What do you know about a physical product before you buy it online? The answer for most people: Too much and never enough.
How can that be?
With the rise of ecommerce, marketers had to figure out how to turn physical products into digital information. We created product descriptions and taglines, commissioned photos and videos, and listed out objective data about price, dimensions, colors, sizes, weight and so forth. The online buyer, comparing that data across a seemingly limitless selection of comparable goods, feels swamped and likely turns to professional and customer reviews to make sense of it all.
At the same time, the information you provide will never be enough! The buyer can experience every piece of digital product content yet still feel nervous about the purchase. There’s something about holding, testing or merely viewing a product in stores that gives us a (possibly false) sense of confidence. Not even COVID-19 can change that.
Hence, the impossible tasks for ecommerce product content. Say everything but not too much. Be objective but also more compelling and interesting than your competitors. And if you happen to sell 5,000 SKUs with 15 attributes each, don’t mess up one of those 75,000 data points. Otherwise, disappointed shoppers will be sure to tell the world (e.g., UGH. If you think you ordered that t-shirt in pink…WRONG. It’s salmon.)
The reality is that our content cannot satisfy every shopper in every situation. What we can do is give ourselves the best odds of creating accurate, high-quality product listings. We can do that by making the management, approval and reuse of ecommerce product content so smooth and rapid that we’re left with ample time to be creative, innovative and purposeful with its presentation.
So, let’s discuss three ecommerce product content problems that you can solve to minimize busywork and save your efforts for the hard stuff.
Ditch the Product Data Spreadsheets and Folders
No one in marketing wants to wonder whether they’re looking at accurate product data and content. But that is exactly what happens when the engineering team passes over a spreadsheet, which gets cut, copied and pasted into new spreadsheets, which all have to be corrected a week later because there were errors—but one spreadsheet was pasted into a folder that we can’t find and oh…there we are on Amazon saying the t-shirt is pink instead of salmon.
Instead, use a product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) system (integrated or combined into one) that can ingest product data, update it when needed, and keep it safe from accidental changes. It doesn’t matter how your engineers send product data over. As a marketing team, you just need a central source of truth for product data that cannot be corrupted. DAM+PIM checks that box.
That trustworthy source matters for several reasons. First, you want to be sure that copywriters, photographers and videographers have accurate information about the products they’re supposed to represent. Even better, with a DAM+PIM setup, they can attach those new pieces of content to one product profile that other marketers can access. The end result: The right product data and content is protected and available in one place.
Get Out of Approval Purgatory
Nothing slows ecommerce product content production quite like approvals. Someone creates a piece of content; it gets emailed to five reviewers; they send overlapping or contradictory feedback in the same or multiple chains, or inside multiple drafts; so naturally, the next version is pleasing to no one. Approvers are likely to see the massive email chain and doggedly procrastinate having to read through it. Meanwhile, your marketing team has to postpone the product launch.
Instead, use automated workflow software for approvals. There should be one online location where reviewers look at content alongside a central feed where they can see what other reviews have said and add to the dialog with awareness. The workflow tool should automatically email reviewers and nudge them to review and approve. That will be better received than having an official team pesterer blow up everyone’s inbox.
There’s a limit on how quickly you can launch products—and on how much quality content you can launch with—if your ecommerce content gets stuck in approval purgatory. Get off email and onto something that automates the process.
Repurpose Your Winning Hits
Under pressure to keep pumping out content, marketers forget to find new uses for the ecommerce product content they already have. Frankly, there might be no other choice if past graphics and images are hidden in people’s desktops and scattered through a shared folder system. But if you can organize your images in a single repository like a DAM platform, you can find and breathe new life into existing images to save time and money.
For example, the social images you created for a pre-launch teaser campaign might have worked brilliantly; you have the social analytics to prove it. Instead of commissioning cookie-cutter images people expect to see on an ecommerce site, you could repurpose the social content for commerce to give your site an Instagram feel. Or vice versa. If the analytics show that shoppers gravitate to one specific image, repurpose that for social and email marketing.
Repurposing doesn’t have to entail using the same image in a different context. It’s equally valuable to repurpose a winning style or approach. For example, line up your product descriptions from your ten bestselling SKUs and reverse outline them. A good copywriter could use that template to replicate the best descriptions and give your brand a more consistent voice on ecommerce sites.
The Impossible Task
There’s always going to be too much content and not enough. I cannot pretend to know what content will speak to your market and buyers. However, if your process for managing, approving and repurposing product data and content is dialed, you will rediscover time for research, experimentation, and creative work. Or, at the very least, you won’t call a salmon t-shirt pink.
Nate Holmes is the Product Marketing Manager at Widen