It seems that more than half of brands are flying by the seat of their proverbial pants when it comes to content marketing.
However, companies that do have a detailed strategy in place are far more likely to report feeling that their efforts are successful and worthwhile.
Without an eCommerce content marketing plan in place, retailers leave the entirety of their efforts to chance. Given the unacceptable nature of relying on luck,another survey found that 64 percent of respondents consider learning how to build a scalable content strategy as one of the greatest educational needs for marketers.
There seems to be a bit of a pattern here.
ForeCommerce content marketing to bear fruit, retailers must formulate a plan for creating content that gets read, shared and that drives sales.
Great content emerges from excellent planning. For the 60-plus percent that still doesn’t have a plan in place, here are seven powerful tips for creating an eCommerce marketing strategy that sells.
Understand the Audience
An intimate understanding of a brand’s target audience is the cornerstone of all content marketing efforts. Without a firm grasp of who these individuals are, retailers simply cannot create the right content to reach their desired groups.
Therefore, there are three key actions that merchants must take to lay the proper groundwork for a campaign.
Harvest Demographic Data
The first step in building an effective eCommerce content marketing strategy is for retailers to compile demographic information on their site visitors, social media followers and email subscribers.
Various analytics tools for each touchpoint can provide relevant data to the business, such as:
Sellers shouldn’t rely purely on analytics data to understand their audience. Sometimes, the best information comes straight from the horse’s mouth. Therefore, merchants should trycollecting feedback from current customers on:
How they feel about the brand’s existing content
Their most prominent pain points
How content can address such issues
By procuring such information, eCommerce retailers can better understand their customer’s priorities, the best places to interact with these folks and build buyer personas to inform their eCommerce content marketing blueprint.
Generate Buyer Personas
Through the collection of the above-outlined information, marketers can flesh out buyer personas to help describe their ideal customer. The purpose of this is to target the right shoppers more effectively.
Ideally, buyer personas should include consumer challenges, pain points, motivating factors and top sources for information related to the brand’s niche.
Possessing this kind of information will allow retailers to more fully grasp the type of content the audience desires, what will inspire an interest in a piece and how content can aid the audience in finding solutions to their problems.
With the proper audience data gathered and buyer personas created, it is time for retailers to look inward.
Analyze Current Content Offerings
Unless this is a brand’s first foray into eCommerce content marketing, it is likely that the business already has content in circulation. Such pieces might include blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media content and the like.
At this point, business leaders should analyze their current content to establish if it is helping the brand reach its goals.
Recording all pieces of content on a single document
Determining their usefulness based on metrics like page visits, time on page, conversion rates, number of inbound links, shares and similar markers
Identifying gaps in the content strategy
A useful tactic in establishing cracks in a brand’s content is to look at competitor efforts to see where the brand is lacking and to determine where both entities are falling short.
Great tools for logging content, assessing the success of those pieces and conducting competitive analysis includeSEMrush andScreaming Frog as each enables detailed insights into competitor content performance metrics.
Additionally, tools like those listed above can inform merchants on how well their own content is performing, which pieces require improvements and which pieces should be axed altogether.
When assessing where gaps exist in a company’s eCommerce content marketing efforts, it is essential to establish:
Relevant keywords that are not targeted
Questions the audience is searching that the brand is not answering
As retailers move through this process, it will likely become clear which channels and platforms an audience prefers and where the brand has found the most success.
When merchants pinpoint which platforms these are, they should focus their energy in these destinations instead of ramping up efforts elsewhere, potentially spreading themselves too thin.
For those who haven’t been able to ascertain which channels are most fruitful, check Google Analytics by going to Acquisition > Social > Overview to examine the social platforms where the company’s content is most often shared.
While there is a significant chance that merchants will utilize a blend of content formats in their eCommerce content marketing efforts, the best strategies feature a core of content published on the retailer’s website which is then repurposed and shared across other sites and destinations.
The core content is most likely to be blog posts as these still tout significant SEO value, assuming the pieces are beneficial, actionable, sharable and optimized.
Sellers should have a good idea of what topics to cover given the previous steps. However, tools likeBuzzSumo andAnswer the Public can help merchants to pinpoint subjects within their niche that have proven successful that they can then utilize tocreate skyscraper content.
The core blog posts that retailers craft should then be utilized to generate a myriad of other pieces in different formats. For instance, eCommerce store owners can take a blog and turn that into an infographic to share on Instagram, a podcast to post on a variety of platforms and a video to live on YouTube.
Those whoemploy video marketing within their content strategy are more likely to produce a favorable campaign outcome given the format’s popularity and effectiveness with consumers.
Video content has proven itself a powerful content marketing force given that:
Other useful forms of content that marketers might deploy include lead magnets like eBooks, webinars, checklists and similar assets.
Once retailers have established the types of content they wish to use, the next move is to create a content calendar to organize the campaign.
Create a Content Calendar
Any eCommerce content marketing effort must be well organized to produce the intended results. Therefore, merchants must assemble a content calendar to keep track of what content is to be or has been published across various online destinations.
There are several ways for marketers to set up a content calendar.
First, Google Calendar is an option for smaller campaigns that merely require topics and due dates. However, anything more substantial than a handful of blogs going out to a couple of publishing platforms requires a more robust solution.
With all the pieces in place, it is time to start creating content.
Craft Commanding Content
Starting with the first piece to be published, retailers should begin researching the subject. The first steps in this process are:
Establishing what already exists in that vein
How to make content that is even more valuable
Naturally, merchants will want to use the aforementioned content discovery tools alongside Google to find the top-performing content for the topic and find ways to improve upon those pieces. This idea is the heart and soul of skyscraper content.
However, for those who have the resources, original research that features unique data is likely to perform well. If the brand can integrate this into its eCommerce content marketing strategy, it is more likely to find success.
Once the materials have been gathered, analyzed and structured into an outline, it is time to start writing.
At this point, it is essential to analyze and embody the brand’s identity (or voice) in addition to SEO considerations.Optimizing content for SEO is vital as high ranking content will draw more water for retailers than the clicks earned through social media alone.
Publish and Measure
Finally, after content has been published, it is time to measure the performance of the brand’s eCommerce content marketing efforts.
KPIs determine the ultimate outcome of a push. These are set during the campaign’s planning stages. Retailers might opt to use measurements such as:
Conversions (for lead magnets)
Average position for unbranded terms
To establish how well a campaign is performing, merchants can:
Review Google Analytics to see how content has done
Measure social shares using tools like BuzzSumo and similar platforms
Employ and examine tools likeMention to gauge brand awareness
Similarly, tools like SEMrush will aid retailers in assessing their content’s search rankings.
By monitoring a campaign as it progresses, sellers can tweak their content marketing efforts at regular intervals to produce the most fruitful outcome.
With eCommerce content marketing, the long haul is what matters. Therefore, the process is more akin to a marathon than a sprint. This is because the results of content marketing are often not immediate. However, those who regularly create valuable content for their audience will inevitably see a return on investment.
Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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