02 May 2019
Building a product content strategy as a manufacturer or distributor is hard enough, but add in the challenges of driving an optimized user experience (UX), and it can feel daunting. However, thinking of the two as an integrated concept is an important and essential part of every company’s content strategy. As customer expectations continue to evolve, delivering a strong user experience via relevant content throughout the buyer’s journey is essential. To provide that elevated experience, it’s imperative to effectively develop and manage product content and present it to the right people, at the right time, in a way that best fits their needs and exceeds expectations.
The Importance of Product Content Strategy
A product content strategy outlines the planning, development, and management of both written and visual content. As prospects and customers search for products online, the ability to deliver contextual and relevant product information can be a major differentiator against the competition.
Every person that engages with your company – whether a buyer, a subject matter expert or an end-user – has different content needs at various touchpoints in their journey. However, for many manufacturing and distribution companies, the concept of content marketing is relatively new and makes delivering the types of content necessary for conversion difficult. In fact, only 39% of B2B organizations had a documented content marketing strategy in 2018.
The B2B buying process is more complex than traditional B2C transactions and much less linear. So when developing content, think about the needs of each persona and how to deliver the relevant information expected along each step of the buying journey. Start with the best selling products and work through your product offering with a focus on the journey rather than the destination. Keep in mind that content preferences vary across personas, so offering a variety of formats, such as video and audio, will keep more buyers engaged.
Developing Your Product Content
Product content is information and specifications relating to a product. When talking about product content, you’re really talking about data. Product information can be in a lot of different places and take many different forms. To provide an exceptional commerce experience, you want your customers to be able to find the product in a format that works for them. Begin by identifying the attributes that are relevant to your product and decide the best way to position products to be as searchable as possible. Search is a critical part of the customer experience, and rich product content improves searchability and the onsite search experience.
Traditionally, manufacturers and distributors have managed product information to be used as an internal resource, rather than data available for external consumption. As a result, it is not uncommon for product descriptions to read like part numbers, and not highly engaging or creative. To make content more accessible, products need to have searchable, SEO-friendly descriptions to help new and prospective customers easily find what they’re looking for.
Beyond improved searchability and rich product data, it’s important to identify what types of supplemental product content that may need to be developed. For example, it’s not uncommon for certain products to have a material safety data sheet (MSDS), data sheets, or installation instructions. For many products in B2B, user support doesn’t end after the purchase. Giving customers the tools they need to use a product is just as important making the sale and impacts the overall user experience.
Other important types of product content include views and images. Customers want the ability to visualize products in-use or in their space. Visuals showcasing dimensions, photos of the product in use, 360-degree views, and videos can all be valuable tools customers will seek out when making their purchasing decision.
Supporting Growth and UX with Product Content
How to support UX with product content? Start by incrementally building product content where you will make the biggest impact in the shortest period of time. Focus on where customers and potential customers are going to see the most value. Identify how you can use, build, and expand product content to evolve and support the user experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
Make sure to tailor the type of content you present with each product to fit the offering. Not every product needs a 360-degree view or a video tutorial to deliver a great user experience. Find the products that require those investments, and make them wisely to meet needs and maximize engagement.
For example, if a researcher is looking for a way to solve a problem, the ability to find information that is relevant to him at a particular moment in time is crucial to driving a positive experience. He may not be ready for product details, spec sheets, or installation manuals at this point in his journey, but eventually, he will be. The content that’s important to him now is how to solve a problem and what product fits his needs. As he dives deeper into his search, his needs will change. He’ll become interested in aspects such as dimensions, ratings, chemical makeup, and whatever else is specific to him as the subject matter expert and his business objectives.
Empower Your Content with a Product Information Management System
How can you make this product information deliverable to the person who’s looking for it in a way that improves their experience, is relevant at that moment, and is accessible on the device they’re using? Before e-commerce became the norm, product data was primarily managed in multiple back-end internal systems that were never intended to be public.
Now, product content is no longer just an asset utilized by internal teams. It is a tool that needs to support both internal business operations and the customer buying journey. Using a product information management (PIM) system will streamline data organization while and disseminating it across a variety of marketplaces, channels, and catalogs.
All this content you’re collecting, delivering, and building upon is important to use to improve the user experience, so having a PIM system that manages that data is imperative. A PIM system integrated with an e-commerce system can deliver unique experiences to fit client needs at each stage of the buying journey. These experiences are what will provide a better user experience and differentiate you from the competition. Use your product information and content to support your strategy, your growth, and your ability to drive revenue to build your organization over time.
Watch the webinar, Killer Content and Context with Forrester Analyst, Sucharita Kodali to learn what drives conversions on product pages.
About the author
Karie Daudt has more than two decades of experience in digital commerce, management, and business development in the manufacturing and distribution industry. As Senior Commerce Consultant at Perficient Digital, she helps clients identify problems and works to align them with the right technology solution to fit their needs.
About Perficient Digital
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