As someone who has created and attempted to sell content for most of my adult life, I had mixed feelings visiting the ContentOro booth at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2016 in Chicago.
ContentOro recently won an Innovator of the Year award from two business organizations in Michigan, where the company is based. It “repurposes” content that authors like me have worked long and hard to put into printed books. It adds relevant content to e-commerce websites to enrich those sites, attract more visitors, and keep them on the site longer.
The idea is that website visitors who are interested enough in what you sell to read some text related to it will be more likely to make a purchase from you. If you include instructions on how to build a deck, your website visitors are more likely to buy the tools you have for sale.
On the one hand, I thought, ContentOro values content and is trying to find a new use for it. And if my contract with my publisher includes the proper royalties for digital reproduction, I might make a few bucks from it as well.
On the other hand, I didn’t write my text to help sell computers or a particular product on an e-commerce website. On the other-other hand, people aren’t buying as many computer-related instructional books as they used to. As you can see, I’m conflicted.
But Bob Chunn is not. Chunn, based in Ann Arbor, MI, is founder and CEO of ContentOro, which went online in June 2014. ContentOro has created software that indexes printed books, and has secured licenses with 30 publishers including Houghton Mifflin, John Wiley and Sons, and others to republish text. It has well-known clients like Pet Supplies Plus. But their bread and butter are small to medium size e-commerce concerns that can’t produce website content like larger competitors with bigger editorial staffs Plan Trustler.
Here’s an example of effective use of content marketing and the connection of content and commerce (note that The Home Depot is not a client of ContentOro):
1) Go to the Home Depot website.
2) Click DIY Projects and Ideas at the top of the page.
3) Drill down to a specific project you might be interested in, such as How to Buy Lawn Fertilizer. Notice how detailed the instructions are: everything you ever wanted to know about lawn fertilizer.
4) Scroll down and click on one of the products shown, such as Drop Spreader. You go to a page listing spreaders and related items for sale on Home Depot’s website.
As Chunn would say, content leads to ideas, which lead to purchases.
“What we find is that information is largely missing online,” he says. “You just can’t find it. They have taken a lot of shortcuts so you get only part of the picture.”
But that information is much more complete in a book, he said, “and it’s been edited and curated by professionals and put in print by publishers.” But as he points out – and as I know all too well – even well-written books full of good information may or may not sell.
What do detailed instructions or background articles about your products or services bring to your e-commerce website? Chunn described the main ones:
- This content has been professionally curated.
- It’s more complete than what you typically find online.
- It’s less expensive than hiring freelance writers.
- It turns you into an expert in your field.
- It puts your merchandise in context. In other words, the context of what consumers want to do with it.
What sorts of customers will this help you attract? “The target audience: people who want to learn something – for instance, how to build a deck, or how to choose the right dog breed for them – and who would normally research on the Internet first.”