8 Tips to Improve Your Online Product Presentation

online-retailWhen you post a SKU on a retailer’s website, there is a minimum amount of content that is expected for EVERY item that is listed.

That bare minimum includes:

  • Primary image: Clearly shows exactly what the customer will get.
  • Short product description: Follows category specific standards and includes the key search terms.
  • Assets: Video, alternative images, and documents such as warranty, use & care, assembly, instruction manuals, etc. (usually as .pdf files).  It’s a great way for consumers to further educate themselves in the buying process and to revert back to after purchase as most consumers tend to lose the pack in information.
  • Cross merchandising: Many sites will allow you to “connect” collections & accessories
  • Detailed product description: Includes features & benefits, how it’s used – what customer wants to know to buy.

Put your shopper hat on.  Become a consumer.

8 tips for improving your online product presentationTry this exercise.  Ask others to do it as well.  Make sure they give you their candid feedback.

Here is the exercise. Put your shopper hat on. Become a consumer. Go in and look at your items.

Try Amazon, Build, Lowe’s, Walmart, Fastenal, Grainger, Menards, Ace, True Value, Target, etc. Pay particular attention to your biggest and most important retailers first.

Look at the alternate images, the videos, the pdf’s of instruction manuals, warranties, collections, accessories, specifications, description, read every review, look at shipping ability, etc, etc.

When you are online, be sure to click anywhere and everywhere to view all content. It might be fun after you do that to compare the shopping experience with a competitor or two of yours online, too.

Here is what you are likely to find:

  • Some of you have done a good job filming an appropriate video showing installation or use of the product.
  • Some of you have done a good job loading alternate images which show side view, top view, bottom view, in use shot.
  • Some of you have done a good job building out collections which feature a lot of other products that relate or share the brand name.
  • Some of you have done a good job building out accessory content showing items that should be bought together like nails with a pneumatic nailer.
  • Some of you have done a solid job with detailed descriptions and specifications.
  • Some of you have included pdf’s showing warranty, user manual, installation guide, product specs, etc.
  • Some items ship everywhere.  Some do not ship to GU, VI, PR.  Some add AK and HI to that list.
  • Some offer a white glove shipping option (no touch) delivered to the exact spot the customer wants it.

It is obvious these are a few things where some of you have done things really well.  And there’s places where you may not have met your customer’s expectations.  You need to be the judge of that for yourself.

Pay particular attention to online reviews

Star ReviewRead them all and think about how you can do better. Could you have had a better review if the instructions were clearer, if the product was enhanced, if a legible manual was included, etc, etc.

We all need to embrace the good and bad reviews. If it is a 1 or 2, how do we fix or improve something to be sure we do not get that low of a rating anymore. If it was a 3 or 4, in many cases the customer will tell you one more thing that you could have done to gain the 5 star rating.

With the greater acceptance of smart phone use, customers in stores are considering a purchase and are accessing the web to read reviews before buying. Make this important connection that it is not just about the dot.com sale, it affects the business done up and down the aisles every day.

Thanks for taking a moment to think like a typical retail shopper and let’s use this opportunity to get better.

Good Selling!

Content Strategy graphic credit: dtelepahty.com

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

Are You Enamored With Your Website?

Enamored With WebsiteToo many B2B companies have forgotten the purpose behind their websites.

Instead, they have become enamored with themselves.  Their websites have become their way of showing off their technical expertise.  Or using the web as an electronic replacement for their printed materials.

So if I know enough to go to their website for a technical spec, and I work hard enough to find it, then I’m in good shape.

Except that I might not every get sold on why I want their product in the first place.

Here’s the irony.  Some web marketing guy in the company is bragging about how deep visitors are drilling into the site.  Taking pride in how long visitors are staying on the site.

Hello!  We’re lost.  And we’re not enjoying how hard we’re working to get what little we’re given.

Every website needs an underlying philosophy

The brand vision is the roadmap to a strong brandEvery building materials manufacturer needs to think about how to bring their sales materials to life.  The sales force does it every day.  The web should be a tool and reinforce the key messages that the sales team is sharing with customers and prospects.

The best way to think about your website philosophy is with this structure in mind:

  • Product
  • Purpose
  • Education

The website should be focused on delivering for the visitor:

1. Information

It’s not enough to share the features of your product line.  Buyers are looking for the benefits your product is providing.  Too often more features will be viewed as added cost, eliminating the possibility of being added to a project. By the same token, using the lowest, priced, most basic products will rob you of an important way you could be differentiating yourself in the marketplace.

2. Resources

Create A Resource Rich Website To Keep Audience EngagedBecoming known as a resource will bring you more viewers.  Regardless of whether they see themselves as potential purchasers or not, by being the resource for critical information those viewers will gain a new and deeper understanding of your company and product.

Here’s an example.  If a home owner comes to your website to learn about when to reshingle their home and learns more about your brand as an authority in roofing, they may become sold on your brand.

If your website can help the home owner select the right product, they may upsell themselves as they become educated and immersed in your materials.  Obviously this isn’t happening in a single website visit, and it’s only logical that they’d want your website to direct them to a skilled and qualified roofing contractor who can help them understand the total cost.

Now that web marketer can start bragging about a sticky web site and know that there’s a good reason behind it.

3. Tips/Insights

You’ve heard it before, content is king.  It applies to your web site as well.  Creating fresh, timely content through tips and insights is a reason to have homeowners as well as builders and installers wanting to come back to your site.  The more practical and helpful your approach, the greater the engagement and interest your site will generate.

Go back to your own website and look at it with this new lens

Using Outside In ThinkingHas it become an electronic version of your old sales binders?  Is it reaching all the players in the channel…from consumers confused about what and how all the way to contractors and builders saying why?

Have you made it relevant and used it to educate?  Inform?  Engage?

And most importantly, are you using the web to convert consumers from prospects to buyers through effective communication— consistently driving your brand promise in a meaningful way?

Good Selling!

10 Marketing Thought Leaders You Need to Follow

10 marketing thought leaders you need to followLook no further than these 10 marketing thought leaders for inspiration and insight.  Each one has a unique perspective that is worth your attention.   My top 10 list, in no particular order, includes:

  1. Steve Farnsworth
  2. Mark Mitchell
  3. Heidi Cohen
  4. Graham Robertson
  5. Michael Gass
  6. Timothy Carter
  7. Kim Garst
  8. Peg Fitzpatrick
  9. Mike Brown
  10. Jeff Bullas 

Below is a brief profile of each, with a link to their site, along with a screenshot and a few words usually edited right from their own About section.  I’ve also included their Twitter address.

Steve Farnsworth…The @Steveology Blog – The Forum For Marketing Geeks@Steveology

Steve Farnsworth is the Chief Digital Strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing where he consults mid to large organizations on communication strategies to create product preference and build customer communities that foster brand loyalty. With over 13 years as a senior executive, Steve writes, blogs, and speaks about how smart companies can effectively integrate social media, PR 2.0, and content marketing into their marketing mix.

Find him on Twitter at @Steveology.

Mark Mitchell…Whizard Strategy

Whizard StrategyMark Mitchell is an expert in helping building product manufacturers be more successful with builders, architects, contractors, dealers, distributors and big boxes. He develops simple solutions to big problems using strategy.

The distinct value of Mark is that he always attaches a unique vantage point or insight to what others settle to “know” or accept as reality, this is “wizardly smart.” The most crucial way this benefits your business is in having a visionary on your side that helps you realize how much you (and your competitors) are not seeing. Perhaps what’s most impressive, is how quickly Mark catches up to speed, begins thinking alongside of you and then shakes the foundation of what you view as possible.

Find him on Twitter at @Whizardly.

Heidi Cohen…Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Expert

Heidi Cohen.comHeidi Cohen’s blog provides marketing related insights grounded in digital and direct marketing. Served with a creative twist, Heidi includes practical tips based on her extensive experience that readers can apply to their marketing.

Heidi Cohen simplifies the complex concepts behind today’s evolving digital marketing challenges into an easy-to-understand format that facilitates readers’ grasp of new topics. Heidi’s articles provide valuable insights and tactics that readers can readily apply to their current marketing plans to better engage prospects, customers and the public.

Find her on Twitter at @heidicohen.

Graham Robertson…Beloved Brands blog

Beloved BrandsThe reason why Graham Robertson started Beloved Brands Inc. was to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand. He only does two things: 1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.

He has a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth. And he loves to make Brand Leaders better by sharing his knowledge. He’s a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.

Find him on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1.

Michael Gass…FUEL LINES Fueling Ad Agency New Business Through Social Media

Fuel LinesMichael Gass is an international new business consultant to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies. Since 2007, he has led in the use of social media and content marketing strategies to make agency new business EASIER.  He is the founder of Fuel Lines, which has been rated among the top 100 marketing blogs in the world, according to Ad Age’s Power 150.

Find him on Twitter at @michaelgass.

Timothy Carter…Timothy Carter – Thoughts on Search Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Brand Building for Business

Timothy Carter siteTimothy Carter is a social media marketing consultant, speaker and trainer of individuals and companies to optimize their online personal and company presence and brand.

This blog is an outlet for him to write about all things to do with Social Media and Online Marketing which includes Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube or whatever he thinks about or what catches his interest in the digital marketing world, from search engine optimization, to social media marketing ideas.

Find him on Twitter at @TimothyCarter.

Kim Garst Boom! Social boomsocial.net Better Solutions, BIGGER Results!

Boom SocialKim Garst is the CEO of Boom! Social. She is the author of The Quick and Easy Guide to Branding Your Business and Creating Massive Sales with Pinterest and she speaks and trains business owners worldwide.

Times have changed and marketing online has hit a revolution era. Marketing is no longer about one-sided conversation where you push your sales message at your target market. Rather, successful marketing is dependent upon your ability to build relationships and have conversations with your consumers using social media.

She helps companies identify and build their personal brand online; incorporating the social media aspects and obtaining REAL results for your business in a social world.

Find her on Twitter at @kimgarst.

Peg Fitzpatrick…Positively Peggy  Social media sparkle, marketing pro and positive vibe producer

Positively PeggyRockin’ a positive attitude • passionate about social media • writer • and so much more!

Peg loves sharing her inspirational thoughts and helping others learn social media through her blog. Covering all the major social media platforms, she frequently hears “you’re everywhere!” She’s passionate about life, social media, and inspiring others to be their best.

Find her on Twitter at @PegFitzpatrick.

Mike Brown…Brainzooming Catalyzing innovative business success

BrainzoomingMike Brown is the founder of the The Brainzooming™ Group.  He has been at the forefront of leading Fortune 500 culture change, contributing new approaches in research, developing simplified tools for innovation, strategy planning, and aligning sales, marketing, and communications strategies for maximum business results.

Mike Brown is the author of the e-book, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation,” a guide to breaking through personal challenges to living a more creative and innovation-oriented life. Additionally, he authors the daily Brainzooming blog on strategy, creativity, and innovation.

Find him on Twitter at @Brainzooming.

Jeff Bullas…jeffbullas.com

JeffBullas.comJeff Bullas is a consultant, coach, mentor and speaker and work with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and company presence and brand with digital marketing and social media through the use of social media channels and other web and mobile technologies.

This blog is about all things to do with Social Media and Online Marketing, including Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and inbound and content marketing.

This blog is also about using the internet to help business and individuals to market themselves efficiently not in an intrusive way through interruption marketing but engaging other people and companies in conversations that build trust and relationships.

Find him on Twitter at @jeffbullas.

Be sure to  also read the Channel Instincts blog  “10 Product Marketing Blogs You Need to Read” for more top marketing bloggers.