Ecommerce content continues to be the critical element needed to unlock any brand's full potential. It also has the most measurable impact.

Ed_Bussey

Ed Bussey, chief solutions officer, Jellyfish

Remember when you’d walk into a store, browse the merchandise, chat with a sales assistant, maybe try on a few things, and head to the register when you were ready to buy? It’s a breeze of an experience, but one that takes strategic, intentional effort to replicate when it moves online.

With ecommerce growth predicted to continue even as in-store shopping rebounds, brands need to adapt their strategies to meet the expectations of ever more savvy digital consumers.

Simulating the real thing

Think of all the sensory information you’d take in if you were in a shop. From what you’d see in an aisle or feel browsing through a product rack to what you’d smell in a candle shop or glean from chatting with a helpful sales assistant, it all now exists online in the form of content. As often the only communication between a brand and its consumers, high-performing, relevant content is non-negotiable. It must exceed the standard.

Additionally, a new wave of shoppers has moved to digital and they are far more demanding in terms of what they expect from the experience. In the early days of ecommerce, businesses were appealing to digitally savvy shoppers, who were more tolerant of inherent glitches in the online shopping experience, like incomplete product information or clunky navigation. In the last 18 months, a new demographic of shoppers has had no choice but to buy products online after mainly avoiding the digital realm for a good twenty years. Demonstrating this point, in a recent report, 29% of those surveyed tried a new digital shopping method during the pandemic, with 81% of that group indicating that they will continue to do so in 2021.

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There is also a faction of shoppers who had historically avoided making certain select purchases digitally, particularly those of higher-order value that they would have previously considered too risky to buy on the internet.

All of this is to say that ecommerce content must now speak to the needs of every one of these customer segments in a way that provides them with all the information required to make informed purchase decisions quickly.

Following the new buyer journey

The journey an online consumer takes to make a purchase is also now much more multi-directional than linear. While recognizable stages of the consumer journey—from brand awareness to product consideration to conversion—continue to exist, consumers are increasingly moving back and forth through these stages. They are doing so across multiple shopping sites simultaneously. Therefore, it’s critically important that shoppers always find the most relevant content that answers all of their pre-purchase questions, nudging them to buy on the spot rather than browsing away.

From a marketing perspective, content within each phase of the purchase journey serves a particular sales function:

Product description = conversion

By its position at the end of the customer journey, ecommerce content is the most measurable in its impact. If you can improve the performance of the product page just before the checkout, you will immediately see an increase in the conversion rate of browsers landing on that page into buyers. It thereby has a significant multiplier effect on the ROI of the entire online marketing budget, which is why brands should always prioritize product page optimization first.

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Additionally, product descriptions can have a significant effect on the product return rate. For example, over and above simple sizing information in the fashion industry, a good “fit and feel” description is essential for a consumer making a purchase decision without touching or trying on the physical product. Detailed information leads to better-informed purchases, leading to lower return rates, saving brands millions of dollars in the logistics and processing of returned products.

Category page content = search traffic

Building out the right sort of search-friendly content on category pages is one of the most effective gateways to significant search engine traffic and revenue streams.

Online search data analysis shows us that most consumers aren’t searching for a particular product; they’re using generic search terms, such as “short black dress” or “wedge shoes.” By creating category pages that meet this search demand—pages with consumer-friendly content indexed in response to generic search queries—brands can attract the significant digital footfall they would otherwise lose. Like product pages, the impact of category page content is measurable via the incremental search traffic and revenues attributed to these pages.

Guide information content = average order value

Whether presenting matching clothing items or comparing the scents of different holiday candles, brands need to feed the digital consumer as much descriptive content as possible to help them decide from what can sometimes be an overwhelming array of product choices. This is known as the “paradox of choice.” Give customers too much information and they will not make any decision.

Well-crafted guide content should provide consumers with a curated view of the products they might be interested in, so they can quickly select the most appropriate products for them. High-quality guides can also attract search engine traffic while being a powerful way to cross-sell related products and drive up the average cart size.

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Ecommerce content is words and images, but its effectiveness is apparent in the numbers. Here’s a simple illustration of what we mean: start with an average of 30 buyers for every 100 browsers who land on a page. When done well, product descriptions can improve the conversion rate by an average of 33%, which would turn those 30 buyers into 40. Multiply that increase across all digital marketing channels, and—in the case of a large retailer—the return on investment goes to the millions of dollars.

From enhancing the virtual shopping experience to improving the performance of digital marketing budgets, the optimization of ecommerce content remains the critical key to unlocking a brand’s full potential.

Jellyfish is a digital marketing agency.

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