Content marketing provides customers with genuinely useful information that can solve problems, aid decision making, or simply answer questions — all in the hope that shoppers are more likely to buy from helpful or entertaining retailers.
Some marketers believe that content can be used to build long-term customer relationships, attract new customers, provide better customer service, upsell customers, and build or reinforce a retail brand.
If these outcomes are not enough, many and recent changes to search engine algorithms imply that small businesses would be better served focusing on content marketing than on tactical, keyword-driven search engine optimization.
Writing on Search Engine Watch, search engine consultant Eric Enge reported about several recently implemented Google changes that collectively have the effect of making tactical SEO techniques less impactful.
“The focus now,” Enge wrote, “ is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site. Properly architecting your site so that the search engines can understand it, including using schema and related markup, addressing local search (if that is relevant to you), and work of this type still matters, too.
“But, the obsession with tactical items like PageRank and keywords is going to fade away. As Google tweaks the way their service operates, and look for ways to capture new signals, they do things that naturally push you in that direction.”
Have Real Goals
An ecommerce content marketing strategy, like any ecommerce marketing campaign, must start with real and measurable goals. Know what your content marketing should achieve and how quickly it should achieve it.
Common goals could be to increase sales, get additional registered users, or increase gross margin.
Content marketing may be able to address each of these.
For example, an online retailer wanting to sell beekeeping supplies, could increase sales by publishing a series of blog posts or videos that show basic beekeeping techniques. Folks interested in keeping bees in the backyard might read or watch this material. They would see the hives or hive components that the merchant sells show in the video or described in the blog post, and when it is time to order, why wouldn’t they order from a familiar source?
The same beekeeping content might generate visits from Google or Bing or even local beekeeping associations who might link to this great content.
Finally, this great beekeeping content might move some customers from the most basic hive to a premium hive, potentially boosting the gross margin.
Document your ecommerce goals before planning your content marketing. It is the logic first step.
Understand your Audience
The first step toward a successful ecommerce content marketing strategy is to understand your audience and identify what sort of content will be useful for them.
Extending the beekeeping example from above a bit further, try to understand what a person just becoming interested in backyard beekeeping might find helpful. As an example, does the customer’s state require bee registration? Or how does someone order bees? What time of year should you start a new hive? How do bees survive in winter? What equipment do you need to get started? Why are bee suits white? Will a new beekeeper get stung? Videos, podcasts, blog posts, or articles that answered these questions might all be helpful content that could help a seller achieve some marketing goal.
Know your Communication Channels
Content marketing strategies should consider many and varied communication or distribution channels, and then select those channels that are the most effective at helping the intended audience access and use the content.
Consider making a list of all of the ways that you might distribute content. Include channels like your site, a blog, social media sites, video sites, contributed articles, podcasts, radio broadcasts, book or ebooks, research documents, free online courses, or mobile applications.
Narrow the list based on capabilities, budget, or experience.
Put It Together
Once you know what content should be produced and which channels it will be published in or distributed through, and what goals your content marketing will be achieving, put together a comprehensive calendar, describing what content will be produced, when it will be produced, and how it will be distributed. It may even make sense to go as far as adding everything to a Google calendar and sharing it with involved parties.
Document your Content Marketing Strategy
You will want to make certain that everything in your content marketing strategy is documented.
There should be a list of specific goals, a description of how each bit of content or series of content will impact those goals, and an explanation of how the content is useful for the target audience.
The document strategy should include information about related budgets, for example, how much is being spent to hire writers or develop a mobile app.
Ultimately, this documented ecommerce content strategy will keep you on track, help you ensure that you stick with your plan, and make you feel better about your content marketing efforts as you go along.