I manage a team of over 30 freelance writers from around the world, who produce thousands of commerce content articles per month. But it’s not just my bubble that scours the web for commerce-fluent writers. Just take a look at any online job board to get a taste of the explosive demand:
While media companies are tanking, merging, and cutting staff, their commerce teams are flourishing, and for good reason. Exhibit A: Buzzfeed’s commerce business drove $250 million in transactions last year alone, according to Digiday.
In this article, we look at what makes commerce content such a powerful marketing tool, and how you can leverage it to help Shopify merchants grow their businesses.
What is commerce content, anyway?
Commerce articles are product-centric editorial pieces that (transparently) profit from any purchases made as a direct result of the article. Newspapers and blogs have been writing about and reviewing products for years, and now they’re rightfully helping themselves to a piece of the pie.
Unlike traditional ad media’s high costs that often leave smaller merchants out of the game altogether, commerce content offers an incredible revenue and PR opportunity to merchants operating on a smaller scale. That means that if you’re doing marketing for clients with smaller budgets, crafting high-quality commerce content for them is an avenue to gaining exposure—without paying top dollar for traditional media.
A commerce article might highlight the novelty of a product, or feature products in a buyer’s guide or listicle format. From there, readers can click through to purchase the product directly. Rather than paying a per-click rate, the media site hosting the content is generally given a set margin of the revenue generated by the article.
You might also like: 7 Tips to Help Cultivate Authenticity for your Affiliate Marketing Business.
How to write successful commerce content for clients
If you are a writer looking for consistent work, commerce content might be the path for you. But the Wirecutters and the CNNs of the world—not to mention the merchants you work with—aren’t just looking for creative types with a passion for the oxford comma; they’re looking for writers who can drive purchases. With over 40,000 commerce articles produced under my wing, here are a few tangible steps I’ve learned to create impactful commerce content.
Step 1: Work the angle
Like any piece of editorial, a commerce article should be worth clicking into, reading, and sharing. Every product featured should have an angle, or it’s simply not worth the homepage inventory. Below are some proven ways to turn an ordinary product into editorial content.
An incredible discount or sale
Example: The Best Buys From Wayfair’s Cyber Week Blowout [Refinery29]
In our consumer-driven economy, a sale is enough of a storyline. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even Prime Day have been reason enough for media sites to bulk up their staffing and multiply their article volume. Last Black Friday, Wirecutter had around 100 staffers writing articles that drove customers to the biggest, best sales from around the web.
As major retail events like Black Friday/Cyber Monday have transitioned from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce, the web has become oversaturated with opportunities to buy. Discount and sales-centric articles help consumers separate the valuable from the worthless to find the best deals on the web. They can also help you make your client stand out from the Walmarts and Amazons of the world.
Products that solve problems
Example: 37 Things That’ll Save You From Yourself [Buzzfeed]
Meme culture has tapped into our human fascination with life’s mundane problems, and articles following the same template are primed for virality. Take a seemingly simple, infomercial-style product and dig right into how it can solve our simplest annoyances, and you have a recipe for success.
The founder’s story
Example: How One Startup Is Waging War On Multitasking [Digg]
This type of content is an opportunity to take a more editorial angle and focus in on the people behind the product. This is especially effective for products funneled through crowdfunding websites or a Shark Tank-style vetting process. Everyone loves a Cinderella story.
Step 2: Craft the right headline
Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Copyblogger claims that while 80 percent of visitors will read a headline, only 20 percent will actually read the article. In a world of constant content overload, you need a headline that will drive CTR. Here are some tips:
Include brand names when relevant
Example: 4 Sonicare Alternatives at a Fraction of the Price [Salon]
Whether you’re promoting a known brand name or a worthy alternative, readers and content aggregators gravitate towards names they know and trust.
Include price points when they’re compelling
Example: Does This $40 Exfoliating Toner Actually Rival P50? [Refinery29]
Don’t be afraid of dollar signs in headlines. If the price point is swoon-worthy, show it off to the 80 percent.
Step 3: Timing is everything
When it comes to creating content, find the perfect moment to play your cards. Is there a cultural phenomenon, holiday, or something particularly newsworthy that makes the product relevant? Are there related search terms picking up volume? Find a way to make the article matter in the moment.
Step 4: Craft an effective call to action
It’s essential that commerce content delivers value to the reader—after all, that’s what separates it from an ad. However, you also don’t want to lose track of the end goal: converting users. Remember: that revenue is what will score you that second assignment from your client.
Strategically place CTAs throughout the content so the reader has an opportunity to click through to the product before they drop off and move onto the next shiny article.
Why commerce content, now?
With upwards of 25 percent of the revenue of media sites coming through commerce content, it’s becoming impossible to ignore as a key marketing tactic for brands of all sizes. From a marketer’s perspective, this provides a significant opportunity not only with future but current clients. Expertise in writing commerce content will offer your clients an easy entry into this booming channel. Combined with marketing expertise, understanding what makes readers tick will help set you up for success. From either angle, commerce content is not going anywhere soon, and the ability to navigate its waters may be the edge you need.
How have you worked with commerce content? Share your experiences in the comments below.