Product reviews, gift ideas, and seasonal how-to articles are just some of the things ecommerce marketers could publish in September 2014 to help shoppers and build lasting customer relationships.
Content marketing is the act of creating, publishing, and distributing content to attract, engage, and retain customers. It is the idea of helping potential customers before you sell to them. In an era when shoppers can buy from any one of a hundred stores, online content marketing can be an important competitive advantage.
If you need an example, look at REI’s website, where you find an entire section devoted to helping folks enjoy and explore the outdoors. If you were interested in learning about slacklining, for example, you can find a video that shows how to setup a slackline and encourages you to give slacklining a try. When it comes time to order a slackline, who do you think you would buy from, a random company that you found on Google or the company that took the time to help learn about the sport?
Finally, content marketing can also be measured, analyzed and, ultimately, improved. To help with content marketing in September 2014, here are five ideas that you can use to help your ecommerce business.
1. Lookbooks and Featured Product Reviews
While content marketing’s main goal should be to provide something useful or entertaining to potential customers rather than just pushing product, you can nonetheless talk about products in an interesting or engaging way.
Lookbooks, which are collections of photographs that show off a product line, are visually appealing and make for good content.
Suitsupply, a market-defining men’s clothing purveyor, features a shop-by-look section on its site with beautiful photography similar to what someone might find pinned to a men’s fashion board on Pinterest.
Women’s clothing seller Roxy also publishes seasonal lookbooks that include a combination of lifestyle and product photography.
If your product line doesn’t include fashion clothing, you can still feature products with great photography and interesting copy. Consider how Uncrate can make something like a baseball bat seem interesting.
2. Holiday Gift Ideas
Admittedly, September 1, 2014 is a full 115 days from Christmas. But it is not too early to start publishing helpful holiday-focused content, like holiday gift suggestions or guides.
Google Trends data shows that searches for holiday gift suggestions rise significantly during the Christmas shopping season and that the rise begins in earnest in October. But remember Google and other search engines will need at least a little time to index your holiday gift guide so publishing in late September should be just right.
Consider trying to come up with Christmas gift guides that are relatively unique and that make sense with the products you sell. Also, remember that these lists can be either helpful, meaning they really help someone find a gift, or entertaining. Both sorts of holiday content can work. Here are some examples.
- “10 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your New Girlfriend”
- “5 Holiday Gifts for the Foodie on Your Shopping List”
- “7 Christmas Gifts that She Actually Wants”
- “5 Amazing Last-minute Christmas Presents”
- “The Best Technology Gifts to Buy Your Grandma”
- “The Perfect Christmas Gifts for that Awkward Office Gift Exchange”
- “21 Christmas Gifts Your Kid Will Like More than the Box”
3. Autumn How-to Articles, Images and Videos
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 is the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. As the weather changes so do the kinds of things — activities, hobbies, sports, yard work — people do. With these changes comes the opportunity to produce how-to content.
Here is an example. In the United States, June 21 was the longest day of the year. Depending where you live, you probably had daylight until at least 9:20 p.m. But on September 23, the sun could set as early as 7:00 p.m. just when some folks are getting home from work or when a high school-aged kid is getting home from soccer practice. It would be nice if the house had a motion-sensing light. Interestingly, home improvement retailer, Lowe’s, recently published a “How-to Install Outdoor Motion Lights Video” on its YouTube channel.
Information and educational how-to articles are content-marketing essentials, especially when folks are facing changes. Think about how your customers’ behavior changes in autumn and provide helpful content that eases those changes.
4. NFL Regular Season
On September 4, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the National Football League (NFL) begins regular season play in the U.S. when the Seattle Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers.
The NFL is extremely popular. For example, back in February about 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl. And more than 17.1 million Americans actually attended regular season NFL games last year.
Online sellers can create content around football’s popularity, even without selling products that are specific to football. Here are some ideas.
- Craft supply retailer: Create a video tutorial showing how to make an NFL-themed quilt.
- Kitchen appliance retailer: Publish a tailgate grilling guide.
- Electronics retailer. Post a review of the top ten football-related mobile apps.
5. Interactive Content
In September, consider trying to come up with some content that encourages interaction, like having customers submit content or play on your site. Here are a couple of examples.
This summer, Good Mythical Morning, an online show, began featuring a segment called “Vacay Gone Cray Cray”, which had folks submit vacation-gone-bad stories for a chance to win a $10,000 vacation redo from Choice Hotels.
Good Mythical Morning’s hosts Rhett and Link, reenacted the bad holiday stories, which made for some good, albeit, offbeat entertainment.
Even relatively small ecommerce businesses could try something similar, asking fans on Facebook to submit video ideas that the retailer could produce. A retailer that sold magic tricks might ask folks to submit stories about the most amazing trick they have ever seen and then show the trick in a video.
A second idea could be to include a game on site. For example, a merchant that sells music-related items, could add a drum machine, like the Chromium Project’s WebAudio Drum Machine, on site. The drum machine, which is fun to play with, could keep shoppers on the site for hours.