Using Product Spotlights to Drive Conversions

by Nick Grant July 29th, 2011 

product-demonstration

Last time we talked we focused on driving new or regular readers to your site using product reviews. Tech sites lend themselves well to ongoing product reviews because new consumer electronics are constantly coming out. They also tend to cost a bit of money, so people are more likely to do thorough research before they click buy.

For this next article were going to talk about what to do with your site visitors to get them to convert into shoppers. For that we turn to product spotlights. You know what these are: you log on to a site and sitting there on the front page is their featured item or item of the day, or item of the week (or whatever their individual gimmick is).

By calling attention to a specific item that they are trying to sell, the site takes some of the guess work out of the shopping process. But what are the most important parts of a product spotlight and how can you get the most out of yours?

Great Text

All the factors below are important, but the text that you use to promote your product and the product spotlight can make or break the conversion. Much like writing a review, make sure to explain the product clearly and completely. However, unlike the product review, highlight the selling points as much as you want/can.

A word of warning, however – dont obscure or gloss over a shortcoming in the product in an attempt to move more units. The backlash from shoppers feeling lied to – both in terms of refunds, lost time processing customer service complaints, and in bad PR (which gets super-amplified these days thanks to Twitter and Facebook) – is too big a risk. Be up front and honest. You might add a recap at the bottom of the spotlight, just pointing out three or four really favorable points that you are trying to stress.

Time Limit

Product spotlights are often only as strong as their time limits. A month is generally too long. A week is a good middle ground. Daily product spotlights have a lot of strong points, including a tight time schedule, but you should only take a stab at them if you have a big writing staff, a varied inventory (you cant sell five different mp3 players over the course of five days), and significant traffic.

Whatever time period you choose for your product spotlight, make sure that you are well connected to social networks. If your product spotlight strikes a chord with even a few of your readers you can get a lot of traction from them sharing it with their networks. Again – that ticking clock helps move units.

Price Break

If you are trying to move old or overstocked inventory, consider a price break (if you can afford it – if not, skip to the next section). Present the price break clearly right next to the product. How you display it is up to you: manufacturers price vs. sales price, old price on your site vs. sales price, or lowest competitors price vs. sales price. Just make sure that your visitors understand that this is a great deal.

If you cant do a price break, consider advertising that your regular price is better than your competitors' (assuming that it is) or other great features that your site offers (free shipping over a certain amounts, extended warranties, etc.).

Photos

This goes without saying. Online shoppers (and all online users, really) are extremely visual. You need good images of your product from a variety of angles. Shots of the product in action or of different capabilities are also helpful. If it comes in different colors or configurations be sure to show them too.

Any feature that you specifically call attention to, be sure to show clearly in the photos. Consider arranging the photos strategically throughout the text so that as you are discussing a feature, you have an image that shows it. Also collect all the photos in one spot at the end of the product spotlight for ease of viewing.

Reviews

Favorable reviews from actual past buyers can also help drive conversions. These kinds of reviews are tricky because they come from someone else, but you can control the message somewhat by hand-selecting only the ones that paint the product in the most positive light. Pick well-balanced ones, though. You dont want to get caught stacking the deck with reviews that overlook major flaws in the product – youll pay for it later.

This works for a few reasons, but chief among them is that (while shoppers might be familiar with you and trust your advice and your site) they know that you are actively trying to sell them something. If you have reviews and feedback from other past shoppers with nothing to gain from the increased sales on your website, shoppers are often more comfortable making the purchase.

(Well talk about ways you can try to promote this kind of behavior in our next piece.)

Videos

Without all the other elements we talked about here being in place, your product spotlight isnt going to be very successful. The addition of a video alone wont turn any item into the next iPad2, but it will make a good product spotlight into something pretty great. If you have video capability and feel comfortable being on camera (or at least know someone who does), then consider adding it in. Youll be glad that you did.

Conclusion

Product spotlights are there to convince people to buy stuff. Its that simple. But you cant do that without well written promo text, possible price break, and great images. Supporting reviews from loyal customers or product owners and a ticking clock that creates shopper anxiety will help create buzz and urge people to make the sale sooner rather than later. Last but not least, a strong video presentation dovetails with the photos to take advantage of the highly visual nature of ecommerce shoppers.

Nick Grant

Nick Grant is the co-founder of ZippyCart.com, a website dedicated to providing honest, non-bias, and up-to-date reviews of the best ecommerce software solutions on the web. Visit ZippyCart to learn about the world of ecommerce, read expert shopping cart reviews, compare top ecommerce solutions side by side, read daily ecommerce news, and much more.

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