I’ve been working with a few clients recently that were having a difficult time figuring out what to add to their websites.
They each had good descriptions of their products and the services they offered, but were hoping to get even more out of their website. New content is a great way to build up a site, but sometimes it isn’t easy to develop and execute new ideas.
This is where I often recommend adding a case study.
As a very simple introduction, a case study should include these four elements:
Background: This is your chance to setup the story and explain what is going on
Problem: Explain what is causing the pain. Often the problem is that something is broken or because it doesn’t work well enough in the situation (which you have explained in the background)
Solution: This step allows you to show how your product or service addressed the problem.
Impact: It all comes together in this step. This is your opportunity to really sell the value of solving a problem with your solution
One of the key elements to note about a case study from an online marketing perspective is that it gives you a chance to talk about the problem.
Why is that a good thing? Because many times potential customers may not have any idea that your solution exists. So instead of searching for things that you sell, they are looking online for information about the problem they have. Search engines are pretty amazing, but they still have a hard time matching a search for a problem with a solution.
This is where case studies come in to play. A good case study will connect the dots from the problem someone else is experiencing to the solution you have to offer.
It’s true; I was that crazy lady snapping pictures of her shopping cart at the grocery store this weekend. And of the nice endcap display. And, umm, I may have taken a few of some random guy’s cart.
Yeah, that too.
Don’t judge. It was all in the name of good content.
It’s no secret that brands and marketers everywhere continue to scramble to figure out what good content is and how they can create and incorporate it into all of their platforms.
Everyone knows that content is king (if you haven’t heard that, you’ve likely been living under a rock!). But what a lot of people don’t realize is that good content isn’t this crazy, hard-to-obtain thing. Good content is everywhere, and the simplest things are often the best.
The key to finding that perfectly on-target content is to just live it. Rather than try to dream up an idea that will make people everywhere swoon to ‘like’ your content, try coming by it naturally. If you know your product and audience, you shouldn’t have to reach too far.
The trick comes in mobilizing your staff to become brand journalists of sorts, and able to report what they see in real time.
In social media, it’s the difference between your company telling people that it is awesome vs. someone else relating to other why your company is so awesome. It kinda inches up the credibility a notch.
At TKG, we often become brand journalists for our clients, taking every opportunity to take notes and snap pictures when we see the product or service of one of our clients in the real world. Essentially, we become another set of eyes that can capture stories as they are happening.
And yes, sometimes that happens at the grocery store, like it did for me last weekend. Shearer’s Potato Chips is a TKG client, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to snap a few pics for them of some perfectly placed Shearer’s chips in the cart in front of me. Or the wild riceworks that just so happened to jump in my cart (side note: you have to try them, they are amazingly delicious and addictive).
People connect with brands through social channels when they can see their lives in it. Good content is relatable, relevant and personal. And in the ever-evolving world of news, it’s important for brands to be able to tell their own story.
Is your brand telling the story of your business? Is your staff mobilized to spot good stories that should be shared? Are you sharing them in a consistent and well strategized way? We’d love to hear how brand journalism is working for you.
These days, consumers are better than ever at tuning out promotional messages. Ad-averse customers DVR their favorite shows and fast-forward through commercials, they flip past the first few pages in their magazines, and they avoid the banners on their computer, tablet and mobile screens.
In order to cut through the noise and reach your target audience, it’s important to offer relevant content with real value. Here are a few reasons your content should be helpful, and not try for a sale:
You’ll reach your audience – Your audience won’t tune you out if your messages are rich with relevant content and not overly promotional.
Users will engage with your content – If users like your content, they will reward you with follows, shares, retweets and comments.
Valuable content helps build credibility and brand equity – Consumers respond to brands they can relate to. If they feel like your brand offers real value, they will trust you and become your advocates.
Your audience will seek you out – Your audience will check up on your website and social channels to see what you post next. Your brand will be a valuable voice in their ear, and they will come back to you over and over again.
Customers want as much information as they can get before they buy, but they are immediately turned off by sales pitches and branded messaging. Your content should incorporate valuable information like customer reviews, frequently asked questions and third-party articles, without pressuring them to buy. Trust us – your audience will reward you for your top-notch content.
Last week I attended the Interactive Marketing Summit which was held at The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. The theme for the event was Big Epic Experts and we were presented with just that – three amazing presentations given by super heroes in the marketing world. These three presentations left me with five pages of notes, multiple links to refer back to, two new books to add to my reading list, and a possible case of carpel tunnel from trying to capture rich snippets of information turned tweet.
When I attend any kind of seminar, conference or industry-type event I have one goal, bring back one good piece of information that I can implement into my work or life. One; that’s all I expect. Sure, my notebook is filled with five pages of really great notes. Each of the presentations provided me enough ammo for at least three blog posts, two of which I started and stopped because I kept coming back to this one tiny snippet; actually, one word: Outcome.
The word came out of the Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi’s presentation on Epic Content Marketing: 5 Key Elements You need to Know. While outcome was just a sub-bullet from an overarching key element, it really stuck with me.
As we develop our content, no matter the medium, we should always include a column for outcome—specifically the outcome for our audience. In each email, blog post, video, tweet, banner, you name it— what is the expected outcome for the customer? Populate this column in your marketing plan, add it to your checklist, make it a part of your strategy. Developing this mindset will bring you closer to your customers and will provide you with a better understanding of what your customers expect from you.
I challenge each of you to add an outcome column as you craft your next message. Measure the success of your campaign based on your audience engagement, was the outcome what you expected?
If you ever peruse this blog or other sources that talk about digital marketing, you’ve probably read the term, “high quality content.”
Google Panda helps the search engine identify sites with “high quality content,” Facebook implements update after update in the pursuit of filling user news feeds with “high quality content,” and web-trepreneurs insist they make the big bucks by only posting “high quality content.”
But if you’re new to content, or have just started posting in earnest to Facebook, or even if you’ve had an established presence in top Google rankings but have recently seen your site take a nose dive, “high quality content” can seem an elusive thing.
Never fear. Anyone can produce high quality content. Here’s how:
1. Make it Original
No, seriously. The Internet is a big, vast noisy place. The only thing you have that is truly unique is your voice, the things that make you or your brand different from the competition.
We’ve talked many times about how Google’s algorithm is becoming sophisticated enough to value original content, so it’s important for search engines AND engagement.
Original content can be tough, though. It’s not as if your business doesn’t have some of the same things to say as another business. If you provide automotive services, you likely have roughly the same tips for checking car oil as the automotive business down the street.
But think through how you can present the information differently, from your specific point of view. Maybe you plan a short video of one of your technicians checking oil, or maybe you work with a local designer to produce a colorful infographic.
As our good friend Dr. Seuss says, “there is no one alive who is youer than you.” So take a minute to think how you can put your own spin on your content.
2. Beware Shortcuts
Facebook recently announced that it will be de-valuing stories from third party apps and automatic posts. For example, if you check into your business on 4Square, and set it to automatically post to Facebook, that Facebook story will only be served to a few people.
This move is due to Facebook’s march toward getting users–especially businesses–to create unique, high quality content right on and through the platform. It wants individuals to be able to find the best content right within the platform without going anywhere else, so it’s placing higher emphasis on, you’ve got it, original content.
Google put the kibash on duplicate content a while ago, and many platforms are following suit. So shortcuts are nice in theory, but actually work against that whole “high quality content” thing.
3. Make it Shareable…without being Overt
I’ve talked several times about the importance of good Calls to Action to get people to click, Like or Share your content. But algorithms on several platforms, including Facebook, are getting wise to “link bait” types of Calls to Action.
For example, you’ve likely seen the Facebook posts that ask you to “Like if blue is your favorite color, Share if red is.” This tactic used to work well on the platform, but Facebook is also devaluing these posts in the news feed.
That means that your content has to compel people to share or Like it simply by virtue of being worthy of being shared.
It’s not as if you can’t use Calls to Action to help the content along, but you might have to be more sophisticated in your approach. And you really have to take the time to know and understand your audience. What content do they consistently interact with? Which questions to they ask frequently?
While it may take more time to craft content that fulfills this criteria, take heart. Algorithms are getting better and better at recognizing the brands that take the time to craft this type of content.
And audiences are getting better and better at recognizing content that feels “spammy” vs. content that is truly useful, entertaining or educational to them. The next big question is, how will you deliver this kind of content to them consistently?
You’ve been learning all month about how the copy you write for your product descriptions is important. You have to make it unique, snappy, and above all, the type of copy that will convert browsers into buyers.
But there’s other content that can help boost your success on product description pages. In fact, with customers demanding more than ever that brands give them as much information as possible before buying, this supplemental content can not only help make that final sale, but get customers coming back again and again.
Here are three other types of content to consider for your e-commerce product description page:
We’ve talked before about the power of video to sell. Video is more important than ever in online purchases. A recent study by Invodo showed that half of all online shoppers are more confident about their purchases after viewing a video of the product.
On the bargain website, 6pm.com, most products are accompanied by a video, which sits unobtrusively right alongside product views. Each video is less than 30 seconds, and re-iterates the product description, while showing the product being worn by an employee.
Brands are also using platforms like Vine and Instagram to show product outside the detail page, creating multiple touchpoints for customers throughout the buying cycle.
Another visual component to consider adding to your ecommerce site is infographics. This highly visual medium provides quickly scannable content for customers that want an “in a nutshell” or additional insight into your product or industry.
While individual infographics for each detail page is likely unrealistic (and could quickly read like clutter), infographics for overall categories could be useful, or infographics used to educate your customers on a unique facet of your business could help make the buying process easier.
Take this infographic that explains just what “fair trade” means. If you sell an assortment of coffees on your website and some are fair trade and some are not, this infographic would be useful, easily consumable information for your customer. Simply embed the image as a link in each product description where you denote the product as fair trade.
Well-written and designed infographics have the added bonus of a longer shelf-life outside your website, providing yet more touchpoints for potential customers.
3. Product Recommendations
Think other product recommendations on your product detail page are a) clutter or b) distracting from the purchase? Think again!
100% of the top 10 websites in the Internet Retailer 500 use product recommendations
70% of Amazon’s homepage is dedicated to product recommendations
Average order value can increase by 50% when using product recommendations
Making it easy for customers to say “yes” to your products is paramount in ecommerce. Maybe she clicks through on a pair of shoes she likes on your site, but finds they’re not available in her size. No problem! Lead her down the rabbit hole of other shoes she might like, or, in the case of Amazon, that other customers liked.
Of course, there are other types of content or widgets to consider on your product detail page, including customer testimonials, “Share on Social” widgets, how-to supplemental contnet, or virtual try-on applications. Finding the right combo to bolster your fantastic written copy is key to boosting sales and finding not only customers who visit again, but become key referral advocates.
What about you? What websites do you like that use great supplemental content on their product detail pages?
Best practices dictate that all web copy should be short and sweet, with content available in bullets or small, easily read chunks. This is absolutely the case with e-commerce product descriptions.
A myriad of studies on the habits of Web users over the years has shown that most people don’t want to read a lot of heavy information – even when purchasing a product. They want to get the information quickly, and usually base their decision to buy on the clarity of the information provided, along with any reviews of the product (and sometimes price). This is especially true now that millions of people buy right from their mobile device. Reading a long product description on a small screen gets very tedious very quickly.
A short, sweet product description needs to be a straightforward piece of content that answers the most obvious questions about the product:
What is it? (Product name)
What will it do for me? (Features and Benefits)
Did others who purchased this product like it? (Reviews)
Name your product – hopefully using the keyword or phrase you are targeting for that product. This will help it show up in the search engines – thus ensuring more people see it on your site.
Write a few bullets that describe the features, benefits and specifications such as size, color, materials, etc. Then go back and write just a few sentences that introduce the product and lead into the bullets. Wrap it all up with an easy way to purchase, such as an “Add to Cart” button right at the bottom or very close to the copy. This will help your customers:
Find your product
Give them the information they need about the product
Show them the means to purchase easily
It’s always a great idea to include some way for previous purchasers to review the product, even if it is just a “Five Star” system of rating the product. People are more likely to purchase something if they can see that others clearly liked it.
Where have you seen some of the best short and sweet product descriptions? One of my favorite places on the web is DuluthTrading.com. It has excellent product descriptions, and the product names are interesting and on point.
Where have you seen some of your favorite product descriptions?
Whether you sell products online through an e-commerce site or use your site to generate leads for off-line purchase, having the right product descriptions can make the difference between visitors and customers. No matter what you’re selling, your customers want to understand what they are buying, so giving them great, well-written descriptions will help lessen the friction they feel over completing a transaction and will position your company as the go-to for the product.
We’ve identified 3 Must-Haves for your product descriptions:
Accurate Names: We get it. You aced creative writing and now you want to come up with “fun” names for your products. If you’re a strong brand with a well-known product line, you might have some leeway here, but for the most part, you should use an accurate name for your product. This helps visitors understand that they are looking at the right item, and helps search engines know how to rank your products.
Benefits. A great product description will tell the user what the product will do for them. For example, a description of a ski jacket should let the user know how warm the jacket is while also allowing freedom of movement and breathability.
Features. A well-written product description will describe the product in detail, giving all the positive features of the product, as well as any specifications such as size, color and variety. That same ski jacket description should note that the jacket is waterproof, will keep the wearer warm even in below freezing temperatures and has coordinating ski pants.
Writing excellent product descriptions does take some time – and probably more than a little patience – but your bottom line will thank you for it. If you have hundreds of products, try prioritizing them. Write product descriptions for your biggest sellers first, best profile margin or most “in-stock” first. Decide to write a certain number each day/week/month, until you have them all complete. Keep in mind that those descriptions might change or need to be tweaked as time goes on.
No matter what you sell online, chances are good that someone else is selling it also. And while it may be tempting to simply find someone else selling the same product as you and copy and paste the product description onto your site, you’d be doing your business and your visitors a disservice. While you may get the bare minimum about the product across if you do that, taking the time to go the extra mile and provide real value for your visitors is worth the extra effort. (And, as a side benefit, Google tends to appreciate the efforts you make for your visitors also!)
So how do you write e-commerce product descriptions that are unique even when your products aren’t? We’ve got a few pointers for ya:
Do a little digging. Each part or product you sell probably has a unique purpose. Sure, you may sell 400 Jeep fenders, but only one will fit on a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Make sure you include the purpose of the product whenever possible. Including the intended purpose will also use your key phrases in a way that ensures your users can find the product they need, while keeping your products searchable.
Make sure you write your product descriptions for the intended audience. This will keep some of the unnecessary jargon from the manufacturer from finding its way into your content, while creating unique copy that answers questions about the product and helps visitors determine which model of the product is the one they need.
For example, some plumbing products are manufactured with a professional plumber in mind, some are made for homeowners. Including this information in your description may help keep that DIY homeowner from getting in over his head, and will have him coming back to your site when he needs something for his next project.
Be sure to include as many specifications about the product as possible. Size, color, dimensions and other details all help you create keyword rich copy that gives a very clear description of the product.
Know your audience: If you are selling industrial products, keep the copy straightforward and informative. If you are selling clothing, chocolates, vacation packages or something where creativity is called for, you have a little more wiggle room for the imagination. In either case, keep it short and sweet. Remember: You don’t want people to just read about your product, you want them to convert. Make sure your product description provides the right information to convert.
How else do you keep product descriptions fresh and helpful? Tell us in the comments!
Unique content for product descriptions is important for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that you want to deliver valuable content to your visitors. If you are doing your best to create content that answers their questions about your products, you are already a step ahead of the game.
A secondary reason, is that unique content helps feed the search engines. Providing searchable, fresh copy, optimized for the keywords that your audience uses will help you gain visibility, reach your audience and minimize the chance that Google or another search engine will see your site as nothing but the same as everyone else. While Google does a pretty good job of addressing sites with duplicate content, your goal should always to be to provide helpful, useful content to visitors. The side-benefit is that you make Google happy, too!
So, how do you avoid duplicate copy? It’s really pretty simple. Don’t copy and paste information from other sites – not even important information from manufacturer websites about your products. Rewrite the important information provided by manufacturers in the voice you have used to promote your brand. Don’t change the facts, but do limit the amount of word for word copying.
Unique content for product descriptions will do a number of things:
It will give great product information to potential buyers.
It can be written to YOUR target audience, which may not be quite the same audience as the manufacturer.
It will help increase the visibility of your products, potentially bringing in more traffic.
It will lend credibility to your site and your brand.
Writing your own unique product descriptions allows you to create uniformity across your site. When you have widely varying writing styles on one site, it looks unprofessional. It also allows you to add your brand’s voice/tone to the product.
Using the right content for your audience will set you apart. Plenty of sites use the manufacturer’s product descriptions. But do you really want to be one of many, or do you want to make your own mark and show how your company is better, faster and more reliable?