In the context of online retail, content is your product on the digital shelf.
We’ve covered e-commerce content management a number of times on this site, and because of its importance for selling online we’ll come back to it again and again. In this blog, I want to step back a bit from the processes of management and syndication to discuss the fundamentals of how to create good e-commerce content in the first place, what it should look like, and why.
The content your consumers depend on in online stores is different from most other product marketing and brand content. In the context of online retail, content is your product on the digital shelf. Its proximity to the point-of-sale means it is the final line for driving consideration, conversion and sales. Simple!
Well maybe not. e-Commerce content can only achieve these goals by first driving in-store search performance, and then explaining your product’s benefits for time-pressed consumers, while fulfilling legal and regulatory requirements. On top of this, different online retailers will have distinct content capabilities – so your e-commerce content needs to be adaptable and above all, it needs to be up-to-date and accurate. How often have we seen brands investing in digital advertising aimed at driving traffic to e-retail partners, only to point shoppers at incomplete, inaccurate and out-of-date landing page content. The result is confused consumers, lost opportunity, wasted budget and potential longer-term brand equity damage.
Four Components of e-Commerce Content
So where to start? We find it helpful to break e-commerce content into four distinct components:
- Product title
- Product description detail
- Extended content, video & multimedia
The product title is your primary content headline – and just like a newspaper headline, which is written to attract the attention of readers, product titles need to drive online store search, engage shoppers and tell the entire ‘product story’ in a few key words. Writing effective product titles is an art, but these product title ‘dos and don’ts’ are a useful guide:
Product Title Dos
- Keep your titles short to help customers identify your products quickly.
- Include category keywords to help search engines find your products, but don’t stuff the titles with multiple keywords out of context.
- Use title case – Capital letters at the start of each word except conjunctions such as ‘and’, ‘with’ etc. – and use proper language syntax to aid readability.
- Use numerals (rather than written numbers) for volume, pack sizes and multi-pack contents –this saves characters and is easier for shoppers to read.
- Establish a naming convention – such as brand, sub-brand, category, variant, size – across your portfolio.
Product Title Don’ts
- Don’t use abbreviations, or acronyms – not every shopper understands your TLAs.
- Avoid the use of industry terms in consumer-focused content – In the beauty industry, for example, manufacturers might call their product ‘fragrance’, but consumers are more likely to shop for ‘perfume’.
- Don’t include subjective adjectives such as ‘unbelievable’ etc., (they are not believable, and can put shoppers off).
- Your titles should not feature prices – or other retailer-specific information – there will be individual fields for these attributes.
Of all the elements in e-commerce content, the product title is probably at the top of the priority list – along with primary image. In many low-engagement categories, title attributes and structure can be the key to online shopping success. Getting them right will involve testing, and paying attention to market trends and consumer search preferences.
It Takes More than One Image
It’s no secret that images are central to e-commerce success. In parallel with the product title, your primary image represents your product’s first-moment-of-truth for online shoppers. People are visual by nature, and are able to process visual information much faster than reading. Well-presented product images can deliver more relevant information about your product’s function, benefits, quality and authenticity than many paragraphs of text.
When we started in the e-commerce arena many years ago, we found hundreds of product listings that had inadequate images and many with no images at all. Thankfully, this is rarely the case today – but still many products are missing a beat by not having multiple images posted on product detail pages. In the context of e-commerce in 2019, a single image simply isn’t enough.
The most successful brands online are those that use all the capabilities of each online store to include as many images as possible – Amazon recommends seven – to show their product from every angle. This effectively enables you to give consumers a 360-degree view of your product, even in online stores that don’t support 360-degree video.
In many categories – especially beauty, and food – there is also a trend towards showing products in context. This helps provide a natural sense of scale and enables consumers to get familiar with your items before they buy.
e-Commerce Product Images Dos
- Think 360 - use multiple images showing the product from all angles.
- If appropriate, also show products in context, otherwise stick to a simple white background.
- Focus on the detail – it’s important the images show as much details as possible.
- Bigger is better – each online store will have different limits on the size of images you can deploy, always provide images of maximum size for each retailer.
- Think mobile – will your image thumbnails work on a small-screen format? Do you need to consider mobile specific hero images?
Details, Videos & Extended Content
Beyond titles and images the capabilities of the online retailers, and requirements of individual categories varies even more – which means brands need to be prepared for every eventuality with detailed content, product videos, and regulatory or expected content such as ingredients and warning where necessary. The most basic product detail pages should enable you to provide product information with five or six bullets in feature, action, benefit format. Beyond that the sky is the limit, with a growing proportion of e-commerce sites allowing the addition of product videos and other brand marketing material.
It might seem that most of the work has already been done by product titles and images, getting the shopper to your product detail page. However, various studies show adding enhanced content, such as A+ Content on Amazon, can increase purchase intent by up to 20 %, according to one study from Content26, or lead to improved search rank and sales increases of between 12% - 36% according to another study by WebCollage.
Even if a shopper adds your product to her basket, you are still faced with losing the sale through cart abandonment. Cart abandonment is a much bigger problem online – where 41% of shoppers surveyed by Barclaycard abandoned a transaction before completing checkout, compared to 24% who have walked away from a purchase in a physical store. According to the 2018 Barclaycard survey, British shoppers abandon online baskets worth almost £30 a month, potentially resulting in more than £18 billion in lost sales every year.
Extended content serves as a buttress against cart abandonment, by ensuring the consumer has all the information they need about your product readily available.
e-Commerce Content Creation
Content has always been central to success in the online channel, and it has grown further in importance as e-commerce expands. In the offline world, content is important, but it has limited and often siloed functions. Online, content has a much wider, interconnected role to play. It is central to product discovery (driving online store search results), shopper reassurance & conversion (in place of physical product), and brand awareness.
To learn more about how to create and manage perfect e-commerce content contact your Client Partner, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.