Why would content matter when you are running an e-commerce site? After all, you provide a product or service that people want to buy, so setting up your site to easily purchase should be your primary goal, right?
Let's look at some of the more successful e-commerce sites on the Web and see how they balance content with marketing and sales techniques to get people to not only return to the site, but buy.
A Huge Ecommerce Site: Amazon.com
At first glance, it appears that this site is very focused on selling (as they should be), but if you notice, there is much more there than simply "Click here to buy this book". There are:
- Excerpts from the books for sale
- A list of the 100 "hot" books, updated hourly
- The top video and audio sellers for the day
- Reviews both by other customers and professional reviewers
- Author interviews
- Reading groups and much more...
Amazon.com relies heavily on content to promote return visits and sales. They encourage their customers to review the products and provide live testimonials. Some customers will return to this site, simply because of the reviews and other resources.
An Ecommerce Movie Site: Netflix
On the surface, Netflix doesn't seem to be about ecommerce - after all, they are a rental company. But they try to sell two important things:
- accounts - the more people who rent from them the better they'll be
- movies - they also sell the movies to their customers once you're a member
Netflix relies on free trials and demonstrations as the content to drive sales. They have a huge selection of movies to browse, plus lots of information up front about the plans and how you can buy.
Buy CDs Online: CDNow
CDNow provides content to their customers once you get past the first page. You can get News, Reviews, and other information about the CDs offered for sale, as well as the artists involved with the CDs. There is even a section of Web links with links to other sites that are relevant to the band in question.
One interesting feature that CDNow has is the ability to customize the site to your personal interests. You can do things like create a "favorite artists" list so that whenever they have new music, you will find out right away.
The More You Talk to Your Customers, The More They Will Like You
While most e-commerce sites do not rely heavily on content, they do use it to promote return visits and customer loyalty. Remember that 95% of the people who come to your Web page won't buy anything the first time. They have to become comfortable with your site, used to how you do your business, and feel secure enough to commit their hard earned dollars. If you have reliable and useful content, they will return, with credit card in hand.