How “Listening” To User-Generated Content Leads To E-Commerce Sales

How do you craft e-commerce content that results in conversions? Look to your consumers to provide insights and create relevant content, advises columnist Benjamin Spiegel.

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Content is king. That is as true for e-commerce as it is for search or even social. In order to not only capture but also retain the attention of today’s consumers, brands must build meaningful experiences that provide a unique value to their audiences. This is most effectively achieved with great content.

Over the past years, I have seen brands everywhere staring to master the art of content creation and distribution. They are creating impactful stories that truly make their brands matter and become part of the consumer’s life. And while I am excited to see this trend further evolve, I also see a sizable gap in the quality of e-commerce content.

To be successful, content creators must understand that the traditional path to purchase has evolved dramatically; it is no longer a predefined journey, and brands can no longer just wait for the consumer to reach the next stage or touch point.

Today, each consumer builds his or her own path, and the explosion of digital platforms and technology will further impact how people discover, connect with and purchase products online.

However, what still remains true is that the path to purchase almost always ends with some form of product experience by way of product content. This can be:

  • The product page on your brand site;
  • The detail view on an e-retailer like Amazon;
  • A side-by-side view in a shopping comparison site;
  • The product view in a couponing app;
  • Or simply the search results page for a local brick and mortar like CVS or Walmart.

All of these need to have a strong content story in order to close the sale and move the product into the cart.

E-Commerce Content For Users, By Users

So what does the perfect e-commerce content look like? It might not be what brands and agencies are thinking (or care to accept). Rather than writing unsolicited claims of brand superiority and repetitive product benefits, today’s conversion-inducing content needs to address consumer concerns and proactively answer people’s questions.

In order for e-commerce content to be visible, increase the basket size, and drive brand equity, loyalty and advocacy, it must be based on actual consumer insights instead of product claims. To achieve that, we take the principles of social listening and apply them to e-commerce in several ways.

Discoverability — Search is the primary method of discovery today, so for your content to float to the top, it needs to be written using your audience’s language, using their voice, words and language. It’s nice that the brand sees its new electric toothbrush as a “dental cleansing system,” but 99% of consumers are looking for “electric toothbrushes.”

Make sure when you create your product content that you leave the marketing jargon behind and use your search data to create content that connects to consumers’ questions.

Pre-sales questions — Unanswered questions are a leading reason why consumers do not complete an online purchase. With a nearly unlimited selection in places like Amazon, they don’t have to buy your product or buy from your site — they can buy a product whose content answers all their questions.

So how do you create content that answers their questions? And where do you find the question? A lot of sites like Amazon and Apple have a Q&A section on a per-product basis. Consumers can ask a question like: “Was this made in the U.S.?” or “Is it waterproof?” and the seller, manufacturer or other users can then answer the question.

Simply look at other products in your category and collect their questions. Pick the ones that get asked often and make it part of your product content. That way, you address all the possible pre-sales questions and ensure that you close the deal.

Be relevant — There are millions of reviews on e-commerce sites with millions of consumers openly telling you what matters to them. I love these! For any new product launch, MMI Agency (my employer) looks at thousands of reviews, picks out the features consumers care about, and highlights those as part of the campaign.

You would be surprised how often the primary brand claims differ from what the consumers actually care about. We often work with a brand’s R&D group to help inform them about the changing consumer focus and “inspire” them to create new products and features.

We have done study after study, and have discovered one alarming trend. FMCPG (fast-moving consumer packaged goods) consumers are starting to put availability and time to gratification before brand loyalty.

That means that even if you have the best content, design and user experience, if your product takes too long to make it into consumers’ hands, they will choose a different product. Make sure it’s available and ready to get to the consumer fast. Instant gratification often is the name of the game.

In Summary

Don’t rely solely on product claims and sales copy to create your e-commerce content. You will find much more relevant content (that results in a higher conversion rate) directly from consumers.

Consumers openly share questions and opinions, and tell you what matters. Read, “listen” and apply what they say to your campaign. And by using their language and terms, you also ensure that your content sounds authentic.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Benjamin Spiegel is the CEO of MMI Agency, a Houston-based brand activation agency that has been serving Fortune 500 clients since 1986. A digital advertising veteran with extensive experience in advertising, media, data, and technology, Benjamin has developed highly successful marketing campaigns for numerous global brands. Prior to joining MMI Agency, he was the VP of Innovation at Catalyst/GroupM, a WPP agency, where he managed the P&G business.

(Some images used under license from


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