One of the problems that e-commerce sites have in a busy market place is that their product descriptions are not going to be terribly different from their competitors ones on their sites. From an SEO and content point of view this is bad news. There are only so many ways you can describe a product no matter how complicated it is so making your site unique and getting new content is pretty tough. However there is a way of making your site more interesting and useful for the shopper whilst at the same time also getting lots of free and completely unique content written for you. Sound to good to be true? Yes. Well, read on…

A popular business saying is that ‘the customer always knows best’ and one way for website owners to benefit from this hugely annoying but important bit of advice is to allow their customers to report back on their experience of the products they have bought. One way of doing this is to enable them to write their own reviews of whatever it is they have bought and then post them on the site alongside the product description, price etc.

This approach is probably most famously used by Amazon who have made this a key part of their user focused strategy. Now what follows might seem like a bit of a love letter to the great god Amazon but in fact it is simply using a highly successful website to illustrate a point. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them then join them and lets face it, Amazon are going to be pretty difficult to beat so emulating their style is the only way forward from here as far as I can see.

Lets say that for the sake of this blog you are looking to buy a new kite as a present for someone on Amazon. There are probably hundreds of different kites for sale so you will have pages and pages of options to run through. Prices, dimensions, colours, complexity, styles are the main things that differentiate the products from one another and you can use these as search terms to help guide you to a short list. Gradually you will work out either as you search or before hand what type of kite is the one for you and start to narrow down your search to maybe four or five options.

It is at this point that the ability to read the user reviews on an e-commerce sites really comes in handy for the prospective customer. Instead of simply having the usual manufacturers blurb to try to convince you as to which of the short listed kites to buy, you have all that and the views of the users – good and bad and in the case of Amazon sorted by a 1 – 5 star rating. And now it is time for me to state the bleeding’ obvious. Drum roll, please. The overall ease of use and information provided during the buying process will determine to a large degree whether your customers are going to return for another visit or not as well as the quality of the product that they buy of course. The two in the context of user reviews are linked rather close together.

Users that are taking the time to review products are I think it is fair to say are those that are happy to spend a few minutes to help other people out. By this I mean that they want to give advice to other customers rather than to help the website. What they write will invariably be honest and in some cases quite hard hitting if the product did not live up to the buyers expectations or its billing on the website. Under these circumstances they are going to say just this, in short as a way of getting their own back on the website and the manufacturer of the product. Inevitably some people will write more than others (the more the merrier!) but the key thing is that whether positive or negative, the reviews make sense and are useful. If you are looking for a product on-line and you have little knowledge of it other than what you can see on the screen and read about it then other users experiences are vital to get a clear picture of its suitability to meet your own needs. This is a feature of on-line shopping of course unless you are absolutely certain about what product you want, have no need to compare with others or read even the website description. In this case you just crack straight on, pop it in the virtual basket and get on with paying for it.

Conversion rates from someone reading a positive review to actually buying the product are always going to be higher than on a competitor’s site where the only information offered to the person reading it is the manufacturers description or the one provided by the website. If positive reviews equals sales then that is even more motivation (if you need it!) to make sure that the products you are selling on your site must be high quality or at least do the job you say they will do! If they don’t live up to the hype then your user reviews will reflect this and subsequently will not convert into sales. In fact those very competitors I mentioned earlier may end up picking up your business instead.

Another trick you can keep up your sleeve is ‘the email’ 4-5 weeks after they have purchased their product via your website. This is to get people to add their comments with instructions to log on to the site and add a review for the product that they bought. By leaving a bit of time to pass before contacting your customers it gives them a chance to actually use the product and make their mind up about its attributes or failings! Getting them back to your site also opens up the possibility that their visit might convert into another sale which of course will hopefully start the cycle off once again.

Once again we head towards the end of another¬†content creation¬†tips blog. Phew… Like all the best content creation ideas this one does a lot more for your site than just add lots of content. By implementing this you will certainly be able to access a stream of fresh, useful and product relevant content but more importantly it will help your site to stand out in front of the crowd both in the eyes of your customers and Google. Good news. The other good news is that it just so happens that as far as content creation ideas go this is one that the user is in charge of which makes it in my book a pretty good one to go for as coming up with fresh content is not easy. OK, so there is going to be work required to monitor your customers’ reviews and the site will need to be structured to allow a review facility but lets be honest, running an e-commerce site is not exactly the simplest form of site to have and there is always work involved on a daily basis keeping things ticking over. Plus, if all of this helps boost sales, improves the frequency of return visits, generates site loyalty and allows your site to develop a reputation for offering honest and open advice lead by existing customers then a bit more work on your part is going to be worth it.

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