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Content-driven vs product-driven e-commerce

Regardless of whether you run an e-commerce store, or merely promote one, it can be confusing deciding on whether to take a content-driven vs product-driven approach to marketing the store. For example, an e-commerce store may choose to have its products and details listed in the style of a catalogue. It might have achieved a steady influx of customers using this method so why change? Amazon has championed this approach and it's what a lot of us are used to. But on the other hand, the same business could be losing customers by not adopting a more search-engine friendly route that includes richer, relevant written and visual content.

Which is the best route for a business to take?

With e-commerce purchases expected to reach 3.2 trillion by 2017, it's worth considering how your store will compete against others when it comes to the experience the customer has when visiting you. It can also be useful to learn the mindset of the modern customer. Many customers will be absolutely fine with an online catalogue, as they only want to make a purchase and nothing else, so in this regard, customers within this category will continue to make purchases as they always have. However, not having a content-driven e-commerce store can mean that customer engagement is minimised. There are some customers that like to focus on how a business can solve their problem, so content in this case could see visitors converted into customers assuming the content is relevant to their query.

There are also the search engine results to consider. While there are other ways to market a website aside from search engine optimisation alone, it’s worth considering how many people use search engines on a daily basis. A store that shows stock along with a brief description is less likely to show up in search engine results than a more in-depth synopsis. Or indeed content that is deemed relevant to the niche the e-commerce store operates in. This is the online equivalent of having a bricks and mortar shop in an alley, and people passing it daily without knowing it even exists.

How does an e-commerce store decide on which option to adopt?

An e-commerce store owner needs to find the correct balance for their site that not only appeals to existing customers, but can also attract new ones. In this regard, it can be useful to consider how much content is on the site. Using customer insights, curating specific sets of products can appeal to a whole new customer base, who may initially visit your e-commerce store based on such content. If they find your content helpful, then they are likely to find the products you offer helpful also. It is relevant content that will bring visitors to your e-commerce store that may not have visited otherwise.

Of course, an e-commerce store owner may be wary about implementing such changes when they have seen a successful sales conversion using their tried-and-tested model of a static online catalogue. In this instance, it is not recommended that you overhaul the complete store with content, thus changing the whole navigation of the site. To be able to appeal to all customers, an e-commerce store should feature a healthy balance of content and products. Store owners could curate a collection of products that are based on customer insight and then ensure that descriptions are informative.

Once you have decided on what products to feature, you then need to focus on what content will be relevant. For an idea on how to create great content, you should first research what customers in your niche are searching for. It could be a unique item, or they could be searching for advice or assistance. Having strong content that addresses customer queries will bring them to your site and allow them to buy into your brand as a whole, making your business much more than an e-commerce store. Relevant content will help acquire new customers. It will also build the credibility of the e-commerce store. If a store can become a trusted, credible source of knowledge and inspiration for curious customers it can create a deeper relationship with such customers. This is the way to elevate the status of such e-commerce store to a kind of trusted partner, which adds further equity to the brand, beyond its projected turnover.