How to adapt your products for e-commerce
If you’re a premium publisher, then you have services, products and content of value to offer. Why not adapt these products for e-commerce? While the general public has generally perceived the Internet as a source of free information, you can generate revenues from existing assets – without putting up an all-encompassing paywall.
1. Identify your high-value products
Be clear about where you want to go with your revenue model. If you historically provided a single newsletter about a narrow topic, how can you evolve it into a go-to source of a wider range of content for your niche audience, or add a variety of related topics to extend your reach? Can you provide business intelligence? Industry data and analysis? Directory listings? Company profiles? Expert advice? Resources for navigating the industry?
Next, look for new ways to package these resources. White papers? Books? Case studies? Webinars? Can you offer complimentary news, blogs, or commentary that complements sponsored services and paid subscriptions? How can you integrate tiered offerings?
2. Make it easy to select & purchase your products
You can lead customers to your products, but how do you get them to buy? Shopping cart abandonment is not unusual in the e-commerce industry. Recent statistics estimate cart abandonment at about 75%, which can be attributed to a multitude of reasons, including:
- A lengthy or confusing checkout process
- Too much personal information required for checkout
- Hidden costs or total costs that are higher than expected
- Registration is required before purchase
- The site seems unsecure or unreliable
- The shopping cart loses information and “kicks people out”
- The site runs slowly, crashes or becomes unresponsive
- The customer changes his or her mind
You can’t do much about the last reason but you can address the others by improving shopping cart functionality and removing friction from every interaction leading up to a purchase.
Here are four ways you can streamline your registration and checkout processes:
- Allow buyers to check out as a guest
- Add an auto-fill function to reduce the personal information registered users need to add
- Consolidate forms to provide the option of automatically using shipping addresses as billing addresses
- Modify design to present checkout, continue shopping, and other calls to action prominently and intuitively
3. Create e-commerce engagement
Any publisher considering e-commerce can take a lesson from one of the leading sellers of content: Apple. Apple’s mantra is to make things simple and make them integrated. Here are five ways you can improve e-commerce engagement:
- Integrate your content management, e-commerce, SEO and user management (CRM) systems to ensure seamless transitions and contextually relevant content across all aspects of your site.
- Use semantically tagged content to present products related to free content. Segment your audience based on purchases and subscriptions.
- Quickly capture new buyer information and give immediate access to premium content following each transaction. Offer context-based upsells and cross-sells alongside content.
- Work in real time with your fulfillment or circulation system to easily manage premium content, offers and user access for specific audience segments. Gate your content to subscriber type and allow users to self-manage their account. Also give customers the ability to re-download purchased items.
- Conduct A/B tests on design, placement of call to action (subscription offers), media types, free and paid content offerings and other relevant components of your site. A/B testing helps you determine the most effective method for engaging your readers by simultaneously testing two options for a set period of time, then analyzing the results.
Thomas Chaffee is CEO of ePublishing, a leading SaaS CMS provider helping publishers and media companies make more money online.