If you have an ecommerce website, you’ve probably read or received advice that you should have a content strategy. If you agreed with that advice and put it into action, awesome – give yourself a gold star, and go and do something fun instead of reading the rest of this blog post. However, if you ignored that advice, disagreed with it or just haven’t got round to doing anything about it, please read on.
You may have come up with reasons why putting money, time and effort into creating content for your retail website is a waste of all three of those things. But I have counterarguments to some of the reasons I’ve heard most from clients over the years, and I’m hoping they will change your mind. Honestly, it can help you sell a lot more products to a lot more people, and why wouldn’t you want to do that?
These are just six reasons I’ve been given by clients as to why they “don’t need” a content strategy:
- Content doesn’t sell products
- We’re not writers
- We don’t have the resource
- People don’t come to our website for content
- Our competition doesn’t do it, so why should we?
- It will go out of date
Of course, I have answers for all of these points, so let’s look at each one in more detail.
Content doesn’t sell products
This may be the argument I hear the most. At face value, it can appear to be true. Web analytics will often show that website visitors landing on a page of editorial content don’t usually buy anything on that visit. Why waste time building pages that won’t help you make a profit.
But a deeper investigation of that same data will usually show that, actually, there is a great deal of value to this type of content. I’ve had numerous clients who dismissed the value of editorial content, who quickly changed their tune when faced with the facts.
One client, a major retailer, already had a large section of content on their website when we started working with them. In an initial meeting, they casually mentioned that they were going to get rid of this content, which amounted to hundreds of pages of really useful advice, as it wasn’t helping them to sell any products. By taking a bit of a deeper dive into their analytics, we were able to show them that, while people reading this advice did not necessarily buy anything on that initial visit, a big proportion of them came back days, weeks or months later and not only made a purchase but became repeat customers with a very high lifetime value. Rather than watching all this expert writing disappear, and lose a valuable lead generator in the process, we were able to work with the client to enhance it and ensure it continued to build trust in their brand and attract many more new customers to their website. We were even able to show that these initial visits to editorial pages led to people visiting their physical stores. They saw a significant increase in revenue as a result.
Product and category pages are obvious revenue generators, and they definitely have a part to play in SEO. But they tend to be short on detail. It doesn’t make sense to try to crowbar in a whole bunch of text on these pages; that could even put off some potential shoppers. But a separate section with content that helps people understand more about your products and services can really help them to make a decision, and to win them over into actual customers.
If someone comes to your site looking for a specific product or service, it’s often because they’ve already done some online research and decided yours is the best place to buy it from. It really helps to provide them the information and advice that can help them in this research process and assure them that your site is one they can trust. They’re far more likely to buy from your site when they are making a purchase, and to come back and buy from you again and again.
We’re not writers
This is also a very common reason for people to not write about their products and services online – they just don’t think they have the ability to write well enough. But if you have the skill it takes to sell to customers in the first place, why shouldn’t those talents transfer to the written word? After all, you are the foremost expert on your business and what it does, so no one else is better suited to writing about it.
Chances are, you have ideas and opinions about your industry all the time. Voicing them on your website, in a blog post or article, puts them out into the world. You might be surprised to find out how many potential customers are interested in hearing what you have to say about your specialist subject. Search engines also love this kind of content, because it helps them to establish whether or not you are an expert in your field, and someone they should be sending their users to when they want to know something about a product or service you provide. Speaking your mind, expertly and authoritatively, on subjects related to your business really does help you to rank higher in search results for queries that are relevant to what you sell.
People have a lot of questions too, especially when they’re in the early stages of making a decision on what product or service to buy, and from whom. Your expert knowledge can answer those questions, and if no one else is offering those answers, yours is very likely to appear high in search results – maybe even in Google’s coveted Knowledge Box, above all the other answers to that question. Think about having an FAQ section on your site, where you can provide answers to anything a potential customer might want to know. A tool like Answer the Public is invaluable here, for finding out exactly what the most frequently asked questions are on a particular topic.
It can be daunting if you’re not used to writing, but a blog post or article can be just a few hundred words long. Answers on an FAQ page could be just one or two sentences each. If you’re really uncomfortable with writing your own copy, the services of a good copywriter are extremely valuable; but bear in mind that they’ll still need to ask you a lot of questions about your products and services. That time might be better spent writing those answers yourself.
We don’t have the resource
This problem can be a trickier one to deal with. Even if you do have the inclination to write, you simply may not have the time to sit down and do it. After all, you’re trying to run a business.
Engaging the services of a copywriter could help, but it’s not always affordable. As mentioned above, they’ll still need to take up some of your time finding out about your business. But the first two points above show that:
- Creating content does have a positive impact on a website’s ability to create revenue
- Content pieces don’t have to take a huge amount of time or effort
If you’ve got five or ten minutes to spare during your day, use it to think about the what you want to say, or what your potential customers might want to hear. Even one or two paragraphs on a subject can be enough to get you ranking in search results for a question or search, especially if it’s on a particularly specialist theme that you happen to be well qualified to speak on. It could be exactly the answer people have been looking for online, and if you’re the one to provide it, they’ll remember your website and trust it to provide information, and the products and services they want, in the future.
Your people are experts too. Perhaps they can dedicate a little bit of time to creating blog post, articles or other content for your website. Sharing the work between the whole team can help you to create a steady flow of new website content, written by people who really know their stuff, without being a massive drain on resource.
People don’t come to our website for content
This might be true – the people who currently visit your website probably come because they like your products and trust your brand. That’s great. Hopefully they’ll continue to do so and keep coming back. Word of mouth and advertising might help to bring new customers too. But, by providing content that answers questions and gives advice on subjects relating to your business, your website will get in front of a much wider audience. By appearing in search results for a wider range of queries, you won’t just increase visits to your website but increase familiarity with your brand. The more people know your name and associate it with reliable information, the more likely they are to buy from you. It’s not about bringing back the people who already know about you, it’s about attracting the ones that don’t – yet.
Our competition doesn’t do it, so why should we?
I can’t think of a better reason to have a content strategy than this. If no one else in your industry is answering the questions your potential customers are asking, the rewards for getting in there first should be obvious. You will rank for search terms your competitors can’t, you will gain the trust of people who are still “window shopping” and you may even steal a few customers away from your rivals.
It’s worth doing some research here. Look at your competitors’ websites. Do they have a blog or an FAQ section? Are they presenting themselves as experts in your industry? Or is there a lack of information and advice on their sites? If they’re failing to answer the questions people are asking about the products and services you provide, there’s a massive opportunity just waiting to be taken.
Even if some of your competitors do have a content strategy in place, there may be gaps in what they’re providing. With a little bit of effort, you could provide a better and more trustworthy answer, and overtake them in search rankings, as well as in the minds of your (and their) customers.
It will go out of date
Well, this one really is up to you. Things can change quickly and it is easy for information to go out of date. But if you’re running a business, then you’ll already have your finger on the pulse of your industry and will have all the latest information. Changes give you an excuse to create more content, or to update existing articles and posts. Search engines come back to pages all the time looking for changes and updates, so it’s well worth doing this as it will keep your content fresh and increase its chance of ranking well. You don’t want to be giving your website visitors duff information either, as this will hurt your reputation, so stay on top of things. If a big change comes along, make sure anything you’ve said in the past is addressed or corrected, so that people know the information you’re giving them is totally reliable.
Those are just six reasons I’ve heard, numerous times from numerous clients over the years, for not having editorial content on their website. We’ve got data and case studies that can help to prove the case for having it, but the reasons I’ve given above are often enough to show its value.
If you’ve got other reasons for not implementing a content strategy on your website, talk to us about them. Hopefully we can change your mind, and if so we can help you learn how to create effective content that helps you sell more products from your website.