Digital content for ecommerce isn't always about the hard sell but rather about reaching people on an emotional and intellectual level. Content should answer customer questions and teach them what they want to know. As we highlighted in our recent post, "Building a Content-Driven Ecommerce Platform for Your Business," an effective content strategy produces information that educates and intrigues a site visitor. Good content inspires people to trust a company and building trust is critical to developing loyalty and increasing sales.
But how do you get started with or focus your existing content? It's important for ecommerce brands to develop an online content strategy that builds an audience, preferably with people who share useful content. Good digital content attracts visitors to your site as it:
- encourages engagement,
- builds customer loyalty, and
- generates more purchases.
Brands Encourage Engagement with Content
People are searching for digital content, and brands that provide it are the ones that get to connect with them. The internet changed shopping forever. Now, 82% of shoppers conduct research online before buying. A highly effective way of connecting with these shoppers is by providing online content that is useful, interesting, and relevant to their needs.
Digital content offers value beyond traditional advertising because people choose to interact with it. Rather than passively receiving information through classic methods such as TV commercials, online shoppers are motivated to learn. They initiate interaction with brands.
Digital content is an ecommerce brand's response to consumers asking if anyone out there can help. People seek online information such as how-to's and instructional videos. Blog posts and articles answer their questions and solve their problems. Content reaches and teaches people at just the right time - when they are ready to listen.
Most good content isn't about the product itself. It's about people who use it and how it fulfills their needs. Outdoor clothing and gear ecommerce site REI.com understands this concept and offers a variety of valuable content to visitors, such as:
- Expert advice with checklists and how-tos
- Classes and events (expert-led instruction)
- A blog with stories about outdoor living
As REI.com's site shows, writing about how a product will benefit a person is much more valuable to people than describing product features.
Photos, videos and graphics are also compelling elements to use in content, effectively immersing people inside a story. Videos can show a product during actual use, allowing people to more accurately imagine themselves with it. The power of video is strong:
- 90% of consumers find videos helpful when shopping online
- 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video
- 36% of consumers trust video ads and 80% recall a video ad they've seen in the past 30 days
Even a seemingly boring brand can grab attention using the right content. Digital content such as quizzes and contests engage people directly and are easy to share through social media. Shared content works to grow your customer base.
People are more likely to share content they find interesting and rewarding. An excellent example of how to generate online buzz through content is Duck Tape's "Promposal" contest where people use the product in innovative ways to ask dates to their prom. The prize or reward has to be something your audience values. In Duck Tape's case, it's money. To increase the brand's reach, users can share their "promposal" on Twitter or Instagram to earn an entry in a sweepstakes, too.
Content is more effective than paid advertising. Paid advertising has an important role online, but consumers have learned to tune out banner ads, and they ignore display ads that aren't relevant. Content marketing produces three times as many leads as display advertising, and people spend up to 345 times longer engaging with branded content than with ads.
Content Helps Build Relationships and Loyalty
When 80% of people appreciate learning about a company through custom content, it becomes imperative to provide high-quality content. Blog posts, articles, videos and graphics must inform as well as engage the site visitor. Custom content conveys a brand's personality while it educates and builds relationships with potential customers. According to Demand Metric,
- 60% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
- 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content
- 70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing
Content drives feelings of closeness. Every website page is an opportunity to communicate and connect with visitors. Ecommerce sites can use an About Us page or a Mission Statement to express their personality while they tell their brand story. A site's FAQ's provide a unique opportunity to get creative while informing readers.
Good content serves to establish a site as an industry authority. Content such as testimonials and case studies earns people's trust. The information provided in REI.com's how-to and classroom content is generated by industry experts who are trusted sources. That credibility transfers to REI.com itself, and customers are loyal to sites they trust.
Content Ultimately Generates More Purchases
Content builds trust, and people buy from sites they trust. Another benefit of good content is that when people find valuable information, they return for more. People sign up for emails and newsletters, which bring them back to your site again and again for repeat purchases.
A surprising way content helps ecommerce sites is by improving the odds they'll be found in search results. Search engine optimization matters a lot when 39% of people begin their online research using search engines (and the majority of that is organic). Content that is designed to be useful to people and relevant to their needs will also be naturally optimized for search. Product descriptions can also be tweaked with long-tail keywords to improve online presence, increasing a site's likelihood of being found and earning more sales.
Creating content is a valuable way to connect ecommerce websites with people who are looking for them, ultimately increasing brand awareness, building relationships with customers, and growing sales.