Practical Ecommerce

Using Content for Ecommerce Marketing

There is a lot of buzz about content marketing. Much of it applies to business-to-business marketers that develop sophisticated lead nurturing campaigns. But content marketing is also important for ecommerce businesses. Many are experienced content marketers and don’t realize it.

What Is Content Marketing?

My simple definition of content marketing for ecommerce merchants is, “Compelling content that is relevant to target consumers as they go through their buying process.” Beyond just offering content, you also need to constantly evaluate what is being read and what is leading to conversions in your store.

It sounds simple. Write some content and then see if people read it and purchased your products. But it is not so simple. Most merchants that regularly write a blog, publish a newsletter, or post to various social media accounts realize content can be burden.

Why Do Content Marketing?

Content marketing is crucial because that what your prospects are looking for as they make buying decisions. This content might include the following.

  • Product descriptions
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Comparison charts
  • Technical specifications
  • Consumer reviews
  • Expert reviews
  • Tweets and subsequent conversations
  • Posts on Facebook and subsequent conversations
  • Newsletters
  • Pinterest boards
  • Infographics
  • FAQs

You get the idea. There are many content sources that consumers use to choose their products.

Where Is Content Distributed?

Next, consider where your customers will find this wide variety of content.

  • Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social platforms
  • Your online store
  • Your competitor’s online stores
  • Amazon (a primary shopping research site for many consumers)
  • Niche sites like CNET for tech products
  • Blog posts
  • Publications that review different types of products — online and printed
  • Online forums
  • Online reviews

Consumers use desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Make sure your content renders well on all devices. You have little control over what content they will read or where they will find it.

Your Goal

Your goal is to create compelling content that you know your prospects will benefit from. Make it available in many different channels so that your buyers will find it when they need it. Be sure the message is consistent across all channels.

Start with creating good, original product content: descriptions and images. Create detailed product descriptions for your product pages. Make a summary version to use on category pages, landing pages, promotional materials, and marketplaces or other channels.

Then, reuse some of that content to announce a new product offering in your social media accounts. Post your images with a link to product details on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Post a key benefit on Twitter and Facebook. Create a video and upload it to your YouTube channel. Then post it in your social media accounts.

Write a blog post about the product. Or, perhaps write the post about how you chose the product. What was your reason for choosing to stock and sell the item? Tell about competitive products that you may have looked at. Link to professional reviews.

Beyond creating your own content, encourage your customers to do it too. You can ask them for reviews and ratings in your online store and in transactional emails. You can encourage feedback in your blog posts and in your store, noting that most observers believe negative comments actually make all other comments more believable. Many consumers are cautious about all positive reviews and prefer to see some negative ones so they can make more informed decisions.

Lead Nurturing

An important aspect of content marketing is the concept of lead nurturing. Consumers typically make buying decisions long before they land in your store through a referral, a search, or a link from your newsletter. Some consumers research a purchase for months. Others do it for minutes. Some may subscribe to your newsletter and watch you from afar for months before you present something they are interested in. Or, they may be interested, but would like to collect more information.

The single best place for lead nurturing for ecommerce merchants is email. If you can segment your lists by recipients’ interests, you can create targeted newsletters. This will likely have the highest rate of conversion for most stores.

But, there are other ways as well. Pinterest boards are a good example of targeting specific interest groups. Try hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. Create Google+ Circles around a type of product or interest. Put yourself in the mindset of your customers and prospects, and imagine their buying process and the potential touch points you may have to reach.

Measurement

Measure your results and make adjustments for improvement. Analytics are the key to learning and refining your content. If you create videos and they lead to conversions, consider more of them. If no one is opening your newsletters, try to find out why and change your tactics. Try all types of blog posts and see which ones get read and shared with friends.

Always measure your results. Use Google Analytics and set goals to measure things like newsletters and blog posts. Look at your Facebook analytics and watch “reach” and “talking about.” Watch your Twitter account and see what’s being retweeted and favorited.

Commitment

This may be the most challenging task. Finding blog topics is difficult. Write about the things you are passionate about. Do not write about the products themselves. Write about people who use products. Sometimes that content is the most interesting and most likely to resonate with buyers.

The bottom line is to make a plan of the types of content you will create, and then distribute and execute it fully. Pay attention to what works and do more of it. Don’t waste your time with unread content. This will take time to learn. Commit to content marketing for at least six months. Push yourself to create regular posts, articles, descriptions, and so forth. Experiment with new concepts like videos and Pinterest boards.

Remember, even a simple blog and weekly newsletter supported by social media posts can produce significant results.

Dale Traxler
Dale Traxler
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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Tim Hennings July 25, 2013 Reply

    Dale – This is helpful for any business, thanks. I want to point out that content can be distributed via print too, which you do not mention. e-businesses invest a huge amount in getting their content right. The incremental cost of making a print catalog, or whitepaper, from that content is very small, but can have a large impact on credibility and staying "top of mind".

  2. Jose Montelongo October 9, 2013 Reply

    Just wondering -and for the sake of bullding a compelling business case- for an eCommerce site with average conversion rates of no more than 1%, what could be an expected increase in conversion rate if a well structured content marketing strategy is implemented? Any idea?

    • Dale Traxler October 10, 2013 Reply

      Jose- On average, most online stores achieve a 2-3% overall conversion rate. That tends to set the bar for average performance.

      Content marketing alone may not move a site to that level as there are many other factors including site design, pricing, checkout process, etc. Keep that in mind as you plan your overall strategy.

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