When companies first started using the Internet for marketing, the goals were simple. At the time, content was a second thought since simply having a website was good enough to put a business ahead of its competition. However, as the Internet has grown, so has the number of competitors and the expectations of individuals using the Internet for information and shopping. For today’s Internet marketers, it is vital that a website be geared toward satisfying customer expectations for engaging, high-quality content and functionality that make e-commerce simple. Here are a few ways that your company can use content to make your website stand out.
The best place to start any content marketing strategy is with high-quality content. Producing high-quality content helps in several ways. Writing longer content with a good writing style will get a site ranked higher than one with short, poorly written articles. Aside from the SEO benefit, high-quality content gets readers to come back. Customers realize that there is plenty of good content on the Web, so they’ll likely return to a site that consistently delivers what they’re looking for. High-quality content also gets shared more, thus increasing the reach of the message. Whether a business chooses to produce a blog, video series, etc., the quality of the finished product must always be the primary concern.
For businesses where the website is linked to a local business, connecting the online and in-store experience is a great way to give customers another reason to visit a site often. In a recent study, 47 percent of U.S. online shoppers were frustrated when in-store impressions were different from online impressions (Loyalty360). For example, 60 percent of U.S. online shoppers were frustrated when websites displayed out-of-stock items. Up-to-date product availability information is an example of the kind of information that makes a website more useful. For example, some companies, such as Gamestop, has a feature on its website that allows users to search the inventory of all of its stores to find used or new items they want. This up-to-date information saves the customer time and effort, which ensures return visits to the site. Research has shown that customers are beginning to expect this functionality more and more from small and local businesses.
If the Internet has taught us one thing, it’s that people like to see comments, reviews and testimonials made by ordinary people. Businesses can use this to their advantage by enabling reviews and testimonials on their site, signing up for Google+ or Yelp as well. People trust online reviews almost as much as they do recommendations coming from someone they know. And so long as it’s easy to do, happy customers will leave good reviews. Another way to utilize user-generated content is to encourage people to submit images or videos of themselves using the product or service. This should also be encouraged on your corporate Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine or Vimeo accounts. A recent study from L2 found that 18 percent of brands already use user-generated content on their homepage. Besides making a company or product seem more personable, using customer-generated images shows people that a business cares about its customers and trusts them enough to use them in images.
Exclusive Video Content
When deciding on a content mix for a content marketing strategy, companies should try to include videos where possible. Video content is always popular on the Web and gets shared often. However, companies need to post original content and not simply embed a video from other sources onto their sites. It may seem like a good idea to add other videos (and save the effort and expense of creating your own video), but in practice, it’s more likely to generate return traffic for the content producer instead of the company that’s embedding the content. For example, if a site embeds a YouTube video with interesting content, it’s likely that the viewers will simply go and subscribe to the YouTube channel, rather than returning to the site that first showed them the video. When a business produces its own videos (which it can put on its own YouTube channel and then embed the video on the site), the customers have to return to the company’s website if they want to see similar videos in the future. Additionally, there is an SEO benefit for creating content first. Search algorithms know where content originates (for the most part). This way, the content creator gets the top result, and not one of the thousands of sites that embed the video afterward.
One common mistake some companies make is trying to segregate e-commerce from other website functions. According to the L2 study mentioned above, nearly one in four brand blogs doesn’t have e-commerce integration. One way to judge the effectiveness of e-commerce integration is to ask: If a website has a blog discussing a certain product, how many steps does it take to get from the blog to finish buying the product? The more steps it takes, the more likely it is the customer will fall out of the sales channel. At a minimum, there should be a link from the blog to the specific product mentioned in the post. The user shouldn’t have to go searching the site to find an item mentioned on the blog. A better option would be a widget that would let customers add the item to their carts without having to leave the blog. They may find other items to buy if they keep reading articles, so you give them the option to add items, but let them check out whenever they want. It also works in reverse. If an item in the shop has been mentioned in blog posts, it should be easy for consumers to see those article links, open them (in a new tab or window), all without disrupting the shopping experience. Improving the e-commerce integration of a site will boost revenues and ROI for Internet marketing.
By utilizing these tips, your website and its contents will become more valuable and useful to your customers. Most Internet users have become more selective in the sites he or she uses, and by providing valuable content, you are increasing the likelihood of a return visit. Making a website more valuable isn’t about a fancy or flashy design. However, a smarter design that makes a site more user-friendly with high-quality content is all that is needed to make a company or brand stand out among the competition.
When your company is ready to improve its website with a smarter design using high-quality content, give us a call. We’d love to help make your company or product stand out among the competition!