Generate eCommerce Sales with Product Buying Guides

eCommerce Sales & Buying Guides

With the global reach of today’s Internet, it is possible to sell products (and services) to virtually anyone in the world.

You have a huge opportunity, yet, your competition is fiercer than ever. Every other business has the same opportunities as you.

As a marketer, you need to create an advantage over your competitors. To do this effectively, you need to fully understand how consumers shop. What process do they take to go from identifying a need for something to making a purchase? In most cases, it starts with a general search.

consumers use search engines to discover new products
74% of people turn to a search engine during the consideration and purchasing phases of the buying process, and lucky for unknown brands, 71% of shoppers use search engines to discover new products.

That’s why product buying guides are so great. When a customer searches a product online, a buying guide can serve as a way to convince them to make a purchase. More specifically, the guide can convince them to buy from your brand. But there is a science behind this strategy.

This guide will show you how to leverage product buying guides to drive sales. Whether you have product buying guides that need improvement, or you’ve never used this tactic and want to try it out, you’ll benefit from the tips covered below.

Define the target audience

Before you create and publish a product buying guide, you need to determine who will be reading it. Not every guide should be intended to please everyone. It depends on who is going to be buying what you’re selling. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses get this wrong.

The target market for a specific product category isn’t necessarily the same as your target audience for your entire brand. With your buying guides, it’s OK to be more specific.

For example, if you’re selling a hiking backpack, you’ll want to write your guide for people who are in the market for that item, even though you also sell other items, like a piece of carry-on luggage aimed at business travelers. People who are in the market for this product will get lost and be uninterested if the copy doesn’t speak to them specifically.

One of the best ways to define your target audience is by creating a customer persona. Here’s an example:

consumer persona

Once you create this persona, it’ll be much easier to develop a product buying guide based on the wants and needs of the consumer. You’ll have an image in your mind of who they are and what needs they have.

Your buying guide won’t necessarily appeal to as many people, but that’s OK. You’ll end up having much higher conversion rates for the audience that you’re targeting in the first place.

Choose a format

After you determine your audience, you need to figure out the style and format of your writing guide. You’ve got several different options to choose from here. You can develop a guide that’s mostly text, or have a guide with lots of pictures. It’s even possible to incorporate some video content into your buying guides. Maybe you want to use a combination of these styles. There are lots of ways to approach this.

You also need to decide the format of your buying guide content:

  • compare multiple products
  • general information about what to look for
  • beginner’s purchasing guide
  • introduce a new niche or type of product

Here’s an example of a desk buying guide from Wayfair:

desk buying guide

Rather than writing a guide on specific products, they created a list of the features that consumers should look for when buying a desk. The guide is mostly text but has pictures to illustrate the points they are trying to make. It’s a very simple and easy-to-follow format that uses visual elements well. Each feature is numbered, followed by a bulleted list with additional details. The images, numbers, and bullets break up the content, so it’s easy for website visitors to scan and consume it. No intimidating walls of text here!

Include a CTA

The whole purpose of your product buying guide is to inform consumers about their options, help them decide that they want to buy something, and then ultimately convert. Let’s not lose sight of that final stage when you’re writing these.

Obviously, you want them your customer to buy from you. But if you don’t give the reader a CTA or a way to buy, that might not happen. Here’s the thing. Yes, they are reading the guide on your website. But if they have to go back to your homepage and then search for the products that they’re looking for, it’s too many extra steps. It’d be easier for them to open a new window with a search engine, or go to Amazon, Walmart, or another retail giant to buy. We don’t want that to happen.

The consumer is on your website now. This is your chance to close the sale.

Check out this simple but effective CTA button from REI.

CTA example

This example is from their car racks buying guide. It’s an extensive guide with plenty of options to choose from. They have sections for trunk racks, hitch racks, spare tire racks, roof racks, and cargo boxes. Each option follows the same format as the Wayfair guide.

Each section has a brief overview of the product. That’s followed by a description of how much this type of rack can transport. All of this is followed by a bulleted list of pros and cons. This is something worth stealing for any guide you write. You don’t want to seem biased, since customers will see right through that. If you’re giving too much of a sales pitch, people won’t want to buy. It’s difficult, but you want to try and appear as neutral as possible.

The cons list isn’t necessarily saying bad things about their specific products. Instead, it talks about some limitations of products in this particular category. For example, one of the cons of the spare tire bike rack is that there is a two-bike limit. If someone doesn’t need to transport more than two bikes, that’s not a problem. They don’t need to buy a rack that can hold three or four bikes. Listing the cons like this helps increase your authority and removes some of your bias in the eyes of the consumers. As a result, you can establish trust with the reader.

Last, but certainly not least, is a CTA that provides a link to buy. If someone is reading this guide and realizes that one of these options is what they’re looking for based on the information they found, all they need to do is click on the CTA. Even the CTA isn’t too pushy. But it needs to be there so the site visitor can ultimately convert and make a purchase with as little friction as possible.

Content to product flow

The CTA directs the visitor to the product options. From here, they can make a purchase.

Compare products in different price ranges

In a perfect world, customers would always buy your most expensive products with the highest margins. But the world we live in is far from perfect. Not every person has an unlimited budget for this one purchase. Even if they did have an unlimited budget, many consumers want the best bang for their buck. In fact, the ability to compare prices ranks high on the list of why consumers prefer to shop online in the first place.

why consumers shop online

So, help your customers out make it easy for them to compare prices right on your site. A product guide is a simple way to do this. For example, let’s say you’re selling couches. You can might have products segmented by price in categories like:

  • couches under $250
  • couches $250–$750
  • couches over $1,000

Include prices or price range categories in your buying guides and you’ll make this easier on the reader. This allows you to create anchor prices, which is a way for you to generate more profit by focusing on your pricing. Psychologically, the customer will create a value in their head about what products are worth based on the anchor prices. Your less expensive and mid-range products will look more appealing when you put them next to premium-priced products. Consider marketing one of the options in your guide as a Best Budget pick or Best Value to hit that point home.

Apply SEO principles

Product-buying guides have a shot to rank with long-tail search terms.

long-tail SEO for conversion

This makes sense: most consumers use search engines to find new products, a buying guide will help them learn and discover. To take advantage of this discoverability, conduct keyword research on each category to determine what people are actually searching for.

Again, you’re not trying to appeal to the masses with your buying guides. General search terms are going to have more competition and be more expensive if you’re running PPC campaigns.

If you make your SEO strategy too broad and general, there may be more people searching for that term, but your click-through rates will be much lower. For example, let’s say you’re selling something basic that everyone uses, like socks. A product buying guide about how to choose a pair of socks is way too general. Make it more specific for your target audience and certain niches with long-tail keywords:

  • best ankle socks for workouts
  • women’s waterproof running socks
  • best high socks for hiking
  • dress socks for sweaty feet

Do you see the difference? All of these potential search terms address more particular needs. People searching for these keywords have a specific want. So if they land on your buying guide from their search, they’ll have a much higher probability of clicking through and converting.

Include reviews

When a consumer navigates to a product buying guide, they are conducting research. The number one reason why customers research products online is to read product reviews.

half of people like to read about products before buying them

You can also showcase a customer review or testimonial to increase brand credibility. From that review, link the reader directly to the rest of your reviews for each product. You could even consider adding a superlative to your buying guide like Customer Favorite or Popular Choice.

In addition to reviews, you can add any statistics or references to back up claims you’re making about products or categories. Doing this will make your brand seem much more trustworthy and legitimate.

Summary

Product buying guides give you a unique opportunity to assist consumers during the research stage of the customer conversion funnel.

The first thing you need to do is determine the target audience of each buying guide. Figure out a format and style that works best for you, as well as the reader. Target long-tail keywords, and include CTAs to buy the products and showcase products in different price ranges to appeal to a wider range of prospective buyers and leverage your existing customer reviews. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this one on Using Instagram to grow your small business!
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Filed under: eCommerce, Strategy, WordpressTagged with: ,

Using Instagram to Grow Your Small Business

Every business needs an active social media presence. This statement holds true whether you have a small, medium, or large company. In fact, it’s more important for smaller businesses than large ones.

Big brands like Apple and Nike are already household names. If they stop using social media right now, they’ll probably still generate sales.

But you can’t make a sale to people who don’t know who you are yet. Just like you can’t rely only on foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store, if you operate online, you can’t rely solely on people navigating to your website.

That’s why you need Instagram as a marketing tool

Honestly, if you’re not currently using Instagram, you’re behind: 71% of businesses are already using Instagram as a marketing channel. But it’s not too late to get started. That’s the inspiration for this guide.

According to Instagram’s user data, 80% of accounts follow a business. It’s obvious that people are willing to follow and engage with brands on Instagram. The key for you as a small business marketer is to figure out how to take advantage of this opportunity to drive growth for your company. This article explains some beginner strategies to stimulate business growth on Instagram and teach you ways to convert your followers into customers. If you’ve created an Instagram profile, but it isn’t active or effective, you can benefit from this information too.

Promote your profile with your existing customers

When you start your account, it’ll come with zero followers. It can be a little discouraging to start from zero, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Rather than trying to get random followers who don’t know who you are and don’t know anything about your brand, turn to your existing customers.

Start with your email subscribers. Check out how MeUndies signs off its marketing emails.

MeUndies marketing email Instagram hashtag

The CTA here is to follow MeUndies on Instagram.

Your email list isn’t the only place to recruit current customers to Instagram. You can promote your profile on your other marketing channels as well:

  • YouTube videos
  • website
  • blog posts
  • other social media profiles
  • purchase receipts
  • in-store signs

Take a look at how Shady Rays uses its website to get more followers on Instagram.

Shady Rays Instagram

The social media feed showcases their most recent Instagram uploads. If you click on any of the photos here, it will bring you to that image on Instagram. There’s also a direct link and a CTA to follow Shady Rays on Instagram.

Showcase your products

Now that you’ve got followers, let’s take a look a the reason they’re following your profile. Coupons? Sales? Let’s look at the top reasons why people follow brands on social media.

Why people follow brands on social media

The number one reason people follow brands is because they’re interested in that brand’s products and services. That reason ranks higher than promotions and incentives. So while it’s not a bad idea to give people an incentive to follow your profile with an exclusive discount or another offer like that, research shows that more people follow a brand out of interest alone.

That means it’s definitely OK to show them your products. In fact, 65% of the top performing posts on Instagram featured a product. (This is a great chance for you to generate sales for a new product release.)

But, you don’t want to oversell on Instagram: 58% of users think it’s annoying when brands post too many promotions. So, showcase your products, but do so sparingly.

Take advantage of shoppable posts

It’s one thing to show products to your consumers. But Instagram gives businesses the opportunity to sell products directly through their platform. Shoppable posts take our last strategy one step further.

60% of people use Instagram to find new products and 75% of those take action after viewing a post. Those actions can lead to conversions, especially if you use shoppable posts.

Here’s an example from Western Rise of a shoppable post.

Shoppable Instagram Post from Western Rise

It’s just a regular photo. But the promoted product is tagged. The tag includes the name of the product and the price. When a user clicks on the link, they are directed to a product page where they can buy that product.

This is far more efficient than what businesses had to do before this feature: In the past, brands would have to post about a product and then say things like, “find this on our website,” or “link in bio.” Way too many steps. Plus, if you had to use the one link in your bio, you couldn’t promote more than one item at the same time. Shoppable posts have way less friction and increase your chances of driving conversions.

You can also run shoppable stories. It’s the same approach: simply tag products in your story instead of your profile.

If you haven’t used this tactic before and need some help setting them shoppable posts, refer to our complete guide on how to increase ecommerce sales with shoppable posts on Instagram.

Tag a purposeful location

Next up, location tags. If you haven’t been using location tags, you aren’t maximizing your potential engagement. Just look at the effect that a simple location tag can have on your metrics.

Location tagging increase engagement Instagram

Posts with location tags have more engagement

There are a few reasons for this. First, tagging the location can make your post more visible on the popular page for people in that area. Second, people who are viewing that specific location on Instagram have a better chance of seeing your post.

The great part about location tagging is that you don’t actually need to be in that area you’re tagging to tag it. Let’s say you run a Boston-based company that sells bathing suits. You’re probably not going to be selling bathing suits to many locals in that area during the winter months. And you’re probably not going to increase your engagement all that much by tagging a bathing suit picture in Harvard Square. Instead, you can upload photos of your products on Instagram and tag warmer locations, like Miami or San Diego. This will lead to higher engagement rates, which will increase your social following, brand awareness, and chances that people will buy your products.

Add photos with faces

Let’s continue talking about engagement. Photos of products alone don’t perform as well as photos with faces. In fact, photos with faces generate 38% more likes than posts without a face. Furthermore, posts with faces get 32% more comments. The more people engage with your posts, the greater your chance of driving conversions that will ultimately help your small business grow.

Here’s another example of a shoppable post from PX Clothing that includes a face in the photo.

PX Clothing face in shoppable Instagram

This is more effective than posting the duffle bag by itself without a face in the photo.

Partner with social influencers

When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram leads the way for brand collaboration.

78% of influencers use Instagram

Your competitors might already be using this strategy. Now is your chance to jump on board to keep up with them. If you’ve never done this before and you don’t know where to get started, you can use our guide on the top platforms for effectively managing social influencers.

You’ll want to find influencers that have a strong following within a specific niche that speaks to your target audience. For example, let’s say you’re targeting women in New York City between the ages of 24 and 35. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be looking for influencers who fit that profile. Instead, you’ll want to find an influencer who has lots of followers that fit your target market. These resources will help you get connected with influencers in the right industry that will reach your target audience.

Run ads to generate leads and sales

Depending on your marketing budget, Instagram ads can be a suitable strategy for you to consider. If you’ve run Facebook ads in the past, you’re already familiar with how this works — Facebook owns Instagram and the two platforms use the same ad manager. You can choose your target audience, location, and budget.

The great part about advertising on Instagram is that you can have ads run in multiple formats.

  • photo ads
  • video ads
  • carousel ads
  • collection ads
  • story ads

If you run story ads on Instagram, you’ll want to leverage the “swipe up” feature. Here’s an example from Olivers Apparel of what that looks like:

Swipe up to see ad Instagram Sponsored content

The “shop now” CTA at the bottom of this sponsored story takes users directly to a landing page where they can purchase the pants being advertised. This can definitely help increase conversion rates because it eliminates additional steps in the purchase process.

Encourage UGC

Another way to grow your business on Instagram is with user-generated content.

82% of consumers say that user-generated content is valuable to them during the purchase process. 48% of people say they discover new brands and products as a result of UGC. When customers get exposed to UGC, brand engagement increases by 28%.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is with contests

This is one of our favorite strategies for several reasons. First, it helps you get more followers. For one of your followers to enter a contest, they’ll need to upload a photo to their own profile and tag your brand. In doing this, it increases the exposure to all of their followers, who may not currently know your brand or follow your profile. This added exposure will entice more people to follow you on Instagram. That’s because UGC is memorable and trusted.

UGC is memorable and trusted

People who see a user-generated photo on Instagram have a 4.5% greater chance of converting. If they interact with the post, such as liking it or commenting on it, they are 9.6% more likely to convert.

Engage your followers

It’s important for you to connect with your Instagram following. Now that you’ve found so many new ways to get followers, likes, and comments. You don’t want to lose those relationships.

Reply to their comments. Answer direct messages. If you don’t do this, you’re not providing the appropriate customer service needed to drive business growth. On the other hand, using Instagram to improve your customer service will definitely help your business grow.

Here’s what will happen if you ignore customers on social media.

The Cost of ignoring customers on social media

People expect brands to respond within four hours after they reach out on social media. The average response time is ten hours. 35% of consumers say that social media is their top choice for customer care, yet 89% of social media messages are ignored by brands.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you’re having trouble managing all of your Instagram messages with other social media comments, this instagram marketing tool can help.

Conclusion

As a small business owner, you need to establish an active presence on Instagram to grow your company. If you’re starting from scratch or don’t have many followers right now, turn to your existing customers to build a following on your profile.

Use Instagram to showcase your products

Drive sales directly with shoppable posts & find ways to increase your engagement, such as tagging your location, uploading photos with faces, and leveraging relationships with social influencers.

You can also run ads to generate brand awareness, increase your followers, and drive sales.

Create campaigns that encourage user-generated content, which will increase your reach in a trusted and memorable way.

Don’t ignore customers when they reach out to your brand with comments and direct messages. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out this post on buying Instagram followers!

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