website and are receptive of your brand, it’s more likely they’ll have intent to purchase.

Survey existing and potential customers and let them know you appreciate their time with an incentive like a freebie, discount, or coupon to ensure you have their full attention. Your goal is to ask them questions that gather their thoughts on your products and brand, I’ve listed some sample questions below.

  1. Do they understand the value of your products?
  2. Did they find all the information they were looking for on your website?
  3. What do they enjoy about your brand, website and products?
  4. Do they have any feedback or requests for your products?
  5. Do they find your pricing reasonable?
  6. Why did they choose your product over your competitors? (if this applies)
  7. Have they read or created any product reviews?
  8. Would they recommend your products to friends and, have they already?
  9. Did they share your products on any social networks?
  10. What other websites have they purchased products from?

KISSmetrics, Omniture, Crazy Egg, Google Website Optimizer, Optimizely, ClickTale and bit.ly can be used to examine your statistics and metrics. Be sure to track the impact of any new content changes.


2. Initiate user generated content through contests, giveaways and promotions – I love when companies run contests that give all contestants an even chance of winning. For example, a fashion site that runs a best dressed photo contest wearing their brand’s clothing for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate. This inspires the target audience to create content that showcases the company’s products from a lifestyle point of view. Users are engaged, new conversations begin and this a great way to drive new visitors to a website. Rather than only distributing content through your direct social network, seek out other influential businesses and consumers that are interested in collaboration opportunities.

3. Create a content brief – Once you understand your current situation based on user research, a site analysis, and studying your competition, it’s important to clarify your goals and objectives before updating content. Creating a brief can be an open-ended process depending on what makes sense for your business. Everyone involved in the content creation process should review the brief so ideas are aligned with the vision. I’ve outlined a general brief which applies to many different types of content.

  • Outline goals and objectives – Set a goal of how many additional products you aim to sell with this project’s content and how you intend to make it happen. You may also measure success by metrics that lead to more conversions such as facebook likes, twitter followers, and newsletter signups.
  • Define your audience - Any new content you create should be directed at your target audience. Outline your user demographic, personas, what websites they visit, brands they follow, blogs they read, and any other relevant information. It’s essential to be involved with your community and speak the same language.
  • Define Project Details – Outline the purpose of this project and any details that’ll impact content. Explain what the content will be about and how it relates to your products and brand. This should include what will delivered, by who, timelines and how this component may increase revenue.
  • Create content guidelines – Content formatting (dimensions, file sizes, file formats, etc.), graphic design styles, typography guidelines, etc.

4. Improve your copywriting skills – Who wants to read something that doesn’t feel like it’s written for them? Writing good copy isn’t just about using a massive vocabulary and having excellent grammar, it’s about understanding how your users speak and communicating with them naturally. Brands that are able to create a one-on-one connection through their content can make their users feel comfortable and safe. Reading blogs, website copy, tweets, etc., based to your customers interests and influences will help you understand what resonates with them.

While having the right tone and personality in your copy is important, your content must also be actionable and inspire users to purchase products. If you’re blogging, each article should somehow connect readers to your products and demonstrate their value. Whether it’s outlining features, the manufacturing process, quality control, promotions, etc., in some way your content should inform users why they should buy your products and not your competitors. Practice, active research/reading and experimenting while focusing on the science of persuasion will optimize your copywriting for more sales.


5. Use effective keywords in your content – Be direct with your page titles, headers, copy, and use the Google keyword tool along with other keyword tools to research popular search terms. My Google Adwords training reinforced the importance of using actionable versus descriptive keywords to ensure pay-per-click campaigns bring in users with intent. Words like buy, order and purchase combined with product names will attract more customers. Although Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking, you can use keywords in anchor tags to boost the SEO value of your product pages.

Neil Patel taught me the value of creating a list of semantic keywords. Develop keywords around trending topics that get a ton of traffic. Analyze how tags are used in social bookmarking sites like Stumble Upon, Reddit, and Pinterest. You can also use Google’s advanced search option to gather related searches. Semantic keywords will result in higher click through rates and raise your SEO quality.


6. Get the most out of your payment process – When a customer takes out their credit card and enters in their credentials to purchase a product, it puts them in a more focused state of mind. Users will naturally dial up their attention to detail to ensure they’ve entered in everything correctly. Use this opportunity to your advantage with actionable content.

  • Allow customers to share their purchase socially.
  • Promote relevant blog posts and site content.
  • Include related and top selling product modules for last minute purchases.
  • Notify the customer of a survey with an incentive.
  • Take advantage of the confirmation email once a payment is complete.
  • Clearly communicate what actions a user can take if they run into any issues with a product. Content that conveys good customer service will make your users feel confident in their purchase.
  • After a customer has received and used your product, send out an email that inspires them to create a product review.
  • Allowing customers to chat live with your brand during the payment process may help earn trust and gain loyalty. Services like Olark can add live chat to your site with a simple javascript include.


7. Experiment with new techniques to share your content – Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Youtube subscribers, etc., are useless if you don’t interact with your following and inspire them to take action. By researching topics and keywords through twitter’s advanced search, you can join existing conversations that relate to your products. It’s an organic way to gain new customers and allows your brand to provide value on a personal level.

@battlefield recently responded to one of my tweets thanking me for the positive feedback I gave about Battlefield 3. They didn’t really have anything to gain in @replying me aside from starting a one-on-one conversation and earning my respect. However, this interaction inspired me to follow them, check out their latest tweets and hey, now I’m even blogging about it. Sometimes it’s these little connections that attach our sub-conscious to a product and brand without even being aware of it.

It’s important to constantly strive to increase the longevity and hype of your products. For example, if you’re releasing a collection of products; it might have more of an impact to release them separately rather than all at once. This will create more opportunities to start new conversations instead of a single social push. As mentioned in tip 2, you can also notify potential customers of contests, giveaways and discounts.


8. Adapt your content to mobile – In 2015, shoppers around the world are expected to spend around $119 billion on goods and services through their mobile phones according to ABIresearch. On a typical desktop browser above the fold, it’s common to see e-commerce sites with various product modules, slideshows, content blocks, newsletter signup modules, and other calls to action. Multiple columns of content are often crammed into a single column layout to be viewed on mobile phones. Brands must decide which modules to display and in what order to gain the most traction. Prioritize your content by displaying your top selling products first, provide an easy way to browse products, include an about page to raise credibility and allow users to share your products socially.

Go beyond getting a potential customer to follow you on twitter/facebook, sending out a status update that involves your brand has multiple benefits. If a user has intent to purchase your products, it’s fairly painless to revisit a site through a tweet and you may gain more conversions from their followers.

Use brief descriptions and drop down modules for users that want to learn more so call to actions have a dominant presence. A sticky header or footer purchase button on product pages may work nicely if you prefer page scrolling instead of making a user click to learn more. With smaller resolutions, reduced bandwidth and lower average visit durations, m-commerce site owners have to constantly think of innovative ways to present content that converts more users.

Conclusion

By analyzing and comparing your existing content strategy against competitors, you’ll gain ideas to create a more enchanting experience for your customers. Constantly strive to improve your copywriting skills, use keywords effectively, and create engagement through your payment process. Think out of the box for ways to produce user generated content and socialize with existing and potential customers. Prioritize and simplify your mobile content to encourage purchases on the go. By maintaining an active improvement strategy with your content, you’ll open new opportunities for your brand to sell more products.

If you have any feedback or additional tips you’d like to share, please add a comment below.

About the Author:

Ryan Bollenbach is a UX/UI design consultant. He specializes in creating wireframes, visual design, writing HTML5 & CSS3, Wordpress and content strategy. He's passionate about simplicity, music, e-commerce and enjoys blogging about his thoughts on design and business through his blog, boompah.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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5 Responses

  1. Sep 13 2012
    more on this website

    Hey would you mind letting me know which web host
    you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web
    browsers and I must say this blog loads a
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    Thanks, I appreciate it!

    • Sep 17 2012
      John Botica

      Sure thing! We use Media Temple as our hosting provider. We are currently on (dv) Dedicated-Virtual 4.0 box. They have been really awesome and we love their support. All around excellent. We also use the W3 Total Cache plugin on our site, configurations can vary on any given site, but this really helps with load times and keeping a great handle on efficiency :) You can get that here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/

      As far as some good hosting is concerned, Media Temple is great, although they can be a little pricey, but it is worth it! Some others that people in the office use, and have used/recommend: DreamHost(http://dreamhost.com/), HostGator(http://www.hostgator.com/) and Site5(http://www.site5.com/).

      Cheers!

  2. Nov 15 2012
    Vincent Sevilla

    This post is really helpful and informative. Good job!

  3. Jun 10 2013
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    This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something
    which helped me. Appreciate it!

  4. Aug 09 2013
    Rusty P

    Great tips – thanks for sharing Ryan. My business has also had great results using OpinionAmp for online marketing. OpinionAmp gets reviews from my real customers and takes those reviews online to the culture and target audience we’re trying to reach with our product. I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about the process – incredible results for my small business.