If you’ve put together an e-commerce store and tossed up a few ads, but no one’s buying and you’re not rising through Google’s search results, you need content marketing in your life.
Content marketing is a strategic method of introducing your brand and products to potential customers in order to provide value, generate trust, and ultimately drive sales. It’s a great way to build authority with your target audience. Plus, it improves your search engine ranking because it helps Google understand what your site is all about.
Who are you more likely to buy from – the guy who keeps shouting, “Buy my spatulas!” Or the guy who makes it clear that he knows everything there is to know about spatulas, and he’s here to help you make an informed decision on which spatula will best suit your personal needs? Content marketing will make you the second guy.
Read on to learn how to create consistent, relevant, and valuable content for your online store.
1. Set Goals
You won’t know if you’re efforts are successful unless you set goals you can achieve. Sure, generating more traffic is a goal. But it’s better to set specific, measurable goals like increasing visitors by 500 per month within 6 months. That way, you’ll know for sure if you succeed. And if you’re unsuccessful, you can see how close you were and whether you just need to push a little more or re-think your goal entirely.
It’s also a good idea to set both short and long term goals. The definition of “short” and “long” will vary from store to store. But an example of a short term goal might be something like adding 100 email subscribers within 30 days. A long term goal might be something like increasing traffic by 15% over the course of a year.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
It seems obvious that content should be relevant to its intended audience. But we often see store owners who say their audience is “everyone.” How can any one store possibly appeal to everyone?
Think about Walmart. They sell pretty much everything. But they don’t appeal to everyone. You typically won’t see the same people shopping at Walmart as you see at Target. Walmart appeals to bargain hunters. If they tried marketing to Target shoppers, they would be less successful because they’re targeting the wrong type of person for their brand.
Most ecommerce stores are nowhere near Walmart’s size. So it’s a good idea to niche down further. If you’re not sure exactly who your target audience is, read this.
Once you know exactly who your target audience is, you can create content that’s relevant to them. This means content they’re interested in, setup in a format they prefer – whether that’s videos, blog posts, podcasts, how to articles, etc.
3. Understand the Customer Journey
If you understand your customer’s purchase journey, you can create content that helps urge them along that journey. Find out where they’re coming from, what their questions are and why they purchase products like yours.
Then answer their questions, show them you understand their needs and assure them that your product meets those needs. Hold their hand through each step.
If you’re not sure what their purchase journey is, ask your customer service reps what the most common questions about your products are. Or ask your customers directly. You can send out surveys to people who have ordered from your store, or offer them a gift card or store credit if they’ll answer a few questions for you.
4. Create a Content Calendar
Start out by thinking about how can you tie your content in with major holidays, seasonal changes and even ridiculous holidays like National Pickle Day (November 14th). Jot down days that might be important to your customers and any ideas you have that can tie your products in with those events.
Another option is to produce specific content types on specific days. So you could publish an interview every Monday, a how to article every Wednesday and a video every Saturday.
Make sure to map out your plans. Decide who will create the content, when it should be started and finished, and where it will be shared. Scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can automate the sharing part.
5. Be SEO Conscious
It’s a good idea to focus on one keyword or phrase with each piece of content you produce. That makes it easier to stay on topic, it’s easier for the reader or viewer to understand, and it’s easier for search engines to figure out what terms you should rank for.
If you know nothing about SEO, just try to get your keyword into your page title and the first paragraph of text. But don’t sound like a robot. Keep it human.
If you want to take your SEO game further, this guide will blow your mind. Or just make you better at SEO. Or both!
6. Choose the Best Content Types for Your Audience
Different customers like different types of content. Figure out what types your audience likes and then give them what they want. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a big old fat list of ideas for you.
Listicles – These are super easy to create, and readers love them because they’re scannable. They’re especially easy if you add lots of images and gifs a la Buzzfeed.
Examples: 257 Reasons You Need a Cactus-Shaped Spatula This Christmas, 592 Gifts for Girls Who Love Breakfast
How to articles – Tell your customers how to use your products. Find unconventional ways to use your products and share them.
Examples: How to Make the Perfect Pancake, How You Can Use a Cactus-Shaped Spatula to Deter Spiders
Quizzes – If you’re really fancy, you can setup quizzes that require customers to share their email to get their results. Then send them deals on items related to their results!
Examples: Which Breakfast Food Describes Your Personality?, What Kitchen Gadget Are You?
Curated content – This one’s a time saver since you don’t have to actually create the content. Just copy the content, write up an intro and maybe a conclusion, and bam! You’re done. Always make sure to credit the creator though! And make sure you’re not violating copyright laws (duh).
Examples: 127 Ways People Are Using Their Cactus-Shaped Spatulas, Top 25 Most Delicious Pancake Recipes
Guides – Write up an in-depth guide on how to use your product or how it works. Even if you’re product is something simple, you can still write a guide on it.
Examples: The Complete Guide to Making the Perfect Pancake, The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Spatulas Last Longer
Interviews – You can interview anyone. Your customers, your employees, other business owners, your cat. You can even email the questions so you’ll get typed responses back. Then copy, paste, write an intro, and grab a drink because you’re already done. (Disclaimer: This method doesn’t work so well with cats).
Examples: Success Story: How Spatula Emporium Is Making Breakfast Fun Again, 38 Questions With the Woman Who Invented Pancakes
Case Studies – Show how somebody used your product to do something awesome. Or how your product improved their business, relationships, health, etc.
Examples: How a Simple Spatula Saved an Entire Town, Local Mom Builds Breakfast Empire: How She Went from Humble Homemaker to Pancake Pioneer
Gift Guides – Pick a holiday and/or a type of person and come up with a list of gifts. Obviously, make sure to include your products.
Examples: 291 Gifts for Government Employees Who Love Breakfast, The Ultimate Guide to Waffle Day Gifts for Your Boo
Videos & Photo Essays – Show your products in action. Demonstrate how people use your products or how you make them.
Examples: 30 Seconds to a Better Breakfast, Behind the Scenes Photo Tour of a Breakfast Empire
Reviews – Write up a comparison of your product and other similar products. Show off all the things that make your product better.
Examples: 72 Reasons Why Our Spatulas Are Better Than KitchenAid’s Spatulas, The Best Silicon Spatula: Top Spatula Reviews for 2018
7. Create More Content Faster
Creating all this content can take a ton of time. And we all know small business owners are already strapped for time. So how do you generate a large amount of high-quality content in the least amount of time? Here are a few tips to speed things up:
Voice Record – Most people can speak faster than they can type. Plus, you can dictate blog posts while driving, exercising, or petting your cat. Once you get everything recorded, you can use a tool like Rev to get it transcribed into text. Then edit and you’re done.
Batch Content Creation – Try creating a bunch of the same types of content all at once. So instead of trying to make a video, edit photos and write a case study today, just make a bunch of videos. Then edit a bunch of photos tomorrow. And write your case studies the next day. You save time by not jumping from project to project.
Create an Outline – Pick a few of the content types from the list above and write up a general outline for each one. Then when you’re ready to write the content, you’ll just be filling in the gaps.
Outsource It – There are tons of people who do content creation for a living. So if you’re struggling to get it done, hire someone else to do it. It you’ve already got your outlines created, it will be even easier to have someone else fill them out. Just remember, you get what you pay for. High quality content isn’t cheap.
Remember, your business is about your customers. Find out what they want and how they want it. Then give it to them.
Content marketing won’t increase your sales overnight. But if you keep at it, your search engine ranking will improve and customers will see you as an authority in your industry. It takes work, but it will put you miles ahead of your competitors.