When it comes to ecommerce, not all sites are created equal. The successful ones listen to existing and potential customers, and provide the information necessary to make an educated decision.
Supporting content is key for any online store. Such content includes (but certainly isn’t limited to):
- Customer reviews and discussions;
- Product help and FAQs;
- In-depth specifications (sizes, output values);
- In-use product videos, blog posts, or articles;
- User forums.
Supporting content also helps e-tailers trump brick-and-mortar stores, which rely instead on the knowledge of staff members on duty while shoppers peruse items. Whether you sell a variety of products, or only products your company creates, answering questions is the best way to help close a sale — even if someone else answers them for you.
How a product is used plays a big role in someone’s decision to buy. When shopping online, consumers cannot open a box to read instructions. Instead, PDF files of manuals and troubleshooting docs, as well as realistic videos, can help answer questions.
If you’ve ever been stuck with asking an unknowledgeable store associate just how well a product does its job, you know how frustrating it is for online shoppers when it comes to researching and buying.
Providing space for users to discuss products not only helps close sales, it also helps prevent sales of items that would otherwise be returned.
Don’t confuse customer Q&A with customer reviews. While reviews may answer some questions, a question-and-answer section makes it easier for shoppers to get specific responses. A Q&A section is also helpful when a product has hundreds or thousands of reviews, since you cannot expect shoppers to read through them all.
Product comparisons summarize information, but they also help consumers focus on critical features when it comes to deciding between, say, five different products that perform similar tasks.
Forums are standalone discussions, but dialogue may link back to specific pages in the store. They can help current customers convince potential customers to make purchases. They also help users troubleshoot issues with their purchase.
A blog is appropriate for most product lines, and gives you the opportunity to get more personal with shoppers. This type of supporting content isn’t so much about making hard sells as it is about instilling trust in the company and building a relationship with the customer. Content can include products, but it can also include articles and ideas that are relative to the product line.
The best thing about supporting content is that it can be linked from product and category pages, and it can also stand on its own, which can help in both search engines and in generating additional product interest. While it is supplemental to the catalog, it can be a key factor in upping the time that visitors spend on a site, as well as overall conversions.
If you plan to provide supporting content to your existing store — and you should — don’t forget to provide proper navigation back to related pages, as well as appropriate discussion boxes and social links.