4 lessons on ecommerce content from our Quill Quality Score 100 report

We recently published our inaugural Quill Quality Score 100 report: the first exhaustive study into the quality of the vital pre-purchase content that sits on the websites of the UK’s biggest online retailers.

The results offer some fascinating insights into which ecommerce companies are using online content to drastically improve the online purchase journey. Perhaps more interesting, however, are the areas where many are falling short of the mark. In fact, we found that a striking 4 in 5 ecommerce websites (79%) are missing the chance to convert browsers due to a poor overall content offering.

Here, we summarise some of the most common issues contributing to this statistic, and the lessons online retailers can learn from them.

1: Over half of brands (58%) are delivering substandard product descriptions

Optimised product descriptions have the power to substantially boost conversion rates, reduce product return rates and increase AOVs. In a 2016 study conducted by Quill, we found that, in the fashion category, 63% of online consumers are more likely to buy a garment if the product description describes its cut and fit.

Additionally, 90% of shoppers are more likely to buy an item if the product description includes specific dimensions or measurements, and a further 71% of consumers prefer descriptions that explain the benefits of the product. Visual presentation and formatting also play an important role: 56% of customers are more likely to buy a product described in a combination of persuasive prose and summary bullet points – compared to 30% for all-bullets and 14% for all-prose.

Despite the clear benefits of optimising product descriptions, the Quill Quality Score 100 report revealed that a significant proportion of ecommerce businesses are still neglecting this crucial content type, with issues such as content duplication, lack of detail, poor formatting and poor communication of product benefits being rife across a range of categories.

Key takeaway: Don’t rely on sub-standard, duplicate manufacturer copy. Enrich product descriptions with maximum detail, arranged in prose and bullet point format. See our guide for more details on how to write conversion-assisting product copy.

2: Half of brands (47%) are losing organic traffic due to non-existent or poor-quality category descriptions

Product category pages are incredibly valuable assets from an SEO perspective, in many cases acting as the consumer’s first point of contact with your website following a high-intent product search. Whether a consumer is searching for ‘denim skirts’, ‘desktop computers’ or ‘houseplants’, it’s critical that your brand’s category page, with its selection of relevant products, appears on the first page of the SERPs – considering that page 1 Google results capture a reported 92% of all search clicks.

As has been well documented, high-quality, original and relevant on-page content is one of Google’s key ranking factors, which is why it’s so important to ensure that category pages are equipped with search-optimised descriptions. Surprisingly, however, our audits of the UK’s top 100 ecommerce sites found that nearly half are losing out on organic traffic through failing to publish any content at all on their category pages – or publishing only cursory, generic or duplicate copy.

Key takeaway: Furnish your category pages with tailored, detailed, search-optimised description copy of at least 50 words, interspersed with relevant internal links. Ensure that category pages are also optimised with the correct metadata for SEO (including meta titles, meta descriptions and <H1> tags).

3: A third of etailers (34%) are failing to provide quality guide content to customers, while 1 in 5 offer no guide content at all

Buying and how-to guides perform two essential functions for your ecommerce site. Firstly, they can help to fulfill the role of the sales assistant in the digital environment, answering common customer queries and providing useful product recommendations and inspiration. Secondly, guides can also act as a valuable source of organic traffic when targeted around relevant customer search terms (for example “how to choose a washing machine” or “spring wedding outfit ideas”), driving website visits while establishing authority and trust.

Brands that don’t provide strong guide content to their customers are therefore missing a huge opportunity. According to research by Quill, buying and how-to guides can boost not only brand trust but also conversions, repeat purchases and basket sizes: 31% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand after reading a useful guide, 36% believe that helpful brands are more trustworthy, and 1 in 10 say they are likely to buy more items than originally planned after reading an informative buying guide.

Key takeaway: Help your customers to make confident purchases (and acquire new visitors) by publishing search-optimised, long-form buying and how-to guides. Be sure to include relevant keyword terms and well-integrated product recommendations. Prioritise offering true informative value, boosted by engaging visuals.

4: 94% of brands provide inadequate mobile and navigational access to content

By far the most crucial weakness among the brands surveyed was our ‘content experience’ metric, which looks at overall website content accessibility and the digital customer experience: how effectively are ecommerce sites meeting consumer needs by serving content in the right time and place? And how user-friendly is that content, in particular across mobile devices?

With Google’s introduction of mobile-first indexing in 2018, and with over half of total internet traffic now coming via mobile, optimising content for all devices is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather an essential – making it all the more surprising that the vast majority of the brands we audited had some form of mobile loading issue, or failed to surface engaging content at key points in the browsing journey (for example, within navigation menus or at category page level).

Key takeaway: Make sure that engaging content isn’t buried: increase ROI on content investment by surfacing it in key locations throughout the browsing journey. Crucially, optimise your website for mobile, increasing page speed and minimising loading issues, for a better user experience and increased search visibility. See our infographic for more tips on mobile content best practice.

For more comprehensive detail about the key content issues impacting the online retail sector, as well as a breakdown of the leading (and lagging) brands within a range of verticals, download the full QQS Top 100 report.

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