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How Great Content Encourages Buying on Ecommerce Sites

The people behind flourishing ecommerce sites understand the need to produce content that does more than just sell. They know they must produce content that educates, inspires trust, entertains, and connects.

At this stage in the game, ecommerce sites have developed content that goes well beyond the standard product or service description pages. Videos, blog posts, articles, and tutorials are becoming the norm on successful ecommerce sites, and consumers expect to find them when they go online.

Generating good content helps ecommerce sites be found and moves customers forward in their purchasing journey. Here are four ways content encourages consumers to buy on ecommerce sites:

Content Informs and Educates

Imagine searching online to buy hiking and camping gear, or trying to find the best materials and tools to build a tool shed. Imagine trying to determine the best window replacements, or which tax consultant you should trust with your business. All of these products and services require research.

Products can be detailed and require specific knowledge for a buyer to determine which options are best. You don’t want your customers leaving your site to learn about what they need. You want your site to provide them with all the information necessary to make informed decisions.

Guides, checklists, and instructional pieces are informative and entertaining content that encourage buying on a site. Room & Board does a great job of using these types of content on its website. They’ve included helpful content such as a mattress buying guide and a mattress shopping checklist to help advise consumers on their buying journey.

These are examples of useful content that goes the extra mile to educate consumers - without leaving your site.

Content Builds Credibility and Trust

People buy from sites they trust. They know there are likely thousands of sites where they can shop. They won’t risk handing over confidential information to a site that appears to be a fly-by-night set up.

Adding blog posts, videos, product guides and articles builds credibility because it portrays a company as an established authority in its field. People assess a business’s credibility based on the content it provides, and they bestow their trust on companies that earn it by providing useful content.

Content doesn’t have to be a sales pitch. Many sites maintain blogs with posts about the consumers’ lifestyles or events that are related to but not specifically selling the products or service.

The Kelty Company sells outdoor gear, but you might not realize it by only reading their blog. They write about fantastic weekend getaways and provide tips to campers. With posts titled, “How to Get Your Significant Other Off Their Phone,” they are winning in creating content that addresses consumers’ needs rather than simply selling products.

StickerGiant, one of our clients, focuses on stories about their products(stickers). They recently started a podcast which helps them highlight what they -- and most importantly, their clients -- are up to. This approach is customer-focused, creative, and natural; as human beings, stories are in our blood.  

When a brand helps consumers in life, people build goodwill and a positive relationship with them. Publishing content that helps consumers in their everyday lives encourages them to rely on you when it comes time to buy.

Another way content builds trust is through the almighty and powerful user review. People regularly search for and read online reviews. People give a great deal of weight to user reviews during the buying process.

Online reviews are one of the most important assets an ecommerce site can have. Reviews can be powerfully persuasive social proof. Over half (54%) of online buyers read reviews before buying, and 82% of shoppers say they think user-generated reviews are valuable.

Ecommerce sites that post online reviews are openly communicating with people to build trust. Most reviews are positive, but even negative reviews can be helpful. When a company recognizes a disgruntled shopper and attempts to remedy the situation, it lets other potential purchasers know it cares about its customers. People can rely on the fact that they won’t be forgotten about by the company after the purchase.

Content Engages and Entertains

If you can get people imagining themselves using a product or service and visualizing how it can benefit them, you’ve got them moving forward in the buying journey. Video and interactive elements such as 360 views are the online versions of trying something on in the dressing room.

Videos can go a long way toward introducing and explaining products in ways words can never accomplish. Almost all (96%) of consumers find videos helpful when making purchasing decisions online, and almost 75% are more likely to make a purchase if they see a video explaining a product or service first.

L.L. Bean uses video to help customers get to know their products more intimately. L.L. Bean offers 14 different video channels for its site visitors to watch experts, customers, and product testers use and explore products. These videos place potential buyers in a position to imagine themselves using the product, which can be a powerful motivator to purchase.

Content that engages and entertains is more likely to lead to sales, but it also does another really important thing: It attracts new customers, especially when it’s shared on social media, which leads us to the next and maybe best way content encourages purchasing.

Content Attracts Customers

You can’t sell if you don’t attract customers. As we’ve shown, content attracts audiences by being informative and entertaining and by building trusting relationships. Content can also help an ecommerce site be found by search engines through optimization.

Fresh content appeals to search engines. Enhancing meta data, titles and tags are optimization strategies that help convince search engines such as Google and Bing that your content is relevant to users' search queries. Plus, content such as blog posts, articles, and landing pages provide the perfect opportunities to use keywords and long-tail keywords.

Consistently creating new blog posts is an excellent way to earn inbound links, which are an important search engine optimization factor as well. Inbound links are achieved by creating great content that gets shared on other sites. Businesses that blog can earn 97% more inbound links than those that don't.

In short, whether it's through SEO strategies, building trust, informing or entertaining consumers, ecommerce sites that create a wide variety of content boost the odds that people will buy on their site.

Though the types of content ecommerce sites produce has now grown far beyond a few sentences describing a product or service, a business’s ultimate goal is still to sell its services or products. We can help you learn more about how content encourages buying behaviors and get you on the road to creating the types of content that leads to sales.

UX Director, Principal UX Designer, Strategist
Rick has been designing user experiences since 1999 and managing UX teams since 2005. As a leader, he helps people be the best designer they can. He continues to consult, having led engagements with universities like Emory University, UNC, UCLA, and University of Minnesota as well as mission-driven companies like RedHat, Stickergiant, and Obermeyer.