Regular readers to this blog know that I am a huge believer in creating content on a consistent basis for your website. Content is huge in terms of marketing. It is the process of creating relevant information to attract and engage visitors to your site. I’ve been preaching the importance of creating content on a consistent basis for your website for years, yet most ecommerce sites are simply product-based. You open a typical ecommerce site and see products, prices, a hort description, and (sometimes) long descriptions and specifications. Occasionally you see a rare few following Amazon’s example and showing reviews.

Most ecommerce sites are simply product-based. A content driven ecommerce website on the other hand provides valuable information for the readers in the form of blogs. Click To Tweet

A content driven ecommerce website on the other hand provides valuable information for the readers in the form of blogs and other media, including YouTube videos, as part of the products that they sell. They tell authentic stories about how people are using their products and the results they are getting. This approach is much more powerful and these types of sites allow you to really stand out from your competition. Imagine sharing your customer’s stories every week and categorizing these stories by product type so they can be easily searched. You write a new post every week highlighting how someone has used your product or service, not as a sales piece, but relevant information for your readers. Perhaps your readers have contributed content, or maybe you’ve done a short interview with them to capture their success. The images are of your customers actually using and enjoying what you sell. Then, you give people the opportunity to purchase the product near the end of the story.

With WooCommerce, there are two ways you might do this using shortcodes. You could specify to include a single product page like this:

The problem is that the entire product page is then embedded into your post, including related items and the description. If you just want to include the add to cart button (since you have already included images and prices in your narrative), you can use this shortcode:
Where the id is the actual product id number that you are discussing.

You often see this form of content driven ecommerce with affiliate marketing and long-form sales letters or squeeze pages. But there is no reason you can’t do this with your own online store. In fact, there are a lot of good reasons to do this, even if you also approach your website in a traditional shopping cart mode.

There are a lot of good reasons to use a content driven ecommerce model, even if you also approach your website in a traditional shopping cart mode. Click To Tweet

Search visibility is one reason for considering a content driven ecommerce site. Search engines prefer new content and frequently updated content. They also like longer narratives as that gives them a better understanding of what your product page is really all about. But more importantly, customers love stories. Stories sell more. That alone should be a good reason to consider using a content driven ecommerce approach.

Customers love stories. Stories sell more. That alone should be a good reason to consider using a content driven ecommerce approach. Click To Tweet

Content driven ecommerce can both help educate and inspire. But a common challenge for many companies is that they struggle to come up with engaging stories about their products themselves. A good solution is to curate the content – that is, get the content directly from your customers. Perhaps you need to hold a contest or provide an incentive when you first get started in order to get the quality of content you are looking for. You may need to hire influencers to create content for you. Be sure to include images of your customers using your product, not just the “product floating on a white background” image so common in most online stores. Here is an example of someone reading one of my books.

Over the years, marketing has fundamentally changed as customers rely more and more on the internet for both information and shopping. As Forrester Analyst Jeff Ernst points out, “in the age of the customer, business buyers don’t “buy” your product; they “buy into” your approach to solving their problem.” To differentiate, online retailers need to reach potential customers earlier in the buying cycle: when they are considering the solution to a problem, rather than selecting a product. It’s here that strong content can position these businesses as trusted advisors. It’s one reason why you should include YouTube videos in your blog posts when using this approach. Strong content helps online retailers address the core needs behind purchases, by providing the dynamic and engaging information needed to truly make their decisions, rather than just creating a sales pitch.

Posts like, “Everything you need for a cleaning your home,” “The best gadgets for cooking shrimp scampi,” or “How to shop on a tight budget” all allow you the freedom to list items in your online store that will enhance the customer’s experience. This approach can be used any time of the year, but as we approach Christmas and holiday shopping, you could build lists for your customers to consider. You might use a plugin like the Barn2media Product Table. This is designed to make it easier to order on wholesale websites, but when you are selling a list of related items in a post, this might be just the ticket. For example, here is a partial list of my books using this plugin:

[product_table columns=”image,sku,name,description,tags,price,add-to-cart” image_size=”80×80″ variations=”dropdown” rows_per_page=”-1″ include=”8972,7561,5927,72,7556″]

Just like a knowledgeable sales person in a store, those posts will up-sell items for you. Focus on the information your customers need. In many cases, customers will find your website through an online search. Often, this isn’t a search for stores that are selling the specific item; instead, they’ll search for information about a product. When you’re the one who provides them with that information, they’re more likely to turn to you when they’re ready to make the purchase.

Another great thing about using a content driven approach to ecommerce is that you are not limited to a single page for selling a product. You can tailor a post to personalize it for one type of buyer, and write another post for a completely different type of buyer.  Personalizing content will help to increase your sales and you can tailor different posts for different people.

I’ll conclude with one of the best examples of content-driven ecommerce I’ve seen. I admit to being a big fan of the actress Jessica Alba. Not only is she a great actress, but a brilliant businesswoman. She has built an online company worth $1 billion. Follow this link to see how the “Honest Company” uses content driven ecommerce and follow her example.

Did you find this article useful or learn anything? If so, I’d love some feedback about what you thought.