Strategy & Best Practices

Creating Product Profile Consistency on Your Marketplace: 8 Rules to Include in Your Style Guide

By Sangita Bhowmik / July 19, 2022

8 Rules Blog

The AppDirect platform is built to help your marketplace partners go to market quickly and easily with content-rich product profile pages that draw browsers in.

In our recent blog Building a Rich Partner Product Profile—Converting Browsers to Buyers we provided tips on how you can create compelling product profiles on your marketplace. But you can also invite your partners to create their own product profiles. If you do, you’ll want to make sure they adhere to content guidelines and principles that ensure your marketplace profiles meet consistent writing style, tone, design and other typical content standards.

The prebuilt home and product page themes on the AppDirect platform offer extensive business configurability, making it easy for partners to customize each product profile page without requiring professional services or developer support. The prebuilt themes also take care of elements such as page layout and the checkout experience. 

It’s All About Optimizing Product Page Content

However, it takes more than excellent UI/UX to ensure a successful purchase. Good UI and UX are obviously a must for any marketplace but beyond that, it’s sharp content that helps bridge the gap between user needs and wants. Just as a good sales person identifies a buyer's needs and matches them to their offerings, good content effectively and efficiently matches problems to solutions. To ensure more conversions from your product pages, you need to optimize the content and the visual elements, and make sure they address user needs in a compelling manner.

But that’s easier said than done. One of the biggest challenges marketplace owners face is maintaining content quality across multiple profiles, especially when partners can add content on their own and go to market with a product profile almost instantly.

There’s a fine balance between making it easy for partners to onboard their products to the marketplace with few to no bottlenecks, and ensuring the content maintains a consistent quality. A style guide for product profile writers is important to achieve that balance. Think of it as a housekeeping checklist that partners can refer to while writing their product profile content.

A style guide is beneficial to you and your partners in more ways than one.

  • It creates user engagement—Sometimes you can lose even the most interested user simply by not providing the information that they’re looking for. According to HubSpot, 73 percent of consumers become frustrated over irrelevant web content. Having too much content that doesn’t provide relevant information to users is a quick recipe for losing their engagement. A good style guide includes guidelines and tips to keep visitors’ eyes on the profile page for longer.

  • The profile page is more likely to take a top spot on search engine results pages—As an evolution from the early days of keyword stuffing, Google and other search engines now rank content by how well users engage with it. In addition to factors such as page loading, it also considers average user time spent on the page, making content quality a vital metric if you’re eyeing content performance through an SEO lens. Take a look at our recent blog article 3 SEO Tips for Your B2B Marketplace—How to Drive Traffic Directly to Your Storefront for SEO guidelines.

  • It ensures the provider adheres to marketplace and merchant branding—As a merchant offering multiple solutions on your marketplace, you want to be sure that your own brand identity and integrity remains intact when a partner publishes their content on your site. Your style guidelines need to convey that your brand voice needs to remain present, in synergy with partner content.

8 Guidelines to Include in Your Style Guide

Now that we understand why having a content quality style guide is important, let's take a look at how you can create a style guide for your partners and what elements you should include:

1. Create a content template We recommend creating guidelines that include a crisp content template that your partners can use and that follows a straightforward approach for their product overview. You can define the type of content you want for every section of the product profile. For instance, overview content should address elements like the problems prospects face, the impact the problem has on a typical business, and how the product provides a solution.

Having a template helps profile writers make the most of the character limit and ensures the reader gets all the information they need in one quick glance. It also ensures the users remain engaged with your content.

2. Spell out real estate guidelines—The key differentiating factor between other website content and marketplace content is that once your theme and general layout are finalized, it’s used for all product profile pages. Make this work to your advantage by writing clear-cut guidelines for every field and pane in the template to ensure consistency.

Standards should be spelled out for many content elements, including character length and the type of content to be included on a specific page, field, or pane. For instance, you might specify that the Top Features section on the overview page has to cover the product benefits, but the Features tab can go into more detail about the solution. Be creative about how you populate each element of the page’s real estate, while reinforcing the need for consistent product profiles across their portfolio of solutions. Consistency is crucial for people browsing your marketplace so they know what to expect from one profile to the next, and can easily find important product information.

3. Make images speak louder than words—You know how your eye always goes to the most attention grabbing item on the page? Words, however well written, are often secondary to images when it comes to grabbing attention. When people read information, they're likely to remember only 10 percent of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, three days later people retain 65 percent of the information.

    This is why we recommend that your style guide specify guidelines for your providers. For example, to make the large overview image meaningful to users, it should be related to the problem the product solves. Random stock images are often ineffective and may not fit well into a company’s visual brand identity. It’s important that images be resized to fit exact dimensions required by the content management system. Make sure your style guide includes image dimension specifications for every type of image, including the logo, feature images, overview images, and others.

    4. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at existing partner marketing collateral—If anyone knows how to sell a solution it’s the people who came up with the solution in the first place. Make sure the content writers in the partner company look at their own sales and marketing content when they’re writing the product profile for your marketplace. If they have multiple profiles, they should make sure the tone, writing style, and content approach is consistent across all of them.

    5. Include guidelines for your brand—Specify any guidelines related to your brand that you want the partner to adhere to. This includes how to use your logo, but also extends to other areas. If there’s content that you’d like them to incorporate into the profile, make sure they have it at the outset.

    6. Give resource links engaging anchor text—Users need a compelling reason to click on a link. If partners feel that they need to add links to resources on their product profiles, the anchor text has to be meaningful and relatable to make it worthwhile for users to leave the page. It should be clear to them that if they click the link, they’ll get answers to questions they’re asking themselves. Remember also that taking users away from the product profile may result in them not returning to make a purchase, so partners need to carefully consider the pros and cons of including resource links.

    7. Encourage third party reviews—A partner’s digital word of mouth—People want to know what others are saying about the products on your marketplace, so never underestimate the influence a review can have on someone who is sitting on the fence. Marketplaces on the AppDirect platform are enabled to include third party reviews. Make sure your guidelines encourage partners to add them on their product profiles.

    8. Include privacy links and contact information: Especially for B2B products and services, adding privacy links and contact information is a must. After all, any business that plans to spend a substantial sum of money on a solution needs to have access to information about the company behind the solution, and the ability to contact them. Be sure to include this requirement in your guidelines. You don’t want to wait for your site visitors to run a Google search on your partner.

    To ensure that the important elements we just identified are covered on every product profile, make sure your style guide includes questions to help content writers do a sanity check on their product profile before they click the publish button. The questions should be framed so that writers put themselves in the shoes of a potential customer coming to the product page for the first time. Here are some examples:

    • Do I know who is selling this product? (Check that you adhered to brand guidelines, check image resolution, size, quality, and whether it represents the brand)

    • Do I understand what problem this product is meant to address? (Double check the product description in the overview)

    • Do I understand what the product does and how it does it? (Review the features)

    • Do I understand how it will help my business? (Are there compelling benefit statements?)

    • Is the pricing plan complete and easy to understand, and is it clear how and why editions are priced differently? (Verify that the prices are clear and editions are well differentiated and easy to understand)

    • Can I see what other people who’ve used this product think of it? (Check that reviews appear on the profile)

    • Is this content related to what I searched for? (Do an SEO check for the right keywords, content quality, and so on. See 3 SEO Tips for Your B2B Marketplace—How to Drive Traffic Directly to Your Storefront for guidelines)

    • Do I trust the content on this page? (Check the content for grammar and spelling mistakes, and make sure that it’s clear and easy to understand. See Building a Rich Partner Product Profile—Converting Browsers to Buyers for tips on creating a compelling product profile page)

    • Does this page contain the same type of information as the other product profiles for this company so I can easily compare products? (Check that the page adheres to your template)

    • Does this company appear to be trustworthy? (Have you included contact and privacy information?)