E-Commerce Content Strategy: Inform And Empower With Buying Guides

Jan 13, 2017 1:11:04 PM

by Virtucom Group Team

Over the past weeks we've shared several installments in our series on creating an e-commerce content strategy, and we've taken a look at unique product content and category content. As you round out your content tool kit, it's important to consider buying guides and all the ways they can work for you and your customers.

What is a buying guide?

You know that e-commerce sites need to use product description pages (PDPs) to recreate the experience of shopping at a brick and mortar store. Unique copy, high-definition images, videos and other informational content work together to give the customer the same sense of confidence he or she would have from examining an item in person. But there's another part of that experience that can be difficult to recreate online: personal contact with a knowledgeable seller.

Buying guides offer a great solution and are exactly what they sound like -- content that informs the consumer and guides them toward a great purchase. A buying guide should focus on a specific type of product or service, whether that's as broad as refrigerators or as granular as color fishfinders for saltwater anglers. The content explains important features and details their benefits, clarifying how they fulfill individual needs. A buying guide on home theater equipment, for example, might break down the pros and cons of various drivers, explain connectivity options and placement choices, and discuss which audio technologies are right for music lovers, film buffs and hardcore gamers. The content must be easy to understand and concise, but also in-depth enough to clearly illustrate different available choices. It's also important to keep in mind that a buying guide isn't about selling. You'll want to avoid presenting any one product or type of product as superior to others, instead focusing on why their differences are appealing in various situations.

Why are buying guides important?

What makes a potential customer abandon a shopping cart? There are many reasons this can happen, but comparison shopping is one of the most significant. If a shopper can't find the answers to their questions or make sense of offerings, they're likely to open a new tab and search for that information. And as you know, every additional click can lead them away from your offerings and toward a competitor. Providing buying guides helps stem the flow of traffic away from your site, because clear, authoritative information is available in an instant. Placing guides at the category level allows easy research before individual items are considered, and including them on PDPs lets the customer find answers without ever moving away from a product. While it may not be possible to ensure shoppers never venture to other sites, buying guides can minimize their need to do so by streamlining the research phase of the journey from interest to purchase.

Improve path to purchase

Buying guides also empower consumers to make smart decisions. The style of content used in a buying guide should be straightforward, explanatory and above all helpful. Because of this, buying guides inspire confidence in consumers who may have approached your site without much experience with the items they're considering. A great buying guide establishes you as an authority on the items it covers, which cements your position as a trusted source of quality goods and information with potential and returning customers. This content also shows that you respect your customers' busy schedules as much as their informational needs. With education and buying options in a central location, shoppers can spend less time scouring the Web for information and complete their purchases quickly and with minimal effort.

More SEO opportunities

Additionally, buying guides offer many of the same benefits for drawing customers to your site that product descriptions and category content can. Each buying guide is an additional source of unique content on your website and can be peppered with SEO keywords, both of which can improve your place in search engine results. Similarly, whether you're speaking to professionals and experts or those who are dipping a toe into a hobby or task for the first time, buying guides reinforce your brand's voice and offer a great opportunity to further express the tone and personality you want to convey.

How can you start using buying guides?

If you're ready to begin using buying guides, it's important to think about which parts of your assortment will benefit most from their inclusion. Consider which offerings require significant consumer research to determine where buying guides can be most effective. Rolling out guides in waves can help you manage the demands of creating content while prioritizing the areas where they're needed most. Next, prepare for research. While you're likely an expert on your services and products, buying guides need to be comprehensive and highly accurate to be useful. No one wants to risk providing customers with bad data, so it's important to make sure that all of your buying guide content is current and correct. It's also essential to understand your customer in a profound way. You must speak their language and present this information in a way that's approachable, simple to understand and appropriate for their level of knowledge. If the time investment required to craft this kind of content sounds overwhelming, it may be best to partner with a content creation firm. They can tackle research and offer a fresh look at your customer persona, ensuring that guides are created in a way that resonates with your shoppers. Plus, this will ensure your team has more time to stay focused on what they do best.

If you have any questions about creating buying guides, or would like to share your ideas on using this type of content, please leave us a comment. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series, which will focus on social media content. In the meantime, you can always keep up with Virtucom Group by following us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Data integrity, time to market and increased conversions are vital to all e-commerce retailers. Our product data management and unique content creation program ensures consistent product names, robust product descriptions, complete and accurate product attributes and an array of digital assets are at your disposal, providing time to market and quality improvements that will outpace your fiercest competition. Contact our team and get started with Virtucom Group today.

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