We often recommend creating customer buyer’s guides to our eCommerce clients — especially those who sell big purchase items or items with a more intense research process.
When there are a lot of options available or if your customers typically have a lot of questions around a product, this product type could be a good candidate for a buyer’s guide — which can answer commonly asked questions and offer product recommendations.
They’re just as beneficial for the companies that make them:
- increasing your organic search rankings, and
- aiding in conversions.
We’ve helped one client in the home improvement industry create and promote several guides. One of the guides alone has led to over $100,000 worth in sales.
In this article, we’ll share the process of how we create and promote a successful guide for our client.
Note: If you’re interested in creating a buyer’s guide for some of your big purchase items, we can help. Contact us here.
1. We set the topic based on search volume
We rely heavily on organic search to promote our client’s buyer’s guides, so we don’t want to create a guide for a product that no one is searching for.
Even if you happen to sell a lot of a specific product, it doesn’t guarantee that lots of people are searching for it online.
For instance, let’s use a company that sells insulation for houses. Even if they sold more spray foam insulation than any other option, they may still want to create a more generic “home insulation buyer’s guide” because the generic term has a much higher search volume than a specific kind of insulation.
With higher search volumes, your guide is more likely to be found, and with the more general topic, it will appeal to a wider audience. And you can always strongly recommend your top-selling product in the guide itself.
On the other hand, creating a category-wide guide isn’t always the best practice.
Sometimes a specific product will have high search volume, in which case it makes sense to create a buyer’s guide around it. This is especially true if the product is complicated and has a longer research process.
For instance, fiber cement siding has six times the search volume of exterior siding. It would be worthwhile to write that specific guide.
2. We link to the buyer’s guide at the bottom of category pages
After we’ve produced the guide, we link to it in places where site visitors would be most likely to want additional product information, such as at the bottom of related category pages.
If a potential customer reaches the end of a category page and hasn’t found what they were looking for, a buyer’s guide can help keep them on the site as well as provide useful information to unsure consumers.
Keeping with our example, perhaps a consumer got to the end of the insulation category page because they were overwhelmed with options. The guide is a good opportunity to explain the advantages and disadvantages of blow-in versus roll insulation.
3. We add internal links where relevant
We write related blog posts that link to the buyer’s guide, and link to the posts in the guide itself. It’s important that each piece of content offers unique information — it can’t just be a repeat of what you find in the guide, or vice versa.
If you explain the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of insulation in the guide, some blog posts that could easily compliment the guide would be:
- All about blow-in insulation — a much deeper look into blow-in insulation than is given in the guide
- What you need to know about your energy bill
- Is it a good idea to insulate your floors?
Having multiple pieces of unique but related content helps with your SEO reach, as well as providing an ecosystem of value to your customers.
Note: Interested in a comprehensive SEO strategy that is catered to your brand and products? Contact us here.
4. We present all options in the guide
You want the guide to be as inclusive as you can, even including products you may not sell. This will help build trust in your brand and increase your reputation as an authority in your market.
If a consumer is trying to decide between two types of insulation, and one of them isn’t included in the guide, it can stick out. That consumer will be less inclined trust the guide (and your brand) when they’re ready to make a purchase.
If you don’t carry what they were looking for, a guide can potentially explain why another product may be better. But it’s still important to provide all options within the guide so the user knows that you are giving them the full story.
5. We (sometimes) gate buyer’s guides with longer research periods
The decision to publish a guide directly on a site or gate it behind a form depends on the goals of the client and the potential for that specific topic.
Most often, we recommend publishing the guide directly on the site. A thorough buyer’s guide is a great linkable asset and can be a great option to help with link building efforts.
However, there are still some cases where it may make sense to put a guide behind a form.
For products with much longer research processes, being able to send follow-up emails can be greatly beneficial. When we’ve chosen to gate a guide, we’ve seen both the buyer’s guide and follow up emails lead to sales.
If you choose to offer your guide as a download, your landing page is crucial.
People are also much more likely to offer their email address to get help making bigger purchases, but they need to be assured that this guide is worthwhile. A landing page should offer an overview of the guide, the benefits to reading it, and highlights about what they’ll find.
And since the majority of the guide isn’t found on your site, the landing page also needs to be optimized for SEO, including relevant keywords that people would search for to find the guide.
6. In follow-up emails, we focus on helpful buying advice first, and then focus on the products
For gated guides that we send via email, we commonly send 3-6 follow-up emails, depending on the product. Here’s an example of an outline follow-up email flow:
- The first email offers a link to the PDF version of the buyer’s guide as well as offering help the user needs. This email tends to not lead to as many conversions, but it has high open rates and shows users that this company cares about being helpful.
- The second email links to blog posts about the topic for further help.
- The third offers top systems the company recommends.
- The fourth email includes coupon codes.
- The fifth is a reminder that their coupons will expire after so many days.
- Lastly, depending on the typical buying cycle, we send one final email asking if they still need help or if they bought a product somewhere else.
Overall, the point of emails that follow a buyer’s guide should be geared toward helping consumers make a complicated buying decision. These emails can lead to sales. They also help grow a long-term relationship with those consumers.
Buyer’s guides can grow long-term relationships with customers
Buyer’s guides aren’t just about making a sale on one particular product. Along with the follow-up emails and other educational information on your site, your company becomes a trusted resource for making purchase decisions.
If you’re interested in this type of content marketing — or anything related — but unsure where to start, we can help. Contact us here.