traditional marketing tactics, impacting them to continually come back to you for advice, tips, trends, news and of course, to make purchases. Here are a few stats to back up why content marketing works:
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing
- Content marketing generates about 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing.
- 60% of people seek out a product after reading about it.
- 90% of consumers believe custom content is useful.
1. Research and address what customers actually care about (and actually solve their problems).Without customers, you have no money. And in order to earn and retain customers, you have to give them what they want. How do you know what they want? First, you can ask them. Send out a survey of short questions to current customers or consumers who have abandoned a shopping cart to ask what they liked about your site, what you can do better to improve their experience, etc. But, asking questions oftentimes ends up in a no answer or an I don’t know. So you’ve got to do your own research to find out what your customers want. Stand in your customer’s shoes. Follow customer experiences on your site and see where problems arise. Follow social media mentions to see if people are expressing issues there. Have an eye for the future and try to envision what your customers will want tomorrow. Once you’ve researched what your customers really care about, address it with your content. If they want better product descriptions, more product images, a regularly updated blog that provides insightful and entertaining content that answers their questions, give it to them.
2. Create a plan.Nothing good in business starts without building a plan. Your content marketing strategy is that plan, a plan that’s integral to business success. According to the Content Marketing Institute, your content marketing strategy should include:
- Your business case: reasons you need content marketing, risks involved, vision for success.
- Your business plan: content goals, values you’ll be providing customers, any obstacles and opportunities you might run into.
- Buyer personas: describing who your target audiences are and their needs.
- Brand story: topics and messages you plan to deliver, how yours compare to your competitors.
- Channel plan: what platforms you’ll be using to distribute your content, objectives of each.
3. Write for your audience, not the owners of your company.Business owners are an important part of a company—but they’re not the ones buying products. They may have ideas on what you should create, and some of them may be good, but ultimately the content you create is for your customers. Use customer data to create content topics and types based on what your customers are interested in and what they use. Talk in their language. Answer their questions. Be solutions to their problems. Educate and entertain them. People buy emotions, not things, so also craft content that isn’t just about your products, but that connects with the heads and hearts of your customers.
4. Don’t forget the SEO.While your content strategy needs to focus on helping consumers and not search engines, your ecommerce SEO needs attention, too. SEO is a vital part of your content marketing efforts to help your content appear in organic search results and help the search engines identify you as a online store selling specific products. Consistent, quality content that uses the right keywords and links will steadily move you up in the search results. Using keywords on site pages, as well as your titles and product descriptions, are also important to making your content efforts effective.
5. Understand the customer journey and meet buyers at the ideal time.Most marketers divide the buyer journey into 3 basic stages: early, middle and late (also awareness, consideration and decision). The first stage is where customers are unaware of their problems or looking for education. This is where you get your content out to new channels and share it on social media. In the middle stage, customers know their problems and are on the hunt for a solution. Demonstrate yourself and product as the solution and your expertise through various content types to stand out from your competitors as customers do their research before buying. The last stage is where the customer has an idea of what they want and now is just doing some last-minute comparisons to ensure they make the right decision. Customer reviews and product videos are your best bet here. Too often, business spend a majority of their focus on creating content for the awareness stage. While this is great for bringing in leads, what about the rest of the buying stages? You have to provide content at all stages of the buyer journey if you want to increase customer and sales numbers. Sometimes that means finding out where your content is lacking or where you’re losing customers. Take for example Envelopes.com. They were losing leads in the middle of their sales process, so they cut their card abandonment rate by 40%—a 65% increase in checkout conversions—by creating 3 different email campaigns instead of just 1 cart abandonment email like some ecommerce sites do.
6. Choose your content types wisely.There are a ton of content types you can create. The following image shows what content types today’s B2Cers use.
[Screenshot from B2C Content Marketing Trends Report]In order to know which types will work best for your business, you have to know your audience, know what content types they prefer engaging with and which convert better. Research your target audience, test various formats and then create the content types proven to work. If you don’t have a big budget to spend on content marketing, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow your ecommerce sales with the right content and strategy. Diamond Candles didn’t have much money when they started out, so they turned to user-generated content. They used customer product photos to support their site and social media marketing, and doing so they saw a 13% conversion rate increase on their product pages and garnered more than 293,000 Facebook fans.