Content marketing has the potential to drive retail sales. But for small and mid-sized ecommerce merchants, it is not always clear what sort of content to produce. Fortunately, there are compelling examples of retail content marketing so far in 2015 that, in one way or another, even small businesses can emulate.
Content marketing is the act of producing, publishing, and promoting content with the aim of building lasting and profitable customer relationships. Try to draw inspiration for your content marketing efforts from these four examples.
Net-A-Porter Online and Printed Magazine
The Net-A-Porter Group is a leading online purveyor of high-end, high-fashion clothing. The company is also something of a retail content marketing pioneer, known for tightly marrying content and commerce.
The Net-A-Porter website has two content-rich magazines: The Edit, a weekly online journal, and Porter, a recently-launched glossy print magazine.
The Edit combines articles aimed at inspiring shoppers to make a purchase with rich editorial content like interesting interviews, fashion-industry articles, and health and wellness videos.
In a recent edition, The Edit included an article about model Crista Cober and “her simple approach to work and staying true to herself,” an interview with photojournalist Lynsey Addario about her work, and a “power foods” video with trainer Tim Weeks and nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson.
The company’s print magazine, Porter, is a competitor to Vogue and similar fashion magazines. Net-A-Porter sells subscriptions to the Porter for $25 per year. Given the magazine’s content, Net-A-Porter seems to have recognized that fashion inspiration drives a significant portion of online fashion sales. By producing its own inspirational content in the form of a printed magazine, Net-A-Porter is likely driving sales.
While it is true that Net-A-Porter is a relatively large ecommerce business with the resources for an in-house publishing company, even small online retailers can blog about topics related to the products they sell.
Patagonia’s Award Winning Film
Patagonia sells clothing and gear both in physical stores and online. The company’s product line is aimed at folks who enjoy outdoor activities like snowboarding, rock climbing, fly fishing, or surfing. The company, seemingly, also recognizes that its customers have a strong connection to the environment.
Patagonia recently released an almost 30-minute long film about surfer and environmental activist Ramón Navarro and his quest to preserve a section of Chilean coastline.
The video is an exceptional example of content marketing. While it does not directly promote Patagonia products, it clearly demonstrates to Patagonia customers that the company has the same values they do. When those customers have the choice of buying a jacket, why wouldn’t they make a purchase from a company that shares their love for the outdoors and the environment.
Here again, producing a feature-quality film is not something that every online retailer can manage. But producing videos or other content that resonates with customers is a content marketing strategy every ecommerce business can do.
American Apparel Instagram Powerhouse
American Apparel manufacturers a line of basic, well-made, and extremely comfortable clothing, which it sells via its online store and several brick-and-mortar retail outlets. The company is well known for its edgy advertising and on-going executive drama.
American Apparel is also an Instagram powerhouse with more than 4,000 posts and 1.3 million followers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the American Apparel Instagram feed is that it mostly features photographs of American Apparel products. The company has long had a large gallery of product photos, featuring an array of models, and now it is seemingly adapting that collection of images to social media. And social media is responding well.
A recent post featuring denim shorts and a knit top had more than 41,000 likes.
Instagram is available to even the smallest of online retailers. American Apparel has found ways to make its products interesting to shoppers, which is something that every online seller can do.
Beardbrand Integrating How-to Videos on Product Detail Pages
Shortly after Beardbrand co-founder Eric Bandholz signed on to speak at the Practical Ecommerce Ignite 2015 conference, I spent a couple of hours looking at his company’s website in detail, trying to find the little things, if you will, that Beardbrand had done to get to hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly ecommerce sales.
One of the most obvious things, of course, was the company’s online magazine, Urban Beardsman, which could be a content marketing case study on its own. But I was also impressed with how the company integrated content into its store.
For example, on each of the product detail pages featuring beard oil, there is a YouTube-powered, two-and-a-half-minute video describing the proper technique for applying the product.
This short how-to video simply helps Beardbrand customers as it explains and demonstrates how to use a product. It is the sort of video that many ecommerce businesses could add to their product detail pages.