Marketing & Advertising

Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for Ecommerce

A clear content marketing strategy defines its purpose, who it serves, and its format.

Achieving a goal most often begins with having a plan. In the case of content marketing, this plan — or content marketing strategy — will depend on how large your company is and how much money and time is invested. For small and mid-sized businesses, a content marketing strategy may be the documented and thoughtful answers to several questions or thought exercises.

Goals

If a content marketing strategy is a plan of action, understand what it is you’re planning to do. Define some specific things to accomplish.

A clear content marketing strategy defines its purpose, who it serves, and its format.

For example, an online store may want to reach more potential customers. That could happen if the store’s website ranked in search engines better or ranked for more terms. Thus, better search engine performance could be a goal.

A company selling an expensive, unfamiliar, or complex product may want to move potential customers through the sales cycle. Content that answers questions or concerns might help.

Start your company’s content marketing strategy with goals, and document them.

How Content Marketing Helps

“If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

That saying represents what is known as the law of the instrument or “Maslow’s hammer.” It describes a bias toward using a familiar or desired tool, instrument, or method to solve every problem.

This can happen with content marketing. A company has heard about content marketing. The company’s competitors have a blog, and so the business decides it wants to do “content marketing.” But then that business chooses a goal such as “boost sales 10 percent next month.”

But content marketing is not the best tool for boosting short-term sales. If the aim were to grow sales 10 percent over the next year, content marketing could be in the mix. But to grow sales next month, other tools such as pay-per-click advertising or email marketing would likely work much better.

In general, content marketing is good at establishing your business’s position in the market. It can help to attract, engage, and retain customers. It builds a sense of reciprocity, so that consumers may become loyal, repeat purchasers. It moves shoppers along a complex buyer’s journey. It can lead to much better search engine rankings.

Thus your content marketing strategy should document how it will help your business achieve its goals. This is particularly important in a large or mid-sized business to convince other departments or co-workers.

Document why your business should produce content.

Target Audience

Unfortunately, phrases like “understand your customer,” “know your audience,” and similar have become vague clichés.

Conversely, some marketers advocate extremely detailed buyer personas. And as technology has facilitated a greater level of personalization, it is even possible to have particular customers or customer profiles in mind.

Regardless, develop an idea of whom your content is meant to communicate with and what is important to that audience. The level of detail can depend on how many content producers your business has or even how many different customer profiles you’re trying to target.

The key is that you have a documented “picture” of your audience. For example, a business selling mountaineering gear online might have noted that its target customer is probably male (reports show a very high percentage of mountain climbers are men), about 33 years old, and more active than average.

This understanding could guide the content choices of your business. To sell mountaineering gear, a business would not likely publish content aimed at teens or the sedentary.

Document who your content serves.

Editorial Mission Statement

One of the most important functions of a content marketing strategy is helping you understand what not to do.

When you focus on a goal and a target audience, you eliminate everything else.

An editorial mission statement can help. The mission statement should:

  • Create priorities. When you have a clear editorial mission, it is easier to say no to projects that don’t carry that mission forward.
  • Enable consistent focus. A documented editorial mission helps your content marketing stay on course.
  • Unify content producers. If your content team includes several writers, the editorial mission statement can help bring those authors together.

When you write your editorial mission statement, try to answer these three questions.

  • Who is your core audience?
  • What do you give your core audience?
  • How does your content help your core audience?

Topic Clusters

The content your company produces should help people. Your articles, videos, or podcasts should be useful, informative, or entertaining. Your audience should get real value.

What’s more, your company’s content should be on topic. Using your goals, target audience, and editorial mission statement as guides, focus on a few topics wherein your business can be positioned as an expert thought leader.

Planning your content around a topic cluster may also help with search engine optimization.

“Competition to get found in search engine results is intense, and as a result, SEO practices have evolved to a new model being leveraged by many content-focused websites,” wrote Mimi An in a May 2017 HubSpot report.

“SEO is now shifting to a topic cluster model, where a single ‘pillar’ page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic and multiple content pages that are related to that same topic link back to the pillar page and to each other. This linking action signals to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic, and over time, the page may rank higher and higher for the topic it covers. The topic cluster model, at its very essence, is a way of organizing a site’s content pages using a cleaner and more deliberate site architecture.”

Define and document the topic clusters your content marketing strategy will focus on.

Content Schedule

Develop a schedule for when content will be published, what topic cluster it will support, and, perhaps, who will produce it.

Develop a schedule for when content will be published, what topic cluster it will support, and, perhaps, who will produce it.

Your plan should document all of your content tactics. When will a post be published? Which topic cluster will it support? Who will write it? What graphics will be needed?

Use your company’s project management tools, whether these are Kanban boards or spreadsheets, to account for all of the content you want to produce.

If you miss a deadline, understand why.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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