Why User-Generated Content is Important to eCommerce Success

User Generated Content

If your eCommerce website isn’t using user-generated content, you may be missing out on sales.

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any sort of content that a site user or visitor generates. It could be a comment, a review, an uploaded photo, or even a video. UGC can turn a boring, dead website that people forget to visit into a daily go-to destination.

People love reading what other people have to say. Back before the internet, newspapers were the main source of daily news. Many people would open up their newspaper and skip right to the editorial page just to read the Letters to the Editor. The enduring popularity of advice columns even into the digital age speaks to the compelling nature of relatable stories from real people.

By adding user-generated content to your website, you can add tremendous value to your customers, improve the rate of return visits, and increase sales. In order to fully benefit from user-generated content, you should understand some of the different ways it can be utilized, as well as the pros and cons.

2 Main Types of User-Generated Content

While there are many different ways to categorize user-generated content, it might help to look at it in two very broad categories:

1. User Contributions (Curated and Non-Curated)

User contributions are any sort of content that users contribute directly to the website, without much direct interaction with other users. This type of user-generated content is generally one-way between the user and the business.

A good example of this would be a testimonial. The user sends the testimonial to the business, which selects it, possibly edits it, and then posts the testimonial. This would also be an example of curated content, where the business vets and edits everything that users post. A great way to gather, curate, and display dynamic user generated content is through an app, like Rivet.

Rivet features customizable post-purchase questions, enables multi-page, configurable display of UCG, and gather data on customer submissions , which enables store owners to learn how to improve their business through direct feedback.

User contributions don’t all have to be hand-selected and curated as testimonials tend to be. Product reviews are also examples of user contributions, and they may be fully curated or partially moderated depending on the business. Users might also post photos of products, write blog posts, or share success stories.

2. Online Community (User-to-User)

User Taking a Selfie

Online community refers to two-way content in which users interact with each other through the website. At first, online community came in two main forms: online bulletin boards (or forums) and email discussion lists. With the advent of social media, online community might extend beyond a company’s website to Facebook groups. Comment sections are also examples of an online community.

Online community can be very powerful, but be forewarned, it can also become a destructive force and a PR nightmare if a company is having issues. Moderation of online communities is important to maintain civility, keep discussions on track, and stop spam.

On a positive note, online communities can help with brand loyalty, and for technical products, can serve as a place where users can connect with one another on technical advice, reducing the need of hired technical support staff.

Considerations on Applying User-Generated Content

User Submitted Review

How and when you use user-generated content on your website will depend on a lot of factors: the products you sell, the demographics of your customers, and the type of brand you have.

For example, a clothing company that appeals primarily to millennials will probably have a lot more success with user-generated photos than a law firm trying to market to victims of insurance fraud. Here are a few things to take into consideration when planning your user-generated content:

1. Audience

Is your target audience more likely to use social media, take selfies, or chat online? Or are they business professionals who don’t want to waste time and prefer practical information?

2. Brand

Do you have a brand with the potential to have a “following”? For example, a craft beer might develop a loyal following, but a company that sells office supplies probably would not generate the same type of enthusiasm.

3. Resources

If you are considering implementing a user community such as a Facebook group or a support bulletin board, do you have the staff and/or expertise to moderate and/or manage volunteer moderators, to make sure the community doesn’t go off the rails? Fortunately, more and more technology solutions are available to help with moderation, and some services like Disqus can help screen comments for you.

4. Comfort Level

Having user-generated content sometimes means your users are going to say bad things about your product or business. Are you comfortable with allowing some criticism of your company, or do you prefer having complete control over your messaging?

Depending on the unique needs of your business, you might choose to have only a small amount of curated user content that you tightly control, or you could establish a free-for-all online community and let the chips fall where they may.

5 Ways to Use User-Generated Content

With the above considerations in mind, here are just a few ways to insert user-generated content into your eCommerce website. You can also be creative and come up with new ways to engage your users.

1. Product Reviews

It’s up to you whether you allow all product reviews (even the bad ones) or just hand-select positive reviews that you curate in advance. Product reviews can also have the additional community element of user comments.

2. Blog Posts

Your users can contribute blog posts. You can select and edit them, or you can have a section where users post in real time, with some moderation to remove spam and anything offensive.

3. Community Groups

Whether in the form of a bulletin board, a Facebook group, or a Slack channel, you can use community groups to connect users with one another and keep them engaged with your brand. An example might be an outdoor equipment company offering a community group for hikers to connect with one another.

4. Photos

Especially if you have a product that is highly visual, such as clothing or accessories, you can encourage your customers to post photos of themselves with your product.

5. Tips and Suggestions

Your users can be a great source of information on how to use your product. People also like to be helpful.

Whatever you decide to incorporate, remember: You can always make adjustments and try something different. Don’t forget to ask for user feedback. Often, your customers will have some great ideas that you might have never considered.

Boost Your eCommerce with User-Generated Content

Upgrade your “dead” eCommerce site from just a catalog to a thriving community of users by incorporating fresh and engaging user-generated content. Our expert team at oBundle can help you determine which user-content strategies might be best for your business, and then we can help you implement them.

How and Why You Should Write Great Product Descriptions

eCommerce Product Descriptions

You could have the best products in the world in your online store, but poorly written product descriptions could mean losing your customers.

Product descriptions are absolutely critical in online shopping. Remember: Customers cannot touch your product online. They can’t step back and look at it in person, nor can they sample it. If they have never handled your product in real life, all they might know about it is what you put in your product description.

If you already have your online store up and running, take some time to objectively review the product descriptions. Are they interesting? Accurate? Easy to read? If you haven’t built your online shop yet, you are in luck, because you can do your product descriptions right the first time.

Do Your Homework First

Before you get started writing or improving your product descriptions, you need to do some homework and planning. Here are a few things to consider before writing product descriptions:

1. Can You Write?

This applies more to the solo entrepreneur or small company, as bigger companies will often have marketing staff with some background in copywriting. But even large companies will farm out copywriting to qualified professionals if they need to.

Please be objective and consider whether you or your staff has the writing capabilities to handle your product descriptions. If not, consider hiring out to a qualified copywriter or content agency. Or at least, you might want to hire a copyeditor to review and improve your work before it is posted.

2. Consider Your Audience

Who are you selling your products to? You need to answer this question first before tackling your product descriptions, as it will impact how they are written.

If you are part of a marketing department at an established company, you might have already done the job of creating “user personas” to represent the visitors to your website. If you are with a smaller company, or are a solopreneur, and you don’t know what personas are, now is a good time to learn.

A user persona is a profile of an ideal customer. It is not a real person but a representation of a person, or even a group of people merged into one “persona.” You can have multiple personas per online shop. Each persona has a (fake) name and attributes. You can determine which attributes are important to your shop. For example, an online store selling fishing gear might have the following personas:

Persona: Jerry James
Age: 51
Sex: Male
Hobbies: Fishing, Boating, Golf
Occupation: Lawyer
Story: Jerry is a stressed-out lawyer who likes to go fishing with his friends when he can, but he is often busy and unable to get away to the lake as much as he likes. He does like to buy the latest high-quality fishing gear, but he doesn’t want to waste a lot of time shopping.

Persona: Tim Jones
Age: 65
Sex: Male
Hobbies: Fishing, Gardening
Occupation: Retired
Story: Tim is recently retired and tries to go fishing every day. He has lots of free time and enjoys collecting fishing lures. He loves reading about fishing and learning new tips about the sport.

Based on these two personas, the first user (Jerry) might want a product description that is to the point and easy to scan. Tim, on the other hand, might really enjoy a lot of in-depth information about a product. You can cater to both types of users by writing a short introductory description then providing a link to more in-depth information for people like Tim.

3. What eCommerce Platform Are You Using?

Different online stores have different options for product descriptions, including length and ability to add features such as colors and sizes. Additionally, you might also talk to your developer (if you have one) about what options are available with your current shop theme.

BigCommerce has built in SEO features which automatically create meta descriptions from your product descriptions and also allow for manual overridding, should you wish to insert an optimized meta description, not based on the product’s main description (good for longer descriptions).

8 Tips on Writing Snazzy Product Descriptions

eCommerce Product Description Paper Tag

Now that you have determined whether you will do the writing in-house, what your audience is, and how your platform will impact your products, you are ready to work on the product descriptions. Follow these tips to develop some great product descriptions and watch your sales increase.

1. Keep it Simple

The introductory paragraph of your product description should mostly be a straightforward description of the product. Don’t worry about including every little technical detail or measurement, as those can usually be added in a “product details” area below.

2. Be Creative

Depending on your audience, you should try to use interesting and descriptive language that should be informative if not entertaining to read. Once again, know your audience. Millennials might respond well to very casual, personal language, whereas business professionals or scientists might want “just the facts.” Keep in mind that a product description does not have to be dry. It can even tell a story, as long as you don’t waste too much time getting to the core idea of what the product is.

3. Explain the Why

Give the potential customer a tangible reason.Why should a customer buy your product vs. another one? Does it use superior materials? Is it using advanced technology? Remember, you are trying to sell the product. Now is not the time to be modest or shy.

4. Use Direct Language

Regardless of the type of audience, you don’t want your product description to read like a college term paper. It should use direct, straightforward language. Avoid fluff and jargon. Sentences should be short and to the point.

A great free online tool to use to make your writing more streamlined is the Hemingway App. Just paste your copy in there to see how your copy compares.

5. Be Truthful

Being truthful is always better in the long run. If you lie in your product descriptions to try to make the sale, you risk permanently alienating customers. And if you are farming out your product writing to a professional agency or writer, make sure they understand the product.

Remember to include accurate information about the little “extras” that might come with a product. If these items change, then the description should be updated. You might notice (with a quick perusal of many reviews on leading eCommerce websites like Amazon) that often a top complaint is that a certain “extra” wasn’t included with an item as “promised.”

In other words, don’t display a photo a guitar that advertises a carrying case and then neglect to include the carrying case.

Note that this problem is often due to pictures that include extra items that aren’t shipped along with a basic package. If your pictures aren’t quite accurate, then you need to note that clearly with your product copy.

6. Add Quality Pictures and Video

Speaking of pictures, make sure your product description comes with a high-quality photo, or better yet, photos. Once again, the photograph should be an accurate depiction of the product, along with any accessories that are included.

If it is appropriate, including a video demonstration of the product can go a long way in reassuring a customer that your product is the real deal. These videos should be professionally shot and edited – no shaky cam for a product video, please.

7. Choose the Appropriate Length for Your Product and Audience

Product descriptions should be long enough to give a full description of the product without being so wordy they bury the important data in a wall of text. A good average length for a product description is approximately 350-400 words, and no more than 600 words. Even longer product descriptions should have a concise, main paragraph that covers the product basics, with an option to scroll down and learn more for those interested in additional information.

8. Look at Product Descriptions You Like

Take a look at some shops that might appeal to the same customers you are targeting and notice how they display their products. Find some product descriptions you really like as inspiration. Of course, you won’t be copying them outright, as that would be a violation of copyright. But you can use them to give you some guidance on how to do a product description well.

Your Product Description is Your Online Sales Tool

With a virtual shop, what you need to make the sale is your product description along with accompanying media. Skimping on product descriptions equals skimpy sales figures. Hire a writer or editor if you need to, and make sure you have quality descriptions that will inspire your customers. Our expert consultants at oBundle can also help you with designing your product strategy.

The Importance of Trust Seals for E-Commerce Conversions

The concept of buying a product online is a risky one. Any successful transaction relies on an impressive number of expectations.

To make a purchase, you need to send money to an essentially anonymous individual who may be in a completely different country. You then expect that store operator to act in good faith and ship out your product.

At the same time, you expect that your personal data is protected from prying eyes. You expect that the shipping carrier is going to act in good faith and deliver the goods on-time. You expect the website administrator to take measures against accidentally exposing your data to hackers.

However, the Internet is decentralized. There is no single, all-powerful authority capable of establishing trust between you and some distribution warehouse in Shenzhen, China. For this reason, e-commerce store owners go to great lengths to establish trust with customers – and you should too.

What is a Trust Seal?

Trust Seal Example

If you have spent any time on the Internet, you have seen trust seals. They grace most professional webpages and make specific, branded promises. Major security firms like Norton and McAfee are some of the most readily identifiable – because they’re the most popular.

These seals tell website visitors that your website is legitimate – that a reputable third-party has verified that your business is authentic and your website is not leaking data to hackers and cybercriminals. Importantly, this message is implicit – it’s something that website visitors feel when they visit your site, even if they don’t know exactly what the trust seal means or does.

How Do Trust Seals Affect Conversion?

Interestingly, trust seals have been found to affect conversion rates. CrazyEgg carried out several case studies using A/B comparisons on websites to find out just how much of a difference trust seals can make.

  • Blue Fountain Media replaced a generic privacy policy reminder with a branded Verisign trust seal and saw a 42% increase in sales for the trust seal-containing page.
  • Virtual Sheet Music experienced a significant drop in sales when its trust seal provider removed the seal due to a contractual disagreement. Upon reinstating the seal, the website saw a 31% increase in conversions.
  • Clean Energy Experts found that adding a trust seal increased conversions by 137%.

The statistics clearly show that online customers prefer websites that offer a branded security guarantee to website users. 65% of online shoppers feel that Norton’s Secured Seal is a reliable indicator that a website is safe to browse.

How to Obtain a Trust Seal

Trust Seal Example

Obtaining a trust seal is easy – so long as you meet the requirements of trust seal providers. Generally, if you have an SSL certificate and an EV code signing certificate for your site, you qualify for a trust seal.

Your provider will ask you to implement some code on your site. This code will take care of the verification process, ensuring that your site meets the standards set forth by that provider. Once your site is verified, the provider will give you the code for implementing the site seal, and you are free to place it anywhere on your site.

You may notice that some sites have multiple seals. This is because specific seals assure website visitors of specific security concerns. For instance, the McAfee Hacker Safe seals makes a different promise than the BBBonline Business Trust seal. The three main types of seals are:

Privacy Trust Seals

These seals verify and certify your website’s privacy policy and regularly check up on your site to ensure that you follow your privacy policy.

Security Trust Seals

These seals ensure that your website is reasonably well-defended against cybercriminal activity and malware. Generally, you receive a security trust seal upon buying an SSL certificate.

Business Trust Seals

These seals verify the identity of your business and assure web users that you authentically represent your business and try to keep customers satisfied. If your web reputation is too low, you may not be able to get this seal.

Importantly, e-commerce store owners follow the same basic process to implement these seals. The provider’s code takes care of managing and verifying your website’s data, and they contact you to either approve or reject the application for the seal.

Ensure Compliance

Since the trust seals offer rely entirely on compliance with industry standards, you must ensure that your site is compliant with these standards. In most cases, professionally designed websites hosted on reputable platforms pass verification – if your site doesn’t, the trust seal provider will walk you through the process of achieving compliancy.

The entire process is beneficial for all parties involved. Your customers want to be confident in your website, you want inspire greater customer confidence, and your seal provider has a clear incentive to sell meaningful trust seals.


Why is Responsive Design Important for SEO?

As the owner of an online store, you’re deeply aware of the effect that SEO can have on your visibility. You may also know that responsive design is a competitive advantage in a world where 62% of smartphone users make purchases on their mobile device.

But how does responsive design interact with SEO? More importantly, can errors in responsive design create SEO problems?

Responsive Designs Are Good for SEO

Responsive web design

A responsive design is any website theme that changes based on the browser or device using it. On a fundamental level, responsive design is good for SEO. The search engine indexes one page using one theme, rather than having to deal with a different URL or an entirely different HTML structure for the same content.

A mobile theme is different from a responsive design. BigCommerce offers both responsive and mobile themes, however, they recommend using a responsive theme if possible. Some of their older themes are not responsive, so they suggest turning on their mobile theme or upgrading to a responsive theme.

Some mobile themes create problems for search engines that can result in lowered rankings, but the worst scenario is not having a mobile-friendly website at all. A truly modern mobile-friendly site uses responsive design to achieve six goals, according to Yoast. Sites should:

• Load properly on smartphones and tablets.

• Load quickly regardless of the device used.

• Present content readably without requiring users to zoom in or out.

• Be spacious enough for users to navigate by touch.

• Offer added value to mobile users.

• Be understandable by search engines.

It takes an experienced web developer to achieve all of these characteristics – and that’s what search engines want.

The Effect of Responsive Design on Bounce Rates

To really get into why responsive design helps produce SEO results, we must cover bounce rates. As Rosy Strategies points out, Google measures the difference between mobile and non-mobile bounce rates. It uses this data to determine whether a particular site is mobile-friendly or not.

Google has made it clear that it favors mobile-friendly sites, so it will compare your mobile bounce rate to your desktop bounce rate to determine just how responsive your site really is. If mobile users are leaving your page faster and more frequently than desktop users, you can expect Google to downgrade your ranking.

This demonstrates an important point about responsive design – to produce results, it must be done right. The simple fact that a website changes shape to accommodate mobile devices isn’t enough – the site needs to be legitimately mobile-friendly.

How to Plan for Smart Responsive Design

Building Responsive Design

Think about the structure of your website. Rather than designing the site in a top-down manner – beginning with a presentation and moving down the funnel to conversion – you (or your designer) should establish a mobile-friendly architecture first.

The generic pattern for one-off sales pages goes like this: Build awareness at the top of your page, move downward to product information and demonstrations, then build on reviews and testimonials to land a conversion at the bottom.

However, if your mobile page has the same structure, you can be almost completely certain that you’ll lose the majority of leads before they hit the bottom of your page. Since you only have a few seconds (and a tiny screen) to grab their attention, you will need to plan for responsive design by editing out some content.

  • Only leave introductions and demonstrations that are short, punchy attention-grabbers.
  • Remove reviews, testimonials, user guides, tutorials and FAQs – or simply move them to another part of the site.
  • Don’t crowd the screen with multiple blog post titles – just your latest. Either use infinite scrolling or incorporate a simple sliding carousel to display multiple posts in a clean, organized manner.
  • Place touch elements far apart from one another. Even if you find your website easy to navigate, you can increase conversions by designing for fat fingers.
  • Remove full-screen pop-ups. Yes, they can pad your email newsletter, but users hate them, Google hates them, and chances are you hate them too.
  • Incorporate video. This can have a great effect on your conversion rates by combining multiple elements of your page in place – an all-in-one introduction, demonstration, and tutorial, for instance. Hubspot encourages this, yet stipulates that video content must be short enough to load quickly. Videos should not autostart. Allow the user the option to start the video.

Don’t Forget About Load Speed

HTML and CSS code Screenshot

One advantage to cutting out all the superfluous information crowding out your mobile site’s display is that your load time is likely to decrease. Most mobile conversion losses occur during site loading, so you should pay close attention to how your responsive site design elements affect load speed – especially if you incorporate video (remember, don’t have it autostart!).

Fortunately, Google lets you test your mobile speed using a web application. Type your website’s URL into Google’s mobile site tester and find out how you measure up to your competitors. Google will give you feedback on your site and tell you how you can improve it.

Use Instagram to Help Drive E-Commerce Sales

You probably already know that Instagram is one of the largest social media networks around – with 500 million monthly active users as of 2016, it represents one of the most powerful platforms for promotion on audience size alone.
There’s more to Instagram than pure audience numbers, though – especially if you run an e-commerce store.

The major benefit Instagram offers is that it humanizes brands: 68% of Instagram users engage regularly with brands on the platform – more than double the number who do so on Facebook.

If your e-commerce store sells items that cater to the visual format – fashion, home goods, or tech gadgets, for example – then Instagram marketing can be a highly lucrative activity for your brand.

How to Promote on Instagram

First off, you should know that promoting on Instagram is different than promoting on any other social networking platform. Since the platform is primarily visual, you’ll need to invest some time or money in getting quality images. Which means you’ll need to:

1. Make Your Own Images

Taking Food Photos

Taking Food Photos

Making your own images is not that hard. Use a tool like Canva to make or modify simple, attractive images that play into the culture and attitude of your target demographic. These images should illustrate some characteristic of your brand’s value statement. Original quotes and inspiring imagery represent a cheap, easy way to get the content mill running.

The main drawback here is that quotes and inspirational imagery are indirect. You can never really establish yourself as a serious brand using only generic imagery.

2. Hire Professionals

Although you can get your Instagram presence started using generic imagery that appeals to your target audience, the time will come when you have to invest. This could mean hiring a professional photographer to set up a photo shoot that advertises your products, or having a graphic designer create high quality, branded imagery that showcases your online store’s value.

Newcomers to the Instagram marketing machine may balk at the prices professional photographers charge, but it’s important to remember that although Instagram is free for users, investment pays off for brands.

Fortunately, you can get great deals by working with aspiring photographers at the beginning of their careers – look for local photography students willing to develop a professional portfolio. Many will work for between $5 and $10 per image. Lifestyle photography works particularly well on Instagram, where users typically look for imagery that reinforces their culture and attitude – they follow brands who “get” them.

Use a tool like GramFeed to determine what your closest and most successful competitors are doing. This will give you an idea of the type of lifestyle content that works best for your niche.

3. Use Hashtags

Instagram Hashtag

Instagram Hashtag

Using hashtags effectively maybe one of the largest gray areas for newcomers to Instagram – and a reason why some users get frustrated and leave the platform. These users never cracked the power of the hashtag. The most basic utilization of the hashtag is Instagram’s Search tab. Think of hashtags as search keywords in a normal search engine. This allows users to browse all the posts that have the same tag they searched for. The most basic hashtag that should be applied to your posts is your company’s name, without spaces.

Some brands we have worked with didn’t even know their hashtag was already being used on Instagram – they had a head start! Other useful tags are areas of interest that revolve around your business. Last, add tags that are specific to that particular post. These three levels of tag sourcing gives users the various avenues to discover your posts and thus profile when browsing tags.

Achieving Worthwhile Growth on Instagram

Instagram Icons

If you have any experience with Facebook ads, you know that you can also incorporate Instagram advertisements into your campaigns. Facebook makes this a one-click affair on the Ads Manager screen.

The question is – should you do it?

For most e-commerce stores, the answer is yes. But there’s a caveat – to advertise selectively to niches based on layers of interest data collected by the platform, you need to link your Facebook account and run a synchronized ad campaign.

Otherwise, you run the risk of running a campaign too broad and too general to be effective. Instagram is the most global of all social networks – the platform makes no meaningful differentiation between users who come from different countries or speak different languages. For this reason, incorporating Facebook’s gender, location, and interest data into your campaign is a must.

For the same reason, using carefully selected lifestyle photography lets you address a specific group of people – ideally, a group that other brands are not meaningfully addressing.

Another thing you may notice about Instagram’s sponsored posts is that they do not necessarily result in a bigger presence on the platform. This is because users can’t follow you directly from their newsfeed. They need to actually type in your username, visit your profile, and follow you – even when introduced to your brand through a sponsored post.

A Word on Influencers

Another important way to achieve quick growth on Instagram is by leveraging deals with Instagram celebrities. If a very popular influencer in your niche promotes your brand, you can expect to generate a great deal of interest out of the arrangement.

While you may find that big-name influencers charge for this, you can also develop relationships with influencers who are happy to promote your products for free, or in exchange for product discounts. Influencers live off of great content, and are always happy to collaborate with brands that can provide that content.

In both cases, you can get a better deal working with established digital marketers like our team at oBundle – we can help you craft useful strategies for your Instagram audience.

How E-Commerce Retailers Use Lifestyle Photography to Generate Brand Value

Previously the exclusive tool of the world’s largest luxury brands, lifestyle photography has become the obsession of the Internet generation. The availability of high quality camera and image editing technology made this style a dominating element of digital marketing campaigns, which now can be harnessed by the e-commerce store owner.

Lifestyle vs. Product

Almost every online retailer with an e-commerce store selling physical products is deeply familiar with product photography. The need to accurately show consumers the product being sold is an integral part of the online shopping experience – without it, most Internet retailers of this kind could not exist.

Product photos favor clinical detail over showiness and pizzazz. Typically, they feature the product in question over a neutral or full white background. Alternately, they can feature the product in an attractive setting that speaks to the brand’s value proposition.

Lifestyle photos, however, are all about telling stories. These are the photos that not only describe what the vendor is selling, but also showing what kind of customer buys the product being sold. That extra layer of meaning is what makes all the difference in the world of online shopping.

How Lookbooks Work in the Context of E-commerce

The storytelling element that separates lifestyle photography from generic product photos is what gives it its unique power. Fashion designers have been using this type of photography for decades – incorporating narratives into fashion photography fashion statements called lookbooks for decades.

A lookbook is a collection of images showing an ensemble of products grouped together. Typically, they involve models and take place in exotic locations. Ideal for fashion editorials, they use photographs to illustrate the lifestyle a product’s consumer desires.

In the Internet-era, fashion is not the only industry that can benefit from a lookbook. Nearly any physical product retailer can use this medium to describe the type of customer it serves. That includes tech start-ups and kitchenware designers to furniture sellers and hygiene product manufacturers.

The lookbook gives consumers the information they need to distinguish between the products they would shop for and the ones that simply don’t interest them. It is a highly visual marketing tool that uses an environment, model, and narrative to describe the person who would buy the main product being advertised.

Use Lookbooks to Sell Online Products

By appealing to consumer emotion and imagination through lookbooks, online retailers can develop loyal brand followings. Social media users – especially on Pinterest – interact with and share lookbook content far more often than regular product photos.

Any product that addresses the need of a specific demographic can benefit from using lifestyle photography to drive home its value in the eyes of consumers. The more specific the demographic, the greater the potential benefits of incorporating lookbook photography on the website.

Follow these steps to make the most of your lifestyle photography campaign:

Step One: Use Demographics to Tell Stories


Lifestyle photography needs to tell a story. Find out how customers find your products and what they do with those products to determine the personality of the customer. Once you hone in on a specific customer lifestyle demographic, you can create a story that matches.

In many cases, stories can come from real customers. This is the case for products that meet specific needs, such as sports equipment or technology products. Regardless of where the narrative comes from, it needs to address the specific demographic that the product targets.

Step Two: Don’t Skimp on Photography


Since lifestyle photography has a completely different goal than product photography, it requires a different set of conditions for successful execution. Not only do e-commerce merchants need to hire a professional photographer, but they must also consider the location of the shoot and the specific model or models hired.

Good lighting and a professional make-up artist can mean the difference between a magazine editorial-quality shoot and a generic no-name lookbook. Faces tell stories and drive engagement on Instagram – and they’ll make or break your lifestyle campaign’s success.

Step Three: Ensure Website Compatibility

The simplest way to use high quality lookbook photos is by posting them on social media. If your website has a blog, you’re encouraged to ensure that it is compatible with the imagery in question.

For instance, if your website is based on BigCommerce, you can choose from a broad range of themes that support lookbook imagery. Themes are customizable templates that can profoundly change the look and feel of your site. The theme Lookbook lets e-commerce retailers tell their customers a story through mosaic-styled imagery.

However, the most enterprising online retailers take product photography a step further by offering user interactivity – custom-coded lookbook photography can be designed to link website visitors to specific product pages when they click on the products featured. The fact that lookbooks combine products from different sources offers opportunities for valuable cross-promotion, as well.

Use Product Reviews to Drive Sales – Conversion Optimization

Sample Product Reviews

As any ecommerce customer knows, product reviews are a critical part of the online buying experience. Analytic tools give you a unique opportunity to learn about customer psychology and implement solutions for addressing their needs.

Reviews aren’t capable of driving sales on their own – they need to be understood through analysis. Analytics turn reviews into tools for conversion optimization. You can use reviews to generate conversions, ramp up product reviews, and sell more products.

The intersection between analytics and conversion optimization is important because of how usage data can lead to better decision-making. For instance, a website with a high bounce rate may be poorly designed or addressing the wrong audience.

This is a situation that calls for optimizing the store’s conversion strategy. Product reviews are an ideal place to start.

Get Good Product Reviews

In the world of ecommerce, few messages are more powerful than an excellent product review. Almost every e-commerce platform includes some sort of reviewing mechanism – whether in the form of a one-to-five star rating or via lengthy, descriptive, and often entertaining comments.

The greater task of conversion optimization relies, in part, on racking up excellent product reviews. This is because having large numbers of good reviews establishes a sense of legitimacy that is almost impossible to generate otherwise. As eConsultancy.com points out, user reviews increase conversions.

• Having more than 50 reviews per product can lead to a 4.6% conversion rate increase.

• Customers are 63% more likely to buy products from websites that offer user reviews.

• Reviews keep visitors on-site.

88% of consumers consult reviews when making a purchase.

Reviews can drive conversions – but how can ecommerce store owners increase the number of reviews their products generate? In short, by asking for them.

Get Bad Reviews Too

30% of online consumers assume that product reviews are fake if no negative reviews are shown, according to Vendasta. When creating a strategy for online reviews, ecommerce store owners need not be afraid of the criticism that an unfavorable review entails.

Unless the review is so scathing that it absolutely needs to be censored, including it is usually a good idea. Leaving the occasional negative review in with a mostly-positive set of responses is a good way to give the process a sense of authority and trustworthiness.

Importantly, brands need to respond to negative reviews quickly and decisively. More often than not, an unfavorable review is one of the best chances for a brand to gain a new, loyal follower and publicly promote itself in a positive way.

Doing this successfully requires solving the customer’s problem and demonstrating that the business is committed to continuously improving itself.

Test Post-Purchase Copy to Get More Reviews

Knowing that reviews help customers make purchase decisions and that having only good reviews is undesirable, e-commerce store owners have good reason to get as many reviews as possible. With luck, the percentage of good reviews to bad ones will be in the upper 90s, showing that, overall, people are happy with the products or services they receive.

One of the first ways e-commerce store owners increase review responses is through better handling of their post-purchase copywriting. Most customers are generally willing to sign up for email newsletters or other tertiary services after they’ve made a purchase with a specific brand. Asking for a review can be one of the most valuable post-purchase actions a customer can make.

Successful post-purchase copy asks for a review without seeming insincere. Generating a sense of authenticity will produce the greatest benefits at this stage in the conversion cycle.

The following strategies tend to produce results.

• Offering return customers a discount code for leaving reviews can help incentivize the process.

• Some online retailers reach out to customers on social media. Any social media user who tags the brand or mentions it is likely to respond favorably.

• Follow-up emails work when they are targeted and narrowly focused. Run A/B comparisons to get an idea of what types of email marketing campaigns work. Digital receipts, for instance, enjoy a 65% open rate and a 10.7% click rate.

Reviews Offer SEO Benefits

On a concluding note, product reviews carry significant SEO benefits. Each review consists of unique, often keyword-heavy content useful for search engines, which can increase ranking. One of the most useful keywords that reviews help boost is “[product name] + review”, which is a top-performing search term for most products.