Spell Out Your Value Proposition
Do you know why your customers buy from your website? Do you know why they select your site to purchase a product that may be available from dozens of alternative sources?
Is it free shipping? Lower prices? Better quality products? Better customer service? You offer different products? Your product images are better? Your website search is better? You carry deeper inventory? You do a better job of describing and presenting your products? You present a better image of your store and your company?
It could be any combination of those things and the answers are obviously different for every company. But at the end of the day, if you do not differentiate your company and the products you sell from your competitors, you will lose sales to competitors who do a better job at understanding and presenting their value proposition.
What Value Do You Really Add?
Let's face it, we all have competitors who are selling similar, or the same, products to the same customers at roughly the same price. If you look at your competitors websites, chances are you'll see a lot of sameness there too.
It's important to communicate to a prospective customer on your website why they should buy the products you sell and buy them from you! Rather than "closing the deal" based on free shipping and discounting as many are forced to do with no other differentiation, I suggest investing in better website content! Content is not something that is fast and easy to create, but it will pay dividends for many years to come.
The Value of Content
With the recent changes in Google's algorithms, you may see less traffic if you simply reuse manufacturers content to describe your products as Google now is penalizing many sites that do not have original product descriptions. I've read recently about a number of relatively large eTailers who are scrambling to create original product content as they have lost 30% or more of the traffic and sales. Beyond the Google factor, take a good hard look at your content and see where it can be improved. Here are some of the key elements of your product content:
- Images - Thumbnails & Alternative Views
- Alternative Text for images
- Short Description
- Detailed Descriptions
- Size, Material, Color, Weight and other metadata about the item
- SKU/UPC etc. as available
- Related Items
- Product Reviews
View the detail page for one of our Pendant Hanger Bails for reference.
In our websites, we must write all our own content as there are few manufacturers who offer images and absolutely none who offer descriptions. So, we take the time to not only write a thorough description, but to also include how the items may be used, what the value is of this item versus a similar item and so forth. We take inside and outside measurements on our parts, point to other materials and items that work well with our items and show examples of how to use complex parts. We should actually shoot more images than we do, but that is a future investment.....
Ultimately, we know that we offer more description information than virtually any of our competitors and believe that we "close the deal" in many cases simply because we provide thorough descriptions and full disclosure of that our parts are made of. It's a way to make ourselves and our brand stand out from the crowd.
I've seen a lot of research recently on how stores are using "visualization" tools to allow customers to create things in different combinations - such as a car with different colors and accessories. That's a but beyond the reach of many of us from an investment perspective, but it is where everything is headed. At least take the time to enhance and personalize your existing product content!
Beyond "Product Content"
It's also important to present content about your company, what makes you different: who you are, where you are, and add value wherever possible with content that will be interesting and informative for your customers.
I am always amazed at the number of websites I visit that sell a wide selection of products with almost no content about their products and absolutely no information about their company. Not a word about where they are located, how long they've been in business etc. In almost every case, I'll leave that site immediately, especially if they are selling something that I can just pick up on Amazon. Would you rather buy from Amazon or another website who takes the time to identify themselves and why you should do business with them, or buy from the potential fly by night who does not bother to identify where they do business everyday?
There are many times that it obvious that customers don't all read what you write, so there is a tendency to say "why bother"? We know the answer is that to some set of customers, that is why they will choose our store!
Good article - I agree 100%. We sell jewelry on-line and in this business it's especially important to build trust, provide great photos & details, and personalize your site. Ways NOT to do that - use a boring web template that everyone has seen 1,000 times. Use poor photos, stock photos and very little info. Hide your identity. Doing these things says you're not a serious merchant.
Dale is right regarding About Us info - Too many times I look at the About Us page to only see, "XYZ Company believes in delivering the best .. blah, blah blah. Who the heck are you! My page gives my full name, address, 1-800 phone, years in business, affiliations, and a Google map. I also have testimonials and professional product photos & graphics. There is so much competition on the web that you can't afford to be lazy. Follow Dale's recommendations and also look at other best-in-class sites to see where you fall short.