The saying in the online industry used to be that ‘content is king’ i.e. what you put on your site in terms of text is the key to conversion, the key to being found on search engines and generally where online retailers should spend much of their time and effort. One of the most important pieces of the notion behind ‘content is king’ is that the content is original. Content is so much more than just text though – it is the ability of a website to replicate the in store experience of the shopper – presenting the product in such a way and with use of images, descriptions, titles, reviews, up-sells and cross sells that the consumer purchases – and the search engines love your site.
The difference between good content and bad content will have an impact on sales – whilst triggers such as price will get some consumers to pull the buying trigger; a site that presents items aided by a well written description will be more attractive to a consumer. The business appears to more professional and to care more about the customer – two key parts to online success.
Last week Phil Leahy and I reviewed the Target Australia website on our weekly eCOMM AND CARRY ON video – we identified a few areas of the site design that need improvement – the content on item pages was one which I was particularly surprised Target had not focused on given they have a huge number of years of retailing. When we looked at a dress for sale we found such little information regarding the item – not to mention the basic design issues that we felt it best to compare to some other online examples.
Here is the target example;
The one sentence description needs to be improved – two images for a fashion item is ok – but it could be improved by adding more angles like from the back. The complete of any ‘sales text’ is quite amazing really, as is the missing up-sells or cross sells. The page looks blank, and low level of content doesn’t do Targets history as a major retailer justice – and don’t get me started on the buy button!
If we have a look at GAP – a US retailer who have been online for many years and have been be clever at crossing over the traditional experience to the online experience – random dockets from an in store purchase have 20% off vouchers for online purchase from GAP. Looking at a dress on their website –
Straight away you notice the additional sales text – presented nicely into dot points for easy reading, The sizes I can buy – I can see, I don’t have to use a scroll bar, and shipping information is presented without having to change tabs. The most impressive feature of GAP’s site is all the information they present on one screen in an easy to read format. Reviews of items are some of the best additions a website can have – and GAP present these really well – breaking the review into different areas of the dress. Some things could be improved – more images, and complete lack of up-sells is surprising as well. So whilst an improvement on Target level of content – how does it compare to an online only seller like The Iconic and a dress on their site.
The Iconic are the only store to use three images and show the back of the dress – a massive bonus for online buyers. The have some good sales style text complemented with cross sell products – the description even mentions some additional items to buy – but does not show them. The Iconic use the same style of sizing presentation that GAP do – as well as making it very clear to the end user what shipping methods are available. The Iconic are also able to add a tab about the dress brand they are selling – this is a little unfair to compare to GAP and Target as they sell their own brands – but it does add some good content for The Iconic.
The above examples look at the content presented from a consumer point of view; and overall I think the best result could be achieved by using pieces of each site and combining them into one – using The Iconic’s up-sell and images, using GAP’s text and text layout. There are some other design concepts we haven’t touched on such as Buy Buttons and their locations.
The web has evolved and concepts such as reviews need to be added to help ad vital content for each item – it is good to see that all three of these sites have the ability to show produce reviews. Each company might need to work on ways to encourage reviews – bringing the customer back to site to complete the review can be aided by including a coupon code or financial benefit to the consumer. Other forms of content can be added by adding video content – the important aspect with adding video via you tube is that it needs to be relevant to the product being sold. The sale of girls dresses really doesn’t need a you tube clip highlighting the dress – selling a remote control car would be a great way to add engaging content for the consumer.
The other crucial reason that content is still king is for marketing and search ability from search engines. The more text, video and named images that your site has; the more content that can be farmed by a search engine. In a time were online presentation is crucial as more and more completion arrives the best example of a need for increasing content and improving content is a combination of conversion and marketing potential. Australians will buy for a variety of reasons – showing content and not giving them a reason to leave is also going to have the extra effect of increasing your sites appeal to search engines. Long live The King.