by Juan Robin II
The Internet makes it possible for you to sell products to virtually anyone in the world.
Let that sink in for a moment.
You have a huge opportunity, yet, your competition is fiercer than ever. Every other business has the same opportunities as you.
As a marketer, you need to create an advantage over your competitors. To do this effectively, you need to fully understand how consumers shop. What process do they take to go from identifying a need for something to making a purchase? In most cases, it starts with a general search.
74% of people turn to a search engine during the consideration and purchasing phases of the buying process, and lucky for unknown brands, 71% of shoppers use search engines to discover new products.
That’s why product buying guides are so great. When a customer searches a product online, a buying guide can serve as a way to convince them to make a purchase. More specifically, the guide can convince them to buy from your brand. But there is a science behind this strategy.
This guide will show you how to leverage product buying guides to drive sales. Whether you have product buying guides that need improvement, or you’ve never used this tactic and want to try it out, you’ll benefit from the tips covered below.
Define your target audience
Before you create and publish a product buying guide, you need to determine who will be reading it. Not every guide should be intended to please everyone. It depends on who is going to be buying what you’re selling. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses get this wrong.
The target market for a specific product category isn’t necessarily the same as your target audience for your entire brand. With your buying guides, it’s OK to be more specific.
For example, if you’re selling a hiking backpack, you’ll want to write your guide for people who are in the market for that item, even though you also sell other items, like a piece of carry-on luggage aimed at business travelers. People who are in the market for this product will get lost and be uninterested if the copy doesn’t speak to them specifically.
Once you create this persona, it’ll be much easier to develop a product buying guide based on the wants and needs of the consumer. You’ll have an image in your mind of who they are and what needs they have.
Your buying guide won’t necessarily appeal to as many people, but that’s OK. You’ll end up having much higher conversion rates for the audience that you’re targeting in the first place.
Choose a format
After you determine your audience, you need to figure out the style and format of your writing guide. You’ve got several different options to choose from here. You can develop a guide that’s mostly text, or have a guide with lots of pictures. It’s even possible to incorporate some video content into your buying guides. Maybe you want to use a combination of these styles. There are lots of ways to approach this.
You also need to decide the format of your buying guide content:
- compare multiple products
- general information about what to look for
- beginner’s purchasing guide
- introduce a new niche or type of product
Here’s an example of a desk buying guide from Wayfair:
Rather than writing a guide on specific products, they created a list of the features that consumers should look for when buying a desk. The guide is mostly text but has pictures to illustrate the points they are trying to make. It’s a very simple and easy-to-follow format that uses visual elements well. Each feature is numbered, followed by a bulleted list with additional details. The images, numbers, and bullets break up the content, so it’s easy for website visitors to scan and consume it. No intimidating walls of text here!
Include a CTA
The whole purpose of your product buying guide is to inform consumers about their options, help them decide that they want to buy something, and then ultimately convert. Let’s not lose sight of that final stage when you’re writing these.
Obviously, you want them your customer to buy from you. But if you don’t give the reader a CTA or a way to buy, that might not happen. Here’s the thing. Yes, they are reading the guide on your website. But if they have to go back to your homepage and then search for the products that they’re looking for, it’s too many extra steps. It’d be easier for them to open a new window with a search engine, or go to Amazon, Walmart, or another retail giant to buy. We don’t want that to happen.
The consumer is on your website now. This is your chance to close the sale.
Check out this simple but effective CTA button from REI.
This example is from their car racks buying guide. It’s an extensive guide with plenty of options to choose from. They have sections for trunk racks, hitch racks, spare tire racks, roof racks, and cargo boxes. Each option follows the same format as the Wayfair guide.
Each section has a brief overview of the product. That’s followed by a description of how much this type of rack can transport. All of this is followed by a bulleted list of pros and cons. This is something worth stealing for any guide you write. You don’t want to seem biased, since customers will see right through that. If you’re giving too much of a sales pitch, people won’t want to buy. It’s difficult, but you want to try and appear as neutral as possible.
The cons list isn’t necessarily saying bad things about their specific products. Instead, it talks about some limitations of products in this particular category. For example, one of the cons of the spare tire bike rack is that there is a two-bike limit. If someone doesn’t need to transport more than two bikes, that’s not a problem. They don’t need to buy a rack that can hold three or four bikes. Listing the cons like this helps increase your authority and removes some of your bias in the eyes of the consumers. As a result, you can establish trust with the reader.
Last, but certainly not least, is a CTA that provides a link to buy. If someone is reading this guide and realizes that one of these options is what they’re looking for based on the information they found, all they need to do is click on the CTA. Even the CTA isn’t too pushy. But it needs to be there so the site visitor can ultimately convert and make a purchase with as little friction as possible.
The CTA directs the visitor to the product options. From here, they can make a purchase.
Compare products in different price ranges
In a perfect world, customers would always buy your most expensive products with the highest margins. But the world we live in is far from perfect. Not every person has an unlimited budget for this one purchase. Even if they did have an unlimited budget, many consumers want the best bang for their buck. In fact, the ability to compare prices ranks high on the list of why consumers prefer to shop online in the first place.
So, help your customers out make it easy for them to compare prices right on your site. A product guide is a simple way to do this. For example, let’s say you’re selling couches. You can might have products segmented by price in categories like:
- couches under $250
- couches $250–$750
- couches over $1,000
Include prices or price range categories in your buying guides and you’ll make this easier on the reader. This allows you to create anchor prices, which is a way for you to generate more profit by focusing on your pricing strategy. Psychologically, the customer will create a value in their head about what products are worth based on the anchor prices. Your less expensive and mid-range products will look more appealing when you put them next to premium-priced products. Consider marketing one of the options in your guide as a Best Budget pick or Best Value to hit that point home.
Apply SEO principles
Product-buying guides have a shot to rank with long-tail search terms.
This makes sense: most consumers use search engines to find new products, a buying guide will help them learn and discover. To take advantage of this discoverability, conduct keyword research on each category to determine what people are actually searching for.
Again, you’re not trying to appeal to the masses with your buying guides. General search terms are going to have more competition and be more expensive if you’re running PPC campaigns.
If you make your SEO strategy too broad and general, there may be more people searching for that term, but your click-through rates will be much lower. For example, let’s say you’re selling something basic that everyone uses, like socks. A product buying guide about how to choose a pair of socks is way too general. Make it more specific for your target audience and certain niches with long-tail keywords:
- best ankle socks for workouts
- women’s waterproof running socks
- best high socks for hiking
- dress socks for sweaty feet
Do you see the difference? All of these potential search terms address more particular needs. People searching for these keywords have a specific want. So if they land on your buying guide from their search, they’ll have a much higher probability of clicking through and converting.
When a consumer navigates to a product buying guide, they are conducting research. The number one reason why customers research products online is to read product reviews.
You can also showcase a customer review or testimonial to increase brand credibility. From that review, link the reader directly to the rest of your reviews for each product. You could even consider adding a superlative to your buying guide like Customer Favorite or Popular Choice.
In addition to reviews, you can add any statistics or references to back up claims you’re making about products or categories. Doing this will make your brand seem much more trustworthy and legitimate.
Product buying guides give you a unique opportunity to assist consumers during the research stage of the customer conversion funnel.
The first thing you need to do is determine the target audience of each buying guide. Figure out a format and style that works best for you, as well as the reader. Target long-tail keywords, and include CTAs to buy the products.
Showcase products in different price ranges to appeal to a wider range of prospective buyers and leverage your existing customer reviews.
How is your business using product buying guides to drive ecommerce sales?