5 reasons online retailers can’t afford to ignore Ecommerce Content

Ed Bussey

CSO, Content

Ecommerce Content is one of the key drivers of online revenue and reputation for retailers and has a critical impact on their bottom line. This applies now more than ever, as retailers pivot to a digital-first strategy to survive in the post lockdown era. 

So why are so many eCommerce businesses allowing their Ecommerce Content to gather dust? We dive into the five key reasons why this content deserves your full attention – with a dedicated owner and budget line.

But first, let’s start with a definition:

Put simply, Ecommerce Content is the critical pre-purchase information that converts browsers into buyers. It drives traffic to your website and helps customers to make more informed decisions at the penultimate stage of their purchase journey – at the point where they are almost ready to buy.

For online retailers, the most impactful types of Ecommerce Content typically include:

– Product descriptions– Category descriptions– Buying & how-to guides/videos

These content assets – although often playing second fiddle to attention-grabbing awareness or ‘hero’ content in marketers’ priorities – actually have huge potential to boost eCommerce performance, and therefore increase ROI on all marketing activity across the purchase funnel. Here’s how.

1. Increased search rankings and traffic

Although Google is notoriously hush-hush about the exact factors that influence its rankings, successive algorithm updates have illustrated a clear shift towards rewarding content-rich pages which appear to be highly relevant, useful, and authoritative.

And with the first 5 organic search results accounting for 67%  of all search traffic, if retailers aren’t ranking on page 1 of Google for lucrative category terms, they are missing the chance to capture vast swathes of unique visitors – and potential conversions.

This is why search-optimised category descriptions are a vital tool for boosting the authority and relevancy of category pages, and thereby increasing their ranking potential.

To illustrate, our client MATCHESFASHION achieved an uplift of 67% in SEO traffic to category pages that we had optimised for search, with a corresponding 54% increase in SEO revenue.

Results like these are not limited to the fashion industry or small purchases. Even before the advent of social distancing, 45% of furniture and homeware customers were researching higher value products online before making a purchase – enabling us to provide a substantial ROI for our client John Lewis when we optimised 2,500 of their category descriptions for search.

an example of a best in class category description from the John Lewis website

2. Increased conversion rates

Research has found that a staggering 95% of shoppers abandon their online shopping session when they come across vague, incomplete or inaccurate product information. Additionally, 64% of consumers report that they are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.

The message is clear: a few basic bullet points and a product photo simply aren’t enough to inform shoppers and persuade them to purchase. Retailers need to go the extra mile and attempt to recreate the in-store experience, online.

For beauty products, this may mean describing the skin tones best suited to a product, or detailing wellbeing product benefits that a shop assistant would usually divulge.

For homeware and fashion verticals, describing nuanced product qualities such as textures or the ‘feel’ of a fabric can help alleviate the fact that consumers can’t touch the products in question. Displaying homeware items in the context of a furnished room and making up for the absence of online fitting rooms, by explicitly providing information about garment ‘fit’, is similarly beneficial.

By improving the level of detail and useful information provided in product descriptions retailers can drastically increase conversion rates.

For example, our client Tommy Hilfiger has seen a 25% increase in conversion rates since we provided them with best-in-class, detailed product descriptions, that clearly communicate product benefits and include descriptions of the garment fit and feel.

an example of a best in class product description from the Tommy Hilfiger website

3. Increased Average Order Values (AOVs)

Cross-selling and upselling are well-established retail sales techniques both offline and online, with Amazon attributing up to 35% of its revenue to cross-selling. However, “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”- type widgets aren’t the only way to boost AOVs.

Buying and how-to guides, whether in written or video format, are an effective vehicle for providing cross-sell or upsell recommendations, while:

  • Helping shoppers to solve a problem or make the most of a product – (e.g. ‘How to set up a wireless printer’ or ‘How to apply eye shadow like a pro’)
  • Making the decision-making process easier, by showing a curated selection of products from a broader range, suited to various needs – (e.g. ‘Top gifts for sporty dads this Father’s Day’ or ‘Best sofas for small spaces’)
  • Enhancing brand authority and promoting engagement

Consumer research has shown that 31% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a retailer that offers useful buying guides demonstrating the need to prioritise content that replicates the advice of an in-store sales assistant.

an example of a cross- selling trends guide from the Avon website

4. Reduced product return rates

According to industry figures, 58% of consumers have returned a product they purchased online. While figures vary between verticals (e.g. 56% for fashion, versus 22% for health and beauty products), returns across all verticals represent a massive challenge for retailers and a substantial drain on revenue.

Although there is little to be done to combat ‘impulse buys’ and ‘intentional returns’, in many cases there is an opportunity to reduce the need for returns by ensuring product descriptions are as comprehensive and informative as possible – helping the customer to make a considered and appropriate choice.

For instance: 55% of consumers say that they have returned a clothing item ordered online due to “poor fit”.By incorporating nuanced information about how garments fit into product descriptions, fashion retailers can reduce this figure.

Boden is a great example of a fashion retailer with a best-in-class approach to fit in product descriptions:

Bolden’s detailed product descriptions include helpful information on a garment’s “fit”

5. Increased brand integrity

Last, but certainly not least: the quality of the content and the overall experience provided by a retailer on their website is of paramount importance to a customer’s perceptions of the brand, and their likelihood of becoming a repeat visitor.

Considering you only have seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention – and make a positive impression – it’s imperative that you prioritise the customer experience. That means that the information consumers receive at the critical pre-purchase point of the funnel, the Ecommerce Content, is held to the same standards of quality as any awareness or consideration content they may have encountered higher up in the funnel.

Ultimately, a flashy, brand-elevating ad campaign will fail to translate into positive sentiment – and sales – if, when a consumer visits the website, they find that the shopping experience is lacking. Ecommerce Content plays a crucial role both in upholding brand reputation and driving ROI on all marketing activity

Is your eCommerce Content underperforming?

To gain a better understanding of whether your ecommerce Content is hitting the mark, request a bespoke (and complimentary) Ecommerce Content Score audit of your website here.