PR is dead. Long live PR.

Traditional PR tactics are struggling. Building positive perceptions of a brand in a digital world can no longer be done with the same approach, where decision makers are digital natives and brands need to be thinking ahead with markets moving at a lightning pace.

Firing out press releases is finished. Waiting for print runs is passé.  Traditional media is treading water as digital zooms by in a speedboat.

The Sun may have one of the largest readerships in the UK estimated at 3,000,000+ but its own digital monthly readership is in excess of 80,000,000!

So, what killed this traditional PR approach? The inability to prove who you were actually speaking to.

Traditional PR measures like column inches, reach, share of voice, and all that jazz are often based on guess work and have little relevance to a digital approach. Viewer figures and circulation numbers that media companies and publishers use to tempt your precious PR budgets from you are the same.

Some would call these vanity metrics. They may look good on paper but none of them actually prove any impact on brand perception – the whole point of PR.

Some more modern metrics have stuck their hand in the air for consideration, but they still fall short.

AVE – Advertising Value Equivalent – has become a popular measure but it’s still based on those approximate viewer figures or circulation numbers and an amount of money someone else is willing to spend for ad space.

Any seemingly impressive “ROI” figure is at best loosely accurate based on estimates of readership and no real reflection of the value of your brand and PR activity.

It’s these assumptions that have hampered traditional PR in proving its value and paved the way for digital PR to take its place.

With digital PR comes a mass of more responsive, more targeted and more agile channels and approaches that have significantly increased the opportunity for PR to have real impact and shape brand perception. But with every new opportunity comes challenge.

PR now can’t be a standalone activity. It needs to be completely integrated, working in sync with all your other digital marketing activity across SEO, Content and Social to build a consistent picture of a brand and develop valuable conversations with digitally savvy customers.

That synchronization across multiple digital channels means we’re awash with stats for visits, dwell times, clicks, likes, follows, shares and an untold number of others, and that’s no bad thing.

These stats all have much more value than those traditional PR measures as they help to understand the value of activity across your digital channels but the challenge of proving any favourable change in brand perception is still there.

These metrics measure the opportunity to communicate your brand’s message but they don’t measure the effectiveness of communicating your brand’s message.

To measure this effectiveness of communication there is still the need to find a repeatable metric that can be used to measure the penetration of your brand message over time.

Taking inspiration from Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Net Value Score (NVS) Red Hot Penny have created a trackable metric to measure brand perception called Brand Value Score (BVS).

Brand Value Score determines exactly how people perceive a brand and helps our clients directly assess the impact of all their integrated digital marketing activity.

Scores are calculated through direct engagement with customers and can be aggregated over time, across any market segments or demographic, to understand exactly how a variety of factors – including your PR activity – directly influence brand perception.

To find out how you can discover your own BVS and be able to link PR to a directly relevant and measurable metric just get in touch.

For more of our thoughts on the future of PR take a look at our blog post here, or to see how we’ve helped some of our PR clients take a look at the case studies for Vector Watch and Crabtree & Evelyn.

ITV, Marmite and more… our favourite digital campaigns this September

We’ve found the perfect end of Summer pick-me-up in a few of the coolest digital marketing campaigns from September. Offerings from ITV,, IKEA and Marmite have been helping to relieve our blues, with their clever use of video, inspired use of VR and fully integrated campaigns.


ITV’s new drama ‘Liar’ started earlier this month. It’s a gripping story that centres around two characters – one of whom is lying.

To build anticipation for their latest programme, ITV’s Facebook page was littered with short videos advertising the show. One in particular caught our attention. The video asks viewers to remove one headphone at a time to hear two different sides to the story.

This clever use of video gets across the programme’s dramatic theme, and has so far racked up over 1 million views. provides online training in how to draw 360° panoramas. Illustrator Kevin Hohler used the tool to create a stunning Where’s Waldo (aka Wally) panorama, taking the classic children’s book into the digital age.

The content can be viewed with a virtual reality headset or on your desktop. Look out for Wally plus characters like Homer Simpson, ET and a Minion!


Ever heard of autonomous sensory meridian response? Well, ASMR  is that tingling feeling at the back of your neck triggered by visual or acoustic stimuli.

It’s a bit scientific, but makes a great basis for a marketing campaign which is exactly what IKEA have done. Their Oddly IKEA ASMR video showcases products for Uni students, and incorporates features including a soft voiceover and satisfying product shots to trigger viewers’ ASMR.

It’s a 25-minute video and is super-relaxing. We don’t know why, but we feel the need for an IKEA trip…


Last but not least, we LOVE this new Marmite campaign. Playing on their ‘love it or hate it’ narrative, Marmite has come up with a totally integrated campaign to determine whether you like marmite – based on your genetic make-up.

The TV ad is a must-watch, and it’s backed up by some pretty cool digital content. Videos and mock-scientific reports explain the science behind the ‘Marmite gene project’.

There’s an interactive feature too. Users go to the microsite,, to take the test themselves. It involves making some Marmite on toast before using your front-facing camera to film yourself eating it. The results will tell you if you were born loving Marmite, or hating it.

Are you ready for Magento 2.0? – 5 tips for website migration

In November 2018, Magento 1.x will reach the end of its lifespan. There’ll be no more technical support, bug fixes or updates for the numerous e-commerce sites hosted on the 1.x versions of Magento. Now is the time to look at your site hosting platform and what you can do to future-proof your business – but don’t worry! You’re not alone.

Magento is an open-source platform and a popular choice for e-commerce sites. Building your website with Magento requires extensions and plug-ins, plus bespoke settings. The process of building a site is a complicated one and, it requires specialised web developers to get your site running like a well-oiled machine.

So, with Magento’s switch to focus on its 2.0 versions, retailers who do not upgrade risk falling behind the competition when it comes to site functionality, security and performance.

What are my options?

With this in mind, what can you do when Magento 1.x is no longer supported? Well, users have 3 options:

  1. Stay on Magento 1.x

Staying on Magento 1.x presents some issues. While it is an inexpensive solution to continue running an established site, without continuing updates from Magento, your site is at risk from emerging security threats. There’ll be no more bug fixes either meaning those niggling issues that you were assured ‘would be fixed in a future release’ simply won’t be resolved. In the long run, the cost of paying developers to create bespoke solutions for you will cancel out any initial savings from not migrating.

  1. Migrate to Magento 2.0

Magento 2.0 offers improved features including: increased payment security, 50% faster page loading and unique flexibility. What’s more, you’ll be able to transfer data such as customer information directly from Magento 1.x versions.

However, migration is expensive. The extensions and bespoke settings applied to your site on Magento 1.x can’t be carried across to the latest version. As a result, demand for developers with the expertise in Magento 2.0 will be high, and so will their cost.

  1. Migrate to another e-commerce platform

Similar to migrating to Magento 2.0, migrating to another platform could help future-proof your business. But, the longer your site has been trading, the more complex it is and this will make migration more costly. Additionally, there may be a steep learning curve on the new platform and there are a number of SEO variables to consider before packing up and moving.

Actions to take

If you’ve decided to migrate, bring on board the right developers to build the new site. It’s not a DIY job, especially considering the newness of Magento 2.0. While popular extension developers such as Mageworx are building a portfolio of extensions for the new version, it will take time for the 3rd party market to catch up to those available for Magento 1.x.

To overcome these hurdles, site developers will be your first port of call. There’s a reduced risk when working with experienced developers and it’s essential to partner with the right team for your needs. That doesn’t mean it’s a straightforward task though, migration will always consume a lot of resources.

There’s also SEO to think about. Your current site will have built up search engine authority that you don’t want to lose with a site migration. To protect this authority, there are certain SEO best practices that need to be carried out. This too is a complicated process and after investing heavily in a new site, it needs to be done well.

Check out our 5 steps below to make the tricky process run smoothly and importantly, retain your site traffic and authority.

Crawl your site

First thing’s first. You must understand the structure of your current site and which URLs you’re going to take with you. This step gives you the chance to make sure all your existing pages will be carried over and helps to spot any issues that could cause post-migration headaches.

Check for things like low-traffic pages, error messages and internal linking before planning the structure of your new site. This way, you can determine the content that’s migrating to your new site and what needs to be improved on. It’ll save you time when it comes to redirects.

Don’t lose inbound links

Speaking of redirects, that leads us to the next step for a smooth website migration: 301 redirects. These let search engines know to divert any traffic coming to old URLs, to its new corresponding one.

It’s best to keep new URLs as similar as possible to the old ones but this is not always possible. In this case, 301 redirects must be put in place or it could cost you rankings, traffic and conversions.

These are also especially important for inbound links coming from external sites. The domain authority and SERPs you worked so hard to build could all go to waste if you don’t properly programme URLs to follow through to its new counterpart. Your established site authority is automatically passed on through redirects but, in the long-term, it’s best to run an outreach campaign to get links updated to keep things uncomplicated.

Google recommend you keep a copy of your old sitemap in place for 6 months following a migration. This allows time for the new URLs to be indexed and ranked so you should be able to remove any 301s after this.

Test the new site with ‘noindex’ tags

Once your content has been uploaded and 301 redirects programmed, it’s crucial to test your new site. However, you don’t want this site to be found on search engines because it’s not quite ready yet and it could cause duplication issues when you do launch the new site. Apply ‘noindex’ tags, or block the site from the robots.txt file, to tell search engines not to list that site.

Check the new site for things like UX, mobile UX and loading speed – these are all things that affect your rankings. A great tool for checking how mobile friendly your site is, is Google’s test tool.

Check your analytics pull through

Once your new site launches, the last thing you want is to have incorrect or no data to compare its performance. Luckily, you can check that your analytics is properly set up and populated with data, before going live.

Start by creating a test property in your existing analytics account, once you’ve got this set up correctly, you can mimic it with the new site to keep an eye on its performance.

It is almost certain that initially, you will experience a drop in traffic, but expect to retrieve 90% of your monthly traffic within 90 days of the migration date. This is enough time for Google to crawl, index and understand the new site. Keep an eye on this though, by pulling through your analytics.

Record benchmark data

You’re going to want to be able to report on the success of your site migration and to do so, you’ll need benchmark data. If you’re using Google Analytics, add an annotation to distinguish the launch date when looking at graphs.

Benchmark data makes it easier to compare the performance of your new site against the old one and check that it’s not losing traffic. If you’re not regaining traffic after 3 months, spotting where the issue started is vital, and those comparisons will come in handy.

Ready for relaunch

Finally, after all those crucial SEO checks, your site is ready for relaunch. There’s still work to be done though. We recommend that all the SEO checks you carried out before going live are repeated after launch so that no stone has been left unturned.

Our last piece of advice would be to remain vigilant; take the time to run checks and diagnose problems quickly. It’s a complicated process and unless you’re an SEO expert, it’s important to get help. SEO professionals will give you the knowledge and attention that increase your chances of a successful migration.

Download our handy checklist to walk you through migration!

Should you run ads on Facebook or Instagram?

Social networks are changing. Over the last few years there’s been a decline in organic reach, owing to Facebook’s change in algorithm. Before, users liked a business or brand page and then content from that page would show up in their News Feed. Now, Facebook tries to show only the most relevant content, meaning not everyone who likes your page will see all of your posts.

That’s where Paid Social comes into play. In an increasingly competitive News Feed, brands can pay to reach their audience: with such advanced audience segmentation options available, brands can effectively target their ideal consumer with highly relevant content.

Facebook ads vs. Instagram ads

Facebook recommends that you place your ads across both social platforms, and seeing as ads for both Facebook and Instagram are created in the Facebook ad editor, they’ve made it easy for marketers to do so. (we wouldn’t recommend doing this). Despite the simplicity of doing so, is it always necessary to display ads on both? And does one platform perform better than the other?

Well that depends. Before choosing one over the other, or spreading your budget across both, there are three questions to ask:

  • How much do you have to spend?
  • Who do you want to see your ad?
  • What are your objectives?

Let’s break it down.


The way Facebook charges for their advertising space means you can spend as much or as little of your marketing budget as you want. The best way to compare the cost of Facebook and Instagram advertising is by taking a look at what you get in return for that spend.

Nanigans’ Instagram Advertising Benchmark Report from June 2016 compared the Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) and Click- Through Rates (CTR) per 1,000 impressions on both Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook Instagram
CPC 34p 97p
CTR 1.3% 0.4%
CPM £4.34 £3.93

(prices converted from dollars to GBP at June 2016 exchange rate)

Facebook wins in the cost department – except when it comes to reach. It has a cheaper cost-per-click and a higher level of action, but Instagram comes in cheaper for views, meaning you can reach more people for less. For campaigns that prioritise reach over actions, Instagram may be a better choice.


You should also consider your audience. Facebook and Instagram play host to different demographics, and you should target your ads based on where your audience is.

Facebook has a huge 2 billion monthly active users, with a 53% female and 47% male breakdown. Of all online users, 56% of seniors aged 65+, 63% of 50-64-year olds, and 87% of 18-29-year olds are on Facebook.

Instagram has fewer monthly active users with 700 million. 68% of Instagram users are female, while 59% of 18-29-year olds and 33% of 30-49-year olds online use Instagram.

So, Facebook has a wider reach. Its larger number of active users spans across both genders equally and older generations also use the platform. This makes it great for targeting most audiences, but it offers the opportunity to communicate with older audiences – something which other social platforms can’t do.

Instagram has more female users and a younger demographic than Facebook, so it’s ideal for reaching a very specific audience where engagement for them is high. Importantly, engagement with businesses on Instagram has been found to be 10x higher than engagement on Facebook. Posting your ads on Instagram can boost your brand’s visibility and help your organic social performance too.


The final thing you need to do is decide what the objectives for your ad are. For the most part, both Facebook and Instagram have the same options for ad formats:

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Slideshow ads
  • Canvas ads
  • Recently, Facebook introduced the collection advert format (which isn’t available on Instagram, yet)

The platforms offer the same objectives for your ads and they each target for local and mass awareness of your brand. It all comes down to the difference in users’ behaviour and the level of engagement between Facebook and Instagram to determine which platform is best for your campaign objective.

Instagram’s higher level of engagement is an opportunity for increasing reach and brand awareness, particularly in specific demographics.

Facebook is better for campaigns looking for clicks and conversions and its span across a range of demographics means you can target very niche audiences with your product. With its huge reach, the potential for boosting brand awareness is significant – although remember that Facebook’s engagement is not as high as Instagram amongst young female audiences.

Which social platform should you choose?

The determining factor for running your ads on Facebook or Instagram ultimately rides on your business objectives and goals – it’s important to think about the platform’s cost of advertising, demographics and the levels of engagement they receive. When it comes to picking one over the other, Facebook’s wider reach might outweigh Instagram’s ability to target specific demographics, while Instagram’s high level of engagement with young female millennials might be more beneficial than Facebook’s cheaper CPC.

Sometimes, the answer might be both. Remember: if you aren’t advertising somewhere but your competitor is, you might be losing out on valuable brand awareness and traffic.

Snap Publisher – What does it do?

It’s about to become easier for smaller companies to manage their Snap Ads campaigns. The social platform has introduced Snap Publisher, an online video editing suite that allows you to create and edit Snap Ads. The new ad publisher includes a range of features that will help marketers to produce better ad content for their audience.

Earlier this year, Snapchat introduced its self-serve ad manager. Before that, marketers were relying on the Snap sales team or third-party ad tools to buy Snap Ads, which priced out smaller companies. Now, you can buy, manage, optimise, and view reporting for all your Snap Ads, plus organise targeting for optimising your ad’s reach. Snap Publisher is the latest offering from Snapchat Inc., which aims to make Snap Ads more accessible.

Check out exactly what the tool can do for your business:

Add design and audio elements

Marketers have been crying out for the ability to create more polished content with Snapchat and the photo and messaging giant has answered. Now, you can edit videos with text, images and animation directly in the online publisher. You can also overlay music and audio files on your Snap Ads for better quality sound.


Simplicity is the new focus of Snap Publisher. The platform offers 13 templates to choose from, with holding images and text that can be replaced with your own brand assets. Transitions and fading elements are also integrated with the templates, taking all the hassle out of editing your Snap Ads.

A/B testing

Snapchat is offering an option to run A/B testing using different ad designs. Create two different Snap Ads with Snap Publisher and run them simultaneously, then see how they’re performing against each other with the ad results from your ad manager account.

Convert assets into vertical orientation

We’ve saved the best news ‘til last: thanks to Snap Publisher’s biggest new feature, marketers no longer have to produce new content just for their Snapchat account. Snapchat’s computer-vision technology resizes horizontal videos into vertical ones for mobile screens. You can also use this feature to select clips from longer videos to fill Snapchat’s 3 to 10 second timings.

Snap Publisher is an opportunity to create more seamless and polished ads. In particular, the new editor will give smaller brands and businesses a major boost. The platform presents a great opportunity to promote your brand in a more personal way, with creative Snap Ads formats designed specifically for your audience. It’s now more accessible than ever thanks to Snapchat’s clever new tool.

It shows progress for Snapchat too – the platform has been losing out on users and ad revenue to its slicker competitor, Instagram. With its latest self-serve ad tools, Snapchat is demonstrating a willingness to develop which is fantastic news for marketers. We expect to see this channel become a bigger part of paid social campaigns over the next few months as more brands start to adopt this platform into their paid strategy. See what the new tool can do over on Snapchat’s YouTube channel.

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Content Marketing

Bill Gates famously said once that “content is king” and for brands and retailers, this couldn’t be more true. In one way or another, every marketing strategy includes content.

Content marketing is defined as a strategy to create and distribute valuable content that is relevant to a clearly defined audience, with the intention of attracting and retaining customers.

But, too much of content marketing efforts focus on creation rather than promotion and evaluation. It’s crucial to measure the performance of your content to inform future strategy and assess the value of the work. Below are the six questions you should ask before producing content, to help ensure each piece is relevant, measurable and does what it’s meant to – attract and retain.

  • WHY? 

Too often, this question is skipped and it is the most critical question to ask. Why are you creating this piece? What is its purpose? Do you need it to rank for a particular search term? Do you want it to generate lots of backlinks? Is there a lack of information on a subject that you want to write a helpful and informative piece on? Are you trying to catch the wave of a current or emerging trend? Do you want to gather information?

Think carefully about the purpose of your content. It should inform the rest of the questions we ask below.

  • WHAT?

Now you know why you need to create the content piece and the purpose it is serving, you need to determine the format it’s going to take. Educating visitors requires something like an article or infographic. Improving search rank may be best served with a long-form article. Shareability might be better served with a funny or thought-provoking image-based piece or quiz. Gathering information is obviously achieved through a survey or poll, etc. You get the idea that ‘content’ can mean many, many things and some are better suited to your objective of that piece than others.

A final key consideration is whether you need to create all the content yourself. In some cases, simply curating and sharing great content may meet your goals in the ‘why’ question.

  • WHERE?

If you answer the ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions first, then the question of ‘where’ may be simple. But you might equally think about ‘where’ immediately after determining ‘why’. In this case, you should determine whether your strategy revolves around your website, a third-party site or a social platform. From there you plan the content piece accordingly. You might decide to do a Facebook poll because you have a ready list of followers to engage with and can easily reach more people through sponsored/boosted content. You might partner with a media outlet to promote the poll/survey if you are willing to share the data with them.

  • WHO?

This question is in two parts. Firstly, who is the content being created for and secondly, who are you in providing the content…

For the former, you will hopefully have developed one or more personas that represent your target audience for the content. If not, you need to. This might be overall personas for your campaign, or perhaps even just for that content piece if it’s large enough or important enough. Then write to that person. Write in a language they will understand and in a way that will resonate with them. Some content may need to be business-like, or technical, or even comedic. The best reaction and engagement will be when the reader sees that the content is for them and realises it from the very first sentence.

For the latter, you must determine who you are in this conversation. Are you trying to be a trusted advisor (a little like this piece), a technical professional consultant, someone sharing the issues that the reader has? Your tone of voice will be determined by this.

For instance, you may be writing to a 45-year-old parent, but as the persona of an angst-ridden teenager. Extreme example, but it highlights the thought process.

  • WHEN?

OK, so with PR, immediacy is important, not too early as to be irrelevant, or not too late as to be, well, irrelevant! But with other content, especially online content that you want to be visible at the right time, you can never be ‘too early’, and what you think is early, is already late. One example is Prom Dresses. Prom dress season is around April and May, so many people in that business aim to get their content up in mid-March, thinking they are early. However, if you look at the sales trends, you’ll see that searches around that term spike in January and sales peak in February. So, the content you worked so hard on and posted in March is not as useful as you might think.

The only way you can answer the ‘when’ question is by reviewing your data and any other industry data you can get your hands on. If you don’t have that data, then simply plan to post the content in the middle of the preceding, plus one, season. So, if you want your content about summer travel to be relevant to summer travelers, who will be searching about this in the spring, you need to be posting in the winter.

  • HOW?

As we have seen, no matter your size, everyone has a lack of resource and a penchant for insourcing as much as possible. Consider whether this is your best option. It may well be, but in this case, you need to balance creative minds with analytical minds. Typically, SEO people are, by their nature, very good at data analysis. They, therefore, make for a perfect partnership with creative writers and designers.

Bottom Line, You Need Data

By now, you’ve probably noticed a common theme in each stage of the content creation process. You need data. Both beforehand, to plan and create your content, and afterwards, to determine whether your content was successful. Your ability to justify your strategy or its ongoing implementation is reliant on having the data that shows its impact.

Most people look only at impressions and maybe engagement. If you really want to prove the benefit of your work, you need to find a way to relate it to much more tangible successes. Always go back to the ‘why’ question to determine if the goal was fulfilled. The Call to Action at the end of your content needs to do exactly what it says on the tin… inspire your users to act and measure their action.

Stories: Snapchat VS Instagram

Since Instagram introduced their Stories feature in August 2016, we’ve seen some copycat tactics coming from the platform. With every update, their stories became more and more like Snapchat as they introduced face filters, drawing tools and sticker embellishments.

More recently though, the platforms have been fighting it out with unique features including Snapchat’s latest offering, Snap Map. Each new feature can offer something new to marketers and brands, giving them the opportunity to put out increasingly new and engaging content.

And the winner is…

So, who comes out on top in the battle of the stories?


Snapchat and Instagram are as different as Yin and Yang so when it comes to deciding where to focus your marketing efforts, it all depends on your brand’s audience. Although Instagram has a wider reach, particularly when it comes to engagement with stories, Snapchat targets a slightly younger audience and is maintaining a steady growth.

Features for thought

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the different features available on each platform is where Stories can really help your marketing strategy. Snapchat feels more personal and is great for creating ‘behind the scenes’ content. Plus, their Geofilters feature is great for product launches and can be used to target local audiences for a personalised feel.

Instagram on the other hand, provides marketers with an opportunity to create more polished content with an excellent user experience. The ability to embed links, hashtags and user tags to a story means that advertising is more seamlessly integrated with the content.

For Snapchat and Instagram, the Story Wars continues and we can’t wait to see what’s next…

If you would like to add our infographic to your website you can use the code provided below:

<blockquote class=”embedly-card”><h4><a href=””>Stories: Snapchat VS Instagram | Red Hot Penny</a></h4><p>engagement with stories, Snapchat targets a slightly younger audience and is maintaining a steady growth.</p></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”UTF-8″></script>

Back to basics – Section three: Who’s doing it well?

Below are 3 examples of great product content. These retailers have taken into consideration some SEO best practices and matched that with well-written and engaging copy that is helpful for the user.


Tesco stands out from competitors with their unique product descriptions, creating content for the most popular fitness tracker on the market, Fitbit. This description explains the key features of the product in an uncomplicated way, and is the ideal length to appeal to Tesco’s key demographic.

The content is also optimised for relevant brand and non-brand keywords and will therefore appear on search engine pages for both specific and non-specific searches related to the product.


Nike break their content for Flyknit trainers into easy-to-digest sections that won’t lose users’ attention.

They add in an aspect of storytelling to their content. Explaining a little about why and how this particular shoe came to be, Nike add an emotional value that persuades the customer to buy. This may not work for all brands, but Nike have established a tone of voice that reflects the quality of their products.


Sephora use subheading tags to structure their content, making it more favourable for search engines. <H1> to <H6> tags are rewarded by search engines because the content is more likely to be user-friendly and easily scannable.

Helpful heading tags allow users to quickly find the information they are looking for, reducing the likelihood that they will give up and abandon the page.

The benefits of great product content are two-fold. They help customers, and as a result improve your brand’s value, plus they improve SEO, increasing your site’s visibility online. And, these benefits are just a few steps away. Here’s the 4-step process you need to follow to write successful product descriptions:

1. Find content and SEO resources
You may need to look for external help if your product catalogue is large, or is updated regularly

2. Know your target audience
Create or revisit your customer personas and review your competitors

3. Research the product and search terms
Make sure you know what you’re writing about and have found the relevant keywords for each product

4. Produce helpful, well-written content that’s SEO optimised
Always write for the customer first and avoid keyword stuffing

To please customers and SERPs, writing product content needs to be an integrated approach. SEO insight and keyword trends inform the content but ultimately, it needs to fulfil the needs of your customers.

Back to basics – Section two: SEO benefits

SEO also plays an important role in producing great product content. Without SEO practices, your well-written content may not be seen. Plus, relying on manufacturer content presents duplication issues. Optimising every single description and making them unique will improve site visibility and leads to greater ROI.


Similarly to content writers answering consumers’ questions, SEO experts can conduct keyword research to find out what potential customers search for when looking for a product. For example, one customer looking for a TV might search ‘Smart TV’, while another might search for ‘WIFI ready smart TV’. Both of these search terms refer to the same type of product and the search will return thousands of results from multiple retailers.

RHP Tip: Conducting research uncovers keyword search trends and reveals just how many people are searching for that term. Product descriptions need to be written around keyword topics in order to be found by the right customer. The trick is to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’. Simply loading copy with keywords will be penalised by search engines. Instead, the keywords need to be naturally written into the copy, and feature in heading tags, to be rewarded with higher rankings.


Keywords aren’t the only way to improve rankings. Optimising at product level has a knock-on effect at category level. Improving visibility for certain product groups will improve rankings and visibility of that subcategory. And ranking highly is vital for click-throughs.

Research has found that the difference between position number 1 and position number 2 on a search page means, on average, a huge 23.9% lower CTR.

So, optimising your website at product level increases the rankings and more CTRs. And with customers then finding persuasive and informative content on site, the chance of conversion is also increased.

Using headings is another way to improve SERPs. They give structure to content, making it more digestible, and also help search engines recognise the topic of the description.



Another SEO issue tripping up online retailers is duplicate content. Search engines crawl your site, looking for unique content to rank highly on SERPs. Using manufacturer-written descriptions that are distributed to competitors is seen as duplicate content and penalised.

Enlisting the help of writers and working on a large number of products will help to fill your site with unique content, that is looked upon favourably by search engines. Likewise, meta descriptions need to be unique too. Utilising the specialities of both content writers and SEO experts produces good quality unique content that is optimised for search engines.

Back to basics – Section one: Content benefits

This section looks at the benefits that good content brings to your product descriptions. The tone of voice, information, and structure that goes into each description represents your brand’s image. Getting it right will improve customer relations and help to increase conversions.


The first issue facing online retailers is the quality of their content. Poorly-written descriptions devalue a product. If grammar is incorrect, or the writing is difficult to comprehend, it makes a brand look unprofessional. And with so much competition from other retailers, it’s important to persuade customers that your site is reputable.

Most importantly though, it is vital you have accurate product information. Publishing content that has inaccurate information will disappoint or anger customers, especially after purchase. Avoid breaking trading standards and invest in proper research and quality control for each description.

Writing content well and making it useful is the second task at hand. Market research and knowing your target demographics will tell you who to write for, but without a team of skilled writers by your side, the copy risks sounding amateur. It’s therefore essential that content is well-written to match the value of the product.


With many retailers using manufacturer-written descriptions, the tone or quality may not reflect that individual brand’s values. Having a proper content strategy with branding guidelines helps to make your product descriptions unique to you, and improves customer perception.

Shaping your own unique tone of voice can have added benefits for your brand awareness. Something that really gets consumers’ attention is storytelling. Tell the story behind your brand or even the product to authentically reach out to your target audience. This is something that works particularly well for smaller brands.



Average online conversion rates for each industry show the ‘window-shopping’ habits of online shoppers – on average, fashion retail e-commerce sites have a conversion rate of just 3.5%, which means that a huge percentage of consumers are visiting a product page without making a purchase.

So, what’s stopping consumers from making a purchase? Consumer research from Salsify found that 94% abandon a site if they can’t find the information they need, and 88% say product content plays an extremely important role in their decision. These statistics demonstrate the failings of e-commerce sites. Without enough information on a product, the huge majority of site visitors leave. Content needs to be informative enough that it captures the attention of consumers, and helps to inform their decision.


RHP Tip: A television costing around £1,500 should have enough content to reflect the expense being invested by the customer. Too little content and conversion will be poor. Too much though, and you risk losing their attention. Often, a minimum of 150 words is enough to inform the customer and keep their attention. In most cases, any more than 500 words is probably too much.


Including the right information will in turn help to lower bounce rates as fewer consumers leave your site dissatisfied after not finding the content they expect or enough information. Checking consumer written reviews and looking at frequently asked questions about the product should give you some hints about what to include.

The result of all this is lower bounce rates, which helps support SEO. Low average bounce rates improve your domain authority with search engines and improve SERPs. Content doesn’t just propel your brand image, it also increases awareness as your online presence becomes more visible.