Do you have a well documented e-commerce content marketing strategy? If not, your e-commerce business is miggin out on valuable insights. Having a documented actionable plan is the key to not only being successful but also being able to grow and evolve over time. No business will survive or do well without a strategy. In this post, we’ll address the ins and outs of documenting your marketing strategy, how to create new ideas, considering your audience, and much more.

How to Document Your Strategy

When it comes to your content marketing strategy, much like the guidelines you set for your brand style, you want it to be concise. You want to document it in a way that covers things that are likely to come up and explains your strategy well but also doesn’t require various days of deep study to read through and understand.

To help you more effectively jump into creating your content strategy, we’ve put together some of the main points you should hit when considering what to include. This is something that you and your team will find yourselves turning to again and again, so be sure to set aside the time it deserves so that it can best serve you.

This section will cover the following:

  • Content Ideation
  • Content Freshness
  • Providing Value
  • What can Make or Break Your Content

Content Ideation

If this is the first time building a content marketing strategy, the steps before this should have helped you create a documented strategy, helped you audit your content to identify gaps, and directed you to look at your competitors to see what they are doing. Now, you can hit the ground running and start coming up with even more topics to write about in the ideation process.

Simply put, content ideation is the process of identifying the most relative topics to your brand and your audience. Putting time into content that doesn’t apply to either of these will prove to be a waste of time and resources, and holds the potential of turning your audience off. You want to maintain credibility with your content creation, so taking the time to determine which topics will have the most impact on rankings and revenue is an important step in the process.

All of this considered, it can feel pretty intimidating when you consider the idea of coming up with topics for your content. But finding those surefire ideas doesn’t have to be challenging! Remember, pegging down those awesome content ideas will bring results.

How to Successfully Brainstorm

When creating content for your site, your initial goal should be centered around answering questions that relate to the products you sell. For example, if you sell baby carriers, your content could be answering questions such as:

  • How do I keep my baby comfortable in a baby carrier in the heat?
  • When can I transition my baby to forward-facing in a baby carrier?
  • How long does a baby carrier last?

In the example chart below, we used the simplified version of the hub and spoke content organization model as we went through and brainstormed content ideas. Others talk about creating a skyscraper piece of content, cornerstone content, and numerous other models when figuring out how to organize and create content. 

However you look at it, the point is you should brainstorm and organize topics to address the questions and concerns your audience faces when trying to find a solution that your product(s) solve for. The content brainstorming needs to be very focused on this, otherwise, you will start to go down a path and brainstorm ideas for all kinds of things. 

If needed, gather your team together for a brainstorming session. This is very useful when you have been doing content creation for some time and have built out a lot of content over months/years. Using a basic shell of an outline, like what we stated above,  you can help them open up and get things rolling in the same direction. This is a great way to get everyone comfortable and talking as you get into the brainstorming session.

Make it a point to stay open to your team’s concepts but be clear that you want to stay focused on the core topics you have outlined. As you get into it and stay focused on a core topic or set of topics, the ideas of one person can easily spark inspiration in another, which is why it’s crucial to keep the conversation focused so that as ideas can come more freely you don’t get off-topic.

In these brainstorming sessions, put someone in charge of recording every idea and concept. Whether you’re scrawling them on the whiteboard or saving them in a google doc, it’s always important to have something to refer back to. No matter how out there or crazy the ideas are, write them all down for future reference.

Sean Sweeney, Director of Digital Marketing here at Stryde, advises the following when it comes to brainstorming with the team:

“Behind every piece of polished content is a messy brainstorming session. One of the only rules about brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas. Nothing kills the momentum of creativity more than someone saying, “That won’t work!” If your goal is to write something that hasn’t already been written, you’re going to have a hard time without that creativity. So don’t squash it.

Another helpful tip is to brainstorm content ideas without doing any research on what is already published. After you’ve exhausted your ideas, then go out and find what has been already written. Doing this after the first round of brainstorming will help you avoid getting trapped thinking about the same things that have already been written while still giving you the benefit of finding missed opportunities.”

Competitive Research: What’s Working for Others?

It’s common and even advised to keep an eye on your competitors’ content and consider what’s working for them and what’s not. If you’re not already doing this, we highly recommend it. However, there are some ways to take a deeper look at what your competitors are working on to help sculpt your strategy.

Before we jump into that, let’s talk about competitors. You most likely have two different types of competitors, especially when you consider SEO and content marketing. You have your traditional competitors. For example, if you own a French bakery in downtown Chicago, your traditional competitor is going to be the nearest bakery also specializing in French pastries and treats. 

The other competitor type you have is the one that you’re battling it out on the SERPs with, the one that is currently ranking for “Best French Bakery in Chicago” for example. 

The search results not only have local listings but popular sites like Yelp and foursquare that list the top bakeries and pastry shops in Chicago so even competition online is high for very targeted searches.

You may find that there can be an overlap between these two types of competitors, but they are both important to consider in your competitive research.

Here’s what you’ll be looking out for in your research:

  • What is getting backlinks?
  • What kind of content are the leading brands writing?
  • Who is following my competitors and what are they sharing?
  • What is currently trending?
  • What keywords are currently ranking for the top traffic earners?

Google offers a lot of insight in the search results to help you understand what people are looking for. Take the “Best French Bakery in Chicago” example above. If you look further down the page you will see there are additional things showing up in the search results that can give you insight into the type of content users and competitors are looking to use in their content strategy. EX: 

People are looking for even more specific things like “Where can I buy macarons in Chicago?” and doing related searches for “best french baguette in Chicago” and “french bakery in old town.” This is a quick and free way to gather insights into competitors. 

Consider what tools you have available to find this information. AHREFS is an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to checking out which pages on your competitor’s sites are getting the most links, as well as who those links are coming from. 

For example, let’s say you sell house dresses and you’re looking at Dwell and Slumber as one of your competitors. AHREFS will show you something like this:

This site is generating valuable links from various blogs and sites sharing postpartum kits, made in the USA directory listings, affiliate sites like dealspotr and more. This will give you insights into how others are using content to build backlinks. 

SEMrush is perfect for identifying which keywords your competitors are ranking for and comes in handy as you determine what is trending and what you can focus on. This is also a great way to find new concepts to use for content on your own site. 

For example, if you sell boutique throw pillows and your competitor has “how to spot clean throw pillows” as one of their top keywords, you can gain this insight quickly in SEMRush. Simply add their root domain into the “Organic Research” section of the tool. 

From there look at the keywords they rank for and what kind of content is ranking for those keywords. In the example below, you can see this site ranks for terms like, “how to spot clean a pillow” and “how to clean throw pillows”.  

You might consider writing a blog post centered around the best tips for cleaning throw pillows if you don’t have that content already. This information is something people are searching for and will help your audience discover your brand for a keyword related to throw pillows.

Keeping Your Content Fresh and Applicable

Something to consider when putting together your content strategy is how you can maintain a balance between timely content and evergreen content. While some companies will prioritize basing their strategy on exclusively responding to the most recent news, this might not be what best serves your audience. More often than not, you will want to explore both current and long-lasting content ideas, or content that is consistently fresh, current, and helpful.

Let’s consider the health and wellness industry. A good example of timely content might be a recent study on coconut oil, its effectiveness, and its overall value. This serves your audience and is something that you know they are interested in. On the other hand, you want to include evergreen content, as well. For this, you might consider a healthy recipe that incorporates ingredients that are readily available all year round. Having an equal balance of these two types of content is a great way to build up your portfolio, as well as reliability with your audience. Plus, Google is showing a mix of these types of content in the search results. There are the latest studies on the benefits of coconut oil along with questions people have asked. 

Stumped on how you can come up with timely content ideas? Take a look at when your content will be going live and consider what might be happening around that time, for example, season changes, holidays, or major events. If you sell children’s clothing, back to school is something you should definitely be considering. However, if you sell niche home decor, this might not make it on your calendar since no one buys furniture when thinking about kids going back to school, unless it is during a pandemic. Then kids need desks to sit at while at home: 

Consider your industry and audience and how world events impact how people search for things. 

Providing Value for Your Audience

The best way to ensure you’re providing value for your audience is to research your audience. How can you give them what they need if you don’t know who they are? If you haven’t already done some audience research, go ahead and schedule some time to hunker down and study up. You might consider creating some personas to better shape your ideas and focus, or let the ideas come to you before conducting audience research and narrowing down your options.

It’s not enough to know that your audience is interested in something- you must also understand what their needs are to more fully serve them. You have to know what their intent is with searching a particular topic. Are they shopping? Are they conducting research? Understanding this will help you to create a content marketing plan that drives conversion. Take for example, a business that sells matcha face masks. You could build a basic chart for each persona to start to identify how they would go about researching and purchasing these products.

Look at your customer interaction on your social media accounts and customer surveys to find out more about your audience. Start a Facebook group and invite select customers to join the group and start a discussion on possible topic ideas. Reach out to customers that follow you via Instagram and ask them for feedback. There are numerous ways to collect some data and use that feedback to provide more value to your current and future customers. 

What Can Make or Break Your Content

So what does my content need in order to drive the results I’m looking for? Matthew Brown of Moz gives us some helpful insight:

  • Your content should be relevant and recent
  • Your content should be long-form
  • You should be targeting a specific persona
  • You should be creating evergreen content
  • Your content should be customizable- allow your users to control their experience
  • You should create content that is personal and relatable

Now that your ideas are flowing and you have put together a list of topics you want to start creating content around, you need to build out your content calendar so you can stay organized. You can do this in a spreadsheet or on a digital calendar. We have a post about building out content calendars, as well, if you’d like more guidance on that subject.

Making sure that you have a well-thought-out content marketing strategy is key to not only being successful, but tracking your results, being able to make changes to your strategy, and being able to grow your business. If you’d like some help with this, our team of experts might be just what you need. Set up a consultation to see if we’d be the right fit.

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