How do you picture a buyer deciding to purchase something off your site?
Does it happen that one morning your target customer wakes up with a single-minded focus to purchase a big ticket item? He then proceeds to add the item to his cart as he casually browses different products over morning coffee. And pays? This scenario could totally play out. And you’d love for this to happen regularly. But, that’s rare. Most purchases are fuelled by either desire or need. This need or desire is followed up by action. Consumers shop by identifying a need first, learning about solutions and then making their purchase.
That’s where buyer’s guides come in. You can better appreciate the need for creating buyer’s guides once you’ve read the article. A SearchEngineLand study says that 74% of consumers online use Google to find reviews, and information on what they should buy. Google isn’t the only mode of discovery. People use social search and search on retail sites too. To sum up, a lot of research goes into understanding the different features of a product. That’s where buyer’s guides help. These guides combine the beauty of sales and marketing. With buyer’s guides you attract leads during the consideration stage itself. This gives you an opportunity to nurture these leads. Buyer’s guides are an ideal way to convince these leads for a purchase and turn them into customers. With these guides, you make it easy for customers to choose you over similar brands.
The Process Of Creating Buyer’s Guides
- Create In-Depth Buyer’s Guides
You might have come across buyer’s guides on B2B sites at least once. That’s one reason they’re seen as a B2B strategy. That doesn’t present an accurate picture of reality. You can use them just as effectively on eCommerce sites. Let’s understand this with the help of an example.
For an eCommerce site, the digital marketing agency Goinflow were consulted for they created buyer’s guides. These guides were relevant to each of the category pages. These were created in a bid to improve sales and number of leads. As expected these guides improved the number of leads and sales for the eCommerce site. One of the guides alone led to over $100,000 worth in sales.
So here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a buyer’s guide:
- Decide on the kind of guide you want to produce
There are different options. You can create a simple guide that compares different products. The guide can provide general information on product types. You can create a comparison guide, content geared towards beginners, you can write about the different configuration options available, sizes and so on.
Here are a few examples:
BestBuy’s microwave buying guide is suitable for anyone who’s a complete novice at microwaves. The guide lists configuration options along with different types of microwaves that are available.
Cymax in their guide explores different types of writing desks.
As you can see there are multiple sections in the guides you saw above. Let these guides inspire you. The guide you create should be in-depth, discussing ideas at length. Don’t be afraid to link out to competitors. The goal with the guide is to make others value you for the authority figure you are. This will build trust around your brand. If the guide isn’t all encompassing your customer may not be inclined to purchase from you. The person reading the post sees you as less of an authority figure. The examples shared above from BestBuy and Cymax don’t list any products in particular. They provide enough information for consumers to make informed decisions. That’s not to say you can’t include actual products.
- Add products
We insist on adding products. Divide your buyer guides into multiple sections. Each section should talk about a unique product. In the sections, include an explanation of the most critical features of the product. Another way to write a good guide is by turning it into a comparison post. You could list out prices and include products that are under a particular price range. Say web hosting under $50 or under $200 and so on.
- Web hosting under $10 per month
- Web hosting between $10–$20 per month
- Web hosting over $30 per month
With price ranges, the buyer is assured that nothing on the list is above his/her budget.
- List pros and cons
Follow that up by listing pros and cons. Without cons, readers will assume you’re biased. They won’t accept the guide as honest. The goal is to be seen as trustworthy. The cons don’t have to point out the worst of any product. You just need to talk about shortcomings. Explain how it falls short of expectations compared to other products. Listing the cons like this helps increase your authority. It removes some of your bias in the eyes of the consumers. As a result, you can establish trust with the reader. Finally, don’t make it a sales pitch.
- See if the guide is suitable for your industry
Buyer guides with lots of text or images aren’t suitable for every industry. For example, there’s not a lot of features you can talk about on clothes. Topshop’s solution is a style quiz that helps customers choose something fit for their personality and tastes.
The quiz collects individual preferences and presents a catalogue full of items that cater to the individual. So that’s another option for you to try. In the same spirit you could offer videos as buyer guides. 50% of the population online watch a video every day. Finally end it with a call-to-action that shows the customer where he/she can buy the products from.
Add calls to action inspired from the products you talk about in the guide. Don’t make it too pushy. As you saw above, there are plenty of ways you can approach writing a buyer’s guide.
Promoting The Buyer’s Guide
2. How To Promote Your Guide
After producing the guide, you need people to see it. Only then will you be able to derive any real benefits from it. Here’s how to do that.
- Link to the guides at the bottom of the category pages
We talked about how Goinflow created buyer guides for a site they consulted for. They internally linked the guide at places where people could see them most frequently. Example— bottom of relevant category pages.
For example, this is the bottom of the microwaves page on LG.
They don’t have a buyer’s guide. Only links to pages that show you where to buy the product.
It’s an ideal place to link out to buyer’s guides. If you do link out to buyer’s guides, a visitor who didn’t find anything relevant and scrolled to the bottom of the page, finds a guide that’s useful for him/her. With such guides you can provide these readers valuable information. This helps them learn more about the product and convert.
- Add internal links in blog posts
When writing blog posts add internal links to the guide wherever they make sense.
The blog posts you write may provide a deeper look at topics briefly covered in the guide. Or mention the guide in the context of other relevant posts. Having similar related content pieces can improve your ranking and help you snag positions for multiple long tail keywords. Plus an in depth buyer’s guide is always a link magnet.
3. Use Guides As Lead Generation Gateways
Guides can be standalone pages. Or they can be gated and used for lead generation.
Here’s an example from one of the lead generation guides Goinflow created.
The lead generation form is simple asking only the name and email address. It’s written as a usual blog post. To read it, a visitor has to provide his name and email address.
As ecommerce marketers, snagging visitor email addresses can be a topline priority. Whether you need to use guides as lead magnets depends on a few factors.
With an email address on file you have ample time and multiple opportunities to get prospects to make a purchase. When you publish a guide, it’s up to you to keep it free or keep it behind a gate. If there’s a longer research cycle involved with a product it makes sense to keep the guide behind gates, get email ids and run a custom lead-nurturing campaign geared toward these leads.
In addition to buyer’s guides, you can repurpose ebooks, podcast downloads and similar resources as a content upgrade. Here are ways in which you can provide additional content to your site visitors.
Infographics, downloadable infographics, gifts and memes, interactive quizzes, videos, podcast interviews, downloadable webinars, courses, and other assets are some examples of content types you may choose to give for free.
The key is in delivering value. What do you think of my short guide on buyer guides for your ECommerce business? Do let me know in the comments below.