Content marketing can describe many things — from short blog posts published on a company’s own site to long-form articles or even ebooks. It can encompass a video published on YouTube, a photograph shared on Instagram, or a meme.
There may be hundreds of tactics that you could consider content marketing. So the six content marketing tactics briefly described here are certainly not an exhaustive list. But this short list does, perhaps, represent some of the best, easiest to understand, and most common content marketing options for small and mid-sized ecommerce businesses.
Artful Product Descriptions
If one paints content marketing with a relatively broad brush, it can include one of the staples of the ecommerce industry: product descriptions.
Great, or perhaps artful, product descriptions not only describe the product to shoppers, but also create an emotional connection, leading to a sale. Consider two possible product descriptions for a simple drawer pull.
First, consider this product description from a big box retailer.
“Each of these Liberty 3 in. Stainless-Steel Bar Pulls (4-Pack) features a 1-3/8 in. projection. The pull is crafted with stainless steel to help ensure strength and features a 3 in. center-to-center mount design for easy installation. Comes with 8-32 x 1 in. machine screws.”
One, possibly more artful, alternative would be the following.
“These modern, even minimalist, bar-drawer pulls properly proclaim your sense of style by substance alone and not by unnecessary ornamentation or useless embellishments. Designed with an architect’s attention to detail, anyone could mount them in a moment. Your order will include four pulls, designed for drawers with guide holes 3 inches apart, and the screws to install them.”
An A/B test will determine which of these descriptions sell more.
Informative Product Videos
Closely related to product descriptions are product videos. Product videos take a bit more work to produce than written descriptions, but there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence implying that they can greatly increase sales and conversions.
As an example, Kissmetrics reported that “70 percent of the top search results listings” contain video and that shoppers exposed to a video are somewhere between 64 percent and 85 percent more likely to make a purchase. If Kissmetrics is off by half and product videos boosted conversion rates by just 32 percent, the videos would still be a great content marketing tool.
Useful articles that help readers accomplish some task or solve a problem are, perhaps, the highest form of content marketing.
When your business can genuinely help a potential customer, you have gone a long way to earning that shopper’s business and loyalty.
As an example, REI has an article on its site that offers training tips and exercises for new runners preparing for a 10K or half marathon. The information in the article comes from the American Council on Exercise and is clearly meant to help the reader rather than just sell products.
Marketers can hardly produce enough useful content.
Good Video Content
I’ve already mentioned video in the context of products and product descriptions, but video need not end there.
A good video makes for very powerful content almost certain to attract, engage, and retain customers.
If you need proof, a retailer’s 31-minute beginners’ welding video, which was originally released in 2012, now has more than 800,000 views on YouTube.
Content marketers need look no further than a good Instagram account or Pinterest board to recognize that captivating photography can engage shoppers and encourage them to share on their own social media accounts.
The makers of Buffer, a social sharing app, reported in 2014 that visual content, such as captivating photography, is about 40 times as likely to be shared on social media than text, and visual content earns nearly double the views on social media sites as text based posts.
One could even say that images are in some way contagious. Get one user to catch it, and many more will see it and interact with it.
As a content tool, photography can be used with product descriptions, in lookbooks, in social media, or to augment articles.
Fun Contests, Polls, and Quizzes
Content can entertain. Entertainment attracts people. Content marketers can use contests, polls, and quizzes distributed on blog posts or various social media accounts to engage potential customers.
Contests, as an example, clearly give something to contestants, like the opportunity to win a prize. But contests are also a great way to add followers on Facebook, Twitter, or similar platforms; learn something about the folks entering your contests; and even get participants to share your content.