Practical Ecommerce

Content Marketing for Ecommerce Merchants

Many people use poor grammar when they post content to various social platforms. However, when not browsing posts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, most of us still prefer to read articles, product descriptions, and other content in well-constructed, full sentences.

This is forcing marketing professionals to create content that is specific to a particular platform. At the same time, it’s important to ensure that your message is consistent and visible across different platforms. This means adding relevant hashtags to Twitter. It means constructing a good introduction to an article and adding a trackable link on LinkedIn. For Facebook, it may be a compelling image and a short, catchy tagline.

Ecommerce merchants should adapt to the new world content marketing. What is content marketing? It’s the delivery of relevant information that is useful to readers based on their context.

A reader’s context includes why, what, where, and how. If a consumer is shopping for a car battery from a mobile phone, he may want directions to a local auto parts reseller and expect to find a phone number and directions to a local store. If a shopper is browsing in a Best Buy retail store, she may be scanning a UPC for a better price with the intention to “buy it now” if she is shown the correct product, a better price, and the ratings and reviews she is looking for.

The goal with content marketing is to deliver information to your shoppers that will help them make a buying decision in your favor on whatever platform they are using. Here are some content marketing best practices.

Branding and Messaging

Consistent branding and messaging are important in today’s multi-channel, multi-platform world. Make sure that your logos, taglines, themes, and messages are consistent regardless of where a customer may interact with your brand. Create graphics and images that are in appropriate resolutions and sizes for all of your delivery platforms.

Create a theme when the opportunity exists — such as seasonal promotions, holidays, and new products. Create a tagline, offer a value proposition, and create imagery to support your theme. This can be reused in all delivery platforms. It helps reinforce your brand and your message.

Content Management System

To manage the variety of content you need to publish, use a content management system. Some shopping carts and ecommerce platforms include integrated CMS systems. Unfortunately, many do not. Even higher-end platforms are frequently lacking this important tool.

CMS systems facilitate the most current content across all of your various media platforms. If you change the price or description, it should be available in all your output feeds. Creative material for a promotion should be reused in social media, ads, in landing pages, and on your website. Content authors should also be able to edit all relevant content in a single place.

CMS systems are available at a various price points and functionality — from free to very expensive and robust. Solutions from Drupal, EPiServer, Ektron, and Adobe are popular in ecommerce implementations.

Small businesses may also consider a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Silverpop, Marketo, or Eloqua to manage their outbound and inbound content programs. These products originally became popular in B-to-B marketing, but there is a large crossover into B-to-C marketing today. The platforms allow you to manage content and also deliver it to your blog, social media, and email from a single, seamless platform.

Online Store Content

In previous articles, I’ve argued that ecommerce merchants should emphasize creating compelling content that shoppers will benefit from, rather than focusing too much on optimizing content for search engine rankings. If you create good content, you will include the keywords that are important for SEO by default. Other sites will also want to link to good, useful content.

This content should include titles, descriptions, specifications, options, reviews, ratings, and images. Optionally, you may want to include videos, alternate images, comparison charts, and other information that will help your shoppers be more informed.

I mentioned ratings and reviews. This is user-generated content, which typically requires soliciting from your customers.

Also, create short descriptions and other descriptive content that can be reused in landing pages, comparison shopping feeds, marketplaces, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social sites. This content should be tied to the same content in your online store.

Blog

Every online merchant should regularly publish blog posts. These should not be strictly promotional. They should include interesting information that appeals to your shoppers. Use the content in your blog in your newsletters and in your social media outlets.

Social Media

Leverage social media to match the way your customers use it for the types of products you sell. Tweet about new products. Post images on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Create blog posts about promotions, new products, and seasonal items.

Create original content for social media. Don’t deliver your full message. It can be teasers, links, or images with taglines. Keep it tight. Keep it short.

When you create a social media post, link to a landing page that includes all of your message or content. Don’t try and squeeze it into 140 characters, for example. Instead, create a compelling teaser with a trackable link and hashtags.

You may want to link social media accounts together so that your post on, say, Tumblr automatically delivers a tweet on Twitter. There are many powerful social media tools, like HootSuite, that allow you to create content in a single place and then publish it on multiple platforms. The marketing automation platforms mentioned earlier also include this functionality.

Dale Traxler
Dale Traxler
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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Carole@Rustic Artistry October 29, 2013 Reply

    Dale, could you comment about how to create both a newsletter and a blog without them being redundant? I have a new business and just sent out my first newsletter, but now am wondering if I need to create a blog too.

  2. Dale Traxler October 30, 2013 Reply

    Carole, There are several approaches. You can create different content on both. That works well if you have a lot of things to talk about.

    A more popular approach is to write a detailed posting on your blog and then simply do an intro to it in your newsletter. This helps keep your newsletter crisp and to the point. Your blog post can be as detailed as you want as well as offer a place for conversation as we are doing here.

    Dale

  3. Tim Hennings October 31, 2013 Reply

    Good post. I especially appreciate that you have a section on online store content. A lot of press and attention has been given to content marketing, but the discussions often overlook that most core content of all, the product descriptions, benefits, and attributes. If you don’t do a good job on this fundamental content, the rest will not matter. Also, quality product data can be repurposed, such as for print catalogs and brochures. Another interesting possibility is using non-product content in catalogs, essentially creating niche publications that look a lot like a branded trade publications: http://www.catalog-on-demand.com/blog/2013/09/content-marketing-say-hello-to-print-catalogs/

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