Whilst strong imagery, straightforward navigation and competitive pricing are all important for any Ecommerce site, written content is still key. If you can’t convince a visitor to become a customer, then all your efforts will be in vain.
The written word is still the most powerful tool available to online businesses. It helps to inform, develop trust and, most importantly, drive sales. Therefore, treating it as a second class citizen could be a massive mistake.
There are a few common errors that many sites make when producing their on-page content.
1. Keyword-heavy text
We all know that the search engines use your content to determine where you should be ranking and what for. In days gone by, this meant that many websites filled their pages with keywords, often where they shouldn’t be. Inevitably, this led to some pretty awful content.
Whilst people have realised that keyword ‘stuffing’ is now largely ineffective, some still appear determined to employ outdated tactics. You do still need to have your key terms on the page, that much is true, but you don’t need to have them everywhere. A decade ago people would routinely have a keyword density of 10%+, as this got them rankings. Unfortunately, it also ruined the readability of their pages.
Get your keyword in the title, use it at the start and end of your body copy and wherever else that it makes contextual sense. Endlessly repeating the same few words will be enough to make any visitors turn tail and leave.
2. Too Short/Too Long
The way in which you present information is critical. A huge block of text will do little to invite consumers to take a look, whilst a brief snippet is easily ignored. Most visitors won’t read beyond the first paragraph, but that doesn’t mean that your attention should end at the same point.
Provide clear sub-headings and break up the text monotony with bullet points or imagery. Essentially you are looking to convince those with limited attention or time to skim through and still gain all the information they need, whilst also conveying the nuts and bolts in detail to those who need convincing.
3. Avoid basic errors
Whilst copywriters will always talk about the need to create flowing, engaging content, your top priority should always be to ensure that there are no glaring errors. Typos, clunky wording and the occasional grammatical faux pas will always undermine the clarity of your message. They can also cast doubt into the mind of any readers, potentially losing you the sale.
So make sure you get the basics right before worrying about taking your content to the next level.
4. Don’t imitate or duplicate
Originality is essential for any serious ecommerce site. If you’re passionate about your products, take the time to write about each one. If you copy from other pages or sites, your content will be unavoidably generic. Equally, thanks to the recent Panda update from Google, your search engine rankings could suffer as a consequence, making it difficult for you to attract visitors in the first place.
So what should you be doing?
Now we’ve covered the mistakes, let’s take a look at what you can actually do to boost sales:
1. Address customers directly
There’s nothing worse than an ecommerce site that only talks about itself – “we offer exceptional value”, “we are market leaders”, “we offer a huge range…” etc. Your customers should be your primary focus, so make sure you address them.
This is easily done, just flip the focus. Instead of “us” and “we”, use “you” and “your”. This will also eliminate any passive sentences, which can neutralise your content and render it impotent.
2. Remember your call-to-action
A decent piece of sales copy can easily fall flat without a strong call-to-action. This is where passing interest is replaced with an overwhelming desire to buy. Sometimes circumstances will make this much easier. For instance, if you’re having a clearance sale and only have a few products left, this can create a feeling of urgency.
Every page has a purpose; whether you want visitors to buy a product, fill in a contact form or phone your sales team, it’s vital that this is conveyed within the copy. As mentioned earlier, visitors will generally pay more attention to the first and last paragraphs, so your most persuasive argument should be communicated at the beginning or end of your content.
3. Get to the point
Nobody wants to endure trawling through verbose chunks of text that offer little or no clear information. Whilst you should be looking to have upwards of 200 words on each page, endless padding will do your chances of securing a sale no favours at all.
Get the most important details up front and look to avoid repetition. If a reader feels like they are going around in circles, it’s unlikely that they will want to continue. Short, sharp sentences can help to build pace too, so don’t overload every utterance. Sales patter can often seem quite abrupt, but that is simply the nature of the beast.
4. Cater to your audience
When it comes to knowing who your customers are and what they want, you are the expert. So adopt a tone that will resonate with your target audience. For instance, content on an extreme sports ecommerce site should be markedly different from one offering children’s clothing. So always keep your intended readers in mind and avoid adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
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Marketing your business, brand and products through the medium of video is certainly nothing new. Many companies have been doing this for years, albeit with varying levels of success. However, video marketing still has plenty to offer to businesses, new and old, small or large. In fact, if anything, it is becoming increasingly important.
Leading video sharing site YouTube recently announced that it receives over 4 billion views each and every day. That’s 770 videos being watched simultaneously every second. But what does this actually tell us about marketing your content?
Well, first and foremost, this demonstrates that there is an existing and growing audience for video content. Admittedly, many of the aforementioned views will have been for the latest music videos or ‘epic fail’ viral hits, but that doesn’t mean that ecommerce businesses can’t take advantage too.
The sweeping changes in the way that search engine results pages are presented have also helped to improve the visibility and effectiveness of videos. In the past year or so, greater prominence has been given to multimedia results on the pages of Google, in some cases even helping them to appear above organic results. Therefore, a successful, keyword-targeted video can be just as visible as the top ranked search results.
So what can an ecommerce site do?
There are plenty of online stores and brands that already employ some form of video marketing. Whether this is done in a strictly promotional capacity or as a means of demonstrating products and services, the effect can be much the same. Some potential applications include:
- Branded adverts
- Expert advice
- Informational guides
- Celebrity endorsements
Videos can be used to supplement text or to demonstrate things that you would struggle to communicate with the written word. This is why hosting multimedia content on your product pages can be so effective, particularly when it comes to driving sales. However, you can also enjoy the double benefit that comes with publishing your content on video hosting sites.
There are plenty of sites that already take advantage of this. For example, Amazon now features previews for a number of games, DVDs and other products. GHD, who manufacture and sell a range of specialist hair care products, most notably ceramic tongs, have also successfully developed a strong identity on-site and on YouTube.
As well as promoting the latest collections, videos also provide practical demonstrations of products in action. In the above image, you can see that as well as a large image of the product, there is also a useful text description and a video, which visitors can view to establish how effective it is in action. For any customers who are undecided, this could prove pivotal in whether or not they make a purchase.
However, it’s not just on their own domain that GHD is able to demonstrate products and help those searching for hair styling tips. Their branded YouTube channel features adverts and video guides, all of which are created and managed by the company. Having achieved over 1.8 million views in the last six years, this has clearly been an extremely effective source of traffic and sales.
Asos, a popular online clothing store, have created a community around their brand. An integral part of this has been the creation and circulation of videos. Their site features catwalk presentations of each product, giving visitors a 360 degree view of the garments on offer. Meanwhile their YouTube channel features dozens of exclusive videos, including the latest discounts and promotions as well as a regular magazine show. Not only does this help push sales, it also creates interest in the brand, helping grow loyalty – as evidenced by the 8.1 million views that their content has received.
When you go off-site with your video marketing, it is imperative that you get your branding right, just like Asos and GHD. After all, if you were to create what is ostensibly just an informative guide without any direct association with your site or business, you are unlikely to reap the full benefit of this – regardless of how popular it proves to be. So don’t leave viewers in any doubt, ensure you have clear branding at the beginning and end of your video to help guide them to your site.
With the introduction of Google Search Plus Your World, content that is entertaining and interesting is going to enjoy even more visibility online. Search results will be tailored for individual users, based on the activity of their wider circle of online friends. So when someone shares a video, news article, blog post or image, this will be shown prominently on the results pages of their followers for related search terms. Consequently, if you can produce excellent content and market it effectively, you can enjoy unparalleled visibility within your target market.
Both the quality and quantity of content will therefore become increasingly important for businesses online. In the competitive world of ecommerce, it is vital that you give yourself every advantage possible. Video marketing can certainly be an effective part of a comprehensive strategy.
So what do you need to do?
- Set up a branded YouTube page and also sign up for other video publishing sites
- Invest in some decent AV equipment
- Create a strategy – what are you looking to promote and how are you going to go about it?
- Start recording
- Publish on-site and off-site, with clear links between the two
The most important thing to remember is that you have to be confident about what you publish. If a video isn’t up to scratch or it doesn’t represent your business as you would choose, don’t set it live. Creating multimedia content can be a little hit and miss. Some things may be exceptional, others, less so. Knowing what to publish and what to rework is part of creating a cohesive and effective video marketing strategy.
Some will fail, some will succeed and some will fade off into obscurity. But videos, as with any published content, can have long-term benefits. Whilst it may initially fail to capture the online community’s imagination, in time it could accumulate significant views and conversions for your site. From the moment it is first published searchers can find, view and share it. Newer alternatives may come along and traffic may slide, but it will remain accessible until the day you decide to remove it.
So make sure you get a slice of the surging video market. The 4 billion views that YouTube now receives could just be the very tip of the iceberg, so there really is no better time to start producing and publishing video content.