ALPHAZETA INTERACTIVE WHITE PAPER SERIES
Guidelines for Managing Your eCommerce Site for Success
By: Tom Font, AlphaZeta Interactive and Beth McEnery, EPiServer
Why is content important to an eCommerce site?
It takes a lot of content to run an engaging eCommerce site. Depending on
what you are selling, the site will contain some, if not all, of the following types
of content: product descriptions (short and long), product images,
how-to videos, ratings, reviews, product blogs, pricing information, product
SKUs, multi-lingualversions of content, landing pages, customer service
pages, mobile sites, micro-sites and more. When all of this content is then
multiplied over a moderately sized catalog of 1,000 items, an eCommerce
team can become quickly overwhelmed.
Many eCommerce companies are ﬁnding “content marketing” to be an
effective technique to draw trafﬁc and leverage across social channels. More
so, supportive content related to the use, care or ongoing maintenance of a
product is the lead driver of trafﬁc to the product page view.
In addition, content-hungry search engines must be considered. An
eCommerce site, whether it is a B2C or B2B site, must have a presence in
search engines. The recent trend in the Google search algorithm has been
to move away from link building because of the abuses in link farming and
other external factors, toward an even greater emphasis on high quality,
frequently updated content.
The most effective eCommerce sites recognize the best user experience
combines SEO-friendly content with well-written marketing content. This
content cultivates the kind of user experience that will draw customers
back to your web site time and time again. From title tags to star ratings and
product reviews, Google tracks how visitors interact with your content and
rewards those sites with content that is both scannable and rich in
TO HAVE AN EFFECTIVE ECOMMERCE CONTENT STRATEGY, THERE ARE FOUR
VARIABlES THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED.
A Framework to think about how content can impact your eCommerce site
People and Processes to support the Content Types necessary for eCommerce success
Tools and Platforms to manage and merchandise your content
Measurement and Testing to continuously improve
“Organic search allows you to drive new trafﬁc to products. Effective search engine
optimization requires a constant analysis of trends, keywords and understanding the
ways people search. With that information, create well thought out, useful content and
you will increase your worth to Google while boosting your rankings and contributing
to higher sales and proﬁts”
-Brent Payne, CEO of Loud Interactive and SEO expert
STARTING WITH THE BASICS — ECOMMERCE 101
We use the 4 P’s of eCommerce when we want to improve the performance of an eCommerce site.
To understand the 4 P’s of eCommerce, we can draw a correlation to the 4 P’s of marketing.
Marketers’ select a variety of distribution strategies for their product mix.
What are you selling? What are the needs of the marketplace that your product fulﬁlls?
How much is the customer paying for the product and what is the perceived value?
All methods the marketer utilizes to let the world know about the product – ads, PR, direct marketing, etc.
62% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site with user
reviews, increasing conversion rates as well as brining in more search trafﬁc.
When combined with structured data, reviews can also increase the clickthrough rates on your search results too.
People, Process & Content Types
An eCommerce site needs to be able to create, manage and maintain a
wide variety of content to be successful. Forrester identiﬁed the most
common types of content on an eCommerce site in “The eCommerce
Template Level or Instructional
Organizational Processes and
Team Management Best-Practices
Once your content types are deﬁned, you’ll need a team to create and manage each
type of content. If possible, we recommend having at least one full-time employee
whose job description and compensation are tied to content development and
Next, we recommend creating a merchandising calendar to guide content
development and publishing. The merchandising calendar should outline when
promotions are released and then be used to guide changes to other areas of
content on the site(s) that need to be updated.
Once content is being created, you need the ability to easily publish content into
social channels to support your content efforts.
Finally, you need to create an editing process to ensure that the content is edited
and approved before it goes live. This should be handled in your eCommerce and
web content management system solution to leverage the workﬂow capabilities
inherent in those systems.
Tools & Platform
The next consideration to managing and merchandising your content is the everimportant technology platform. The challenge presented with eCommerce platforms
is that many are designed to only complete transactions, not manage content. And,
if such platforms do support content management capabilities, the breadth and
scale of these capabilities is limited at best.
Internally developed solutions and stand-alone web content management (WCM)
systems present other problems. Internal eCommerce solutions often have not
received the attention required to nurture customer experience and optimize content
marketing efforts. Stand-alone CMS technology is notoriously difﬁcult to integrate
with an eCommerce system. In addition, a WCM system that offers personalization
capabilities, customizations, and a stand-alone eCommerce system to support that
functionality can add up to a lengthy, expensive and technically complex project.
According to Booz & Company, the revenue generated through social commerce is
expected to reach $30 billion by 2015. This shows that if you want to get the most
value from your eCommerce efforts, you must leverage social media.
Give The People What They Want
Content That Powers Commerce
Longer, better product descriptions with more complete information will not only
support your search efforts, but will give consumers the in-depth information they
need when researching and shopping. The reality of shopping on the web continues
to become increasingly complex. Consumers’ expectations are at an all-time high for
a shopping experience with every ounce of information available at their ﬁngertips.
Businesses that place people, rather than content or technology, at the center
of their business model are thriving and in some cases outperforming incumbents.”
- Paul Adams, “Grouped – How small groups of friends are the key to inﬂuence on the social web”
Measurement & Testing
It is important to recognize that we need to continuously test and measure our
content efforts. Testing can be as simple as running an A/B test on a landing page
or as complex as conducting a multivariate test of navigation.
It is surprising how many small, continuous improvements in page layouts, content
and landing pages can add up to big improvements in site performance. The key is
having the tools to manage, test and measure the changes you are making.
Finally, testing and measurement are about keeping track of what is working and
doing more of it than anything else. So do not be afraid to try new things. If they do
not work, roll the site back to the previous version and try something else.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to properly managing content on your
eCommerce site. With the right framework in place for people, processes,
technology and testing, you can create a unique and personalized user experience
that ultimately drives conversion.
How do you bring all of these things together?
It all comes down to alignment. Alignment of people and process. Alignment of
content. Alignment of measurement and testing. The result of these alignments is a
successful eCommerce experience that drives results. On average, we see these
types of customer results:
Conversions increase 20-30%
Average order value (AOv) increases 10%
Average lifetime value increase two-fold
Now the question is:
Do you have all the pieces in place to create alignment in your organization?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Vice President, Business Development
(312) 263-7028, ext 230