Editor’s Note: Meet Armando Roggio at Ignite 2015, our conference on Sept. 16 and 17 in Dallas, where he’ll co-present three sessions: “How to Build an Ecommerce Brand (and Reduce Reliance on Paid Traffic),” “Content Marketing Essentials: Attracting and Engaging Shoppers, for Higher Conversions,” and “Ecommerce Opportunities for Brick-and-mortar Merchants.”
In September, content marketers can publish posts about community events, distribute product lookbooks, and promote Christmas shopping guides to engage shoppers.
Content marketing is the process of creating, publishing, and distributing content to attract, engage, and retain customers. Often its aim is to be useful to customers, honestly helping them learn, do, or experience something. What follows are five ideas for your September 2015 content marketing campaigns.
1. Community Events
Online retailers are not bound to local geography. An online store based in someone’s garage in Idaho can have customers in Singapore. But this does not mean that online retailers should not be connected to the local community.
For your content marketing in September, try to engage with a local event and blog or post about that experience online.
Here is an example that would work for retailers who sell anything from Western wear clothing to cooking supplies. Held September 18 to 20, 2015 in Shoshone, Idaho, the 6th Annual Lost N Lava Cowboy Gathering is a “celebration of the ranching and rural West. Through poetry, music and stories, ranch people express the beauty and challenges of a life deeply connected to the earth and its bounty.”
It would be reasonable for the owner of an online store to attend, take lots of pictures, and share the experience.
Similarly, an online store that sold fitness or health products and that was based in Vermont might participate in the September 19 and 20, 2015 Beast Weekend in Killington. A few of the store’s employees or owners could run in this Spartan race event and blog about the experience.
2. Lookbooks and Featured Products
A lookbook (spelled with one word or two) describes a series of photographs meant to promote a model, photographer, style, or line of clothing. It is sort of a fashion show in pictures.
In ecommerce, the term has been expanded a bit to include almost any sort of picture-driven product promotion. Lookbooks are particularly good for new product launches or seasonal changes. September 23, 2015 is the Autumnal Equinox or the first day of autumn — perfect for releasing a fall lookbook or featured product pictorial.
One note is that lookbooks don’t have to be high fashion. One of the best lookbooks published this year is the Brixton Fall Lookbook for Men.
Many of the images feature skateboards. This makes sense because Brixton serves skateboarders. But in some of the lookbook pictures, one can imagine that it is the board, not the clothing, being promoted. This is good because it should inspire stores that sell hard goods.
3. Holiday Shopping Guides
Some shoppers complain when brick-and-mortar retail stores start playing Christmas music 120 days before the holiday. But the truth is that content marketers should start developing and publishing Christmas shopping guides now. This is especially true if the goal is to attract new shoppers.
For 2015, try three approaches to holiday shopping guides.
First, try to publish items or guides on other sites, in magazines, and in journals. As an example, The Art of Manliness, a popular online journal, publishes or updates gift guides almost every year. If your company sells products aimed at males, consider pitching an individual item or even an entire guide for publication.
In a similar fashion, consider contacting local newspapers and offering to submit holiday shopping guide articles or tips.
Next, bundle previously published holiday shopping guides and promote them on a new landing page.
If you visit the holiday gift guide section on PBS Food — the food site for the public broadcasting service — you’ll find links for ten holiday gift guides. But these are not necessarily new. If, for example, you click on the gift guide for mom, you get an article published in 2012. PBS has simply repackaged earlier content into a format that is probably useful for site visitors.
Third, use video. Consider creating a series of short holiday gift idea videos. These can be distributed on YouTube, both as content and commercials. Topics for your gift guide videos might be as simple as these.
- “10 Christmas Gifts Under $100”
- “10 Christmas Gifts Under $75”
- “10 Christmas Gifts Under $50”
- “10 Christmas Gifts Under $25”
- “25 Holiday Gifts for Her”
- “25 Holiday Gifts for Him”
- “10 Company Christmas Party Gifts for Your Boss”
- “10 Company Holiday Party Gifts to Boost Your Career”
4. National Preparedness Month
In the United States, September is National Preparedness Month. Some 12 years ago, the U.S. government created Ready, a national public service promotion. Ready is designed to encourage Americans to build an emergency supply kit, develop a family emergency plan, and understand the different sorts of emergencies they might face.
As part of its year-around promotions, Ready is a driving force behind National Preparedness Month. This year, the campaign has divided the month into hazard-focus themes.
- September 1 to 5: flood.
- September 6 to 12: wildfire.
- September 13 to 19: hurricane.
- September 20 to 26: power outage.
The month culminates in the Federal Emergency Management Administration sponsored National PrepareAthon and National Preparedness Day on September 30, 2015.
For content marketing, find ways to integrate your products or offerings with National Preparedness Month. This may be more obvious for some business. For example, if you sell tools, you could produce a video about how to create a wildfire preparation kit, showing all of the proper items, including a few tools you sell.
Likewise, if you sell rain slickers, you could create a flood preparation informational graphic that happens to include rain slickers as an essential item. The key in both of these examples is to actually provide useful information.
Porch, an online service-industry directory of sorts, created a video demonstrating how to make a wintertime emergency kit for your car. It is exactly the sort of content that would make since as part of a National Preparedness Month content marketing campaign.
Americans spent about $7.4 billion on Halloween in 2014. The holiday was, in fact, one of the most important for some retailers. But, frankly, most of the retail dollars were invested in costumes, candy, and decorations. So other retailers, such as sites that sell cleaning products, as an example, might not see the point in a Halloween promotion.
Even if your business does not sell Halloween products, the popular holiday may be an opportunity to engage with customers and entertain them a bit. If you need inspiration, look at Tide’s 2013 #ScaredStainless campaign.
The detergent’s content marketers published seven Vine videos reenacting scenes from famous horror movies, like Frankenstein, The Shining, Poltergeist, and Psycho. In each case, a Tide bottle stands in for an important character from the movie.