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Content And Why It’s Important For Your Online Business

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The Importance of Content

You’ll hear a lot about “content” these days, if you keep up with any sort of business news, and how it’s important for your business. But what does that mean for you, and what do people mean by content? The dictionary definition says that content in this instance means “information made available by a website or other electronic medium”, and that’s a good place to start because information is key, here. But what makes it so important that people talk about it as being “king” in the modern Internet landscape?

Content in this context means engaging, consumable media. Basically, it’s the real substance of any website – information, as we said earlier. It’s what keeps you on a website, instead of simply clicking away to another page immediately, or getting up and doing something else altogether. Content is what makes people keep looking at your site, and ultimately one of the reasons they make a purchase from you.

An online store might have a blog, or a lot of details in their product descriptions and categories, or even information rich pages on the site giving customers resources they might need for the products and their uses. A news site will have news articles, infographics, opinion pieces, focus pieces, etc. There are a lot of different ways to increase the overall amount of content your website has, but for this article, we’re going to focus the details most important to an online business.

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Why Search Engines Like Content

Search engines like Google and Bing have gotten increasingly sophisticated about picking out sites that people will want to visit – among all of the empty sites full of spam and advertisements that used to be so common in the early days of the Internet. They use a number of ways to determine this, but one powerfully simple one is engagement. Engagement is basically answering a few questions about search results:

  1. How often do people go to this site?
  2. How much time do they actually spend there before going somewhere else?

Sites that people click to hoping to find what they’re looking for is important, but if they’re immediately backing out and looking somewhere else then you can be pretty sure that’s not a useful resource. If it’s a pattern search engines see develop, that website starts dropping off of the search results. On the other hand, if it’s a site that people really seem to find useful and spend time on, you can see a slow but steady upwards increase in search rankings. That means more shoppers, which means more purchases for your business.

It’s helpful to note that social media companies also pay very close attention to this same thing. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all paying attention to how to give people the content they want to find. They determine this via engagement in just the same way that search engines do, and in fact sometimes spend even more effort to determine which content pieces are most useful to specific groups of people.

For those who are running an online business, at first you may think that all you have to do is put up a list of products with their names and a couple of photographs, then set up the backend system and you’re ready to go! While this is technically true, it’s important to realize that your website isn’t an online inventory list. Your website isn’t a catalog, it’s your store.

Now, it’s true that some businesses get a lot of their traffic from somewhere besides search engines. Social media, a strong existing customer base, brand recognition or advertising via other means – all of these are fantastic ways to have customer outreach! But in the end, your potential customers will tend to behave a lot like search engines in a way. They want to use a website that feels fleshed-out and useful to them far more than one that doesn’t, which brings us to…

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Why Site Visitors Appreciate Content

It’s important to keep in mind the your website is your entire store to your online customer. In a brick and mortar store, you can pick up the product, read the packaging, feel the weight, see about how big it is, maybe even use a demo model. If you have questions, you can ask a salesperson nearby in an instant. Also, a quick look around and you’ve seen an entire section of the store’s inventory.

An online store isn’t going to have all of these. You want people to want to spend time on your site. If you sell clothing, for example, you might want to have information on sizing, styles, brands, any number of questions a customer might have. You might want to keep people updated on the latest trends and fashions, or remind them when you’re having sales or new inventory. Give them another reason to visit, other than purely to shop.

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When you go to make a purchase offline, you typically go to a store with a nice building and well-maintained space. You’re probably not going to be as comfortable making a transaction with someone who has a hand-painted sign and a card table set up showing off their wares – unless it’s something like a child’s lemonade stand.

The same can be said for your website. Have you ever walked into a new store and felt like it just wasn’t finished? There were too few products on the shelves, or everything wasn’t labeled properly? Did you make a purchase – or just leave and continue shopping? If you did, it probably wasn’t a substantial purchase – and definitely less hefty of a dollar spend than a store with an impressive store display. You can get the same feeling from an online store if it’s just a handful of products and nothing else to see.

Customers appreciate a site with depth. The more there is to get out of your site, the more people will spend time on it, or come back to it again and again. Customers appreciate this kind of attention to the details of your site. They notice that you’ve thought about their needs, and it helps elicits a positive impression of your business.

The rise of “conscious consumers” has also given reasons for providing increased details about your business and your products. People like to know if your products are made domestically, or what materials they are made from. If you have a service, people want to know your hours of availability, and in some cases what to expect from hiring you. If you or your business contribute to or assist with charities, this is a great opportunity to showcase that to the world.

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Ways to Increase Your Site’s Content

First and foremost, look at what you already have. Can you expand on it, do your products have enough description and important information available? If you’ve got a Frequently Asked Questions page (and you should), spend some time seeing if you can add more detail and more questions to it. Your “About Us” page should be more than just the date your business was founded and what time you close – this is your chance to tell people the story of your business and hopefully get them to feel invested in you a little bit. A personal story can go a long way in building customer confidence for your brand.

Product categories and brands are also great places to have more information. Some pictures and a few paragraphs about the products or services you carry can help customers have a little peace of mind about giving you their credit card information. You will also want a trust seal from a service verifying that your site meets all the security and safety standards consumers have come to expect from a reputable online business. If your site has had some effort put into it, you’re planning to be available to them in the future, not disappear into the night with their money or information.

Information pages are another useful tool for online businesses. A store that sells art supplies, for example, might have some tutorials on how to use various products or introductions to techniques. An automotive parts store may have writeups about trade shows, how-to guides, showcases of builds, or reviews. Many businesses have pages dedicated to helping customers choose between different products depending on what they need to use it for.

For a store owner, the blog is the most underused tool for increasing visits to your website. This can hold even more true if your blog is actually useful to people. An article or infographic good enough to be shared can mean an increase in traffic many times your everyday visitor count.

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What If I Don’t Have Time?

We get it – you’re busy, running a small business or department. Maybe you’ve got time to do a few things, but the kind of upgrade we’re talking about looks like it might take a good chunk of your valuable time. Or perhaps you’re just not that technical/don’t like writing very much. If you’ve got employees, they might be able to assist you with some of this assuming you can spare them. Writing might not be their specialty either, however.

Hiring a professional team to beef up your site’s content can really improve your site’s quality and help increase your traffic. It can even generate repeat business sometimes! The quality and proofreading that goes into such work can make a world of difference, and is less expensive than you would often expect.

Professionals know how to gear the text both to your customers’ needs and the attention of search engines. They can make your page look professional and well-informed without being intrusive. If you can establish yourself as a useful resource in the minds of consumers, your reputation with them will grow right along with that. And as your reputation grows, so does your site’s traffic and your bottom line.

Conclusion

Since your website is your entire online presence, it’s a representative of your brand. It’s more than just a catalog, it’s how you represent yourself to the world. Your website is almost always the beginning and end of each customer interaction with you, so it’s a good idea to put your best foot forward.

In addition, you want people to visit in the first place! Giving the search engines proof that your site is worth listing can be worth its weight in gold, and one of the absolute best ways to do that is by giving search engines what they want – information. Their entire goal is to give users links to sites with lots of information. Customers want links to sites with lots of information when you get right down to it.

Remember, every single new page your site is another potential starting point for someone to find themselves on your website. The more you have, the more chances someone will come to your site. If you can make sure that people are engaged in your site and getting value from their experience, then you’ve already established a tiny fragment of a relationship with them. It’s far easier to grow a small relationship into a larger one than it is to try and start from scratch.

Customers who have everything they need to make an informed decision at the moment they’re ready to make a purchase are customers who aren’t going to leave halfway through shopping and go to some other site to make a purchase. User-provided reviews can provide you with additional content once you start getting more visitors. Having quality content is one of the easiest ways to make your site useful and beneficial to both you and your customers.

A Satisfied Customer Is The Best Business Strategy of All

15 Ways to Improve Your Ecommerce Customer’s Experience

A Satisfied Customer Is The Best Business Strategy of All

Once you’ve got your business up and running online, it’s time to start getting more people to your site. If you don’t have people visiting, after all, you won’t have sales. Usually this is something people understand intuitively, however there are some other factors that are equally important to your business success. Once you’ve got people coming to your store, you want to make sure they stay there and shop. You also want them to actually make purchases from your store. It’s important to make sure that your customer experience is smooth and seamless.

“But my business is different!”

It’s true that there is no one-size-fits-all secret to improving the customer experience for every type of online business, but if your business model is selling retail goods – or even selling wholesale – on your ecommerce site, here are a some points to consider to ensure your customers have a pleasant time on your online store.

 

1 – Have Great Photography

Creating Quality Product Photography

When it comes to online shopping, photographs are at the heart of the process. Without the ability to see the product in a good quality photograph, your prospective customer may decide they’d rather buy from somewhere else – or even pick it up locally so they can hold it in their hands and examine it. Here [ http://bit.ly/2ExaoZg ] is a good infographic that helps cover some of the basics.

If you don’t already have great product photographs, you might want to consider hiring a professional photographer. While it does cost more than taking the photographs yourself, the skill and training that they have will definitely make a difference in your final result. So now that you’ve got quality product photographs, what about the rest of the images on your site? Do you have banners, or promotions prominently featured? Does your homepage have a carousel or slider that displays selected products or specials? If you’re working with a design team, they can often help you clean up your product photos or select stock photography for these purposes. For example, adjusting the color balance, and removing the background from a photo can make the image really “pop”, and draw the emphasis to what you’re wanting the customer to see.

 

2 – Make Sure Your Site Has A Clear Interface

Does your page have a lot of visual clutter? When someone goes to your site, what catches their eye first? What about second? After that? People are going to look over a site fairly quickly when they come to it, to decide whether or not they want to continue to look over the site or move on. If you have an eye-catching graphic or image, it should be a call to action. “Shop Now” or “Learn More”, or even “Check Out” or “Add to Cart” are good examples.

The parts of the page you want your customers to interact with should be obvious and prominent. If you’ve got too many elements cluttering their at-a-glance view of the page, your design is competing with itself and working against your goals. This can be easy to do even without meaning to, so it never hurts to consult someone or get a fresh pair of eyes to look things over.

 

3 – Simple Category Structure

This is going to be easier for some businesses than others, of course. When someone comes to your store, there’s a good chance they’re looking for something. They may not be looking to make a purchase right this second, but if they can’t even find the item they’re looking for then the chances they’ll buy something are zero.

Making your categories easy to navigate helps your customers tremendously. Most online clothing stores, for example, tend to organize into a just a few top-level categories: Men’s, Women’s, Kids’, Accessories, etc. For most clothing stores, this is the best way to make sure people find what they’re looking for. That way your customers know which category is going to have the clothes they’re looking to find.

Another way to organize your categories would be by material or by brand. For example if you were selling countertops you might choose “Marble”, “Granite”, “Stainless Steel”, and “Tile” as your top categories. If you were selling computer accessories the brand might be the obvious choice, “Samsung”, “Apple”, “Dell”, etc.

 

4 – User-generated Content

User Generated Content Model

We’ve gone into this in depth here [ http://bit.ly/2BvRAuJ ] but it is important enough to give a brief refresher. Do your customers give you reviews? Feature them on the site. That’s additional information for future customers, and extra content for your site that’s original and free. Do you have customer testimonials or tips? Find a way to feature those as well! The more content your site has, the more likely it will be considered a useful resource, both by search engines and by your site’s visitors.

 

5 – Showcase Positive Reviews

We’ve covered before [http://bit.ly/2BvRAuJ ] why it’s important to not delete all negative reviews. After all, you want customers to recognize that you’re honest! That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t feature the positive reviews. As long as they’re not the majority of reviews, it balances out in the favor of more free “user-generated content”.

Does your site have a carousel/slideshow on the home page? If so, you can use a positive review to promote one of your popular products. Alternatively, you could add a few stellar reviews to the bottom of the page, or your category pages. If you do email marketing you could even add them to your next round of emails. This can be just the thing to help someone who is on the fence about making a purchase decide to go ahead with their decision.

 

6 – Consistent Branding

Make sure your look is professional and consistent. Is your page’s color scheme compatible with your company’s logo? It needs to be the same on every page unless you’ve got a really specific reason why there needs to be an exception Make certain that you can easily determine what site you’re on no matter what page you’re viewing. Your text should be the same font across all pages or your site will look messy and unprofessional. What about sizes and colors, are they consistently the same? This reassures the customer that you’re a professional retailer who will reliably fill their orders and provide good customer service if needed.

 

7 – Live Chat

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Many retailers will benefit from having this on their store, in fact many stores have found it invaluable. It can give you the ability to answer customer questions as soon as they have them. The personal touch this can provide makes a huge difference to your customers’ decision to purchase in your store instead of waiting.

If you’re using Bigcommerce [ https://www.bigcommerce.com/ ] as your shopping cart platform, there are a number of chat apps you can integrate into your store, or include in your next site design request if you’re using a design and development service.

 

8 – Let Customers Know How to Reach You

It is surprising how many online stores still don’t have basic contact information available on their site. One can find sites that lack any sort of contact information, not even an email address or phone number! If your customer has a reason to reach out to you about a past or future order and they are unable to find a way to reach you, it’s a sure bet they won’t be making their next purchase through you.

Adding clickable phone numbers, full address, and email contact information in the footer is crucial to assisting customers to engage with you. Even if a customer doesn’t need to contact you, seeing that they can is a confidence booster in your brand.

 

9 – Keep Them Coming Back

Do you reach out to former customers with sales or specials? Maybe offer seasonal coupon codes, or tell them about upcoming specials on popular products? A good email marketing setup can help you with that.

Apart from getting your emails to be automatic and match your branding, you can also add the ability to save wishlists, or loyalty programs where people can earn points with each purchase towards some sort of reward.

 

10 – Keep Them Updated

Make sure to let customers know when their package has shipped. Try to give tracking information, when available. If they email with a question about shipping, reply promptly. Sure, this is basic customer service advice – but we have all experienced what happens when something goes wrong and one of the links in this chain breaks. It can sour your relationship with a customer quickly.

 

11 – Feature Sales and Promotions Prominently

Are you having a sale, or just want to feature some of your products? Holiday special deals, new items, or having a clearance on backstocked items are all deals that customers love to shop for – but they’ve got to know about it! If you’ve got a homepage carousel or slideshow, that’s a great place to feature your deals and promotions. Or perhaps you’d rather have a banner across the top or bottom of a page, or all of your pages, to let people know about the deals they could be getting for a limited time only.


An eye-catching graphic to promote your specials will go a long way toward helping increase the average number of items per purchase. If you do email marketing, you can also include your specials in your targeted sales emails.

 

12 – Offer Targeted Upsells and Promotions

Great Discounts

Have you ever added an item to your cart when shopping online only to have it provide you with a list of suggestions? “You may also like” or “People who bought this also bought” are a couple of examples of this. These are built-in features of BigCommerce.

Similarly, upsell suggestions are common with many online retailers. Buy an air freshener and get 10% off a pack of refills, or buy a coffee maker and get a free sample of a premium house blend of coffee, these are all targeted to the specific purchase or display of interest on the customer’s part. With the right platform, implementing something like this into your store can be easy and effective. oBundle can help with adding these types of customizations to your cart page.

 

13 – Establish Trust

Does your site have a dedicated SSL certificate or other form of secure checkout? Do you have a badge from your payment providers and security certificate issuers visible at the bottom of your page?

Websites that have these things tend to have much higher conversion from visitors to actual sales than sites that do not have these displayed. In some cases up to 70% more! The more you can do to ease people’s fears of making purchases through your business online, the more likely they are to shop with you.

 

14 – Spellcheck and Grammar Check

Sure, this one seems like a really obvious one to most people, but there are still many ecommerce businesses out there with noticeable misspellings or errors that can really stand out to your customer. Even if you’ve gone over everything carefully and double-checked every bit of text on every part of your site, it’s a good idea to have a few other people look over it and point out any spelling or grammar mistakes you might have missed. It can take a little time and maybe even be a little embarrassing, but remember that this is your business – you can’t afford to have potential customers getting a negative impression right from the start! A simple wrong “your” can lead to a customer leaving the store.

 

15 – Content

One phrase you’ll often hear on the Internet when talking about marketing or having a successful website of any kind is “Content is King”. You might not think this matters as much for an online storefront as it would for, say, a popular gossip blog or news site, but make no mistake – content is important to any website that wants visitors to go to it!

The range of things you can do to increase your content is very wide. You can do something as simple as expanding your product descriptions and category or brand information. You can increase the related information about your business and what differentiates you from your competition using your “About Us” page or have a Frequently Asked Questions page for common questions that you receive about some of your products or services. You could even go the extra step of having a blog on your store for providing information, advice, and announcements about specials or new products.

This can be a lot of effort to go through if you’re doing it by yourself, if it seems to daunting there are professionals out there who can find specialists in your industry to handle the tedious writing process. In addition this means that you can also use that text in your email marketing mailers. Having content is a great way to attract people to your site who weren’t otherwise going to visit it.

 

Conclusion

An online business can be tough to manage sometimes, but you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself. If you’re like many small to medium businesses you are limited on time, money, or both. Many times, updating your website or improving the customer experience while shopping is something that you know is important, but you just don’t know where to get started with only a limited amount of time and money to spend on the project, for more of the latest tips on ecommerce, check out this guide to IRCE 2018.

Some of the points mentioned in this article are quick and easy enough that you can probably tackle them on your own without much fuss. Some tasks may be better to delegate or hire someone to take care of for you. Either way, streamlining your customer experience is always going to make a difference in your bottom line.