They say “content marketing is the only marketing left” and “content is king.” And I get it. I really do. “Content” is the latest marketing buzzword that has penetrated every industry out there — E-Commerce is not an exception.
With more than 12 million online stores in existence, content marketing has quickly become the way to differentiate your business, stand out from the crowd and offer something unique to your customers. Plus, when content marketing generates 55% higher traffic to your website, as well as 97% more inbound links, why not do it?
However, the problem starts when it comes to building a solid content marketing roadmap. After all, as reported by Content Marketing Institute, only 32% of businesses have a documented content marketing strategy. So without further ado, here are the 6 steps to creating one.
You start with setting SMART goals
“The road to success is paved with mini-goals”, — if this expression isn’t widely used yet, it should be. According to The Content Marketing Institute, only 44% of B2B and 43% of B2C marketers can envision what content marketing success actually looks like. This can happen when no clear overall goal is set, and if the road to that goal was never truly defined.
Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. In content marketing, you should have a very clear understanding about what you want to achieve with content and how you’re going to do this. So here, for instance, is a very explicit goal that leaves no questions unanswered:
I want to increase sales in Accessories by 5% in the next quarter in order to establish my business as the best retailer in this department. I will achieve this by producing relevant content twice a week that will educate readers on how to accessorize this season. I share this content on my social media channels, and by distributing it via newsletters. I’ll monitor social shares from the content published, keep an eye on the click-through rate in the newsletters, and correlate it with the product click-through rates.
The goal here is to increase sales by 5%, the action plan is to create viral content and send newsletters, and the way to measure success is to set and monitor relevant KPIs and interpret them accordingly. Doesn’t get any clearer than that!
Then you define your content persona
Ah, personas — the must-have element for building a solid content strategy and yet oftentimes the most overlooked one. The aim of building a persona is getting to know your customers and understanding what they’re really interested in to tailor perfectly-suited content; as a result, retain the audience.
But who’s the content persona, I hear you ask? The content persona (which is almost the same as a buyer persona) is a representation of your ideal reader (or customer) based on research and real data. This means that there’s going to be some work to do:
- Conducting customer surveys (ask 7-10 questions that would give you an insight into your customer behavior and obstacles to purchasing)
- Doing phone & face-to-face interviews (talk to your customers to find out about their buying habits)
- Doing web & Exit surveys (e.g. using simple Qualaroo pop-ups)
Another easy way to understand who your readers are is to track those people who open your newsletters and click on the links inside. To do that, open your newsletter tool and go to your campaign reports and export the list of those people who clicked on your newsletters.
Now that you have a list of your top readers, identify exactly who they are, that’s, their gender, age (if possible), job title, industry, and the subject line of the email they clicked.
Hint: install the Chrome extension Rapportive and type their email addresses into Gmail. Works like magic!
There’re many ways to research your content persona, but the important thing to remember is that if you want to strategically target your content and maximize its effectiveness, you have to understand who your reader is. There’s no escape. Because after that, you’ll have to…
Proceed with identifying the type of content that resonates with your audience
Do you deal with hip millennials, like Boohoo? Then probably entertaining content full of gifs would work best for you. Or maybe your audience is sophisticated, fashionable women, like at Graziashop? Then maybe how-to articles that reveal all the stylish tricks and tips would be a better fit for your content strategy.
In a nutshell, there’re two content types (textual and visual), limited content forms, and an endless amount of topics that you can choose to cover.
Source: Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing by Styla
After that, you write killer content
“A word after a word after a word is power”, said Margaret Atwood, the famous Canadian novelist, and she had a point. Content marketing isn’t about writing any old content — it’s about producing relevant, creative and engaging pieces that actually get read. Everything matters here: a catchy title (a shocking FIY: 80% of people only read the headlines), a true, authentic writer’s voice, nice imagery, educational value, and even SEO.
The truth is, in the Google Kingdom, SEO is the local currency and you won’t be able to get by without it. However, don’t be obsessed about SEO too much, says Neil Patel: “Most of the CMSs of content marketing platforms […] have it all set up for you already — from the URL structure of the headings. You just really have to write great content”, he explains.
It won’t hurt, though, to at least research the targeted keyword and put a bit of SEO effort combined with basic website optimization to improve rankings and conversions. But remember: content you produce has to be P.E.A.C., says Nadya Khoja: Practical, Entertaining, Awe-Inspiring and Credible.
And once your content is P.E.A.C, spend 80% of your time distributing it
This is the good old Pareto principle turned upside down: 20% of your time should go on content production while the rest of your efforts should be directed at distributing it through the right channels.
Though this might sound quite terrifying, but it’s not as bad as you may think if you develop a sturdy distribution strategy:
- Send a newsletter to your customers and readers once the blog post is published
- Post and re-schedule your articles on social media
- Reach out to communities and forums that might be interested in your content
- Let influencers know if you mentioned them in your blog post — most likely, they’d share it through their social media channels
- Transform your content into another content type (e.g. video, presentation, infographic, podcast) to be able to publish it on different platforms (e.g. YouTube, SlideShare, etc)
- Set up an RSS feed (e.g. Triberr)
- Syndicate your content piece on larger news sites
- and do guest posts – like this one!
And finally: don’t forget to track your success
Linking back to the beginning of this post, I’d just like to emphasize how important it is to set KPIs along with ways to measure their success. Though not too many — follow the “less is more philosophy” and stick to a few KPIs that will allow you to interpret your results the right away and proceed with an appropriate action plan. For content marketing in Ecommerce, it’s important to monitor:
- Site traffic (and see if it grows)
- Bounce rate (the lower, the better)
- Newsletter subscribers
- The rate of returning visitors (the more people return to your content, the higher is the chance they’ll make a purchase)
- Engagement rate
- Traffic sources
- Number of leads coming from content (don’t forget to set UTM codes to be able to monitor that!)
All in all, the whole idea of content marketing is to not only make E-commerce more experiential and meaningful for clients by providing interesting content, but also to give your online business a little sales boost — or a major one, depending on how successful you are. The secret is to approach content marketing strategically, be consistent, and never lose patience: after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day either, was it?
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