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How to Use Content to Drive Ecommerce Sales

With online shopping on the rise, publishers are looking for ways to get in on the action. Niche and B2B publishers, in particular, are discovering that they can use content to drive ecommerce sales and bring more revenue to their sites.

Some publishers have had more success using content to drive ecommerce sales than others. What’s their secret? We’ve dug into the research and looked at what’s causing some publishers to have so much success generating revenue with this strategy.

Type of Publication

At some publications, there’s clearly a logical connection between content and ecommerce. A fashion magazine, for example, is a natural fit for this revenue strategy. Articles in a fashion magazine organically tend to focus on popular trends and the latest products. Publishers can easily add affiliate links to the products they’re writing about or form lucrative partnerships with brands in exchange for sponsored coverage.

(You can learn more about generating revenue through affiliate marketing, here.)

For other publications, the connection between content and ecommerce is a bit more strained. Local news outlets, for example, often struggle to find a natural balance when they use content to drive ecommerce sales. Many of these publications have journalistic ethics and standards to contend with. News publishers can openly link to ecommerce products without tarnishing their journalistic integrity, just as long as any paid, sponsored, or affiliate links are clearly marked. Regardless, this revenue strategy is less popular among publishers who focus on hard news than those in other niches, such as food, fashion, or culture.

Reader Intent

We know that the publisher’s niche plays a role in the success of an ecommerce program, and publishers in some niches are more likely to be successful with this revenue strategy than others. Another factor at play is the intent of the publication’s readers.

When people are scrolling through local news websites, they’re not usually planning to buy anything. Their “intent” is to learn about what’s going on in their communities, or maybe check the latest prep sports scores. On the other hand, when people scroll through product categories on Amazon, their intent is usually to buy a product. As we all know, people are more likely to click on a link to buy an item when they’re on Amazon than when they’re reading about the local news.

That doesn’t mean people don’t make ecommerce purchases from when news publishers include affiliate links in their stories. There are countless advertisers who pay a premium for display advertising, as well as native and sponsored content, as a way to drive sales on their ecommerce websites.

Clear Headlines

While there is an incredible amount of strategy involved in using content to drive ecommerce sales, a basic rule of thumb is that publishers need to suss out reader intent and set up realistic reader expectations if they plan to use this as a long-term strategy.

Readers should clearly understand what type of content they’re reading, and whether that content will likely include affiliate product links or whether it’s editorial content that’s been written without bias. If a reader clicks on an article with the headline, “10 Ways to Improve Your Cooking,” he or she isn’t expecting to see a list of ecommerce product links. However, a headline like, “10 Spices to Add to Your Pantry” sets a more realistic expectation that the reader may see a list of cooking spices with links to purchase those products online. The headline here clearly states what the reader should expect, and people who click on the article have the intent to learn about products and potentially make a purchase.

A/B Testing

If you take anything away from this article, let it be the importance of A/B testing as you strategize and perfect your ecommerce programs. Different approaches will work better for different publishers, so it’s important to try out various headline styles and content package styles to see what works best.

Are readers more likely to click on affiliate links when your articles have a video or an image? Do articles about cooking generate more ecommerce sales than articles about home decor? Try publishing content with slight variables and then use analytics to measure your success.

Ecommerce sales are expected to spike in the coming months, as the Covid pandemic lingers and people continue to stay put at home. Publishers who capitalize on the shift in consumer culture by using content to drive ecommerce sales stand to see incredible gains, especially if they strike while the iron is hot.

To learn more about putting together a winning revenue strategy, contact Web Publisher PRO today.