Everyone who works with product content knows keeping information accurate and images up-to-date is difficult. Data governance is a sure fire way to stay on top of your product content, to drive sales success and grow market share.
Using data governance to help marketing departments drive conversions is a recent development.
Ironically, you can see this is true because statistics connecting data governance and ecommerce marketing are almost impossible to find. In any case, online sales still center around product pages. And those product pages bring together the following:
It’s never been more important to understand how data governance connects to product content marketing to drive sales success.
For example, using software to maintain product information and digital asset quality and completeness, making rich product pages, is just one way data governance applies to product content management.
In this blog, we investigate how to deal with data and the emergence of data governance specifically in regard to product content.
What is Data Governance?
You can think of it as a set of core practices dealing with data discoverability, maintenance, and security.
Data governance is a practice best suited for mid-size, medium enterprise, and global enterprise operations. Data governance plays a limited role in small and mid-sized businesses, because they typically place responsibility for master data management in the hands of only a few key individuals.
The History of Data Governance
In the heyday of client-server systems, recognizing the value of enterprise data became the innovation of the century.
Although nobody knows who coined the term ‘data governance,’ it came into use to help enterprises streamline processes for capturing, updating, and discovering data. Security joined this party a little later, when the importance and value of data became more apparent.
Data Governance, Enforcement, and Product Data
Ensuring data quality sits at the center of the relationship between data governance and product content. However, depending on the particular industry, needs can vary. As explained above, the focus should be on mid-size and enterprise brands, and as related to product data.
Within that context, the importance of implementing 5 key data governance principles becomes clear.
Identify everyone who has to use data for discoverability, decision making, analytics, and data maintenance.
Determine access security levels.
Entrust the work of updating content to the right stakeholders in the appropriate departments.
Enforce the necessary quality checks, in the form of system validation, at the point of data entry.
Put into place the necessary review and approval steps to verify data.
Product Data Isn’t Enough
Data is essential, but it’s rarely enough from a product marketing standpoint.
Elevating digital assets to the same level of importance is an ever increasing need. Because ecommerce is a visual experience, images and videos are critical to driving conversions.
Governance is essential for a marketing department to succeed at convincing and converting prospects into customers. It isn’t enough to do this with ease, unless the product is very industrial or scientific in nature.
A majority of departments need product data governance because they have to master not just data, but they also need digital assets. Product data are critical, for example:
This data doesn’t diminish the need for rich content, but this isn’t enough.
Successful organizations are the ones that have put practices and systems in place to govern data and digital assets.
(Read everything you need to know about why product information and digital assets should be stored together in the blog featured below.)
Data Governance Evolution
Although data is a necessity and key ingredient for robust product pages, it isn’t enough to generate visual interest in the product. Hence a product with complete data is not enough for marketing and conversion.
This has led leading brands to adopt similar governing principles when it comes to rich content like product images, different product views, certification images, application images, 360 images, spec sheets, pdf documents, and installation guides.
5 Ways Data Governance Drives Revenue
1. Product Experience
Accurate, up-to-date content along with rich digital assets and enhanced content, delight customers. The bedrock of a solid product page is rich, enhanced content.
The core strength of data governance is improved decision making – with regard to PIM, this ability is passed to the customer. Once the customer is informed, they can decide to buy with confidence.
2. Time to Market
You can go live with your product quickly and with more rich content once you have a data governance process in place. This speed facilitates better planning across teams, so that product launches are more robust.
If you are targeting a launch window, taking advantage of a trade show, writing press releases, or otherwise focused on marketing, data governance will improve outcomes. You’ll know your content and product pages will be in top shape.
(Read everything you need to know about optimizing your product pages in the blog featured below.)
3. Buyer Satisfaction
When you ensure customers know exactly what they are buying, you minimize disappointing them with products that are different from what they thought they were buying.
The surest way to drive returns is to fail to meet customer expectations.
4. Repeat Business
Delighted customers not only convert, but return for the same experience by buying from you again and again.
The most important benefit of data governance is enrichment. Rich content is the leverage to deploy products across retail, marketplace, and website channels. Strong governance allows use of the same content to perform time and again across channels, further increasing sales.
For example, sales channels vary by product content requirements. Data governance speeds and simplifies this process, whereas operations not governing data are far more likely to have data spread across their organization that, due to that spread, is also more likely to vary from any kind of unenforced standard formatting rules.
Data Governance Implementation
Implementing a process that is either based on sound project management techniques, or by regular auditing, organizations can govern the creation and maintenance of, as well as access to, rich content.
Tips for organizations
Eliminate data silos.
Enforce validation rules that eliminate duplicate data.
Tie a simple approval process, using reliable methods, to ensure data owners directly perform or supervise data entry.
Review specifications when data changes annually.
Review new types of digital asset requests annually.
Fix inaccurate data: incorrect or incorrectly entered data.
Ensure the correct people make categorization and hierarchical data decisions.
Implement internal communication mechanisms around data.
Comply with regulations by having the data needed for attributes like Prop 65.
And all of the following should be required:
A spec-sheet, if applicable
An installation sheet, if applicable
A 360 degree photo
Several images covering different views
A rich description
An enhanced page comparing models of related products
Bonus tip for multi-lingual organizations
Enforce a process that updates the same content across all markets when updating content in one language.
Make Data Governance Work for You
Data governance is important for marketing to help in driving revenue. Data is the foundation for success, but it is not enough. Mid-size brands need to evolve into data governance so they include the necessary digital assets that to achieve full product page enrichment.
Clean data is vital to the creation of enriched product pages that drive sales. See how PIM both makes and keeps your product data clean.
Today’s buyers overwhelmingly use the Internet to gather data to make their buying decisions.
Whether they’re after something cheap and simple or complex and expensive, around 88% of today’s customers do research online before deciding to buy (source).
This means in today’s world, sales success means you need clean data, and a way to keep it clean. Your product data needs to be accurate so your customers have the information they need.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Only 3% of companies’ data meets basic quality standards” (source).
Connecting how clean your data is with your sales and growth goals makes this stat alarming, to say the least.
What Are Basic Quality Standards?
Quality data is easy to understand, accurate, and complete. This applies to everything from feature bullets, pricing, dimensions, and descriptions to digital assets like images, videos, and CAD drawings.
Basic quality standards means ensuring all the fields on your product pages populate with accurate and complete data. This must be true for every single product you sell, across all sales channels.
(See the blog post below for more data about solving the challenges of selling across multiple BigCommerce sites.)
It sounds simple, but the amount of product data a company needs to manage to be successful has exploded over the last few years. What’s more, basic quality standards have become incredibly difficult to meet with traditional data management methods.
There are any number of different causes of this and PIM implementation solves nearly all of them. However, before going into how PIM helps you solve this problem, let’s first look at what leads to low quality data.
What Causes Data to Not Meet Basic Quality Standards?
There are many different reasons why data issues crop up. We will take a look at the most common causes.
Storing Data in Many Different Files
This is the most common cause of low quality data. And it doesn’t mean you can solve the problem by simply putting all of your files and folders on a server or cloud storage service.
Because if you put the files in a server, even if it is accessible to the entire company, your data will become out-of-date very quickly.
Why? Because users will download the files and store them on their own computers for easy access.
It isn’t fun to search through a ton of files and massive spreadsheets to find the most up-to-date price or image.
Files with the Same Information
To eliminate this headache, users will download the data to their desktop to increase their working speed.
The problem with downloading files to your own desktop is obvious. When a master file is updated, how can you make sure all of your users get the update?
You could re-download the file every time you make an update. However, if you change data even once a month, this is an unrealistic solution.
In reality, users won’t get your updates and instead will keep the files they first downloaded. In short, they’ll continue to operate with the files they’re familiar with.
Companies these days have many different users who need this data. This leads to an almost infinite number of versions of what is supposed to be the same data.
Deleting Old Versions of Data
Another common cause of inaccuracy is not deleting old data.
You will see this very frequently with digital assets. If the decision is made to update a spec sheet or image, and a new version is created, the old version almost never gets deleted.
Out-of-date versions, especially of images, is like cancer to your data. It will continue to grow until it’s too out of control to stop.
The only way to solve this is to bring in departments of employees and go through each and every image for every product to determine what is the most up to date version.
If you endure the never-ending meetings to eliminate old data and images, once you leave, the problem will only restart the second new images are introduced.
The only way to ensure you’re keeping the most up-to-date images and data is to change the foundation you manage them on.
Different Versions of the Same Data
This whole time we’ve been talking about creating one version of the same data. Unfortunately, the online world requires certain pieces of data come in different versions.
A great example of this is having different descriptions for a product. To tell the story of your product to the different customers you want to attract, you often times need to tell the story differently.
Let’s say your product sells to multiple industries. A generic description won’t be compelling enough to convert a shopper in to a buyer. In fact, it can actually alienate your potential customers.
It has become more and more common to see industry specific descriptions like these, but they are often poorly managed and necessary changes are never made.
How a PIM Cleans Your Data and Keeps It Clean
A PIM functions like a database, a location for storage of all of your product data.
Traditional PIMs are often tough to use, so employees shy away from managing them. Also, this kind of a PIM is likely to only store product data, leaving digital assets high and dry.
Because a traditional PIM only solves half of your challenge, modern businesses need an easy to use, cloud-based PIM that also stores digital assets.
You can count the vendors and companies providing a platform like the one outlined above on one hand. Partnering with the right vendor gives you access to a foundation that not only cleans your data, but most importantly, keeps it clean.
(See the blog post below for more data about picking the PIM that is right for your operation.)
The First Step: Cleaning Your Data
Using PIM properly means doing things right from the very beginning, before actually using it. The right vendor knows they have to help your team implement your sleek new PIM before you can use it.
Read the reviews left by customers and see who has the highest customer satisfaction rating. If a vendor has issues with customer satisfaction, you can be sure that dissatisfaction started with poor implementations.
During the implementation phase, you’ll want to gather all product data files along with your digital assets and send them to your vendor for review.
You can leverage the implementation team’s expertise to learn their best practices and hear advice about which attributes to create and how to quickly and accurately rid your company of bad data.
This process takes time and requires collaboration, but it’s vital to your company’s future success in the digital world.
Structure Your PIM to Fit Your Needs
Every business is different. Teams are built differently. The products sold are different.
To maximize the benefit of PIM for your organization you need to ensure that you configure your PIM to your specific needs.
Attributes are the bits of data that constitute the differences between otherwise similar products. Every company that sells products knows these attributes today as the columns on their Excel spreadsheets.
We list attributes first because they are the first step in configuring a PIM to your unique needs. You need to create all of the attributes you need to successfully market and sell your products.
Attributes can be:
Text: such as product descriptions and explanations of features
Digital Assets: such as product photos and instruction guides
Options: such as sizes, colors, and materials to choose from
A unique added value PIM gives your organization is the ability to make an attribute required or optional.
A great example is a specific image that may only be needed for your “hero” products. As such, this particular attribute could only be optional.
Also, say you decide each of your products needs to have no less than three features. You can require listing of three feature attributes to ensure product pages populate exactly as you want them to.
Later, you can run reports to identify which products are missing values for the attributes you’ve decided to make required. This allows you to easily identify product pages needing improvement.
This may be new to you if you aren’t currently employing a PIM platform, but an attribute set allows you to group like attributes together.
This way, when you create a new product, rather than adding each attribute individually, you can assign relevant attribute sets to each new product.
Attribute sets are most commonly used for two purposes:
1. To group attributes that are only relevant to a specific product category
This first use case is self-explanatory. If you sell chairs and tables, you’ll want an attribute set for each product line that includes every attribute relevant to that product line.
A massive added value is the fact not only that all relevant attributes are assigned to each product, but additionally that no irrelevant ones are either.
2. To group attributes that are relevant to a specific organizational department
This second use case will vary from organization to organization. A good example is separating marketing copy from digital assets.
Many organizations have one set of users that manages text and another set that manages digital assets. With PIM, you can create an attribute set with all of the text attributes and a second with all of the digital assets.
This way, when a user goes to a product they can easily find the attributes specifically relevant to them.
Every company has their own unique way of categorizing their products. But today, this is very much managed manually.
During implementation, you have to create a strong taxonomy conforming specifically to your business and the products you sell. This will make it easier for your internal teams to manage your products and all of the attributes associated with them.
Additionally, when you share your data and images with reps, dealers, retailers, distributors, and others, your taxonomy will make it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
The final step in configuring your PIM to your business is creating a hierarchy of different user roles. A flexible PIM gives you the ability to choose which products and attributes each user can view and edit.
For example, a user who manages all of your product specs will likely need to be able to see all marketing attributes. However, you’d want to restrict that person’s ability to edit the product descriptions and features which include that marketing material.
Setting user roles ensures the owners of each product or attribute are truly in control of inputting, modifying, and deleting data. No longer is there confusion about who changed what data. Instead users automatically create the digital footprints necessary to track all changes.
Once you have decided on a structure to store your data, you can quickly load up all data, images, and other pieces of content.
Adoption by Your Team
The true value of PIM only comes with using it to create a “Single Source of Truth” for all of your product content. For this to happen, your team has to adopt a new way to manage and share their data. All of this needs to happen within your PIM.
So often people are averse to change, but to grow you need to change with the times.
Think back to when your team started managing product data and images in many different files. It wasn’t something they were excited to do, but it was the only option.
Over the years users have become used to the terribly inefficient process of managing massive Excel files and searching through image folders. Initially, some of the team may be averse to adopting a new method, but with the right PIM and some training, they will come to love this new way of managing data.
The number one key to adoption of a new PIM is making sure it’s easy to use. To reiterate, many older PIMs have the deserved reputation of being so difficult to manage that you need to have a PhD in computer science to use them properly.
The easier a PIM is to use, the faster your entire team can adopt it. You’ll see this is true even of those users who aren’t exactly “tech savvy.”
Notifications and Workflow
Today most organizations have a workflow process they follow, but it’s all manual.
Connecting your team with notifications is vital to ensure your data starts clean and, most importantly, stays clean. If updates and changes are made, but no one knows, how will you make sure the changes are correct or leverage the new content?
A flexible and robust PIM gives you the ability to create different workflows for different actions that may occur in your PIM.
At a high level, a workflow gives you the ability to send automated notifications to users informing them of new tasks. Additionally, you can incorporate an approval step, so if a user makes a change, it won’t go live until it’s approved.
Workflows help in a variety of ways and are ultimately a crucial part of driving team efficiency.
The most common types of workflows are:
New Product Introduction
Content Update Workflow
Product Syndication Workflow
Let’s look at what these are.
New Product Introduction Workflow
This is the most common workflow because the most competitive companies today tend to introduce new products more frequently.
New product introduction workflow ties your team together when introducing a new product. This ensures all required attributes are quickly and accurately created.
It also ensures each user role knows exactly what data they need to create for each product, eliminating the possibility of missing or forgetting about data required for product launches.
Not only does new product introduction workflow ensure all attributes are correctly created and populated with data, it dramatically cuts down the time it takes to launch a new product.
Content Update Workflow
Content update workflow solves one of the biggest headaches companies face today: knowing how changes are made, who made them, and who approved them.
A content update workflow allows you to create a workflow process when a change is made to any or all of the attributes in your PIM. This is most commonly used to notify a manager who then approves or denies a change to product data.
Not only does the manager have the ability to accept or reject a change, but they can also send notes back to the user who initiated the change. This improves communication both within teams and across different departments.
The approval step also ensures data stays clean. Today, when updates are made they often times don’t have a step for another user to review. Ultimately, this is a leading cause of data being out of date and “dirty.”
In addition to having an approval step worked into all product updates, a great PIM gives you the ability to see which user made what change and which user approved it.
If there is ever a disagreement on data, you can quickly identify who made and approved the changes, and identify why the changes happened.
Content Syndication Workflow
This workflow is specifically for companies fulfilling data requests from retailers and distributors.
Retailers and distributors send you large Excel files to populate. You need to quickly complete and return them to get your products listed on these great channel partner sites. The slower you are the less likely you are to capture sales.
A modern, robust PIM allows you to load in the attributes you received from your retailers into your PIM. If you are using a truly modern PIM, you should be able to quickly load all of the rules associated with the attributes as well.
Content syndication workflow notifies all users responsible for any attribute that is going to be sent out to your new channel partner. These users know exactly what they need to do and collaborate on one platform, instead of working in separate Excel files.
Once a user has completed the data they are responsible for, approval can be requested. This way you can be sure you are only sending clean, robust data to your channel partners.
The lack of this step is the number one reason product pages on leading retailer and distributor sites include incorrect and incomplete data.
Adding this small step to your process post PIM implementation will result in an increase in sales for all channel partners you use to fulfill requests with your PIM.
Clean Data Drives Sales and Increases Market Share
Ultimately, clean data benefits your business because a smooth-running company empowered by accurate, up-to-date data, is going to be able to utilize that data to grow sales and market share.
Presentation of clean data on product pages results in…
More page views
Lower shopping cart abandonment rates
Higher conversion rates
More good reviews
Fewer negative reviews
Higher likelihood of word-of-mouth sales
All of these are sales drivers, meaning clean data helps you increase revenue, grow your market share, and, ultimately, own the digital shelf.
Product information management (PIM) is more than managing product information. PIMs come in different forms, incorporating a variety of functions.
Product Information Management (PIM) is software that provides a central space to create, manage, and syndicate product information across sales channels in a unified manner.
Internally, PIM comprises tools to store and share product information across multiple systems, and to facilitate workflow.
PIM can store all product information:
This makes PIM a reliable, all-in-one source of product information. Content is the king of ecommerce, and quality, tailored content that ensures a delightful customer experience is built on product information accuracy.
At its core, PIM offers companies the flexibility of working with every platform for product information retrieval and distribution. Companies must ensure customers receive complete, accurate information to make purchase decisions.
PIM and its standard elements make this possible.
Your PIM must syndicate product information easily.
Product information syndication is crucial, because storage spans individuals, teams, and their devices. For example, bulk editing ensures information consistency.
Editing information on marketing channels and platforms one by one takes forever. This also leads to product information inconsistency and increases the chance of including errors on product pages. Make sure your PIM can edit product information across digital channels simultaneously.
A good PIM is also highly flexible and configurable.
Users should be able to view product information by channel to make adjustments according to specific channel requirements. Your PIM should also integrate easily with other systems to turn out quality product content.
Content analytics is another element your PIM must have.
Analytics allow you to monitor product sales performance and fix problems as they arise.
Your PIM has to include a Digital Asset Management (DAM) feature.
DAM in PIM allows you to optimize digital assets, such as images and videos, for specific channels. Your DAM should be able to transform assets for seamless syndication across all the channels you use regardless of what their specific requirements are.
Define Your Objectives
What do you want your PIM to do?
Answering this question will allow you to structure your PIM to support your marketing strategy and organizational goals. PIM capabilities are numerous, and performance tends to vary from one organization to another.
Start by defining your central business objectives.
You may want to simply deliver quality product information or improve internal team coordination. Maybe you want to expand across channels, reduce time to market (TTM), or improve your entire customer experience.
It’s essential to set goals and define how success will be measured.
It’s no use investing in a PIM if you can’t understand its impact. Ultimately, you have to define how your PIM will support brand growth, because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Determine Your Implementation Parameters
Ask yourself how you’re going to implement processes with your PIM.
To define implementation scope, you need to consider your preferred channels, your operation region, and current TTM.
Either of two models can determine how to handle product information.
1. Model all product information from the outset.
2. Start with subsets of product information and increase in subsequent phases.
Large companies tend to opt for the second method, because they prefer beginning with a particular product line or region. The second method allows for process testing to ensure proper functioning well before full implementation.
Other companies may prefer the benefits of full information centralization by rolling everything out at once. While both methods include pros and cons, your decision should rest on your company’s current and future needs.
Implementation Strike Team
Successful PIM implementation requires a strike team.
Even for a small ecommerce operation, it’s unlikely one person will be able to handle all the requirements of implementation. The tasks of implementation are as different from each other as the knowledge and skills required to complete them successfully.
You will need:
An executive sponsor to see everything through
A project manager overseeing daily tasks
A product manager to gather all your product information
A group of individuals to input all the information
A marketer to write your product page text
A designer to supply images
A tech who knows how your ERP system will integrate with your PIM
Determine Your Product Catalog Structure
The only way to build a strong catalog is by using accurate product information regarding all of your offerings.
This means your product categories, attributes, how they vary, and their use regarding different customer touch-points.
PIM offers a broad range of options.
You can structure your catalog virtually any way your company requires. But craft that structure carefully, as the success of your PIM implementation depends upon it.
Your catalog structure should reflect the attributes of the specific sales channels you intend to use.
The structure should also support different product categories, attributes, and how these may vary.
Finally, incorporate the catalog must include the relationship of a given product to another as well as metrics for different online sales areas.
Workflows and Mechanisms of Integration
Getting the most out of your PIM depends largely on the strength of the workflows you set up.
You need to think about which teams interact with what product information, as well as what each team’s core function is. Consider how each team will use your PIM and how processes need to be ordered to maximize efficiency. Also, define permissions carefully so the right people have access to the right information, nothing more or less.
Proper understanding of the entire workflow will guide business operations and increase efficiency.
Previous work processes may need updating for the way processes will work after PIM implementation. You may want your PIM to support processes you think you can’t change, but those processes might be the most in need of overhaul.
Remember that one of the greatest strengths of PIM lies in eliminating the placement of product information in silos.
PIM workflow support provides for information sync, driving accuracy in real-time. This kind of integration helps streamline your entire ecommerce operation.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
It’s important to ensure that your PIM includes DAM capability.
While some companies have modified DAM to mimic PIM, the result is often clunky, incomplete, or both. Moreover, PIM and DAM may seem similar in function, but they are actually fundamentally different.
PIM centralizes and facilitates syndication of product information, while DAM specifically handles digital assets.
Some assets, like company logos, may not even relate to products. DAM ensures proper management of images, videos, and documents attached to specific products. PIM allows you to store and manage these digital assets alongside product information.
Long story short, PIM is not DAM and DAM is not PIM.
Why Is DAM Important?
Digital consumers absorb media of all kinds every second they spend online.
The rise of digital technology and acceleration of innovation have only increased this digital consumption of media, driven by market and popular trends.
Media files include:
Navigating these media has become a challenge companies and their customers share. Today’s digitally empowered consumer doesn’t want a rich digital customer experience, they expect one.
Companies that don’t meet and surpass customer expectations are doomed to suffer dwindling sales.
Customer expectations include access to the high-quality media content necessary to convince them their buying choices are correct. This is the key to conversions, because disappointed potential customers won’t give you their money.
Digital assets are more than just files, as they also include metadata about the asset.
You can use digital assets to product strong, searchable content only if the right metadata is associated with it. Searchability saves your teams time and makes it easier for customers to find you in the crowded digital marketplace.
PIM integrates with multiple resource planning systems to extract product information for storage as product attributes. This allows marketing teams to enrich product descriptions and assets for syndication across sales channels.
PIM systems are specifically designed to support information syndication regardless of the particular formats various channels require.
With PIM, information can be enriched from internal and external sources. Internal sources include your marketing department, while external sources are your suppliers, external information bases, and agencies.
Information from both sources increases product information accuracy, driving sales.
The description of product attributes directly affects purchase decisions.
It’s important to properly manage both the tangible and intangible attributes described on your product pages.
Tangible attributes include:
Intangible attributes include:
Customers expect products and services to have certain specific attributes.
Points of parity refers to the way in which a given company’s products are similar to those of another.
Some companies go a step further and incorporate “points of difference.”
In a bid to differentiate their products and services from the competition, they discuss the ways in which their products are superior to those of their competitors.
Optimizing your product information means including both types of information.
Ultimately, product attributes discuss product quality, features, and style/design. All three should add value in the eyes of your customers.
PIM implementation allows access to powerful analytics tools which detail product content performance.
Product information quality, as well as team performance, can be analyzed. Management can see all activities taking place across the system and how much time they require.
With analytics, you can quickly search, find, and fill in product information gaps, along with finding errors. These gaps are not limited to text, as your images, descriptions, and translations may be missing crucial information, too.
You can also conduct analysis by product groups.
Management can control the accuracy and overall quality of product information with analysis by section, language, or geographic region.
Analytics also covers your syndication channels by ensuring the right product information is pushed out. You can also streamline searches by field and create multi-variant tests using different versions of standard documents.
This will go a long way to improve content quality, even that of custom content.
This core PIM function provides a time-stamped record of every change or operation your team undertakes.
By automatically tracking actions, from sales made to customer service complaints, optimization becomes far easier. Audit trails also support product information maintenance, helping to quickly identify errors for correction.
There are two approaches to audit trails:
Tracks and monitors all actions from beginning to end
Tracks results back to the starting point
The purpose of using audit trails is to maintain a log of all information modifications.
Monitoring all modifications acts as a check against unauthorized or mistaken changes. You can monitor specific entities in the PIM for modification.
There are two ways to retrieve audit trails.
1. Call up a given audit trail from the context menu to display specific changes.
2. Display an overview of a given audit trail.
Regardless, every PIM has a default audit trail configuration.
Users can create specific queries to search for specific entities or users and a search window will display the results.
Bells and Whistles
PIM options and tools include more benefits than spreadsheets or manual solutions could ever offer.
By unifying product information in a single repository, companies can derive maximum value by delivering quality product information. This reduces the risks and delays that come with displaying outdated or incomplete information.
The flexibility the PIM system affords allows for significant customization.
With an expert team, you can configure your PIM to include the specific functionality you need to manage all of your product information. However, it’s always best to make sure you add only what you need, meaning only what you’ll use.
Opting for a standard PIM that satisfies all your ecommerce marketing and distribution needs is ideal.
CATSY PIM includes DAM capability, so you can store your product information and images together to create beautiful product pages that make you money.
Product information, such as attributes and assets, can’t be separated when creating quality custom content.
The way you store and retrieve product information and digital assets will greatly affect your conversion rates (source). Visitors to your site are going to see the images before reading anything. Failing to impress them immediately only makes it harder to convert them.
Rich images and quality product information make for engaging product pages.
In 2018, 56% of digital marketers reported using images or video in 100% of their content, because enriched product pages naturally lead to increased sales (source). Thus, product information and images are central to the success of any ecommerce business. Storing them together in a centralized database makes for easy retrieval by users, and ultimately just makes sense.
Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) make retrieval easy.
Instead of spreading product information and images around, collect and store them in a central location. PIM and DAM create one source of product content for your operation.
It isn’t enough to describe a product with words.
You need images, so customers can form complete mental pictures of what they want to buy. The question every shopper asks is, “What will this look like?” Providing rich images answers this question quickly and easily, converting lookers into buyers.
The downside of ecommerce is customers can’t touch products.
Ecommerce businesses have to make up for this by including rich images and videos. These digital assets are crucial, because if blurry, unattractive, incorrectly sized, or out of date assets will cause your customers to lose interest or end up buying products they don’t actually want.
PIM and DAM: the Perfect Combination
PIM is the processes and technology that manage product information centrally. The focus is on the data required to market and sell products on one or more channels for distribution.
PIM uses automation to connect data sources and sales channels for the management and distribution of product information.
DAM provides a way to centralize, track, manage, and share digital content among internal teams and across sales channels. Each digital asset includes the metadata necessary to fully describe it. DAM implementation can save you nearly $200,000 in 5 years (source).
This completeness drives the positive online customer experiences that convert, maximizing your revenue.
PIM is used to store product related information.
DAM is used to store digital assets, like images, that aren’t necessarily related to just one product.
DAM can sometimes include functions to act like PIM.
But make no mistake, only in tandem can these systems best help increase operational efficiency by making product information easier to find as a single source of truth.
As the digital world becomes more complex, ecommerce companies need to combine PIM and DAM to maintain competitive market edge.
Product Information vs. Product Image
The content attached to a product that defines its complexity is product information.
Because a brand can only influence customers’ purchase decisions with correct information, selling different products requires different content. Obviously, managing product information can be a herculean task without the ability to organize centrally.
Product information serves as a guide through the buyers’ journey.
Chances are your customers already know what they want. But incomplete, low quality product information can point them in the wrong direction, costing you sales. You need to publish superb and complete product information to convert lookers into buyers.
Product photos communicate your product information in a way text can’t by itself.
An image grabs attention much faster than text, especially when the image is large and colorful. Rich images also capture attention because shoppers will want to reconcile their expectations against the color, size, and style of your images. Success is matching the images on your product pages with the picture in the customers’ heads.
Product images help satisfy the need for understanding a product’s physical appeal, showcasing qualities in a way that builds emotional and psychological connections with your customers influencing them to buy from you.
It’s also critical to allow a zoom feature for your photos.
If customers can see a large amount of detail, there will be less chance they will miss something about your products. Zoom helps eliminate disappointment.
Complete product information boosts appeal, driving up traffic on your site.
This is critical, because maximizing the connection between your products and your brand in the minds of your customers, results in brand loyalty. Statistics have revealed that a large number of customers said the quality of a product image is very important when selecting a product to buy.
Long story short, complete data and rich images drive higher engagement and sales.
The Visual World
Today’s focus on the visual centralizes the role of images and videos in telling brand stories. Social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have embraced image sharing and become central to marketing and sales. Brands that convey a consistent and well-managed message can be as much as 20% more valuable than those that don’t (source).
Digital assets require product information to make sense.
Clear product information must be communicated so customers understand your message as perfectly as if they were in a brick and mortar store. Also, ecommerce brings with it the tremendous scale of product diversity, meaning you will have more product information to manage.
Ecommerce puts the customer in the driver’s seat and they increasingly demand more consistent product information to make informed decisions. Customers don’t accept excuses from brands delivering anything short of their full expectations. The message is clear: fulfill your customers’ expectations or lose them.
The Importance of Storing Product Information and Images Together
Most customers research products before making final purchase decisions.
Product information and images are centrally important, so take care and pay attention to the importance, completeness, and accuracy of that data. But, how do ecommerce business owners benefit from storing product and images together?
The goal is to save your customers’ time.
If you don’t store product information and images aren’t together, retrievals can often result in dead ends. Manually entering complete product information with matching images for everything your business offers will cost you hours. And it won’t even guarantee sales.
Product information maintenance involves automated processes that increase efficiency.
With automation you can easily keep product information up to date with current trends. Automation means your business processes run faster, and the amount of errors and time wasted fixing them are reduced. Finally, you can easily update old images and push new ones out across your internal teams and external sales channels centrally.
Storing product information and images together increases team collaboration.
Because product information and images are easily accessible, making content becomes less of a chore. Explaining the accompanying cost savings is obvious, as centralization reduces redundant work making employees more productive.
As a result of the superior data management PIM offers, organized product information can be shared across all customer engagement platforms easily. Thus delivering accurate information at the right time with a minimum of wasted effort becomes simple.
Ensure Consistent Delivery of a Winning Customer Experience
According to eBay, “it is not enough to sell on all platforms; you need to develop creative new ways for customers to engage with your brand.” If visitors come to your site and can’t get all the information they want, they’ll likely lose interest. Frustrated customers move on to an offer that can give them what they’re looking for.
Storing data on separate systems can lead to a fragmented, inaccurate display of product information.
These broken promises will negatively affect your brand image. On the other hand, storing product information and images together will lead to a single source of product content truth, guaranteeing consistency of information.
Customers have access to the virtual world on the go and at virtually any time.
They connect digitally to multiple channels and see varieties of the product they’re thinking of buying. This is why brand consistency across channels and platforms is key: to always communicate an identical message.
When a company manages its product information with PIM, customers have easy access to superior, accurate, rich product information, which leads to seamless delivery of a brand experience which meets or surpasses customer expectations.
Most customers who return products purchased online report receiving something other than what they expected.
This dissatisfaction is the result of communicating incomplete, inconsistent, and incorrect information to customers. The central storage of product information and images reduces this, driving customer satisfaction, further driving sales.
The more reliable and complete your product information and images are, the more you can control your customers’ experience. Ultimately, customers get the products they expect, increasing the chances of a repeat purchase from you.
Ecommerce shoppers are awash in options, so more often than not the brand that stands out will be the one they choose. According to Nchannel, “thirty percent of US online adults cited that they would consider buying from an online retailer they had never previously purchased from, if the retailer offered detailed product information.”
Comprehensive product information gets you closer to closing a sale, driving profitability.
Without proper management of your product information and images, your operation will be less efficient. Good product information and high-quality product images communicate your brand style making it more recognizable. Improved visibility drives improved sales.
Increasing social media use means the high-resolution images that generate shares and views are key.
As you consistently deliver complete product information, with rich visual imagery, you help give your customers a better shopping experience. In the same vein, departments and teams have access to complete information, enabling them to deliver quality customer service.
Ultimately, these increase conversion rates and increase your profitability. This is because delighted customers are loyal customers who will keep coming back to buy.
Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you’re at the top of search engine results, you get more clicks.
Shoppers rarely explore more than a page or two of their search result lists. If you don’t consistently produce unique, engaging product content, it’ll be hard for your site to rank high in search results.
Accurate product information and high-quality images communicate the style of your brand and make it more recognizable, improving visibility. In order to attract more visitors to your site, search engine optimization is critical.
SEO ensures brands rank high in search results when customers search keywords related to your products.
This gives you the edge over your competitors. Your search engine ranking will increase if your site contains useful product information that meets the needs of your target markets. If more people can find your site across different platforms and locations, more of them will buy.
Quality data minimizes the duplication of content, meaning your message will be free of outdated images and information. The added visibility SEO provides improves the image of your brand in the minds of your customers and generates more traffic to your site.
Increase the Quality of Your Product Content
High-quality product content leads to increased conversion rates.
The popular adage “content is king,” coined by J.W. Click and Russell N. Baird could hardly be more applicable to today’s ecommerce world. Today, quality content composed of accurate product information and rich images indeed rules.
Media in the form of digital assets have become popular, creating a more appealing picture that drives engagement. You can sustain customer interest by delivering quality product content. Centralized storage of product information and images makes this possible.
With PIM, you can easily make custom content to appeal to different customer segments, creating unique experiences.
Industry specific content allows you to narrow in potential clients with hyper-focused tailored content. It should be obvious that it’s difficult to achieve personalization without proper data management. Think about the sheer number of pictures you are currently trying to manage, for example.
High-quality product information, with complete descriptions and plenty of images, reduces shopping cart abandonment and returns.
This increases sales and improves customer loyalty. The production of quality content drives conversions, if only simply because the correct image will be tied to the appropriate description. These simple mistakes are often the biggest killers.
How likely is it you have lost customers because your product information was incomplete, inaccurate, or not compelling enough to attract their attention? Without PIM, it’s very likely this is the case.
Pull It Together To Win
Managing a huge amount of product information without automation can be a frustrating hassle.
PIM delivers an easy way to tie centralized, accurate product information to rich, compelling images. This marriage helps build trust in your brand at every touchpoint.
The average customer decides to trust your offer or not the first time she sees your site.
How will you make her trust you just enough that first time to make a purchase? How will you drive repeat sales? It all boils down to the quality content you push out across all the platforms your customers interact with.
An ecommerce product offer without an image is like a bride in black clothes in a dark room: invisible. Thus, without rich images you lose customers before they even have a chance to buy from you. And we all know they will head directly to your competitors’ websites.
Strong online content contains accurate product information and colorful images, increasing a site’s pageviews.
Remember, one product photo is worth a thousand online sales, as most customers complete a purchase only when they’ve seen rich images. Storing product information and images together makes it easy to provide customers with multiple views of each item. This creates a complete mental picture informative enough to allow them to buy.
Nothing is worse than seeing poor quality photos of the product you want to buy, especially when the description is impressive. How can you deliver product information corresponding to your product images without storing them together?
Companies wanting to remain competitive use PIM and DAM to facilitate workflow and deliver great customer experiences, driving repeat purchases.
With PIM, your product information is complete and easy to find, while DAM helps differentiate product experiences.
At the end of the day, consistency matters across your ecommerce operations. Unified storage of your product information, delivering a consistent shopping experience, is key. Hence, your product information and images have to be stored centrally, so they can communicate your brand message consistently.
Optimizing content to rank when potential customers search is key. Learn how to get your product content at the top of search results today.
‘Content is King’ is one of a number of recent axioms that captures the importance attached to information/data generation, sharing, and access. The 21st Century wins the tag of the Content Century, driven by knowledge and its application. Many predict that the trend may warrant the creation of an Exchange of Information data, akin to the financial stock market, where an individual place can place bids for information/content packets under applicable laws. The key is to know how to organize product content.
So if the content is important, it follows that your website or e-commerce site should present it in ways that make it useful, self-explanatory and easy to access. Your content organization should form one of the core objectives of your website. Not only will you be creating compelling content that is useful, effective and well-written, you also need to present it as clearly organized.
Visitors to your landing pages only have just about enough time and are often pressed for choice. The only way to remain visible and relevant is optimizing your content to support searches as effectively as possible.
The following general tips can serve as guides in organizing your website’s content to best support searches:
Come up with a Clear Information Structure
Develop a detailed roadmap for how your website’s content will engage and be seen by potential and existing clients. Keep in mind that it is the user who decides what parts or segments of your content are useful/relevant to him/her. In fact, you may even find that content’s relevance may even be time-specific and pointed.
So irrespective of your level of experience or a lack thereof, you will need to gauge the needs/wants of your target group. Remember that their reasons for searching such content should form the basis for organizing information and data. It is only logical to ask questions from the people who will eventually make use of your site. Use helpful tools like surveys and questionnaires to determine what content structure works best for the user.
Set off with Critical Information
After drawing your website’s information structure, the next step is getting the attention of visitors with a good overview of the detailed content. Why so, you might ask? The reasons are not far-fetched. Again, remember your visitor has other competing ends for his/her time. Two, understand that presenting such views helps your client take in important points and make informed decisions on the next steps to take.
Have in mind the core questions your existing/potential users might ask. Try to answer these, or at least offer a clear starting point right on the website’s main landing page. The top of your website should be viewed as a real piece of the online estate. Your strategy can center on either displaying central content to answer your visitors’ leading questions immediately or to buoy people to enter the site by either clicking a link or exploring the main page.
Display Only Relevant Material
Emphasizing this point may border on stating the obvious but many websites still miss the mark in this regard. Simplicity is key and the less ‘clutter’ or distractions, the better your website’s ability to attract and retain visitors. Stretching the thrust of this point, think of relevance in terms of showing content that is material to the needs of the user at any point in time.
From your customer engagement exercise, you can have a good idea of the path visitors take to reach their search goals. So the content for your landing page must fulfill the role of keeping the interest of the buyer, while your product pages, for example, should move the visitor toward making a purchase.
In other words, display only content relevant for these different stages.
Show All Relevant Material
Before you throw up your arms in despair and walk away, this point needs some clarification. The first thing to note is that you should not sacrifice clarity on the altar of brevity. While you are mindful of your visitors time and other constraints, your website should not churn out incomplete information. This move stalls the decision-making process, eventually leading to lower conversion rates for your website.
Again there is no magic wand in knowing what constitutes really relevant material to your visitor. The key is knowing what your visitors do and what kind of content they are interested in at different stages during their visit to your site. Pretend you’re a customer and conduct a tour of your website. Examine how your web pages fulfill ALL your needs and search requirements. For greater representation, have family and friends embark on this same path.
The goal is not only to have a diversity of feedback but also to discover what additional information your website should have, for a rewarding search experience for your visitor. For example, you can place high priority content directly on the site, or link to less urgent content on your different pages. Just make sure nothing important is left out.
Be Mindful of Different Audiences
Have it in mind that your website will cater to a diverse range of customers. Do not be alarmed to find that your target groups also entirely different levels of expertise, foreknowledge, and goals. While some visitors are at home with the information given in the auditory form, others may like a combination of visual cum interactive data presentation.
Organizing your content should focus on the different kinds of people who are most likely to visit your web pages. As a guide, you can create user scenarios to get a clear picture of the search characteristics of your target audiences. With this information, you can prioritize your content, with placing the most important in an accessible manner. However, never forget that all content is important and should not be left out.
Consider also that different users may search/ use the same content in a different way. To cater to this eventuality, you can create content element doubles and duplicate links for seamless search sessions.
Offer Multiple Entry Points Where Possible
You can give more traction to the differentiation habits of your users by offering a number of entry points to your website. For instance, you can create a distinction between large corporations and individual clients, or for first-time users and return customers or professionals and amateurs.
Achieving this level of compartmentalization requires distinguishing your specific target groups with different expectations towards your website. Once this accomplished, creating separate entry points for each group will organize your content for optimum search.
In effect, having multiple entry points means having multiple landing pages for organizing your content and making search results easier and faster.
You can organize your website’s content in such a way that your target groups of users can have a say in the what, where and how of searching/finding information on your site. In this way, you allow users decide for themselves what content is important and what isn’t. This strategy works well for services that are personal and receive regular usage. An example is the Adobe Creative Suite. This application allows users to open/hide windows as well keep in focus important and often used tools via personal preferences.
Go for Content Hierarchies and Employ Natural Language
A good search is one that gives the user the required information in an effective manner. One of the ways of organizing your content to enhance meaningful search results is by putting in place a hierarchy of your information, according to the needs and wants of your target audience. With a hierarchical system in place, you make it is easier for users to understand where they can find and file their content. In addition, such a structure enables your search system to rank content and return search results that closely match the user’s needs/intents.
So instead of using flat structures such as http://Africa or http://America, a hierarchical system files the search parameters such as http://sales/Africa or http://sales/America.
In this way, the user is seamlessly directed to the page that gives information on sales in Africa or America.
Natural Language makes it easy for your website to interpret the search needs of your target user. In this regard, go for a language that is clear and straight to the point. If you use natural language for URLs, the search system can more easily understand what information is in the site or file and give it an appropriate ranking in the results, hence making it easier for your users to access the information required.
Encourage Users to Enter Comprehensive, Rich, and Consistent Metadata
The metadata comprises data that provides extra information about a website and its content. Metadata often answers inquiries such as the creator of the website, the type of content and the purpose of the content or site. You can specify or direct users in using specific search terms in order to highlight and bring up relevant content and search results.
Keep a Handle on Multilingual Content
If you have grand plans for your website, they should also include catering to users/speakers of other languages apart from English. Set up your content structure in a way that enables accurate translation of content from one language to another.
In managing the demands of multilingual data, the following tips can serve as a guide:
As much as possible, keep content in different languages on separate websites. Whenever your website’s search system cannot recognize the language of a particular content item, it assumes that it is in the language of the site where it is saved.
Do not mix languages in content and that content’s metadata. Maintain uniformity by using the same language in the metadata as the language that is used in the content itself.
Do not combine languages in a single piece of metadata. This is especially true for URLs.
Make Use of Authority Page
An authority page forms a part of SEO terms used to describe the chances that a specific page from your site will be found on a search engine such as Google. Page authority is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 and depicts the relevance of information and links within website pages to one another.
In other words, the more authority your pages have, the better the search experience of your target user, especially in terms of accessibility and speed of result generation. In order to increase the page authority of your website, the following tips come in handy:
Create Original Content
Search engines like Google place a great premium on original and compelling content. When your website’s content is fresh, Google views your website as an authority in that area of endeavor. This results in your web pages appearing among the top sites for information in that area or field.
Since it is a given that your website is well structured, having original content ensures that users will not only find your website with ease but will have search results accurately matching their search parameters/queries. For emphasis sake, make sure your content is fresh, interesting, useful and relevant as well as easy to read.
Work to Earn External Links
External links are important for a number of reasons. For example, if a website posts a link to one of your articles on your own website, then the chances are high that their audience will be exposed to your brand, which can help increase your visibility and attract more traffic to your site as well.
If the site is an authority website itself, then it means that you are well on the way to attaining the status yourself. However, do not wait for others to post links to you. You can also take the initiative by posting links of your own to other websites as well.
In summary, earning external links involves showcasing links to other sites, creating original content as well as being an active content contributor to other websites.
Infuse Image Elements
Visuals are among the most effective means of turning your website pages into authority page. This is so for certain reasons. First, people readily connect to images even without any accompanying notes. Also, images are more shareable, and research shows that people are more likely to share visual content than written content.
Content clustering could just hold the key to organizing your website’s content for best searches. Consider that in nature, clusters of fruits, plants or ice have an attractive effect. Your content could also achieve this effect with clustering.
Essentially, content clusters group related content in groups to achieve clarity, build authority and perform better search results.
Usually, a content cluster consists of the following elements:
Internal links (i.e. bonds of togetherness)
Pillar Content comprises a diverse, fresh and unrestrictive website content that is connected to a content cluster. A pillar content should ordinarily include content that matches search intent, a title/metadata description as well as various media.
Subtopic content is a particular piece of content structured on a long-tail keyword, or niche question/inquiry. Cluster Subtopic often comes in the form of a blog post with links to the parent pillar content. Ensure that the subtopic links to the main pillar of the content cluster to enhance efficacy and relevancy
Create Content and Appropriate Links
Your content should span both word-based (including web pages, blogs, and articles) and visual-based (including videos, slides, infographics among others) to support the searches of your users. The next task is creating appropriate links among the various forms of content. It may also involve linking one sub-topic to a pillar topic, for seamless search inquiries.
Implement Good Navigation Strategies
Navigation centers on how well website information is congregated and displayed, in terms of the global web, within the site itself and on individual landing pages. To organize content for best search, the following tips on navigation can come in handy:
Implement a primary navigation high level and infuse keywords whenever possible.
Show a visual sitemap of relevant pages for indexing by search engines such as Google.
Provide users with secondary navigation menus for an overview of all sections and within each section of your website.
Pages with interrelated themes should be connected with inline text links.
If your website has a lot of depth in content, you might find it helpful to use breadcrumb navigation that incorporates keywords.
Page theming looks at the connection between the content of your website/pages and the keywords associated with them. This connection must be seamless in order to enhance the user’s search experience. Page theming tips include the following:
Remember to keep page content as focused as possible. In this regard use one or two primary keyword phrases and one or two secondary phrases, or less. Be straight to the point.
Ensure that the top page in a given section of your website is related to the highest level keywords in that section.
Create sub-pages for low relevance and long tail keywords within a section/page.
Word counts for each page should be equal to or greater than those for high ranking priority pages.
Archive Unused and Unimportant Content
Archiving content does not mean the content should be deleted. It forms part of a good practice to archive product items or specific information no longer needed, that are part of larger items. Archiving these extra information helps the user find relevant information that is actively being used in good time and gives your website a cleaner look and feel. If necessary you can create a link to archived items by switching either to ‘All’ or ‘archived’ view near the search bar.
Test Before Implementation
An important consideration you should bear in mind is that the users’ experience is what counts in the overall picture. Your content and its structure must be tailored to meet this expectation. After the initial user research with target groups and personal interaction, ensure you reach out to your potential users again before implementing your final content structure.
Whether through remote tests/assessment or guided user testing, set up your search parameters and have potential users give feedback. This feedback forms the framework for determining what content is relevant, missing or needs replacing.
These tips are a few amongst many others that can help you organize and structure your content for users/visitors to your website. Understand that the initial time and effort needed in getting your published content organized will be enormous. But it will be worth your while, especially as your attract traffic from target audiences and become an authority in your field.
Go ahead and implement these tips and any more you can find, in organizing your content for optimal user searches.