When it comes to low-cost traffic that brings in revenue, content marketing is the name of the game.
However, if you own an eCommerce business, you may be wondering what to write about. After all, without articles or content like videos there’s no SEO. And we all know that without SEO, there’s very little organic growth.
Sure, you should absolutely use social media, but there’s a reason why most marketing campaigns focus on search rankings and content marketing.
The reason behind it is very simple: the first place your customers look is Google. Not Facebook, not Instagram.
Similarly, when your customers wake up, they check their email as they drink their morning coffee. Later on in the day, they won’t pay attention to banner ads on LinkedIn. You want to get their attention when they’re most susceptible, and reach them where you have higher chances of them noticing your business.
So why not reap the benefits of content marketing? After all, it has a high conversion rate of about 2.9%. In contrast, businesses which don’t use content marketing have a conversion average of 0.5%.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to get started with content marketing in your eCommerce business. We’ll add in examples, too, so don’t worry – just read on.
Step 1: Choose Your Adventure
AKA Choose the format of your content.
Before there can be any content, you need to have an idea of what kind of content works best for your audience.
You’ll create the best content mixes after thorough testing, but it’s good to start with something tried and true.
For this, you can stake out the competition, see what kind of content they produce, and how their customers react to it.
Some content formats just naturally work better. For example, if you’re selling travel products like those handy-dandy quick-dry sweaters, you may want to opt for video.
If you’re selling lotions and perfumes, images will work best.
If your selling business-to-business, you can conduct your own research and produce case studies and whitepapers.
However, articles and blogs usually work for all kinds of audiences so they’re a good choice if you’re looking for a safe way to explore content marketing.
Content Format Best Practices: Mr. Porter’s Weekly Journal
One of the most important parts of content marketing is the bigger picture.
People don’t just buy out of convenience. They buy because they like the lifestyle, and a fashion eCommerce business called Mr. Porter recognized it.
Their content strategy is centered on their Weekly Journal, which is essentially a blog in which they cover fashion and lifestyle topics.
This strategy combines the best of traffic attraction and brand building, since it entices new customers, and increases loyalty in the recurring ones.
Their topics vary from Rami Malek interviews and fashion week highlights to style guides and best-dressed lists. There’s something for every Mr. Porter customer, and the longevity of their project confirms it.
Regardless of what your industry is, this is what we can learn from Mr. Porter’s Weekly Journal:
1) Lifestyle and ideas sell. Your content strategy should reflect that knowledge.
2) Strive to both educate and entertain your customers. That's the best way to raise brand awareness while improving customer relationships.
Step 2: Choose Your Platform
Once you’ve decided what kind of content you’ll use, it’s time to choose a platform.
This is incredibly important because different platforms will produce different results, and have different prerequisites and consequences.
For example, email has higher reach because it’s delivered directly to your customers’ inboxes. However, they’re required to fill out an opt-in form, and you’ll have to pay special attention to how you capture their interest.
Additionally, this type of content marketing won’t help your SEO efforts that much, but it will increase your ROI by 3,800% on average. For each dollar you invest, you’ll get $38 back.
However, blogs are the attention-getters. You can easily integrate a blogging platform like Ghost (which we use and love, btw) into your website, and answer your customers’ frequent questions, as well as educate them with informative and interesting blog posts.
After you choose your platform, you should also choose a few other channels where you’ll cross-promote your content. This increases your visibility and significantly improves your chances of content marketing success.
Content Platform Best Practices: Target
A great example of platform selection done right is Target’s Super Awesome Shop.
Target’s marketing experts were well aware that their customers use Pinterest, so they helped them shop for Target products on that platform.
Users could see Target’s most popular items on Pinterest, as well as other customers’ favorite items, and product details. If they were ready to buy after seeing the benefits and the social proof, they would be redirected to Target’s online store.
Even though Target has a slightly bigger marketing budget than most of us, there are two things we can learn about platform selection:
1) Understand your audience, and research their online habits to make the best choice for your content strategy.
2) Make the content experience interactive.
Step 3: Find Your Topics
The first thing most content marketers will tell you is: “You should do keyword research. Do it all day every day, and you’ll know your formula for content marketing success!”
They’re not that far off, but they’re not entirely right.
Yes, your first step should be to do keyword research (Google Keywords Planner is a good, free tool to start with), but here’s what you should consider:
· Keyword traffic
· Keyword saturation
· The value of this keyword to your customers
Let’s say you’re selling mattresses online like Leesa. Some topics will instantly spring to mind (for example, how to recognize a quality mattress).
However, choosing “mattress” as your keyword isn’t enough. Plug it into Google Keywords Planner and here’s what you’ll see:
There’s a lot of traffic in there. If you actually google your keyword, you’ll see that the front page is dominated by websites with strong reputation. You can (and you will) compete with them, but this approach won’t get you the results you want as fast as you want them.
Instead, try a tool like AnswerThePublic. This tool analyzes Google searches and uses autocomplete suggestions to give you suggestions for questions your customers have.
If you type in “mattress,” here’s what you’ll see:
These ideas are blog topics you can use right away. Just enter your target keyword, and take a look at what your customers frequently ask.
After all, the actual success of content marketing lies in the fact that it provides additional value. It educates your customers, and helps them make an informed decision (that just happens to include your product, wink wink).
AnswerThePublic also shows you comparisons like “mattress vs floor,” and commonly-used prepositions. Essentially, if your target audience googled it frequently, it’s going to be on there.
And you can use it as a content topic.
It’s also good if you can spend more time on research and identify topics that haven’t been covered in great length.
Content Topics Best Practices: HubSpot
I use HubSpot as a best practice example often, but it’s only because they really know their stuff.
When it comes to content marketing, HubSpot has a diverse audience, but they have an even more diverse content strategy.
They use everything from courses to blog posts to answer their customers’ burning questions. From advanced subjects like dunning management to the basics of marketing terminology, HubSpot’s covered it all.
They also conduct their own research, which they turn into white papers. They definitely go the extra mile to educate and provide additional value to their customers.
Without further ado, here’s what you can learn from HubSpot’s topic selection:
1) Don’t be afraid to answer diverse questions in great length. You should be your customers’ best resource on topics related to your industry.
2) Stay updated on trends, but create and update evergreen content that your customers can revisit.
Step 4: Find Your Tone
So many good content ideas go to waste every day because of poor execution.
It’s completely understandable; for most people, writing is separate from talking.
However, if you want to use content marketing to boost your revenue, the way you write should be the same as the way you speak.
Think of people reading it on the other side of the screen. How would they like to be addressed?
Do they really need another definition of mattress that’s there just to make the article feel less empty?
When it comes to content marketing, it’s incredibly important to research the way your users naturally process language.
This sounds like a job for techies, but it’s not. You’re most likely not going to handle big data analysis while you’re still in the process of acquiring your first 1000 users, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap some of the benefits.
Let’s say you have a B2B eCommerce business. How will you adapt your tone in the blog post to make your readers feel comfortable? Will you swear and make inappropriate jokes?
And if you’re talking to mothers who are buying your baby onesies, you’re not going to address them the same way you’d address teens.
The importance of tone in content marketing cannot be overstated. Content gets skimmed a lot, so it’s important to make your articles interesting.
That means that no, you don’t need that definition. And this goes for content marketing in general, too.
You need content that flows nicely and conveys information without being stuffy.
That’s the content that can reach your customers. That’s the content that will help you succeed.