Content marketing isn’t the first strategy that most eCommerce marketers turn to when trying to drive traffic to their stores. Google Shopping and social media ads usually take precedence.
That doesn’t mean paid ads are the best use of your marketing budget, though. If you want to continue driving traffic and sales long after the initial investment, content marketing should be your focus.
Here’s how to make sure you invest time and energy wisely into eCommerce content marketing to reap its benefits.
Think Carefully About SEO
eCommerce content marketing is as much about engaging Google as it is about engaging consumers, says Nimble Media’s David Tile. “You want it to read well so customers are more likely to complete and even share it, but you want to make sure that you have optimized it properly for SEO purposes so that it is more likely to appear in Google searches.”
Everything you create in your content marketing campaigns should be optimized for SEO, advises content marketer Elise Dopson. That’s because search engines are the leading source of traffic for eCommerce stores. Further, optimization is the only way to get to the top of Google.
Choosing the right keywords is critical, Dopson continues. For product pages, you’ll want to select shorter, higher volume, more competitive keywords. For all other content, longer-tail keywords are best. These are longer keyword phrases that have less volume and less commercial intent but are easier to rank for. “Mens t-shirts” would be a short, competitive keyword, for instance. “Best men’s t-shirts for the gym” would be a long-tail keyword.
Once you’ve chosen the right keywords, you’ll need to add them in the right places, Dopson says. This includes the URL of the page, the meta data and page description, heading tags, and the alt text of any images used in the content.
Content marketer Chintan Zalani points out that by focusing on carefully selected keywords, Nat Eliason was able to grow his tea blog to 150,000 monthly visitors. He was then able to transition the blog into a tea-focused eCommerce store. High-performing blog posts later inspired specific products. For instance, a post on the best tea for an upset stomach led to the creation of the Happy Tummy Tea blend.
Center Content Around Pain Points
Create specific and focused content that discusses the particular problems your customers are having, writes Styla’s Olga Rabo. “So, for instance, instead of a general topic like ‘How to decorate a bedroom’, you can come up with something specific like ‘A DIY guide to decorating a bedroom on the cheap’.” Do this for every type of customer you have. On that same blog, for example, another post could be “How to decorate your child’s bedroom for less” if you are targeting parents, too.
“Each piece of content must solve a need for your target audience, whether that need is informational, navigational, or transactional in nature,” says content marketer Miranda Miller. One way to do so is to map content to the customer journey. This shouldn’t just be done for new content, but also your existing content, Miller adds. Doing so can pinpoint content that needs updating while also uncovering content gaps that can be filled with new blog posts.
Overtly promotional content is rarely the best kind, adds Kindred Marketing’s Tina Mulqueen. The best content understands and addresses consumer pain points. Mulqueen points to ban.do as an eCommerce brand that excels at addressing consumer problems. The brand’s online store features a Feel Better hub, which provides information and support on mental health and includes personal stories from the co-founder.
Diversify Your Content
You don’t want to rely on one single type of content, warns content marketer Levi Olmstead. Content marketing can include more than just blog posts. In fact, by diversifying the types of content that you create, you’ll actually increase the potential number of people whom you can reach. Not everyone wants to read long-form blog posts, after all.
An example of a company using this strategy successfully is YETI, as Elumynt’s William Harris points out. The cooler company has pivoted away from traditional blog posts and toward in-depth, feature-rich stories that perfectly capture its audiences’ interests. In doing so, the company creates the type of content that people actively seek out. It’s not a case of pushing products; it’s a case of giving consumers what they want.
Interactive content can be used to bridge the gap between in-store and online experiences, says Manish Dudharejia, President and Co-Founder of E2M Solutions. Sephora does this well, notes Dudharejia. With the Sephora Virtual Artist app, customers can virtually apply makeup to see what works and what doesn’t.
You don’t have to invest in creating an app to create interactive content, however. “The never-ending love of personality quizzes, the usefulness of web apps and calculators, and the cool engagement with 3D videos are options for nearly any eCommerce brand with an appropriately creative marketing approach,” Dudharejia writes.
This kind of content doesn’t have to be used on your company’s blog, either, points out software marketer Sujan Patel. Take SKLZ, for instance. The sports-focused eCommerce brand added videos to its product pages to give consumers a better idea of how products can be used. “Videos breathe life into products and allow customers to fill in experience gaps during the online shopping process,” Patel says.
Lean On Customers for Help
Some of the most successful examples of eCommerce content marketing aren’t created by brands. They are created by customers, instead. User-generated content is a great way for eCommerce brands to grow their content marketing efforts for free while building trust and increasing engagement.
User-generated content can be much more effective than content you create yourself, notes content marketer Megan Marrs. That’s because people trust what other customers say about a product or brand far more than they trust brands to talk about themselves.
Sleeknote’s Emil Kristensen believes that a big part of GoPro’s success can be put down to its emphasis on user-generated content. “The brand uploads videos of its customers’ adventures and exploits, which are shot with their own video cameras. They have also partnered with talented content creators and sports enthusiasts to create video content that stands out.” With regularity, these videos go viral. In doing so, they promote the GoPro brand to millions of people for free.
Creating a dedicated review page is another great way to incorporate user-generated content while targeting key search terms, writes Foundation Digital’s Loren Baker. Baker notes that the number of people searching Google for review-related phrases has increased by 80% in the last three years.
That’s where a dedicated review page comes in, Baker says. “It takes all of your review content – both product and brand reviews, and aggregates them on one single, consolidated page.” That page also gives your brand a way to champion your customers. Including customer pictures in reviews can strengthen brand loyalty and also encourage further reviews.
Spend Time Getting the Word Out
It’s no good creating high-quality content if no one reads it. That’s why Cloudways’ Sajjad Shahid advises eCommerce brands to spend the majority of their time promoting and distributing their content. Of course, how you promote your content depends on the industry you’re in and the product you are selling.
There are three key distribution channels, says content marketer Diana Nadim:
- Owned media, which includes your website, social media pages and email.
- Earned media, where other publications share or link to your content.
- Paid media, where you pay to promote your content on search engines or social media.
If you’re looking for focus, Bestow’s Matthew Gratt believes earned media should be your focus. “Anything a brand or marketer says is immediately suspect, but trusted third parties are just that – trusted third parties. This makes amplifying an earned media win dramatically more valuable than a comparable amplification of owned media or straight paid media.”
Start by reaching out to industry influencers on Twitter and other social media platforms. Emailing reporters can also be effective if your content is newsworthy. So, too, can outreach to handpicked industry publications. You can leverage your owned audience, as well. The more you can get your customers to talk about and share your content, the more likely other people will be to pick up on it.
Once you’ve generated earned media shares, use your own media and paid media to push these mentions to gain even more traffic.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit
Blogging is a continuous process, says Express Writers’ Julia McCoy. You can’t expect immediate returns. It takes time for content to get visits, climb Google’s rankings and generate sales. That being said, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get in return.