2018 Magento Imagine Conference.

Content marketing is one of the most effective tactics that Magento merchants can execute to drive revenue by acquiring customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, external websites and more through brand awareness, and top of the funnel customer acquisition.

Here we will dive deeper into content marketing, especially for Magento merchants and I will show you an effective content marketing plan that you can execute tomorrow.

1. What is Content Marketing

Content marketing is a type of marketing that uses content such as blogs, videos, etc… to indirectly promote your Magento storefront. The goal here is not to explicitly promote your company, but instead to build awareness and interest in your products or services. This helps you to build a connection with potential customers, making it more likely that they will purchase from you.

There are many different types of content that you can use for this initiative. You can create blogs, videos, infographics, social media posts, and so much more. However, in all of those instances, the goal is the same – build a relationship with a customer that is searching for your products or that has a problem your product can solve. Once you build that relationship and help them with what they are looking for, you can progress into a future customer relationship.

a. Onsite vs. Offsite Content

Within the discipline of content marketing, there are generally two categories of content – on site content and offsite content. They will serve different target markets, but both are needed to truly be successful in a content marketing campaign.

1. Onsite Content

Onsite content is content that is housed on your website and contains your URL. If your domain is example.com, then your onsite content would reside on CMS pages, such as example.com/blog/page-title.

Onsite content is great because it shares the content with your brand name, so when visitors hit your onsite content, they also interact more with your brand. This is advantageous, but it is harder to get visitors on your site than with external offsite content.

Onsite Content

2. Offsite Content

Offsite is content that is produced with the intention of getting published on websites other than your own. This could be articles that mention your brand, articles that you produce for external sites, or even social media posts.

Offsite content is very powerful because you can achieve mentions and build brand awareness/referral traffic from very highly authoritative sites, which would be quite hard to achieve using solely your onsite content.

An example of this would be getting an article featured on Forbes.com. Forbes probably has a much larger readership than your blog and will be more likely to receive a larger amount of traffic.


Blog Post Example

Offsite content can be better to onsite content on one hand, because it helps to align your brand with more authoritative brands. Forbes readers can click on the internal links within the article that will take them to your site, or they can search for your brand after they see you mentioned on Forbes.

However, on the other hand, onsite content can be better because the content actually resides on your blog. With it already being on your site, onsite content can be more likely to lead into a purchase, since it is easier to navigate to your products from your site than a third party site.

In the end, both have pluses and minuses and both can help each other out to be successful in a content marketing program.

Offsite Content Example SEO

b. Social Media Content

I consider social media content to be offsite content, but I wanted to address it separately as it is much different than what we previously discussed. It’s not an article being published to a third party site or other various types of offsite content. The links inside social media posts are rel=nofollow and technically, social media does not help SEO in the way a lot of SEOs thinks it does.

Also, social media posts are not crawled by Google, so you won’t be able to show up high in the rankings using solely Facebook posts. YouTube videos, on the other hand, can be crawled, but the vast majority of social media posts are uncrawlable.

Even though it does not have a direct SEO benefit, like what offsite content does, it is still vital to a content marketing campaign because it helps to promote your content which is critical.

Social Media Content

2. How Content Marketing and SEO Drives Revenue

Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) together can help Magento storefronts drive significant revenue by building your brand through connecting your storefront with potential customers in a variety of ways. Here are some of the main means in which content marketing and SEO drives revenue.

a. New Customers Come Through Search Engines

The simplest way for Magento storefronts to acquire new customers through the use of content marketing is with search engines. 81% of consumers research online before they buy so it is important that retailers are featured in the SERPs when consumers are researching.

Using content marketing is an effective way to do so because you can use the content to rank for specific keyword phrases that consumers are searching. Also, great content marketing can help your products and category pages rank higher because they can attract high quality backlinks where as your products and category pages most likely cannot.

When using content marketing, you can satisfy a consumer’s search intent and help solve what they are looking for. Here are a couple different search phrases which might give you a better idea of what research intent is:

  • What is the difference between Cat5 and Cat6
  • What is a gaylord box
  • Plate heat exchanger vs. thermal heat exchangers
  • Popular dresses for winter
  • Difference between heels and pumps

Google Search Example

These are all keyword phrases with a fair amount of monthly search volume, where potential customers are searching online to find answers to their questions. Usually, this is the best way to connect with your target audience that is searching for answers and where insightful content can help connect you with them. By helping to answer their questions with your content will help connect your brand with these consumers, build a relationship with them, and hopefully turn them into a lasting customer.

There is also an opportunity inside your content to include discount codes, which can help funnel searchers through the purchase path. You can also run retargeting ads to help convert them at a later point.

b. New and Repeat Customers Come Through Social Media Promotions

Once you have earned a customer, you want to continue getting them back to you so that they will purchase again. It costs 10xs more to acquire new customers than it does to sell to existing customers. Not to mention, on average, existing customers spend 67% more than a new customer.

Social media can be a great way to build a relationship with both potential and current customers, which will make it more likely that they will buy in the future.

GlueGun Social Media Link

When creating interactive content that your target market will enjoy, you want to make sure that you are posting it and promoting it on your social media channels. This is especially vital if you have a community of avid followers. If you don’t, then you need to work on building that community. I like the tools out there — from offering monetary discounts for following brands on social media to strong influencer programs that many Magento merchants are using.

Connecting your content to consumers on social media strengthens your brand and customer relationship which will lead to more frequent purchases in the future.

c. Repeat Customers Engaged Through Email Promotions

Similar to social media promotions, you also want to use email to build a relationship with previous customers. By using email marketing campaigns, you can promote your blog, resource pages, or external content.

Bark Box Dog

d. Content Marketing Helps SEO

For the vast majority of Magento merchants, the main goal of SEO is to drive product and category pages up in the SERPs, as these pages bring in the majority of first-time customers to many online storefronts. Content marketing is fantastic for this goal.

The reason being is that it is hard for eCommerce merchants to get high-quality inbound backlinks to category and product pages. But, you really need to do so, because backlinks are one of the three most important Google ranking factors. By using content marketing, you can attract high-quality backlinks to your onsite content, which should have inner links to any key product and category pages. (Your offsite content should have these as well.)

Using a tool, such as Ahrefs, you can see what quality a backlink is. Ahrefs score backlinks on a scale of 0-100. The vast majority of backlinks will fall in the 0-20 range, but those aren’t high-quality. Effective content marketing should be focusing on getting backlinks in the 30-80 range.

Ahref Url Rating System

Onsite content also helps the entire website’s usability metrics, such as bounce rate, time on page, and pages per session. If you just have product and category pages, it is much more likely that a searcher will find your site and bounce right back to the SERPs. But if you have onsite content, you can navigate them to it which increase their time on page and will keep them around longer.

By increasing your usability metrics you can increase the organic quality score of your website, which can give you a tactical advantage over your competitors.

Offsite content (from offsite articles or from social media posts) can help build your brand, which can send potential customers searching for your brand online, which can help your Google rankings. Back in early 2017 I did a study where I analyzed a retailer who was ranking for very competitive search phrases with very little SEO. In early 2018, I revisited these retailers as well as two others who were ranking mainly due to usability metrics from offsite content. This gives me the confidence to say that offsite content, such as social media (and usability metrics) can build your organic search engine rankings.

3. How to Build a Content Marketing System

Now that you see the logic behind using content marketing for your Magento storefront, let’s discuss how to build a content marketing system to help you reach your goals.

a. Content Marketing Team Makeup

A content marketing team is usually pretty straightforward. You need a variety of different skill sets, such as project management, strategy, writing, and promotion to make it effective. Some individuals can have multiple skill sets and can take a few or even all of these aspects, but in my experience, it’s better to have individuals focused on individual parts. Some of these skill sets require more work than others, such as writing and promotion. All of this should be taken into consideration when building your team.

Project Management + Strategy + Writing + Promotion = Content Marketing Success

Knowing these roles, it’s time to actually build out your team through either full-time employees or through contractors. When you are starting out with content marketing, it might be easier to use contractors to learn from and help you build out your content marketing system. For smaller Magento storefronts, you could have internal staff learn some of these disciplines or even take on some of these roles yourself, especially something like project management. But eventually, as you grow and build out your team, you want different members for each specialty.

In my experience, it is easier to have three main team members:

i. Content Strategist

The content strategist takes on the responsibility of project management and coming up with a strategy for your content marketing efforts. This could be someone on your internal staff, time permitting. The content strategist should be coming up with topics for your content and managing the writers who are producing the content. The content strategist can also take the responsibility of “recruiter” to find the best talent to write your content.

ii. Content Writer

The second role is that of the writer, which is relatively easy to find by using tools such as UpWork, Indeed, Writer’s Access, etc. In writing, you get what you pay for and it can have a high churn rate, so be prepared to be constantly finding new talent in this role.

iii. Content Promoter

The last role is the promoter, which can be very hard to fill. This position is relatively unknown and still, in infancy, so many people don’t understand what it is and what it does. This role uses different tools similar to digital public relations in order to get your content shared on social media, get your content published in various publications, and more. It takes building relationships with publications and spending a lot of time prospecting for quality placements.

Using tools like UpWork can be a good place to start finding someone to fill this role. But this role is one that you will essentially need to build out yourself and train someone on “your way” once you develop your system and strategy.

Once you have built out your team, you can begin on the actual content marketing execution, which in general, has two phases: content development and content promotion.

b. Content Development

The first phase is pretty straightforward. You need to develop the content and publish it to its respective online location. However, just creating content for the sake of content is useless. Without the right strategy, you can waste an enormous amount of resources. Therefore, you want to spend time researching the content to give you the best chance for success.

i. Create a Content Guideline

The first item on the list is to create a guideline to be used when developing your content. This is a document which helps to get the writer’s up to speed on different aspects of your business – your main keywords, any industry insights, what not to say, what to say, any competitors not to mention, where to cite sources, etc.

Keeping this document in depth enough to give the writer great information but not too long where they cannot retain all of the information is key. Be concise and clear on the direction for your content strategy at a high level so that they can produce the best content right out of the gate.

ii. Create a Content Calendar

Once the content guidelines are in place, you can create a calendar to keep everything organized. As your content marketing program becomes more sophisticated, your calendar will become more vital and in depth. Your content calendar should include all of your onsite content, as well as publications where you can publish content regularly.

I would also recommend using a project management tool like Basecamp or Asana to keep everything organized.

iii. Research Your Content

Once the calendar is created, you then need to work on researching the types of content that you will be creating onsite and offsite. This research is critical to your overall plan because without research you are guessing on what type of content to create. This is not an effective strategy. Here are a couple of different types of research you can use:

1. Historical Data

Using past data to support future content is a great strategy to utilize because in doing so you can go off of content you know has worked in the past. Tools like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo can show you past examples of content relevant to your business and how those examples performed (based on metrics such as social media shares, number of backlinks, etc.)

Using past data to support future content is a great strategy to utilize because in doing so you can go off of content you know has worked in the past. Tools like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo can show you past examples of content relevant to your business and how those examples performed (based on metrics such as social media shares, number of backlinks, etc.)

If a certain type of content has performed significantly well in the past, then you can assume similar content will work well now. Say you come across an old piece like “2012 Guide to Wedding Planning” which performed very well back in 2012. You could then take that idea and update it to something like “The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Planning in 2018. “

Historical Data

2. Competitor Data

You can use the same content research tools to see what type of content that your competitors are creating and what is working for them. Obviously, you don’t want to blatantly copy what they have done verbatim, but you can use some of their general ideas and try to one-up them.

3. Keyword Research

Using tools like Google’s keyword planner or SEMRush, you can find keyword phrases to target using your blog content. For instance, if you uncover that there are a 1,000 monthly searches for a keyword phrases like “Cat5 vs. Cat6 cable,” then it would be smart to create a blog or resource page titled, “Key Differences Between Cat 5 and Cat 6 Cables.” In doing so, you can solve the searchers intent by answering their question.

In SEMRush, you can filter based on where you rank in Google. You can then sort by search volume to find keyword phrases where you do rank, but not high enough to get a substantial amount of search traffic (on the first page). From this, you can find a lot of great research query phrases that you can center your content around.

Organic Search Posting

4. Customer FAQs

Another great way to gather data is to answer any questions that your customers may have. You can directly ask them or, if you have a call center, you could gather data on the most frequently asked questions regarding your products or ways to utilize your products.

After you’ve gathered these questions, you can put together a resource center or long form blog to answer them and satisfy the searcher looking for the answer. This can also help your sales team or customer service reps answer any customer’s questions, and improve the customer experience.

c. Types of Content

Using your content guidelines, your strategy and the research you collected, it’s time to create compelling content that will give you the best chance to succeed. There are many different forms of content, but the premise remains the same – you want to provide content that will help your customers and potential customers solve any pain points they might have during the customer lifecycle. Here are the main types of content that I’ve seen Magento merchants use and be successful at:

i. Video Content

Video content is one of the most successful types of content, if not the most successful because it is easy for consumers to consume and can be viewed across many different mediums – your blog, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

However, at the same time, it is also the most costly to produce because of the time it takes and expertise involved. Unfortunately, you really can’t just pop up your iPhone and take a video and expect it to be successful. Video content takes a major resource commitment on your end to be rewarding.

Video content can be resourceful in nature by answering questions that consumers have about your products. You could produce videos on how to best use your products or how to get the most out of them. I would recommend that if you do this, post them on the major video housing sites, such as YouTube or Vimeo, and then also create a blog post about it on your website.

Youtube Blog Post

Video Blog

You can see that the titles and descriptions are both optimized using best SEO practices for what searchers are searching on both their YouTube listing and their blog. You can get creative with optimizing both for different searches if you want, but for the most part you want your blog and the YouTube video to rank for the keyword phrase. This way, it covers more of the Google real estate and gives you a better chance to capture as much engagement as possible.

ii. Onsite Content

1. Blogs

Blog content is the most common form of content for Magento merchants because it’s the easiest to create and can be the most powerful if done right. There are many myths regarding blog content which need to be debunked, such as:

a. Google likes fresh content – False

Google doesn’t care about fresh content – they just want the best content. Brian Dean at Backlinko has about 50 blogs and just continues to optimize those instead of creating new content – and it works for him. Personally, I think it’s better to create new content to hit new topics and hit new keyword searches, but don’t think you need to be creating content just for the sake of creating content.

b. Short blogs are better – False

Short blogs are not better all the time. Sometimes they can be. Sometimes they can be worse. It depends on your users and the quality of your content. If your user is looking for a quick answer, then they aren’t going to want to read a 2,000 word post. In that scenario, short form content would be better.

You can use Google Analytics to measure engagement with your blog content and see if people are actually reading all of it or if they are just reading the first paragraph and bouncing back. If you find that they aren’t engaging with the whole post, it might be a good idea to scale back the length of your blogs.

c. Long blogs are better – False

This has the same fallacy here as short form content. Long form content can work in times, and in others it doesn’t. Based on a survey of a million Google research, the average length of a #1 rank was 2,200 words. Again, it just depends on your readers and your content.

d. Blogging doesn’t work – False

Many Magento merchants have been burned in the past by SEO companies, who created short form, low-quality blogs, which provided little value to the company or their users. Because they were practically useless, Google didn’t reward them for it. But just because it didn’t work then doesn’t mean it can’t work with the right strategy.

Creating relevant and insightful blogs for your target audience is always a winning recipe. Generally, there are two types of blogs: resource blogs and engaging blogs. Resource blog content is going to answer pertinent questions, such as “Why We Wear Wellness Wearables On Our Wrists.”

Intent Focused Blog

Engaging blogs on the other hand are not really meant to rank for different keyword phrases but are meant to engage your target audience with intriguing content that they will enjoy and will create an emotional connection. For example, this is a blog post which is meant to build a relationship between brand and consumer. This could be promoted to people who have already been interested in your products via email or social media.

Powerpage Example

When creating blog content, try to make the best piece of content out there about a certain subject matter. If it isn’t the best content for whatever search phrase you are trying to target, don’t bother creating it. Also, add design elements and follow best SEO practices to maximize its value and keep consumers engaged on different posts.

2. Resource Center

Resource centers have always been a staple of Magento merchants. These CMS pages can rank for a number of different keyword phrases that consumers are searching for. Consumers like these types of pages because they answer questions they are looking for and they can be used to gather more information about your products before they buy something.

Resource Center for Bra Sizes

If you find that a number of potential customers have questions regarding your products or offering, then I would recommend creating a resource center for them. Not only will it help to answer their questions, but it can also help create a connection between your brand and the consumer, which will help convert them into a customer.

Resource Page

3. Studies/Data

If you have unique data which gives you the ability to make studies, then you can use this to your advantage to craft content that your target market would find interesting. For instance, if you are a retailer selling pet food online, you could take the percentages of consumers who purchase organic dog food compared to regular or other statistics and turn it into an infographic that your readers would find interesting.

iii. Offsite Content

For offsite content, you are at the mercy of the website that you are trying to get placed on. Generally, there are a few main types of content that you can place on external websites, such as:

1. Contributing Articles

Contributing articles are the most common type of offsite content and can be the most effective. Your target market consumes content on a daily basis via social media platforms and various websites. Why not try to write for publications that your target market is visiting frequently.

Constributing Article

This is a great way for me to creating engaging, resourceful content but also piggyback off of Search Engine Journal’s extensive audience. On the other hand, Search Engine Journal gets free expert content that their target market will read and enjoy. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

We’ll take more about how to earn them in the promotion section, but these offsite articles can provide many benefits from:

a. High-Quality Inbound Backlinks: Within the article, you can achieve high-quality inbound backlinks — and if your article is very engaging, the backlink should count for more, giving you even more impact.

b. Thought Leadership Credibility: If you write for major publications, it will build credibility between your brand and the publication. If you can get content featured on a website like Forbes or Entrepreneur, you can build a correlation between those publications’ credentials and yours.

Blog Post Example

c. Click-Throughs on the Links: Consumers can also click on the links that are in the article that can link back to your site. If you plan it correctly, you can link to your product pages or category pages, which can help increase the chances that the reader will purchase something from you.

d. Brand Awareness: This link placements should help build your brand by getting in front of more eyes than you would if you were just creating content for your own blog.

e. Brand Searches: If consumers read a piece of content that you wrote on Forbes, and then head over to Google to search for you, it can help your SEO efforts.

In fact, having consumers search for your brand can correlate to higher search engine rankings. If consumers search for your brand plus a keyword phrase that you want to rank for, such as FashionNova Jeans, and they interact positively with your content, eventually Google might rank you for the phrase “Jeans”

2. Studies/Data

Using the same strategy as onsite content, you can create compelling studies using data available to use. Then you can pitch this content to external sites to use. Also, since infographics are images, they don’t count as duplicate content so you can publish them on multiple places to build even more awareness.

b. Content Promotion

Once the content is developed, you need to promote it. Content promotion should be just as important as content development, because if you don’t promote the content, the likelihood of consumers engaging with it is very unlikely and the chances of it being successful is low.

You want to promote your content so that it gets in front of your target market in order to drive engagement, which can earn you backlinks and social media shares, so in turn, you can bring in additional revenue. Here are some of the main ways to promote your content:

i. Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to get your content out there. You can mix it into your promotional emails or make standalone emails just for this purpose. You can also share multiple content pieces in a singular newsletter if you are creating a lot of content on a regular basis.

I would generally lead with engaging content over resource content for email marketing. Resource content is more geared for solving a problem that people are searching for in the beginning of the customer lifestyle, while engaging content can be engaging at any point.

ii. Social Media Marketing

Posting your content on your social media platforms is also a very powerful strategy. The same premise of email marketing applies here. You want to be using engaging content vs. resource content.

Also, you definitely want to make sure you are using the advertising tools that these platforms have to get your content in front of more people. Facebook has one of the best advertising tools out there. Make sure you are using it to your advantage.

iii. Search Engines

This is the best promotional tool for resource content as consumers generally need help at a specific time and will turn to search engines to find solutions to their problems. Make sure you follow best SEO practices for optimizing your blog content to ensure that your resource content and engaging content maximizes its value in the organic search results.

iv. Offsite Placements

Lastly, offsite placements require a tremendous amount of content promotion. Your content promoter should be building relationships with external publications to try to get your content featured on their websites. There are many tools that you can use for content promotion and many different ways to develop these relationships, but you want to follow a simple practice: find the contact, build the relationship, and then pitch the idea to the site.

From there, it is relationship building and continuously networking to identify new places to get your content featured. Once you get a few placements, you can leverage them for future placements as well.

Also, your content promoter can also work on getting your content placed on different social media outlets and in newsletter publications.

4. Keys for Success

Just because you execute a content marketing plan doesn’t mean that it will be a success. It is not something you can just do and check it off a list. There are many ways that it can go back, and if there is no measurability behind it, then you can waste a lot of resources on content marketing. Here are the main ways to make sure your content marketing program is a success:

a. Work As A Team

Your content marketing team need to work together to achieve the goals you set. As a manager, you also need to set them up for success and make sure they have all the tools and knowledge that they need.

b. Create Goals and KPIs

I like the Keep It Simple Method (KISS) when it comes to content marketing. Set simple goals like 5% increase in organic search engine traffic month over month or 30% increase in conversions from organic search engines year over year. Here are several things that you should look at when developing your goals and KPIs.

  • Revenue from organic search engine traffic
  • Traffic from organic search engines
  • High-quality backlinks (URL 30+ score on Ahrefs)
  • Social media shares from offsite content published
  • Referral traffic from backlinks
  • Changes to usability metrics
  • Branded search volume
  • Keyword Rankings for Specific Keywords you Monitor
  • SEMRush keyword rankings (tracks total keyword rankings)
  • Domain Rating of URL
  • Social Media Shares for On-site Content

c. Keep Goals Attainable and Sustainable

When making your goals, make sure they are sustainable, meaning that you will be able to hit them over the duration that you choose. There is nothing worse than receiving 100% increase in keyword rankings starting out and thinking that you can achieve that year after year.

You don’t want to create lofty goals that you just can’t hit regardless of how much time and effort you put into your content marketing. It demoralizes the team and can hurt your long term efforts. Instead, create goals which you know you can achieve. If you are brand new to content marketing and don’t know what to create then just set goal of actual deliverables, like number of onsite blog posts, number of offsite posts, etc. Then after a year, you should have data to help you set more advanced goals.

d. Prepare for the Long Haul

Content marketing can take years to learn and execute to its fullest capability. You need to be prepared to be disappointed right out of the gate. This isn’t something that is going to bring you a ton of revenue a month after you start. It will take a while to build up solid results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the patient Magento merchants will profit the most in the long run.

5. Conclusion

Content marketing is one of the best customer acquisition channels for Magento merchants out there because it finds people where they are and brings them to your site. By building a relationship with those in your target market through well-produced content, you can help to build your brand and increase revenue.

We will continue to see more leading eCommerce brands allocate more resources to content marketing in 2018 and beyond. The reason being — it works; you just have to have some patience.

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