Ecommerce Content Marketing – A Beginners Guide for 2020

Conversions are the lifeblood of a successful online store. Period.

Otherwise, you're just another digital store owner pursuing a hobby rather than a business.

Cue, ecommerce content marketing strategy.

Digital stores that publish compelling content boast an average conversion rate of 2.9%. Whereas, websites that don’t, only achieve a crummy 0.5% in comparison.

Which category do you want to fall into?

Let’s dive into content marketing in more detail.

Why Ecommerce Content Marketing?

In the words of Seth Godin:

“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.”- Seth Godin

The man speaks sense!

You’ve heard it before- content is king. There's a reason people are screaming it from the rooftops, it's true. So, start taking action!

You can engage with potential customers in a way that boosts trust and develops a sense of brand loyalty. When done correctly, this is powerful stuff.

What is a Content Strategy for Ecommerce?

To help you understand how significant content marketing is for your e-commerce site, let’s take a closer look at what it is, and how it works.

The unfortunate truth is that despite positive references to content from countless market leaders like Seth Godin, many business leaders still ignore the benefits of content creation. Entrepreneurs with their own ecommerce brands assume that the most important thing they can do to generate sales is advertise through paid marketing and produce the right products.

However, what these ecmmerce companies don’t realize, is that content marketing is the catalyst that supports every other marketing activity that you do. With the right content, ecommerce companies can strengthen their brand image, increase traffic, and improve their chances of conversions, all in one step.

So, what is content marketing?

Content marketing is the art of creating various formats of content, like tutorial videos, written articles, infographics, and podcasts. You share that content with a targeted audience with the goal of generating as many leads and opportunities as possible.

How to Find Inspiration for Ecommerce Content Marketing

Developing a content strategy for ecommerce means figuring out how to connect with your audience and elevate your brand through the right articles, videos, and more. The biggest challenge for most business leaders is figuring out what their content should be about.

The first thing you need to know is that while written text is usually the most popular form of content marketing for beginners – it’s not the only option. Aside from blogs and articles, companies can invest in press releases, whitepapers, case studies and eBooks. You can also consider:

  • Video marketing, such as live videos, Q&As or how-to content
  • Infographics and informative images – great for social media
  • Podcasts and audio bites – ideal for audience members on the move

The kind of content that you produce will depend on your target audience, and how they consume information or entertainment online. If you need some help dealing with the initial brainstorming moments, try the following techniques.

Speak to Your Audience

The easiest way to make sure that you’re producing the right content (beyond your product pages), is to speak to your target audience. Ask your customers about the kind of challenges they face each day, or just listen to their conversations on social media. You can even run polls and quizzes to learn a little more about the buying journey for your clients.

Check out the competition

Your competition is another excellent source of information for ecommerce marketing. Find out what kind of content they’re producing for your target audience and use it to inspire your own publications. Remember, don’t just reword the same articles as other brands. Add new insights, information, and helpful insights to the mix too.

Consider your own experiences

You probably didn’t go into business without learning a bit about the industry you’re in. Often, the best companies emerge because the CEO had a problem that he or she wanted to fix. Before you start investing in your ecommerce marketing, look at the mission and purpose behind your ecommerce store. You’ll need to build brand awareness that presents your venture as the perfect solution to a specific problem.

What to Do Before You Start Creating

To develop a solid content strategy for ecommerce, you’ll need to think about accessing multiple different kinds of content. This includes a mixture of videos, written blog posts, audio, eBooks, and other excellent sources of entertainment and education.

To begin putting your plan into motion, ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your content marketing. In the long-term, you want to drive conversions. However, initially, your main focus might be on building traffic and thought leadership.

Your content marketing process needs to move your audience through every stage of the funnel. This starts with developing brand awareness through guest blogs and LinkedIn posts. Then, once your customer knows about your company, you can move onto more advanced content options.

Before you begin creating:

Identify your Target Audience:

This might sound strange, but you’d be surprised how many companies in the ecommerce landscape jump into action without actually knowing their target audience. They have a general idea of the kind of customer that they’re speaking to – but that’s it.

Unfortunately, most of the time, this isn’t enough. Business leaders need a crystal-clear understanding of their target audience before they start the creative process. This means learning everything you can about age, gender, dislikes, likes, habits, and more.

Identifying the target market for your startup will guide you through everything you need to do to make your content a success. Try creating a handy user persona that you can use whenever you need to create a new content marketing message.

Find the Right Platforms

Once you know what your target audience looks like, you can begin to think about where you’re going to connect with them. Content marketing is all about connecting with your audience through various touchpoints in the buying journey.

For instance, social media is an excellent way to distribute content. This tells you more about your target audience too, because you can pay attention to the conversations that people have about your industry and brand. Many social media solutions also come with their own analytics tools.

Remember that social media isn’t your only option though. When you know what type of content you’re creating, you can look into things like posting on forums or online communities like Reddit. You might product guest blogs that you share with another e-Commerce website in your industry to develop your brand’s image. Or you might look into getting some of your good content published on a news curation site.

Have a plan for Distribution

Below, we’re going to discuss some of the things you can do to create engaging content and share it with your customers on a massive scale. However, before you begin looking at content marketing examples, it pays to have a good idea of how you’re going to manage the distribution process.

Remember that some of the most successful ecommerce business owners will share articles and other pieces of content on multiple platforms at once. This could mean publishing on a website, sharing through email marketing, and showcasing links on social media too.

Although the process of creating content is essential, it’s also crucial to ensure that you’re delivering it to the people who need it in the right way too. If you’re worried about distribution, it may be worth having a professional from your marketing team ready to distribute and share in the right places whenever a new piece of content is available.

Some ecommerce companies build entire content marketing teams, where each individual is responsible for a different part of creating and promoting a piece of content.

Let’s Get The Ball Rolling

To kickstart your content ecommerce content marketing campaign, there are a few pieces of advice you should note ( if you want to see results).

1. Avoid Distraction

All too commonly, entrepreneurs fall into the trap of becoming a jack of all trades. There’s no way you can master every social media platform and every kind of content.

To get started, pick a method you're comfortable with and stick with it. It's the only way to avoid distraction. Staying focused is imperative if you want to see conversions.

💡 Top Tip: try asking yourself; how do I envision communicating the benefits of my product? What kind of content does my market enjoy?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you have something to work with.

However, if you don’t know where to begin, you can't go wrong with email marketing, especially if you already have an email list.

As many as 74% of successful B2C marketers utilize this method. It's a fantastic way of providing value to customers- so, get on the bandwagon!

Email Marketing 101: A Few Things You Should Know

Automation is key. Did you know services like MailChimp and Aweber allow you to send automated emails? You can schedule:

  • Welcome emails,
  • Newsletters,
  • Promotional emails,

You name it!

The primary aim of your copy should be actionable content- your subscribers will LOVE this! Always lead from a place of service.

Obviously, customer retention is key to a successful online store; repeat customers are way more profitable than one-off purchasers.

This is where email marketing comes into its own. You're continuing to build a relationship with prospects which increases the likelihood of them returning to your shop.

Don't have an email list to kickstart your ecommerce content marketing plan?

That isn't a problem- start building one.

Insert a field for customers to enter their email address as they check out. Don’t forget to put a checkbox that gives you permission to email them in the future.

You could also create a lead magnet that encourages prospects to opt into your mailing list. For example, give away a free e-book, a cheat sheet, webinar training, etc. in exchange for their name and email address.

Then, start sending emails to customers who've abandoned their cart. Send a gentle reminder of their near-purchase. Sometimes people forget, and this triggers them to return to your store and seal the deal!

You could also send product recommendations based on their previous purchases. You've probably seen on Amazon the ‘customers who bought this item also bought this’ section. Replicate this in your recommendation emails.

amazon for ecommerce content marketing

2. Get Blogging

Blogging is terrific for getting up and running straight away.

Blogging and email marketing virtually go hand in hand. Like we've already said, you need something of value to message your subscribers- and what could be better than an informative article?

💡 Top Tip: insert license-free imagery into your written content to increase engagement. Unsplash and Pexels are a couple of the best databases for these kinds of photos.

Or, perhaps videos are more your thing? Never fear, embed clips you’ve already published on YouTube to build your blog (more on video marketing later).

Need inspiration for your next blog post? Check out these ideas to help get the ball rolling:

Product hacks: how can you use your products in an inventive way? Putting an innovative twist on something ordinary is a fabulous way of engaging with your following.

Interview people your audience look up to. Who do your customers admire? Look for aspects of the interviewee's story your customers will resonate with. People love this!

Checklists: Create a list that helps people use your products, or provides them with info they’re interested in.

For example, if you're selling beauty products compile a checklist helping women to master the art of contouring. Or, if you're marketing golfing accessories create a list advising golfers on how to perfect their swing.

These are punchy pieces of content, that provide value, and demonstrate you understand what your audience want and need, people, appreciate that!

Share your story. This is key to building rapport with readers. Do you have a tale to tell about why you created your company?

People love to get a sneak peek of the person behind the brand. Show you’re human by relating to the same issues your audience are dealing with. Transparency is critical for building trust.

‘How to’ posts. This style of article works like a charm. Use these to communicate your brand's story. Think about the lifestyle your customers aspire to and tell them how they can achieve that with your products.

Ann Handley says it best; ‘make your customers the her of your stories’. Put Ann’s advice into action, you’ll be thankful you did!

Don't Have the Time to Build Your Blog?

Reach out to guest bloggers.

If you don't have the writing chops to write your own blog (or don't have the time), source guest bloggers.
The majority of the pitches you receive will be pretty awful. However, the good ones will be worth their weight in gold.

Just create a page on your site labeled ‘Want to write for us?’ and include any specifications you require as well as instructions on how writers can pitch an idea.

💡 Top Tip: if you’re on a tight budget and can’t pay your writers, let them know what’s in it for them. Explain how much traffic you generate, and give them a byline under their work. This sometimes helps sweeten the deal.

3. Content Writing Tips

Be yourself. Write in an informal, conversational tone.

Content writing for the web isn’t a High school essay. If you're struggling, imagine you’re talking with a friend. What would you say to them? Use the answer to this question to inspire your copy.

Tip No. 2: Write when you feel most creative. We all work slightly differently to one another, and that's okay. Create time in your schedule to sit down to write when you’ll have the energy for it.

4. What About SEO?

When crafting a blog post, bear SEO in mind.

Optimizing written content on your store is both an easy and affordable way of making search engines work for you.

Over time, you’ll eventually rank organically for search terms your customers type into Google. However, you’ll need to do a few things to make this happen:

Keyword Research

This is essential.

Use Google Keyword Planner on Google Adwords (which is completely free by the way) to get a feel for what your ideal customers are searching for.

Ideally, you're looking for a keyword with a high search volume that isn’t too competitive to rank for.

keyword planner for ecommerce content marketing

Your Content Should Always Sound Natural

Write for humans, not for robots.

Yes, SEO's important- but not to the detriment of your copy.

Once you've selected a keyword, incorporate it into your content in a way that complements the text.

There are certain places you should insert keywords to make the most of SEO:

  • The title and title tag
  • A subheading
  • The first sentence of your copy
  • Within the final paragraph of text
  • The meta description
  • Your images (the file name and alt tag)

If you’re using WordPress, download the Yoast SEO plugin, it'll tell you exactly what you need to do to improve your SEO- it's a lifesaver!

💡 Top Tip: NEVER ‘keyword stuff’ your work. i.e., deliberately over-using keywords in an attempt to boost your ranking. Search engines hate this, and you’ll be penalized for it.

yoast for ecommerce content marketing

5. Host a Contest

Contests are fantastic for engaging customers and attracting new prospects. It’s low cost, high-converting content- what could be better?!

First things first, establish an aim for your contest. Do you want to increase your email list, boost sales, grow your social media following, etc.?

Then, determine the kind of contest that'll help bring you closer to your goal. For example, if you want to boost your following on Twitter, ask participants to tweet something with a specific hashtag.

Then, all you need is a prize to giveaway, and you're ready to promote your contest!

6. Utilize Video

People are drawn to videos. Did you know as many as 45% of people watch over an hour of video on Facebook and YouTube every week? That's powerful stuff.

Whether you’re creating a video offering handy hints and tips to your customers, or showcasing the benefits of your products, videos rock!

However, it’s crucial you capture people's attention. Otherwise, your hard work will be to no avail. Your intro is key. Craft a compelling hook to entice viewers from the get-go.

Don’t be afraid to inject humor and personality into your scripts; people love being entertained as much as they enjoy learning actionable info.

💡 Top Tip: the same rules about keyword research and SEO optimization also apply to YouTube videos.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your YouTube rankings, organically:

  • Name the video file after your keyword
  • Include the keyword in the title
  • Mention your keyword a couple of times in your video script
  • Transcribe your video into the description
  • Insert your keyword and a couple of variations of it into the video tags

YouTube for ecommerce content marketing

7. Consider Interactive Content

What are your customers struggling with?

Write a long list of their pain points (FYI this is also a great exercise for generating new blog topics) Then, think about the form of interactive content that’ll help them solve their needs the best:

  • An app?
  • A quiz?
  • A Facebook group?

For example, if you're selling women's clothes. You may launch a quiz that tells participants the style of dress that’ll best compliment their body shape.

You get the idea!

This is an entertaining and effective way for your audience to connect with your brand.

quiz for ecommerce content marketing

8. Publish an FAQ's Page

An FAQ page is a fantastic resource for potential customers; they’re super handy for gently overcoming any objections your buyers have.

If you’re receiving emails asking the same questions day in and day out, note them down and add them to your FAQ’s page.

Here are a few typical questions you could publish answers to, to help get things going:

  • What locations do you deliver to?
  • How much is shipping?
  • When will I get my delivery?
  • Do you have a returns policy?
  • Do you offer a guarantee?

Answering typical questions like this builds trust with your customers- honesty is always the best policy, and prospects appreciate that!

9. Don't Be Afraid to Go Big

By this we mean, long-form ecommerce content marketing is your friend.

Like we’ve already said, people want valuable information- so give it to them. Try to aim for around 1,000 words, and ensure you go into detail.

Search engines also love extended content. It suggests you've taken the time to write something of quality. Google’s starting to prioritize user experience above anything, and in-depth blogging is an excellent way of achieving that.

10. Publish Customer Testimonials

Glowing customer testimonials convert like crazy!

When you publish a good review, you're telling potential customers that other people (just like them) enjoy your products. You’re inspiring confidence in your target demographic without even writing anything!

💡 Top Tip: email customers and see whether anyone is willing to give their thoughts on your products. You could offer them a discount on their next purchase or a freebie as an incentive. Be on the lookout for unique stories, and always ask their permission before publishing.

testimonials for ecommerce content marketing

11. Use Infographics

Infographics are fantastic if you want to conquer Pinterest. This kind of ecommerce content marketing has a way of going viral. Always include the name of your store and logo, and make it easily shareable.

12. Keep it Real

If you’re selling products within an industry that uses complicated jargon, create a glossary that explains the terms. For example, in the digital marketing sphere, confusing phrases include:

  • SEO- search engine optimization
  • B2B- business to business
  • B2C- business to consumer
  • CTA- call to action

Just create a tab on your store listing the complex terms and define them. Newbies, love this!

 

glossary for ecommerce content marketing

13. Offer a White Paper

White papers, also known as ebooks, provide users with information about their industry. To create a high-quality white paper, you'll need to conduct a bit of research on:

  • Topics your competitors are writing about
  • Fresh trends in your industry
  • Questions your audience needs answers to

Don't see your ebook as a work of art; avoid flowery language and unnecessary waffle at all costs. If it isn’t useful to your customers, cut it. The simpler the prose, the more people will engage with your work.

White papers position you as an authority in the industry. When people think you know what you’re talking about, they’re way more likely to buy from you!

If you want to become the go-to store in your niche, you’ll need a white paper. As your brand increases in popularity, you’ll naturally accumulate tons of backlinks to your online store. Search engines love this!

Content strategists are always looking for reliable sources of information, and they usually give credit by linking back to your site- BOOM, a backlinking strategy is born completely free of charge!

14. Original Photos

A massive problem with selling products online is that your customers can’t interact with your products. Online retailers struggle to help their customers get a sense of their products, because there’s no way for them to touch the item or see it from different angles.

Original photos makes it easier for your clients to get a sense of what you’re offering. Depending on the quality of your camera and what your website can support, you can even create 360-degree images. The great thing about producing original photos is that you can use them on multiple channels.  You can post your images on your website and product pages, as well as social media.

Remember, the key to producing good original photos is making sure that they look authentic. Don’t create images that look overly processed or fake. Keep in mind that smiles often lead to better photography overall.

15. Video Content

We mentioned above that it’s important for your customers to see your products before they purchase anything. Images are a great start to offer a behind the scenes view. However, videos tell a more complete story.

Just look at the impact video content has on ecommerce and other business growth strategies. The more videos people watch about a product, the higher their chances of making a purchase. Videos work across multiple channels, so you can distribute them easily across product pages, blogs, email campaigns, and social media profiles.

90% of consumers say that video assists them in their purchasing decisions. 54% of consumers want to see more video content from the brands that they support, and landing page video increases conversions by up to 80%. Just adding the word “video” a subject line in your email campaign can strengthen your open rates and encourage more engagement.

16. Try an Online Course

If you’re looking for an amazing way to add more types of content to your sales funnel, then an online course is a great option. Online courses and webinars do a lot more than simple enhance your marketing efforts. These tools can also be a way to bring in extra revenue and showcase your thought leadership to the world.

The key to success with online courses, much like any effective content, is figuring out what your loyal customers want from you. Look at your inbound marketing efforts and find out which blogs generally get the most attention. Do these pieces of content ask specific questions or provide certain information? Can you build on what you’ve offered there and take your content to the next level?

The good news is that once you’ve found valuable content to build your course around, there are plenty of tools that can help you with making progress. Solutions like Kajabi, Udemy, Podia, and Lynda are all excellent options.

Some online teaching tools come with free trials, so you can get a feel for the kind of content that you can create before you jump in.

17. Create Product Buying Guides

Another amazing kind of content that has a huge impact on ecommerce content marketing is product buying guides. These are essential for the same reasons as blogs – they drive organic traffic to your website when people are looking for more information about certain products. The big difference between buying guides and blogging is that with a product buying guide, you’re educating clients about a specific product.

This means that you can target a lot of different kinds of customers with your product buying guides and drive amazing results by focusing on what customers really want to buy. Blog posts are generally top of funnel content because the consumer is still focused on the brand awareness stage. Alternatively, product buying guides are in the middle of the funnel.

Ensure that all of your product buying guides come with specific CTAs to drive conversions. Think about the kind of product you’re selling and the individual needs of the customer that you’re targeting. This will make it easier for you to connect with buyers by speaking their language. Don’t forget to track the results of your product buying guides to see which are the most effective.

18. Interactive Content

Adding ways to engage your customers on another level to your ecommerce content marketing plan is another great way to make your business stand out. Interactive content asks your clients to connect with your company in fun and exciting ways. For instance, you might have a wheel on your website that customers can spin for a chance to get a discount on their purchase.

These wheels are becoming increasingly popular in ecommerce, as they ask customers to submit their email in exchange for a chance to win. This means that you have a quick and easy way to get contact information so that you can nurture clients at a later stage.

You could also consider using quizzes on your website to help your customers find the perfect product. Interactive quizzes make customers feel confident about the item they’re purchasing. By answering a selection of questions designed to address the customer’s concerns and pain points, you show them that you have the best solution for their needs.

19. Test. Test. Test

Continually test your ecommerce content marketing strategies to see what works best for your audience. Never assume you're doing a good job until you have the data to back it up!

What’s your audience engaging with the most? What’s leading to conversions? Let the numbers guide your content strategy. You'll save a ton of time and make more money in the long run.

20. Create Curated Content

‘What’s curated content?’ I hear you cry.

Put simply; they’re round-up posts, and people go nuts for them! It’s where you gather content created by other people and put it together to form one knockout blog post.

However, you MUST give credit to whoever crafted the initial content- otherwise, you’ll fall into the pitfalls of plagiarism- not cool!

This method is partly what’s made BuzzFeed the powerhouse it is today.

Here are a few title suggestions that’ll hopefully inspire your first piece of curated content:

  • Top 10 Products to help you achieve X
  • Top 10 Quotes that’ll inspire you to X
  • Top 10 stats that prove X

21. Repurpose Evergreen Content

Specific topics are always relevant to your blog, so publish evergreen content you can repurpose, and give a new slant to at a later date. This saves so much time!

You can take this a step further by editing old content and giving it an entirely different function. For example, creating an ebook by compiling a series of old blog posts. Marketers do this all the time, and it works. So, add this to your ecommerce content marketing strategy!

22. Consider Paying for Content

Not everyone can afford this, but if you can, do it.

There are two things forms of paid content you can consider.

  1. Hire a professional content strategist
  2. Reach out to social media influencers

How Do I Find a Top-Notch Content Strategist?

Be prepared to pay decent money for the services of a professional writer. Yes, you can pay pennies- but don’t expect anything special.

If you're after top quality talent, post an ad on job boards like ProBlogger, or Indeed. Or, reach out to a creative marketing agency. They'll put you in contact with fabulous content producers that’ll give your campaign a competitive edge.

So, Who Are Social Media ‘Influencers’?

In short, they’re people who already have a large social media following.

Take to Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube and find a few influencers in your industry. Then, ping them an email.

There’s a good chance you’ll need to pay them to endorse your products. Their content should never come across as salesy. Ask if they’ll take a natural shot of them using your product. This usually converts well.

23. Make a Plan

Once you’ve got a clearer idea of your ecommerce content marketing strategy, make a plan.

This is where an editorial calendar comes into play.

Your calendar will become one of your most valuable resources. Plan all the topics you want to cover and mark where and when you want to publish them.

24. Promote Your Content

It’s not enough to create knock-out features; you need to promote them. Don’t ever leave it to chance your audience will accidentally stumble across your blogs or videos.

Instead, put it in front of them- it's the only way to get the best results.

Utilize social media. Post fresh ecommerce content marketing pieces on all your social media platforms, and if you have the funds, run a paid campaign to gain more traction.

Conclusion: Ecommerce Content Marketing is the Way Forward

As you can see, ecommerce content marketing is a fabulous way of driving traffic to your store and building the authority of your brand.

We've covered a lot of information in this guide, but don't let that put you off. You can refer back to this resource as you continue to develop and fine tune your ecommerce content marketing strategy.

Our best advice is to complete three or four of these action step, to begin with. Then, follow up with the rest of them when you're in the swing of things!

Featured image by Josie Adkins

Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to e-commerce platforms, you can find her published on Reader's Digest, G2, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.