Tips on Content Marketing for eCommerce
However, content marketing can be difficult to execute if you don’t know what you are doing. This is especially true in the eCommerce sphere. You can’t just produce lack-luster content and expect to see results. Use these nine simple tips to help boost your content marketing today
Create Buyer Personas
One simple way to increase your content marketing is first to understand your customers better. A great way that you can do this is through creating buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of your specific target customers. If you don’t have a deep understanding of who they are and what they want, how are you supposed to tailor your message and make them interested in your content?
There’s a pretty good chance, by now, that you already have an idea of who your target customers are. But just having an idea isn’t enough. You need to know everything about them — their age, their location, their income, their needs — everything. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent accurate for every single person who buys from you, but it should represent your ideal customer.
In order to create your buyer personas, first you need to identify your target customer groups. You might have two, you might have five, you might have 20, or you might just have one. Maybe you sell men’s and women’s clothing — one target customer group would be centered around men and one would be centered around women. If you do have many target customer groups, don’t think you have to create a detailed persona for each of them. Start with your top three and then add as you go along.
Once you have your customer groups identified, start researching about those groups in order to get more details for your personas. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself about your ideal customers:
- What are the customers’ ages?
- Where do the customers live? In urban areas, rural areas?
- What are the customers’ relationship statuses?
- Who do the customers live with?
- What are the customers’ genders?
- What education levels do the customers have?
- Which schools did they attend?
- What did they study in school?
- What types of jobs do the customers have?
- What are the customers’ annual household incomes?
- Do the customers have children?
- What are the customers’ job titles?
- Do the customers own homes or do they rent?
- What does a typical day look like for the customers?
- How much time do the customers spend at work vs. home?
- What types of vehicles do they drive?
- What do they do for fun?
- What types of mobile devices do they own?
- How tech-savvy are your customers?
- How do they spend their days?
- What are the customers’ biggest fears?
- What are the customers’ goals?
- How do the customers prefer to communicate?
- Which social media platforms are the customers on?
These are just sample questions — a great place for you to get started, but some questions will be more specific to your industry and your company.
There are other ways that you can gather data on your customers as well. If you have the money to do so, you can always conduct a focus group to get more information. You could also send out questionnaires or surveys to your customer base. Mine your social media analytics to see more about the customers who are already interacting with you.
After you gather all of your information, you need to put your personas together. You can always create your own file and your own structure to the personas. That is up to you. Or you can use a standard template to help you out. You can find a persona template from Hubspot here, or another one from the Buyer Personas Institute here.
Reverse Engineer Your Competitors
Reverse engineering is the process of using various tools and services to analyze, or spy, on your competition to see their content and figure out where their backlinks are coming from. This is a great way for you to get a better understanding of not only your direct competitors but also the industry and market.
There are several ways that you can reverse engineer your competition. There are tools out there, like SEMRush, that can also help you out here. The absolute first thing that you want to do is identify your competition. This really shouldn’t be too hard — you should have an idea of your competition. But don’t just include your direct competition. Also look into brands that are ranking in the positions that you would like to. Create a list of 10-25 keywords that you would like to rank #1 for. Then you can use a tool, or just Google it yourself, and find out who is currently ranking in those spots.
After you have identified your competition, you need to look into their content and copywriting to compare it with yours. Check to see if they are blogging — if so, how often, on what topics, how long are their posts — and take notes on what they are doing. You can also check out their landing pages. How are they structured? What type of content is on them? What type of media is used? The more information you can gather in this process, the more ideas you can take back to your own site to see how you can improve it.
Decide on Content
One easy tip to help improve your content marketing is to clearly define what type of content you want to develop. One thing that you want to keep in mind is that your content marketing isn’t about the content at all. It doesn’t matter if you are producing content if it doesn’t connect with your target audience. What’s the point? You want to make sure that the content you are developing helps to solve your customers’ problems.
Take the buyer personas you created and information you gathered through your reverse engineering and see what type of content is going to work best for your audience. There are many different types of content that you can create, such as:
Case Studies: Performing case studies is a great way to increase your brand awareness which also showcases benefits of your product or service. You could produce a case study on many different scenarios, as long as it is proving the success of your company.
Buyer Guides: A buyer’s guide is a popular type of content that can not only help increase your organic search ranking but also help persuade readers to make a purchase decision. These should be very well-written, around 10-15 pages, and should include useful points that will help support your brand’s call to action.
Product Comparisons: Product comparisons are pretty easy to create and can be very popular with readers. People love to compare and contrast different options, as long as the facts are presented for and against. You don’t even have to take a side. You can remain impartial as long as you present arguments for each.
Infographics: Some will tell you that infographics have been beaten into the ground, but if you do them right, they can still provide value to your content marketing strategy. Visual content is a much better way to appeal to a larger audience than just plain text. If you can promote your infographic to the right influencers, you can acquire a good number of new links.
Podcasts: Podcasts can be a great way to reach an audience you might not have otherwise been able to target. You might think that podcasts require too much work for them to be beneficial to your company. But podcasts don’t have to be extensive or lengthy. They can be 10 to 15 minutes. As long as you are sharing relevant and useful information, it doesn’t have to be an hour.
Customer Reviews: Customer reviews can provide an authentic voice to potential customers and help persuade them to buy from you. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be a bit out of your control. One way that you can help control the process is to ask your customers for reviews and testimonials. Most of your happy customers will gladly write you a review.
Create a Calendar
Once you’ve decided on what type of content you want to create, you need to create a calendar to keep everything organized. An editorial calendar is a great way to help you plan out what content you are producing and when and where it is going. It can be a tool to help you better allocate your time and resources.
You don’t want to just fly by the seat of your pants, here. You need an in-place strategy to help you get the most of your content marketing. As you start producing content and have a better understanding of what your target audience is looking for, you can adjust your calendar (and strategy) accordingly.
Here are a few things that you might want to include on your content calendar:
- Title of content
- Brief description of the content
- Your buyer persona
- Keyword(s) you are targeting
- The topic or category of the piece
- The content type
- The author of the piece
- The due date
- Where you want to publish it
- When it is going to be published
- Any promotional information
Use Images and Video
Another way to boost your content marketing efforts is to use images and videos in your strategy. Studies show that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than just plain text. Visual content also receives more engagement — tweets that include images receive 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets than tweets without images.
Luckily, in the eCommerce space images shouldn’t be that hard to come by. Your whole business is centered around products. Take pictures of them and use them in your content. Your content should be filled with pictures of the products you sell. But be creative with them. Don’t just take a picture of a pair of shoes and throw it in your blog post. Be creative and show them being used.
You can also work on incorporating video into your content marketing strategy. Video is becoming increasingly popular in today’s market — 55 percent of people report that they watch videos online daily. Also, studies report that video will make up 75 percent of all mobile traffic by 2020.
Luckily for you, video content marketing hasn’t really become the norm, and it definitely hasn’t caught up with the demand for it. This means that if you can add video to your content marketing strategy, you could be boosted way ahead of your competition and greatly increase your sales. It’s reported that a video can help to persuade 73 percent of consumers to buy from you.
Yet, these videos don’t have to be a huge production. You could simply add a product demonstration video to your product pages to give your customers more information. If you have how-to guides or definitive guides of something, you could turn those into a video to help complement the content you already have. This can be a great way to hook people in and once they learn more about your product, hopefully, they will become cutomers.
Promote Your Content
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Build it and they will come.” But that’s not the case with content marketing. There are over three million posts published on the internet every single day. How are people supposed to find your content in the midst of all that noise? Hint: they won’t.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you are getting your content out there for your audience to find. You can promote your content three ways
- You can promote it to your own audience, or owned media.
- You can promote it to someone else’s audience, or earned media.
- You can promote it by paying for clicks or reach, or paid media.
Your owned media consists of your audience from your blog, from your social media accounts, from your email list, etc. You want to make sure, each time you post a piece of content, that people who have already expressed interest in you hear about it.
Earned media refers to people who might be interested in your content. You can find these people by identifying your industry’s influencers. Make a list of these influencers that you want to target and start by reaching out to them. Start with something simple — following them on Twitter, sharing their content, commenting on their content, etc. Eventually, you can share your content with them and see if they will share it with their audience.
You can also promote your content through paid media. This can include social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn — as well as retargeting ads, display ads and more. The goal with paid media is to make sure you create an ad that will resonate with your target audience while not paying a fortune.
Identify Influencers to Target
As we previously mentioned, a great way to promote your content is through earned media — or your industry’s influencers. Influencers are a great way to get your content out there a lot faster and to a bigger audience. However, how do you figure out who are the influencers that you want to target? Here are a few components that you want your influencers to have:
- A solid blog with an engaged audience,
- An engaged social media presence with a good number of followers,
- A niche that is not in competition with you, but still has a shared and similar audience.
With those characteristics in mind, it’s time to start finding your influencers. The first thing that you want to do is start researching bloggers in your niche. You can do this with a simple Google search. Once you find this information, create a list of these bloggers and see which ones have the most influence with their followers. You also want to look into what type of content they publish on their blog, and their social presence — like the number of retweets, shares, etc.
After you have created a list of the influencers that you want to target, start working on developing a relationship with them. This isn’t something that is going to happen overnight in every situation, but the long-term goal should be to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with these thought leaders in your space.
You can start by following their blogs, following them on social media, tweeting at them, commenting on their content, etc. You can then start interacting with them and their audience, and, eventually, you can promote your own content to them when possible.
Google has repeatedly said that backlinks are one of the top three factors in Google’s search algorithm. However, these links are not just handed out. They can be difficult to earn, but they are necessary if you want a good ranking.
However, you don’t just want any links — you want high-quality backlinks. When it comes to backlinks, you want to make sure that you are going after links that are from quality sites.
When you are trying to win backlinks, it is important to understand what type of content will perform best. There are some types of content that have been proven to get you more backlinks and social shares.
Authority Guides – You want to make sure that you portray yourself as an authority on information that is relevant to your industry. This could be a “Definitive Guide to __” or the “Ultimate Guide for Amazon Domination.” These guides should be in-depth — around 5,000 to 20,000 words. This might take some time to create, but it will be worth it in the end.
Lists – People absolutely love lists, probably because they are easy to read and tend to be more fun than a long guide. This makes them extremely shareable. Lists could be on anything — from “8 Common SEO Mistakes” to “17 Things to Keep in Your Car.” This is where knowing your audience will come in handy — when trying to decide on what type of lists to create that will resonate the most with your readers.
Awards – Who doesn’t love a good award? You can create an award post that has different categories and different awards so that you can include as many different influencers as possible. You could also include some type of image or graphic that your influencers can use on their website.
Comparisons – Side by side comparisons can be a great way to capture the attention of your readers. People love articles that compare and contrast different items like Mac vs. PC, Nike vs. Adidas, or iPhone vs. Android.
Infographics – As we’ve already stated, visual content is a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Infographics are extremely shareable types of content that tend to get a lot of engagement and traffic. However, you want to make sure that you aren’t just cramming them full of information. Set up a single fact and support it with relevant information. Make it fun, informational, and easy to read.
Experts Round Up – Round up some of the top experts in your field and ask them their opinions on a certain topic and let them create the content for you. People love information from “experts,” and “experts” love getting attention. Not only is this type of content very shareable, these experts that you have rounded up will probably also share it once it’s published, which helps get your content in front of more people.
Guest Post Regularly
Some SEO-ers out there will tell you that guest posting is no longer an effective way to promote your brand. However, I would disagree. Guest posting is still a great way to bring in high-quality links and referral traffic, and get your brand out in front of a different or bigger audience. It can also help you build yourself up as a thought leader in your niche.
However, you can’t go into the process of guest posting just focusing on building links. While you do want to build links, you have to go into it with the thought of reaching out to your target audience. It’s all about giving them the best content.
Start by identifying the top blogs in your industry and figure out how you can get in touch with them. Start by building relationships with these publications — make sure you read their content and understand what type of content they publish — and then create content to pitch to them. Make sure you add this to your content calendar and try to have a plan to publish a certain number of guest posts every month or so. How many posts you do is up to you.
Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. Ronald holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.