eCommerce is among the handful of industries that thrived amidst the pandemic.
Worldwide lockdowns ensured that most people were shopping online leading global eCommerce to grow by 33% just in 2020, and the trend is likely to continue even beyond the pandemic.
But with growing demand and profitability, eCommerce naturally turned more crowded and competitive as a niche in the past recent years. International e-commerce players like Amazon scaled up their operations worldwide to meet the growing demand, and retail players like Walmart entered the arena as well. Even small retail businesses discovered eCommerce as a lifeline for their survival, serving local communities online in order to survive.
All things considered, the pandemic accelerated the growth of an already rapidly expanding eCommerce sector. As opportunities and competition continue to rise, eCommerce businesses have realized the urgent need to stand apart from the competition.
While strategies and tricks to improve conversion rates, ROI, and customer acquisition certainly hold an important place, e-commerce businesses need to find ways to engage their audience with their brands as well as their products. They need users to be involved with their businesses beyond just a single transaction; it’s the only way to retain users long term.
The answer: UX-oriented content marketing.
Why Content and UX are Essential for Growing your eCommerce Business
Both content and UX are co-dependent factors that influence users to make a purchase. Ideally, you want users to find your brand when they look for specific products they are interested in buying. This is where SEO and content marketing play their part. Once the user lands on your site or app, you want their experience to be as smooth and memorable as possible. Here is where UI & UX design comes into play.
But even when users are interacting with your product-related content, their experience still matters since a great UX at this stage can convince your audience to buy the said product from you. And even at the very bottom end of your sales funnel, where most users would be ready to check out, well-curated content can help users gain more confidence in their purchase decision.
A multi-channel content strategy can significantly improve your brand's reach across multiple platforms. Long-form, educational and tutorial-like blog posts can teach users more about specific products and the most effective ways of using them, while social media marketing can help users stay in touch with your brand, keeping them updated about running sales, discounts, and offers, etc.
Beyond just keeping in touch with your consumers, content marketing is involved in every stage of your sales funnel as well. From catalog pages to SERPs ranking, nothing remains beyond the scope of your content strategy, almost all of which can be further optimised with clever UX design tools.
Therefore, engaging content designed with UX principles in mind has the potential to boost almost every improvable metric of your business, which is why eCommerce development companies have been big on UX-oriented content design for their clients.
Let's take a look at some actionable ways in which good UI/UX design can boost your content strategy.
How great UX can compliment your content strategy
Having a detailed but snappy website design for your eCommerce store is surely a great start, but you'll need more than just a fast website to maximize your content's potential. Starting from designing your website's flow and navigation to better encourage organic browsing to ensuring quick and hassle-free checkout, strategic UX design can make a massive difference to your content strategy and hence your e-commerce success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Design with flow and simplicity, prioritise easy navigation
Website flow and navigation are one of the trickiest areas to perfect within the e-commerce niche, primarily because of the sheer number of product categories and sub-categories your average e-commerce store needs to maintain. With thousands of products listed for purchase, getting your listings in order can be a daunting task.
A Baymard Institute survey indicated that around 75% of eCommerce sites fail at implementing products with similar attributes as separate categories. Meaning a ton of products across the majority of sites are miss categorized and thus hard to find. Needless to elaborate how this is a navigation disaster. Functional product categorization is extremely important because it helps the user find what they are looking for and promotes browsing for products, while a lack of it can seriously affect credibility and user confidence.
eCommerce websites need to be designed with a simple but robust categorization that promotes easy cross-category flow and navigation. On top of that, the site's structure needs to provide easy access to product-related content and user-generated content like reviews and ratings. Intuitive and smooth navigation between all categories and content silos must be possible, minimizing the time and friction experienced by the user going from discovering a new product to reading more about it, and finally to checkout.
Implement strategic CTAs
CTAs are crucial for eCommerce. Even a simple 'buy now' prompt can considerably boost sales of a featured product. But what most e-commerce stores fail to realize is that CTAs can be used for a lot more than just sales prompts.
Consider the example BigCommerce points out when talking about Flip flop shops.
The site features a simple newsletter sign-up CTA within its footer. Placing a CTA this far below ensures it doesn’t interrupt the user’s browsing experience but it also presents an opportunity to engage the users once they are done scrolling.
CTAs can be used to introduce users to new content streams that they wouldn’t have been previously aware of. Offering up a tiny discount for a newsletter sign up ensures users can keep up with upcoming offers and products that they might be interested in.
Design with user habits in mind
Understanding how your users interact with your website/app is critical for designing a layout that maximizes visibility for your content. Countless studies have revealed several reading patterns that users subconsciously follow while scanning a web-page or an app. E-commerce stores when designed with these patterns and user-habits in mind have a higher chance of keeping their audience engaged. User-conscious UI design puts a spotlight on your content, making it significantly more effective.
Source: Eye-tracking heatmap by NN Group
You want relevant content featured at significant hotspots within your layout. Web and app developers can further emphasize this content by utilizing images, fonts, and animations.
The point is to ensure that relevant product-related information is delivered to the consumer effectively, boosting buyer confidence and customer loyalty. UX plays a role at every other user-touch point of your content strategy as well. Blogs and catalog pages need to be SEO optimized for better rankings within search engines. Your brand's social media campaign must focus on what is relevant and important for your potential consumers.
The point here is that your eCommerce store's content and user experience need to be designed around user habits and preferences. Creating content relevant to your customer's needs and pain points and designing your store with user habits in mind can go a long way when with user engagement and retention.
Running an eCommerce store isn't easy. Though the industry as a whole is experiencing significant growth, small and medium-sized players need to consistently innovate in order to survive. eCommerce brands wanting to boost their sales rely on implementing clever UX strategies to improve their content marketing efforts.
As eCommerce brands, businesses need to ensure that their content is delivered in the most effective manner possible. Businesses employ a bunch of UX strategies to achieve this, from implementing a layout that highlights relevant content and prompts seamless navigation to strategically placing CTAs for boosting sales and content outreach.
A UX-driven content strategy can benefit your business in more ways than one. For e-commerce brands looking for more than just a transactional relationship with their users, branding, and marketing that caters to users' needs and pain points is the only real way to achieve customer loyalty.
All things considered, eCommerce brands that prioritize user experience at every stage of their business, be it within their sales funnels or their content strategy, do significantly well compared to their competition. UX-oriented content marketing isn't just an optional advantage but a necessity for any eCommerce business wanting to survive in this competitive landscape.