In my last post I named focusing on wrong content as one of the key things I messed up after launching my ecommerce business. And, it’s true.
However, does that mean that you shouldn’t focus on content marketing at all? That you shouldn’t write blog posts, create infographics, record videos and create any other content apart from killer product descriptions?
Of course not. In fact, content should have a prominent place in your overall marketing mix. However, it shouldn’t be the main focal point before you are done with other, more pressing issues in your new business. And doing it the other way around was my mistake.
In this post I want to show you how I would do content marketing if I was starting an online business today.
Since I started working in ecommerce (and made some serious mistakes while learning the ins and outs of it) I came to realize one simple truth – content marketing isn’t just about hitting publish on that blog post only to have more content on your site. Or adding new photos to your Pinterest account so that it looks alive.
Content marketing in ecommerce is all about offering additional value to your customers, giving them all the necessary information they need to make an informed buying decision.
In other words, it’s not just about publishing but about offering valuable information.
By publishing a highly relevant and useful information you build an image of you as an expert in your niche. Simple.
A company that constantly publishes informative and valuable content will definitely be perceived as more trustworthy over a one that does not showcase their expertise. Today buyers pay attention to the content on the site and build an image of the business based on what they post.
Someone once said that people build brands like birds build nests, from the scraps they come across. And, it couldn’t be any closer to the truth.
The content you publish on your site, as well as many others, helps you to leave valuable scraps across the net out of which your customers can build their perception of your brand.
Naturally, the more content you publish, the greater your chances of some of it ranking high in search engines and driving traffic to your site. Of course, this wouldn’t be highly converting traffic, yet from a branding point of view, such content can play a significant role in placing your business right in front of the buyers, even if they are early in their buying cycle.
An often overlooked aspect of content marketing. It can also entertain your audience. You don’t have to be serious all the time, sometimes it’s good to have a laugh and it is quite easy to do it through content.
Lastly, content marketing allows you to have a face. We are quite anonymous on the internet. Unlike with traditional brick and mortar businesses, where you can walk in to and get to know their owner or a store clerk, in ecommerce we are hidden behind our websites and lines of code that make them.
Thanks to content though we, online retailers, can engage our audience on a personal level.
There is a plethora of content types available for a savvy marketer, however, it doesn’t mean that you have to use all of them. In fact, many won’t work at all in the industry or niche you are in.
Over the last few years I tried many content types and discovered those to be the most effective across many industries:
Videos, such as how to guides for example can make up for some great content. By showcasing your audience how to use your product or even offer advice on activities related to it, you can build awareness of your brand but also, gently push your products in the mix.
Just check this video from REI promoting the idea of slacklining, a low level tightrope walking. The company only promotes this outdoor activity but in order to do it, you require equipment that, you guessed it, REI sells!
Sometimes you just don’t have to create the content yourself. Some channels are ideal to just curate content created by others. Think of it as recommendations. All you do is pointing to useful content created by others.
A good example is Woodland Creatures Pinterest board by L.L.Bean. Just check how many subscribers does it have (hint: many!!!)
Infographics work really well when it comes to two things:
Infographics can naturally go viral and get reposted on other sites, making then a very solid branding tool.
Blog posts are by far and away the first content type that comes to mind when we think of content marketing. Blog posts are also the easiest content type to create. All you need is an idea and some time to write that post, that’s it. Yet they can help you gain visibility in search, build your authority, generate leads and more.
A great example of an ecommerce blog is one ran by KLWines
Lastly, ecommerce offers also a great opportunity to use your customers to create content for you. Reviews, testimonials, user stories and more can make up for some amazing content that can be highly engaging, helpful and often, funny.
Possibly the greatest mistake in creating content is making it dull. Yes, sorry, dull. Dry information and facts don’t make a great reading, stories do. Tell stories in your content. Be it in a blog post, short video or anything else and your content will automatically become more entertaining and engaging.
Another common mistake is focusing either on a single content type, usually blog posts, or spreading your content marketing efforts too thin. Instead, pick 2–3 content types that seem the most engaging with your target audience and blend them together in your marketing plan.
Another common mistake. Remember that the aim for your content is not to advertise your business but to inform and engage the reader. So, don’t make your content read like an ad for your business. In fact, most of the time you should refrain from referencing your business in the content, apart from your signature or some small indication where the content came from.
That was a big mistake I made. I thought that by creating a community I will also create an army of customers, so to speak. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. First of all, creating an online community takes enormous time and effort, and you could really invest those in to other areas of your business. Secondly, online communities are not prone to advertising. Once you start selling to them they suddenly feel betrayed, since sales weren’t what brought them to the community. All in all, you lose greatly.
My advice, create content that aims to educate and inform your target audience but don’t try to bring them all together as a community. Invest your time and resources somewhere else.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And, the same goes for your product presentation. You can spend a great deal of time trying to describe it to someone but once you show it to them used in their natural environment (or tell a story describing this), the effect will be much greater.
Do you use, or plan on using content to promote your store? Tell us about your ideas or experiences so far.