Creating Content that Turns Browsers into Buyers

Michelle Megna

Updated · Apr 24, 2008

While the products you sell are clearly the focus of your Web shop, and likely your energy, the content — and how it's displayed and organized — at your site is also a critical component when it comes to closing the deal. Content covers much more than product description copy; it also includes all of your Web page elements, from zoom views to guided navigation. It can be a bit overwhelming when trying to prioritize what to cover. And since shoppers rely on quality information about your merchandise and your business to make buying decisions, it's an area that can't be dismissed.

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To help sort it all out, Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group inc., and Scott Todaro, senior director of product management for Demandware, recently held a Webinar, “Building Content You Can Bank On,” outlining strategies for e-tailers who want to create content that translates into conversions. In fact, the price you pay for having mediocre content is significant — 72 percent of shoppers surveyed say they abandon a site for a competitor, despite price if they encounter incomplete product information, said Freedman.

She went on to outline the basics of successful content management, starting with the product page, which now functions the way home pages used to because many shoppers enter a site by landing directly on these due to more sophisticated search. Each product page should incorporate the best in text, imagery, tools and customer service information. Fifty-two percent of shoppers spend six minutes or more on a product page, according to Freedman.

She presented the following stats: “Confirming the need for qualitative text, the most highly ranked is the product overview at 76 percent, merchant's guarantee at 73 percent, stock status at 69 percent and image quality at 67 percent.”

Product Page Basics
As an example of a site that has an outstanding product page, Freedman pointed to, showing that the company has the following elements in place: a “more views” feature, close-up view, fabric content, matching styles, available colors, other products from the brand and customer service links.

In another instance of successful product page elements, she outlined's inclusion of the following all on one page: ratings/reviews, specifications, product description, discussion forum, accessories, warranty information, installation and set up, how to get the product, return policy and special offers.

In regard to images, it is important to show photos of related products. Seventy-two percent of shoppers surveyed by Freedman say that this is “very-to-somewhat” important to their shopping experience.

Creativity in content deployment also persuades shoppers to buy. For instance, Freedman said in addition to reviews and multiple views, a “Why We Love It” description for an item helps the shopper see how a particular items stands out from the rest.

Rich Media and Shopping Info Tools
In terms of so-called rich media, it's no surprise that shoppers demand high-quality images, alternative and zoom views, but what is interesting is that women ranked such tools as more important than did men. Freedman said that QVC's online store does a good job of showing products, for instance a blender, in different colors along with an audio and a product tour.

While using video doesn't make sense for every Web shop owner, for those it does, it can boost conversion rates and average order size. For instance, Sephora has make-up application “how-to” clips at its site that do well.

As for how shopping tools rank with consumers surveyed, Freedman said ratings and reviews were ranked most important, followed by product guides and comparison features.

Another way to provide quality content is through the use of learning aids. For instance if you sell gardening merchandise, including plant and soil guides makes sense.

To increase average order value, e-tailers can also include tools that save time. A clothing site can do this by showing all the pieces of an outfit on one page, including the accessories, thus encouraging customers to buy the entire outfit.

On the customer-service front, Freedman said that shoppers rated merchant's guarantee, customer service links and stock status as the most important information they want to see on a product page, followed by size charts and toll-free numbers.

(Continue to Page 2 for Five Merchandising Tips)

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