How to create an e-commerce content strategy to improve sales

A content strategy that includes headless CMS, useful product information and visuals can draw the customer's focus to your product and improve your sales.

Content drives business online, resulting in likes, shares and sales. But content that drives buying behavior requires an e-commerce content strategy.

With a properly designed content strategy, an e-commerce website can provide thought leadership and give people information they need to make purchase decisions. Many design teams structure their websites around pretty designs, which can enhance UX under the right conditions. Yet, sometimes, adding product information seems like a developmental afterthought.

A lot of web content management systems encourage this behavior. They display large chunks of content and figure out how to make every page interactive and dynamic. Headless content management system (CMS) vendors aim to make content creation the focus.

1. Know your audience

If you sell online, you need an e-commerce content strategy and should understand how and why people buy what you sell. If you sell products on third-party platforms, such as Amazon, you should understand what content they need and map it to what you already create for your own site.

You should also understand how people find your products. If they are older, perhaps they use a search engine. If your audience trends younger, they may find your products on their social media feeds. As social media platform audiences vary, understanding current trends can help you follow and reach your audience where they are.

When you know your audience, you can map how they buy products. While much of your content can support multiple social media channels, some channels may benefit from more unique media.

If you sell online, you need an e-commerce content strategy and should understand how and why people buy what you sell.

2. Identify channel-specific content

Once you know the channels your audience uses, you can identify the types of content you should create. If they use TikTok, you can create funny and informative videos. If your audience uses Facebook, you can create a cool graphic. Likewise, a visually appealing GIF would suit Twitter.

Regardless of the channel, many pieces of content can be effective across platforms. For example, you can share videos, descriptions, captions and hashtags across multiple social media platforms and on your own website.

You should balance the unique content investment required for each channel with the expected returns. Do not overinvest in specialized content at the expense of your core content requirements. A good social media hook isn't helpful if customers can't find information they need to make a decision.

A chart that lists elements of a good website

3. Build a content model

Once you map out the content, you can create a content model. This strategy creates clear guidelines for creators to structure content so that it fits within your strategy.

First, identify the entities you plan to map, including products, product categories, campaigns and channels, as well as people like editors, product managers or any other entity related to your offerings.

Once you map out the entities and their relationships, you must determine what you need to capture for each item. For products, start with name, description, price and photo. Include any information that people need to decide, including keywords for writers to use.

Some other considerations for content models include the following:

  • How long should each content chunk be? How long is too long? Do you need a short and a long version?
  • What key points should writers make at each level of detail?
  • Is the content specific? If someone looked at any level of detail, could they distinguish the offering from your other products or from your competitors' products?
  • How do you track reviews? Search engines collect and aggregate reviews, then display them to potential buyers before they reach your site. Plan how to store and manage those ratings.

In two years, a new channel will likely emerge. Make your model flexible enough to handle new channels, trends and the resulting content without starting from scratch.

Once you have your model, you need to determine how best to populate it with content. You may have a creative production team, but they may not remember to capture the correct information. To help them, implement the content model in a structured CMS to manage your organization's content.

4. Embrace the headless CMS

Organizations that seek to better manage materials need an e-commerce content strategy. It streamlines how you create, manage and publish e-commerce content, including publishing the same content to multiple content channels at once. Enter headless CMS, which has emerged as a trend for vendors to store content in one repository, with dedicated systems to present information.

A headless CMS enables you to store content in a more structured manner than traditional systems. Whether you push the content to your website, a partner, a social media site or to a print queue, the headless CMS maintains content in a central location. It organizes important metadata, maps out the relationships between linked content, and collects, structures and distributes content with APIs that help websites consume data.

Once a headless CMS is in place, front-end developers can focus on the content. The resulting system can simplify how users update and add new products to your site, create more functional designs and satisfy customers.

5. Develop content that matters

Content can make or break online sales. Consider what you sell and how all those items relate.

Think of your last online buying experience. You may have performed a search, saw a list of results and opened a few top-ranking choices. Perhaps you saw a well-placed ad in your social feed.

You must teach content creators how to best sell products. Work together to determine what type of content caught your eye and how you can create something similar.

Some eye-catching elements include the following:

  • Quality images. Photos should capture an overall view of the product and detailed views of distinguishing details. In your search, for example, you may have zoomed in or looked at the item from different perspectives, even if the site didn't have zoomed-in photos.
  • Engaging titles. Content requires headlines or titles to describe a product. Placing keywords in titles helps items appear in search results and helps people understand the item. The combination of the image, title and price can help narrow down your options.
  • Detailed product descriptions. Search results may include a few sentences describing the product. This short paragraph is critical, because it answers questions the title and image don't answer. Sites often have a details page where you can find a longer, more detailed description. This page serves to reinforce what the search results revealed.

Even if you sell consulting services, your site needs a title, tagline, elevator pitch and detailed description of the product or service. For every item you sell, you should only have one version of each content component. You should use some -- or all -- of these components throughout your online properties to maintain potential buyers' interest.

Content creation takes time, and a headless CMS doesn't magically do it for you. You must work with content creators to understand your goals and how to meet them. Help them understand that, by doing this once, they can save time later. Remind them that every time the company adds a new channel, they won't have to create a whole new write-up. More importantly, they won't have to update multiple systems when they have a product update.

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