In years past, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a business to set up a website and simply call it a day. Customers would come to the site, make their online purchases, and walk away feeling positive and satisfied with their experience—even if the site looked the same, day in and day out, for years. Today, a move like this would likely drive customers away and could potentially even ruin a business for good. The reasoning behind this shift boils down to one thing: the ever-growing world of eCommerce.
More specifically, it’s all about a shift in attitude toward eCommerce content strategy. When businesses first made the shift to online retail, they could afford to keep things relatively straightforward: a home page, inventory, and checkout, with everything (except maybe the inventory) staying more or less the same from visit to visit. These days, with some businesses operating storefronts, websites, and several social media pages all at once, this fixed, no-frills approach just won’t do.
In 2021, customers expect a business to change things up more often than the seasons—complete with fresh new content uploaded frequently, exciting on-brand aesthetics to coincide with new products, and a trustworthy consistency to boot. As a result, businesses need an effective eCommerce content strategy if they want customers to keep coming back to their brand. In order to develop a successful one, businesses should consider the seven keys below.
1. Treat eCommerce as a Commodity
First and foremost, to develop an effective eCommerce content strategy, you need to understand that eCommerce is a commodity. At its core, digital commerce is a tool you must buy in order to sell your own products to your online customers. From Software as a Service (SaaS) to headless platforms to digital marketplaces, there are all sorts of eCommerce options to choose from—but at the end of the day, you have to take that first step and choose the one that best suits your business. No matter which one you go with, you’ll soon find that it’s never been easier to use an eCommerce platform and begin developing an eCommerce content strategy.
Once you choose a platform and roll with it, you can begin focusing on implementing new content (or rewriting pre-existing content) to suit your new eCommerce platform. This step cannot be overlooked, as content is integral to the success of your business (which you will read more about in the next section). From this point forward, you must take a close look at the people who frequent your business, the technology they use to visit, and the items they purchase from you to help shape your site’s content strategy.
2. Realize Content Drives Every Digital Experience
This leads right into the next key: content is at the heart of each and every digital experience your customers have. You see, a company’s content is ultimately what drives the conversations surrounding the brand. That means new content should be prioritized as the foundation of the customer’s experience. This includes everything from product images and videos to blog posts and website copy that details your business.
Of course, this realization comes with a lot of work, and there will be businesses who are resistant to this notion for that reason. Try not to be, because after that first interaction between the customer and the business—the act of buying and selling—comes the next step: nurturing and cultivating a relationship. This is what content does. It’s no longer about advertising, it’s about giving the customer an unforgettable user experience that only your business—and your content—can provide for them.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Go Back to the Drawing Board
Naturally, this is a lot easier said than done. For this reason, many businesses are currently on their second, third, maybe even fourth iteration of their eCommerce platform. Redesigning (or even replatforming) is completely and totally natural, and honestly even encouraged—you should never be afraid to return to the drawing board, especially if it means perfecting your platform and ensuring a better online experience for your customers. The more you learn about your target audience, the more you’ll learn about how to target them, and, as a result, the more you’ll have to tweak in order to keep them coming back.
Just look at the countless redesigns social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram have undergone throughout their histories—not only did users keep coming back, but they actually increased in number. If done correctly, the same will go for your eCommerce content. To do this, focus on the who, what, when, where, and why: Who are your customers? What are they looking for? When do they make a purchase? Where are they from? And why are they choosing you over the competition? Each time one of these five Ws changes, go back to the drawing board and ensure your content still establishes you as the leading authority in your industry and for your base.
4. Keep Your Digital Channels Under Control
Digital channels, when maintained well, can act like a great recruiter for your business—they pull customers in, then guide them toward your eCommerce content, hopefully resulting in a sale. You know that these digital channels don’t create themselves, but you might not be aware of the fact that they can essentially spring a leak without you even realizing it.
As you update your eCommerce platform, inbound links that connect users to the relevant parts of your website have a tendency to get broken or become irrelevant over time. Same goes for outbound links directing customers to your social media pages or affiliate sites, or links to pages that have nothing to do with the page they’re linking from. That’s why it’s so important to keep your digital channels under control. If a customer clicks a link that takes them to a place that isn’t relevant or outright defective, you’re likely to lose them as a customer. When your links are irrelevant, your SEO suffers, and your website is hurt. Making sure your digital channels are working properly and always sticking to the message is a definite must.
5. Don't Just Own Your Platform... Control It
It’s no longer enough to own your platform—you have to be in control of it. With the simplicity of websites in the past, a business could get away with having one person manage the entire online shop on their own. These days, the mind reels at the thought of such a thing. Ecommerce has reached such a monumental scale that there’s just no way one person could handle it on their own. But, to be honest, even a small team tasked with running the website still might not be enough.
If you want your business’s eCommerce platform to be successful, you need to divide and conquer. Take a look at the scale of your online business and split up tasks accordingly. For example, have one person running the blog, two people running product descriptions, three people taking care of product images, and so on. Not only will this help you ensure no one on your team will be too overwhelmed, but it will also make scaling up your services during busy seasons or scaling down your services during slower seasons that much easier.
6. Prioritize Omnichannel Development
The truth is, your eCommerce content strategy extends far beyond your business’s website (whether you realize it or not). In today’s world, the digital and the physical often overlap—as such, customers will follow a business’s social media page, then pay a visit to the business’s website, and eventually make the trip to their brick and mortar location, all the while expecting each new experience with the brand to match the previous ones. This is where the concept of omnichannel development comes in.
Omnichannel development incorporates all these different aspects of shopping into one seamless customer experience. Making it a top priority from the very beginning of the development of your eCommerce content strategy will allow you to ensure that seamless experience from the get-go. Not to mention, this streamlining will make future audits simpler, helping you to more easily identify the weak spots in the experience and update them accordingly.
7. Keep Your Content Consistent
Lastly, a reminder that consistency is crucial. We’re all human, which means we all have a tendency to stick to what’s comfortable for us and situate ourselves into a familiar routine. The same goes for our work. As such, once-fresh content starts to lose its luster after a certain amount of time. Work with your team to develop a content strategy that aims to avoid siloing or pigeonholing of any sort. This, in conjunction with the other keys, will result in a transformative eCommerce content strategy that effectively delivers a uniquely memorable customer experience.
An effective eCommerce content strategy makes all the difference in 2021. Not only will your most loyal customers notice the improvement, but the plethora of new customers drawn to your business because of your new and improved strategy will notice, as well. If you’re unsure of where to begin, reach out to the team of experts at Vaimo today.