Retailers: All Hail, King Content!

By Anshey Bhatia • February 3, 2016

We’ve heard it for decades at this point: Content is King. Without a great story to tell, and a great way to tell it, potential customers are going to be much less likely to purchase from you. Look at brands like Casper and Everlane, that talk about the entire process, the level of detail put into a product, and offer countless helpful content pieces on their website and throughout many digital touch points.

With that in mind, we wanted to share several extremely important tips for your e-commerce stores’ content strategy and messaging. Here goes!

1. Brand Voice

This is absolutely crucial in determining how all copy and imagery should look and feel across the site, and really across all marketing efforts. Is your brand Fun and Quirky? Luxurious and Exclusive? Sweet and Sexy? Hopefully during the branding process, you’ve answered these questions, but if not, now is definitely the time. We love this Voice and Tone Guide from MailChimp, and recommend utilizing everything on this site to truly establish your identity.

Once you’ve established what the core essence of the brand voice, you should also find photography and write some sample copy that fits that voice. For instance, what would your brand voice say when someone wants to purchase an item? How about when someone wants to return something? What about greeting someone? Is it Hi, Hey, Hello, Yo, What’s Up, or something else altogether? These seemingly small phrases add up into your brand personality. A mood board of photography and phrases is a bonus, but can be a valuable visual resource not only for the website, but also for your team to know who you, as a company, truly are.

Sample Moodboard

Moodboard Verbal+Visual did for a restaurant

2. Photography

Once a brand voice has been established, it becomes infinitely easier to know what kind of photography is going to work well for your site. Definitely find some of the top photographers out there, look at their level of photography for images that match your brand voice, and aspire to reach that level with your own.

If you’re doing it yourself, keep it simple and clean, with good lighting. If you can’t afford a photographer, see if you have any friends who are photographers and ask them how they would set up the shoot. If you can’t afford models, ask your friends who are going to be the best fit for your brand. Be resourceful! Etsy has some great tips on DIY Product Photography, as do the folks from We Are Instrument for Instagram.

Always have a list of photographs that are needed as well — it keeps things on schedule and allows you to be efficient with the shoot. Also, make sure to know if you want lifestyle shots, lookbook shots with a model, and/or lay downs, as well as what angles you’ll need for each. Planning out your needs and establishing a level of quality for which to aspire are the first steps (and in some ways the most important) to nailing the photography down.

3. Copy

Going back to what was said earlier, make sure to first and foremost find your brand voice. This is key. Once you have that, you can go through this core list to make sure you’re covering all pages of the site:

  • Home (navigation, footer, and email sign up)
  • Products (title, details, colors, etc)
  • About (tell a story about your brand)
  • Stores / locations / stockists
  • Contact (what do you want out of this page? Potential wholesalers?)
  • FAQs (vital to alleviate customer service issues)
  • Shipping and Returns (also very important to alleviate customer service issues)
  • Privacy policy (ask your lawyer)
  • Terms and conditions (ask your lawyer)
  • All emails for shipments, returns, confirmations, newsletters, etc.

Of course, this content will vary from site to site, but having a list of these pages in tow will keep you organized. Once you write all of the content, run it through the “does that fit our brand voice” filter. If your brand were a person, would he/she say that? If not, think about editing copy to match that voice. The only exceptions are pages influenced by lawyers — always make sure those are done by your lawyer and have you fully protected.

4. Content

You may be wondering what the difference is between Copy and Content. Simple: Content is meant for distribution, and Copy is fixed on your site. Think About page (copy) versus Helpful Blog Post (content). For content, you want to come up first and foremost with a Content Strategy and Calendar. How many posts should you do every month? What should the topics be?

Whatever content you are putting out into the world, make sure above all else that it is helpful to your target audience.

Without helpful content, you’re simply talking about yourself. People want to read and see things that interest them, and when they do that they will become interested in your products and what you’re selling, and eventually buy them. Keep putting out great content, and make sure to pick the 3–5 channels that will work best. For as much time as you put into creating your content, spend double that time putting that content into the wild.

Distribute it onto all of your social platforms, email it to friends and colleagues who might be interested, and then post it again in ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) and #TBT posts.

One last and important trick: take successful content you’ve created, and repurpose it. Written a blog post people love? Make it into a podcast, host an event centered around it, and make a video on that topic for YouTube. If people like a form of content, they’ll like it over and over on different Mediums.

In Summary

When potential clients come to us and have budget constraints, the first thing I tell them is to invest in great content above all else. You can use your current site and/or a Shopify template for the time being, but great content will stand the test of time through website iterations as you grow your company.

What content strategies do you implement? What have been the most successful for you? Share in the comments below.

Anshey Bhatia

Founder of Verbal+Visual. E-commerce nerd. People connector. Travel junkie. Tech lover.

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