5 reasons online retailers can’t afford to ignore Performance Content

Graphic of a phone and tablet displaying Primary Content

Performance Content is one of the key drivers of online revenue and reputation for retailers – so why are so many ecommerce businesses allowing theirs to gather dust? We dive into the five key reasons why Performance Content deserves your full attention – and a dedicated owner and budget line.

But first, let’s start with a definition:

Put simply, Performance Content is the critical pre-purchase information that converts browsers into buyers. It helps customers to make more informed decisions at the penultimate stage of their purchase journey – at the point where they are on a retailer’s website and almost ready to buy.

For online retailers, the most impactful types of Performance Content typically include:

– Product descriptions
– Category descriptions
– Buying & how-to guides / videos

These content assets – although often playing second fiddle to attention-grabbing awareness or ‘hero’ content in marketers’ priorities – actually have huge potential to boost ecommerce performance, and therefore increase ROI on all marketing activity across the purchase funnel. Here’s how.

1. Increased search rankings & organic traffic

Although Google is notoriously hush-hush about the exact factors that influence its rankings, successive algorithm updates have illustrated a clear shift towards rewarding content-rich pages which appear to be highly relevant, useful and authoritative.

And with page 1 results receiving 95% of all search traffic, if retailers aren’t ranking on page 1 of Google for lucrative category terms, they are missing the chance to capture vast swathes of unique visitors – and potential conversions.

This is why search-optimised category descriptions are a vital tool for boosting the authority and relevancy of category pages, and thereby increasing their ranking potential.

To illustrate, within three months of introducing our search-optimised category descriptions on priority pages, our client Shop Direct saw their average rankings for target search terms increase by 29% across their brand sites (including Very.co.uk), with 55% of pages securing a page 1 ranking.

An example of a best-in-class piece of Primary Content (a category description) from Very.co.uk
An example of a best-in-class category description from Very.co.uk

2. Increased conversion rates

A consumer study by Nielsen Norman Group found that 1 in 5 customers who fail to make a purchase when shopping online blame incomplete product information. Additionally, 75% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video that explains what they are buying.

The message is clear: a few basic bullet points and a product photo simply aren’t enough to inform shoppers and persuade them to purchase – and this is particularly true in verticals such as fashion, where consumers can’t touch or try on the products in question.

By improving the level of detail and useful information provided in product descriptions – and, in the case of fashion, describing nuanced product qualities like ‘fit’ and ‘feel’ – retailers can drastically increase conversion rates.

For example, our client Gloverall saw a 56% increase in product page views and a 60% increase in conversions after we:

introduced videos on product pages
enhanced their written product descriptions with more detail, better communication of product benefits, and description of garment fit and feel (see below example).

An example of best Primary Content practice.
An example of our product description optimisation work for Gloverall

3. Increased Average Order Values (AOVs)

Cross-selling and upselling are well-established retail sales techniques both offline and online, with Amazon attributing up to 35% of its revenue to cross-selling. However, “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”-type widgets aren’t the only way to boost AOVs.

Buying and how-to guides, whether in written or video format, are an effective vehicle for providing cross-sell or upsell recommendations, while:

Helping shoppers to solve a problem or make the most of a product – (e.g. ‘How to set up a wireless printer’ or ‘How to nail the tartan skirt trend’)
Making the decision-making process easier, by showing a curated selection of products from a broader range, suited to various needs – (e.g. ‘Top gifts for sporty dads this Father’s Day’ or ‘Best laptops for pro gamers’)
Enhancing brand authority and promoting engagement

Consumer research has shown that 31% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a retailer if it offers useful buying guides, while 1 in 10 state that they are more likely to buy more items than they’d planned after reading a helpful buying guide.

An example of a trend-led piece of Primary Content (a how-to guide) that we produced for our client, Koovs
An example of a trend-led how-to guide we produced for our client, Koovs

4. Reduced product return rates

According to industry figures, 25-40% of all goods ordered online in the UK are returned – costing retailers around £20bn each year. In the electronics vertical, typically 1 in 6 items bought online is returned, while around 30% of women’s online fashion purchases are sent back.

This represents a massive challenge for retailers and a substantial drain on their bottom line. However, although there is little to be done to combat ‘impulse buys’ and ‘intentional returns’, in many cases there is an opportunity to reduce the likelihood of a customer making a return by ensuring product descriptions are as comprehensive and informative as possible – so the customer can make a considered and confident choice.

For instance 43% of consumers say that they have returned a clothing item they ordered online due to “poor fit”. By incorporating nuanced information about how garments fit into product descriptions, fashion retailers can reduce this figure.

Boden is a great example of a fashion retailer with a best-in-class approach to fit in product descriptions:

A best-in-class piece of Primary Content (a product description) from Boden
A best-in-class product description from Boden

5. Increased brand integrity

Last, but certainly not least: the quality of the content and the overall experience provided by a retailer on their website is of paramount importance to customer perception of the brand, and their likelihood of becoming a repeat visitor.

Considering you only have around 6 seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention – and make a positive impression – it’s hugely important that the information they receive at the critical pre-purchase point of the funnel, the Performance Content, is held to the same standards of quality as any awareness or consideration content they may have encountered higher up in the funnel.

Ultimately, a flashy, brand-elevating ad campaign will fail to translate into positive sentiment – and sales – if, when a consumer visits the website, they find that the shopping experience is lacking. Performance Content plays a crucial role both in upholding brand reputation and driving ROI on all marketing activity.

Is your Performance Content under-performing?

To gain a better understanding of whether your Performance Content is hitting the mark, request a bespoke Quill Quality Score audit of your website below:

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