The Role of Content in B2B E CommerceDeveloping and sourcing ecommerce site content is one of the greatest challenges associated with an ecommerce site launch and yet it often takes an organization by surprise. At the outset of an ecommerce site launch, the biggest hurdle appears to be getting the site infrastructure in place. Once that structure is in place and the launch deadline looms in the distance, business-to-business (B2B) organizations find themselves scrambling to source the content necessary for a successful ecommerce site.

The Role of Ecommerce Content

Content plays an enormous role in ecommerce success and yet, all too often, it’s dismissed while the “more important” aspects of launching an ecommerce site are handled. The thought process is that content is “just some copy and pictures” and it’s this mindset that leaves a B2B organization scrambling to find content at the last minute. Is content “just some copy and pictures?” Or is it something else that is much more important than it appears to be? I’d wager that it’s the most important aspect of ecommerce success, with platform performance and site design falling below it in the grand scheme of things.

The role of content quality and utilization in ecommerce success is multi-faceted.
Ecommerce content is expected to:

  • Create a consistent user experience.
  • Engage the visitor with rich media.
  • Inform and educate visitors on products and services.
  • Convert visitors to ecommerce customers.

If the content on your ecommerce site doesn’t address each of the above roles, it’s unlikely that your site will experience the kind of success you are hoping for.

Types of Ecommerce Content

If you were to ask most anyone on your ecommerce launch team, “What kinds of content should be included on our website?” you’d probably get the standard answer of “copy and images.” While this answer is correct, it also excludes some incredibly powerful content types that you can use to better engage and educate your visitors to increase visitor conversions. Types of content you might want to use on your ecommerce site include:

  • Marketing copy. Often dismissed as the “fluffy stuff” on a site, marketing copy works hand-in-hand with corporate and product logos (see bullet below) to help the visitor confirm that he or she is in the right place on the Internet. Marketing copy is also used to educate and persuade the visitor and often provides the “soft sell” that gets the customer to think about buying.
  • Product copy. The most commonly thought of type of B2B ecommerce content, product copy gets to the heart of specifics about the products or services you sell. Product copy includes product descriptions and keyword rich paragraphs on the product page that actively sells the product.
  • Product specifications.This is the meaty content on a B2B ecommerce site. Details about the products and services that you sell including:
    • Item number
    • Product weight and dimensions
    • Assembly and operation instructions
    • Care instructions
    • Images. Most organizations know they will need to include images on their ecommerce website, but all too often they forget that they will need both product-specific images and marketing images. Product images help the visitor understand exactly what they are buying while marketing images show the product being used and often feature models that best represent the organization’s target market. Consistency of sizing—for example, all product images should be the same size and thumb nail images should be the same size—as well as consistency of image quality are critical. All images should be relevant to current trends and technologies. This is especially critical if your marketing images show laptops, tablet devices, smart phones, etc.
    • Logos and graphics. Different than images, logos and graphics are also necessary for ecommerce success. Product and company logos help the visitor validate that he or she in the right place or is looking at the right product. Graphics are visual explanations of a concept—artistic or technical—that engage the visitor.
    • Rich media. In today’s day and age, most online shoppers expect to be entertained regardless of whether the purchase they intend to make is for business or personal use. Rich media can include but is not limited to product videos, customer testimonial videos/interviews, interactive side-by-side product comparisons, product locator tools, and product quizzes that help the customer quickly identify the product he or she needs by answering a series of questions.
    • User generated content. While still relatively new to the world of B2B ecommerce, user generated content bears mentioning in any discussion about content for an ecommerce site. Often included in the form of user-generated product reviews as well as interactive question-and-answer forums where customers can ask questions directly of other customers. Allowing your customers to participate in user generated content boosts the credibility of your ecommerce site as well as provides a way for you to hear directly from the customers on what they like, what they don’t, and how your products or services could be better.

Content plays a critical role in B2B ecommerce success and if crafted correctly, is responsible for the highest level of customer engagement, conversion and retention. To learn more about the successful use of content on your B2B ecommerce website, download the white paper, Content is King: How Updating Website Content Improves Ecommerce Sales.