You have a passion for what you do and want to spread the news to exactly the right audience. To do that successfully, you’ll need to implement the right mix of marketing strategies for your e-commerce site. Content can play a major role in that mix. It all centers around the idea of offering customers and prospects something of value (could be an educational blog, an insightful infographic, a helpful ebook, or engaging video) that not only offers solutions in a compelling way, but positions your business as a great partner, and potentially top of mind for when the reader is ready to go to next steps.
Benefits of Content
Having a thoughtful and strategic content plan will help you focus on consistently creating valuable content that’s of interest to your target audiences, in a way that directs them towards making purchases, without using a hard-sell approach. According to 2020 B2B market research, the majority of companies that focus on a content strategy in their marketing benefited in three key ways over a 12-month period. These include creating brand awareness, educating their audiences, and building credibility and trust. A similar 2020 survey for B2C companies had remarkably the same results.
Another benefit of having a content plan is how scalable it can be. And no matter your size, the right content—that’s properly optimized for search, for example—can continue to grow and pay dividends over time. It can also help you in forging awareness and creating lasting impressions. Content is leveraged by numerous prominent companies that are household names—from the likes of IBM, John Deere, and General Electric, to Rolex, Estee Lauder, Nike, Apple, and more. While it might be intimidating to think about the sheer scale and volume these content powerhouses crank out, getting started is not too difficult, especially with the proper planning in place.
A Quality User Experience
Before getting into details about the types of content that will entice readers to stick around and engage, you’ll want to ensure that the right elements are in place to give site visitors a quality user experience.
This can include making sure that your site is compelling and attractive—the design, images, and colors used—on desktop and mobile alike. (But on that note, you’ll want to ensure that the design elements aren’t slowing down your site because, well, we’re impatient people nowadays.) If your site lags, customers may abandon their cart and go elsewhere. So, optimize for page speed.
Other aspects will come into play, especially with the overall user experience. How easy is it to navigate your site on desktop? On mobile? How intuitive is the structure? How helpful is the search functionality?
Focusing on how you can improve the overall user experience will go a long way in building lasting relationships with customers.
Overall, your website is your home base—and you’ll want to make it as comfy and inviting as possible, so that people want to visit often and stay longer.
Getting Started with Content
Content marketing can be a blend of journalism, copywriting, punchy social messaging, and more, where your company educates and engages with prospects and customers, with the goal of building a relationship with them.
To get started, let’s quickly touch on tone. As a general rule, you’ll want to ensure you’ve nailed one that not only fits your brand and aligns with your company’s style guide, but also allows customers to feel as though you’re communicating with them directly. Once you’ve landed on that important piece, it will inform a lot of what you do going forward, in your quest to create quality content.
Creating quality content requires planning, preparation, and enough time to execute effectively. A study published in 2020 showed that, for example, as content marketers are focusing on engaging with prospects and customers, they’re taking 65% longer to write a blog post than they did in 2014. In 2014, it took, on average, two hours and 24 minutes. In 2019? Just under four hours. This is because the study speculates, blog posts are becoming more in-depth with more attention to quality.
Paying Attention to Personas
To help ensure that blog posts and other website content are created with the target market in mind, companies often create personas. These are sketches for each customer category—composites or archetypes if you will.
As an example, let’s say your company offers meal delivery plans. What makes yours different is that each box contains plates and silverware that are completely biodegradable.
Two of your personas, then, could be something like “Environmental Elizabeth” and “Convenience Carl.”
Elizabeth’s persona might read like this, in part: Environmental Elizabeth is a Millennial who cares about causes and wants to spend her dollars in ways that are eco-friendly. In fact, she’ll pay more for a product if the environmental benefits are clear. She leans towards plant-based meals and orders our products because they’re created and packaged in a way that reduces waste while still being delicious and nutritious.
Carl’s persona, meanwhile, might read like this: Carl is a professional in his 50s, always on the go, and he seeks out meal solutions that save him time. Although he may appreciate the environmentally friendly nature of our offerings, his main reason for buying them is that everything conveniently comes in one box, including tableware. This way, he can eat healthy meals wherever he is, whether that’s in his car or waiting for a plane.
Although your company will probably only refer to these personas internally, when planning a blog post, you can let the writer know that an assigned topic will be especially appealing to Elizabeth, and to use her persona when creating the text.
Personas often include a customer’s age and gender, job functions, hobbies, interests, family structures, and more. What issues matter to them? What challenges do they face? How will your products provide solutions? What online platforms do they use?
Content for Various Stages of the Funnel
Content has a lot of flexibility—here are a few examples of how it can work within the marketing funnel.
- Awareness Content
- Evaluation Content
- Conversion Content
This content is largely informational and educational on a topic that is related to your products without being an overtly promotional piece.
For example, you could write a post—or create a video, podcast, or infographic—about the pollution problems that disposable dinnerware is causing for our oceans. This will capture the attention of the Elizabeth-type customers who come to your site via Google search and other ways. Once on your site, you can engage them with a wide range of solutions to fight back against pollution, including the biodegradable plates and silverware that come with your delivered meals.
You could also write a post about the hectic nature of our lives today and then include a variety of helpful time-management solutions to help professionals fit more into their days. Among them, including the convenience of your meal plans. With this, the “Carls” may also appreciate the tips.
This type of website content is designed to help persuade visitors to delve more deeply into your content. To keep them engaged, you could create fun quizzes that can help them to decide which kind of “meal plan personality” they are. Or, this is where you can offer white papers and other downloadable assets in exchange for an email address to encourage the consumers to engage with your company further. The goal here is to turn these site visitors into sales leads.
Once a consumer is potentially in the buying mood, this type of content can help them to decide what’s best for their needs. Having a case study of an Elizabeth-type customer, along with testimonial quotes from her, and one with a Carl-type customer that shares insights on how your meals have saved him time and improved his eating habits can help people to decide what to buy. Here, you’re focusing on helping people make smart choices that suit their own personal needs. And if all goes well, you’ll turn these leads into conversions and sales.
No matter which stage of content you’re creating, be sure to include compelling calls to action so that readers know where to get started.
Optimizing Through SEO
With most all of your website content, you’ll want to ensure that you optimize for SEO to gain greater visibility in search engine results and ultimately attract more people to your e-commerce site. At a high level, steps involved in organic SEO include:
- Conducting keyword research, finding relevant ones that:
- Have steady to strong traffic
- Are not extremely competitive
- Are a mixture of informative and transactional in nature
- Optimize on-site, including:
- Back-end tags, especially the title tag and meta description tags
- Page URLs
- Internal links
It’s important to optimize each piece of content in ways that read naturally, while still implementing the right mix of keywords. Pieces that are too heavily optimized aren’t easy to read and can even cause Google to frown upon what you’re doing.
Additional E-commerce Content Tactics
After writing a piece of quality content for your site that’s engaging and informative, it’s pretty easy to take snippets of it to create social media posts. After putting that snippet on a social media channel, add a link to your blog post; this will help guide social media followers who want more information, and you’ve naturally transitioned them from a platform you don’t own (your social media channels) to your website.
You can embed video into your on-site content to make it more engaging and then use that same video within social media posts to entice readers back to your e-commerce site to learn more. The reality is that 85% of people watch videos on their devices each month, so this is a proven approach to capture the attention of consumers.
It can also make sense to find websites that may have audiences that are similar to yours and find out if they will allow you to write a guest blog post. In other words, the post would appear on their site, which puts your messaging in front of their audience. When the website is strategically chosen, this can be a real win/win.
Guest posts are usually non-promotional, educating people on a relevant topic. Typically, you wouldn’t pay for the opportunity to provide this content—and you wouldn’t get paid, either. Be sure that the webmaster will allow you to include a link to your site in or at the end of your post so that people who are interested in learning more can do so.
Monitoring, Measuring, and Adjusting
Content isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. After you create a piece of website content, you’ll want to stay on top of monitoring how well it performs. Metrics can include unique page views, time spent on-page, search engine page ranking, social shares, and more. Are people responding in the ways you’d hoped? What content draws the best site traffic? Which pages do people stay on the longest?
Be sure to give a new piece of content some time to perform—and consider giving it an additional boost from social media and email marketing if results aren’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped. Compare and contrast the different content types you’ve created, and evaluate what’s been working and what hasn’t. What can you reverse engineer and tweak for better results? Monitor your chosen keywords to evaluate how your plans have been working (remember, though, SEO can take several months to see results). The entire process will need to be repeated on an ongoing basis, but over time, you’ll gain a more targeted understanding of the types of content your audience wants.
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