Content marketing is essential for ecommerce businesses — it’s a key marketing channel that can help to establish a brand, improve search engine rankings, and ultimately lead to sales. But it’s not quite as simple as writing a couple of blog posts and sharing an update on social media. You need to make sure that your content marketing strategy is going to attract shoppers to your store, and convince them to make a purchase.
Why is content marketing important for ecommerce?
Content marketing is the best way for an ecommerce store to build a relationship with shoppers. As an online retailer, it can be hard to make connections with your customers, but content marketing can help to establish and define your brand. The content that you share can portray your brand, give an insight into your business, and provide value for shoppers.
By creating and sharing great content you’ll increase awareness of your ecommerce store and start to build relationships with potential customers. Once shoppers make a purchase your content can turn them into loyal customers that make repeat purchases. When it’s used effectively content marketing will improve your search engine rankings and increase the amount of organic traffic to your site.
How can content drive sales for an ecommerce store?
Your store’s content won’t just increase brand awareness and traffic, the right content will be able to drive sales — and that should always be your underlying goal.
Content can be used in so many ways to target shoppers at different stages in the buying process, then it can include links to your website, or take them directly to specific product pages. It’s even possible to make your social media posts shoppable.
The key is coming up with a comprehensive strategy that creates a cohesive message across different platforms and channels. This way your content can find your customers online and persuade them to buy.
Outlined below are five ways in which you can create sales-driven ecommerce content for your store:
Understand your audience
It’s one of the most basic principles of content marketing — create something that your target audience wants to read or see. But it can be all too easy to end up creating the content that you think they want.
You’ve probably started out doing some audience research, finding out who your target customers are — what their interests are, where they go online, what content they read — and then coming up with ideas for content targeted at them. But it’s important to keep going back and checking your audience, making sure things haven’t changed and your content is specifically geared towards them.
You want your content to sell your products, but that doesn’t mean your products should always be front and center in your content. In order for anyone to pay attention and engage with your content, it needs to provide them with value first.
If someone’s asking a question then the answer probably isn’t one of your products specifically — your content should provide a genuinely helpful answer to the question, and then you can mention your products if they’re appropriate. You need to provide value before your audience will do something for you.
Create content for the buyer’s journey
To create sales-driven content you need to be specifically targeting each stage of a buyer’s journey. This will help them to move through the buying funnel and they’ll be more likely to end up purchasing from your store.
Educational or informative blog posts and content at the Awareness stage will get your brand in front of potential customers. They might not be looking to make a purchase just yet but if you’ve answered their questions about something then they’ll have some level of awareness of your brand.
At the consideration stage of the buying process comparison guides and reviews will help inform customers further about the products they’re looking for. If they’ve come across your brand previously then they’re more likely to pay attention to your content. This kind of content doesn’t need to be too serious or informational – if your products aren’t technical, for example fashion, you could do a guide on the latest season’s fashion or how to create outfits for certain events.
Incorporate reviews and customer testimonials into your content to share with potential customers at the decision-making stage. For example, if someone has signed up to your email list but not purchased then after sending them some of the guides you could send them testimonials and reviews from your customers to provide them with social proof.
And then once they’ve made an order you need content that’s targeted at making them a loyal customer – how-to guides, content related to their purchase and discounts or offers will be a good way to draw them in. Content can only drive sales if it’s providing something relevant and engaging – so timing your content to the different stages in the buying journey is essential.
Try different types of content
Content marketing doesn’t just mean written blog content – you need to keep your content fresh and exciting to drive sales. It should be something that people pay attention to and look forward to reading.
There are so many different types of content you can use to engage with shoppers and drive sales. Shake up your blog posts with different formats — step-by-step guides, behind the scenes or meet the team posts, or video blogs (vlogs). And all of this content can be reformatted and shared via social media or in your email marketing. Creating sales-driven content can take a lot of time and effort so it’s really important that you use it and share it as much as possible.
Different types of content will suit different brands and products. Visual formats like video will be more suited to fashion ecommerce stores or decorative products. For products like household appliances or tools, how-to guides, and examples of DIY projects will be more appropriate. So it’s important to keep trying something new to find what works for your ecommerce store.
It’s also essential to focus on optimizing your content to drive sales. Your content can match what shoppers are looking for, it can be targeted perfectly for the buyer journey, but if it doesn’t show up in search engine results no one is going to find it and no one is going to be convinced to make a purchase. Include keywords relevant to your industry and your products. If shorter, more focused keywords are highly competitive then focus on long-tail keywords in content that closely matches what someone would be searching for.
And make sure your content includes relevant product links, links to other content, and email sign up forms – make it sales driven by keeping them on your site or in contact with your business.
Accurately track, analyze and learn
Following on from the last point, if you’re testing out different content, different channels, and how to optimize it, it’s absolutely essential that you track it properly and analyze the results.
All your hard work creating content is completely wasted if you can’t accurately tell how it’s performing — for sales-driven content it’s all about the number of people who view your content and end up making a purchase.
Set up tracking software like Google Analytics for your website, and you will be able to monitor:
- Number of visitors you get to your blog overall and to individual blog posts
- Where your website traffic comes from – is it Google, social media channels, email or advertising?
- How long visitors stay on your site
- Do they click through to another page if they’ve landed on your blog, or do they leave straight away?
- How many of your sales can be traced back to someone coming from your blog, or your social channels or emails?
While not all of these will directly show you how well your content is driving sales, it will give you a good idea about what content people are reading, whether it’s useful to them and what they do once they’ve been on your website. It will also show which channels are driving traffic that ends up making a purchase.
With all this data tracked monthly, you can tell which content is working to bring traffic that converts into customers – feed this back into your content strategy to help create more content to drive sales.
User-generated content (UGC) is content that’s written, shared, created by your customers about your business and your products. This includes anything from reviews, testimonials, to sharing posts on social media about using your products.
UGC is a valuable form of content that can drive sales when it’s used in the right way. Plus your customers have taken the time and effort to create the content, so you just need to curate it and use it to your advantage. Use positive reviews and testimonials on your website as a form of social proof to persuade people to buy. If you have customers that are really positive about your business or products then work with them to produce longer pieces of content, customer stories, for your blog.
When your customers are talking about your business and products on social media interact with their posts and re-share them on your business’s account. Depending on what you sell, you could use customers’ photos on your product pages, to demonstrate someone using the product in real life.
UGC is a great way to drive sales because it helps to build a relationship with your existing customers, but also shows potential shoppers why they should buy with you and how people use your products in real life. And don’t forget any negative feedback is also an opportunity to learn and improve, and demonstrate that you actually listen to your customers – this can be turned into a positive as well.
Overall sales-driven content needs to come out of a comprehensive strategy that is specifically targeted towards different channels and different stages in the buying process. Your content needs to be focused on building brand awareness, providing value, and eventually persuading shoppers to buy.
Start with a good understanding of your target customers and then come up with a content marketing strategy that covers all your channels. Once you start producing sales-focused content, monitor your progress, and then keep refining your strategy.