How to Use Content to Engage Shoppers in an Omnichannel Environment

By Sam Gagliardi, IRI

Grow your brand across channels with the right online content.

When you shop at a traditional brick and mortar store, you can see, touch and potentially smell certain products. If sampling is available, you can even taste. You can inspect items closely and make an in-moment judgment if they are worth purchasing.

Online shopping is obviously less tactile but far more expansive. Not only do the options seem limitless, there are a number of ways to connect online and offline shopping experiences, including ordering online and picking up in store or ordering in store and having an item shipped to your home.

Whether consumers purchase online or offline, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of all shopping trips begin online in some way, shape or form. This makes it an incredibly important channel for product communication, even if the product isn’t ultimately purchased there.

Because of the digital sphere’s increasing influence on the consumer purchase decision, it is essential that a brand can first be found online. The specific details of retailers’ search engine algorithms are murky, but one thing is certain: product content is a primary input that retailers use to deliver relevant product search results to consumers.

Detailed product content is the number-one reason why 73 percent of consumers click “buy,” according to Salsify. So it is vital that the information consumers are looking for is available when and where they seek it – or they will quickly move on.  

So what information should be included in an online product listing to drive e-commerce sales? 

Key Elements to Include in Online Product Content

1. Information

  • Expressive, accurate titles are essential because they are the first thing an online shopper sees about your product.
  • Product descriptions should be compelling and detailed, but not overly lengthy.
  • Bullet points not only make product information easy to digest, they are also particularly important on Amazon, because they highlight key features and are indexed by Amazon’s search algorithm. Include at least three bullets but no more than five, each with fewer than 150 characters.
  • Enhanced marketing content refers to the content below the fold that allows manufacturers to offer added-value content, such as detailed features and model variations, which is helpful for product education and brand awareness.


2. Images and Video

When paired with a high-quality description, images and videos are the closest online shoppers can get to an in-store experience. 3D previews and videos allow consumers to view the product from all angles, and offering a size comparison is also a good way to set accurate expectations. Despite the growing popularity of video and its influence on purchase intent, many products still don’t include video content. If it makes sense for your product, it is worth the investment to include a video preview or even a general video of your brand story.

KIND Snacks’ video on the ingredients and flavor varieties in its Nuts & Spices bars is a best-in-class example of a CPG product video.

3. Feedback

If shoppers can’t touch or test a product before buying, they want to know about others’ experiences. Eighty-four percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. They allow shoppers to hear from a peer – and real-life users often include product details and use cases your marketing team may not have considered. Encourage and incentivize customer reviews as much as possible, and look at negative reviews as an opportunity to publicly remedy situations, as well as to foster feedback and relationships with consumers.  

One additional and important tip I regularly recommend to clients is to include information that consumers may not even realize they’re looking for. The story behind a product, detailed information about unique features, or examples of occasions to use or consume it are all details that could influence purchase decisions even if consumers didn’t intend to find this information. A good example of this is the snack bar brand This Bar Saves Lives. Socially-minded consumers searching for snack bars on Amazon may be more inclined to buy this brand because of its interesting backstory and social impact mission.

Maximize the Value of Digital Content

When it’s well-executed, great product content is a differentiator for online shoppers, helping build the brand and improve shopper loyalty – and research shows shoppers will spend more dollars if they have more information. Also, consumers don’t differentiate their brand experiences by channel, so how they experience your brand in one channel is likely how they experience it in the others. Optimizing your content online can help boost sales across the board.

Are you looking to better understand how shoppers are behaving online? Do you need a 360-degree view of the e-commerce universe so that you know where to invest online? IRI offers retailer-level views, product hierarchies and digital shelf causal factors for a more holistic view of what’s happening online and how to take action. Contact me to find out how you can use our fully integrated solutions to improve strategies and grow.

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