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How to master content marketing for your e-commerce company
It's not just about having a blog. Steve Olenski offers 10 ways to create content that will attract visitors to your e-commerce business and drive them to purchase.
Getting increased online visibility can be a significant challenge for e-commerce businesses. As you’ve likely already figured out, it’s not easy attracting search traffic, links and social shares when all you have is product pages.
But this is where content marketing comes in. It lets you go beyond simply promoting your products or services. Instead, you provide targeted content that your audience actually wants to read and share.
Unfortunately, I’m still seeing many e-commerce businesses that think content marketing simply means having a blog. And while a blog is a great start, content marketing mastery requires much more than a handful of blog posts.
This post will look at 10 ways you can move beyond the basics and master e-commerce content marketing.
1. Go niche
With over two million blog posts being published each day, anything you can do to set your content apart is important.
Your best bet for creating engaging content is to go niche. The more specific your topics, the easier it will be to write original content that actually ranks in search and gets noticed by your audience.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: When you think you’ve found a good niche topic to cover, drill down one layer further. Of course, you don’t want to cover topics that are so obscure no one wants to know about them; but you do want to make sure your topic hasn’t already been covered a hundred (or a thousand) times before.
2. Create video tutorials
Videos provide an excellent opportunity for e-commerce businesses. Not only do they let you convey information in a more engaging way, they can also attract significant search traffic.
Businesses that use video experience 41 percent more web traffic from search than those that don’t, according to the Aberdeen Group. This traffic can come both from Google and from on-site search on YouTube (or other video-sharing sites).
One of the most popular uses of video is for instructions and tutorials. Think of a common problem or challenge your customers face, and walk them through the process of solving it. Where relevant, be sure to let viewers know how and where they can buy the products used in your video.
3. Seek out guest blogging opportunities
For an e-commerce business, it can be extremely difficult to acquire inbound links. Most sites won’t be interested in linking out to product pages; this is one of the primary reasons why it’s so important to provide linkworthy niche content.
One way to build your own inbound links is by guest blogging. While this shouldn’t be your primary motivation for guest blogging, it can be a nice side benefit.
A very simplified process you can use is as follows:
- Populate your blog with high-quality content.
- Find sites and publications you can contribute to.
- Pitch your ideas to the owners/editors of the sites.
- Write blog posts that link back to relevant content on your blog.
For the step-by-step process I use to guest blog on dozens of high-profile sites, check out the post, “How To Guest Blog Anywhere.”
4. Create review/comparison articles
Review posts are ideal for attracting potential buyers who are researching a variety of products. Not only can your post potentially rank for a number of product-related keywords, it can provide valuable information and guidance to inform your visitors’ buying decisions.
Just be aware that consumers are becoming increasingly wary of commercial reviews (since you stand to gain if they buy one of the products). Wherever possible, include user-generated reviews and ratings in your posts to boost credibility.
5. Optimize your titles and descriptions
When talking about content marketing for e-commerce sites, we mainly focus on blogging, email and social media. However, optimizing your product listings is also extremely important for achieving high search rankings.
If you want to know what a winning product title and description look like, you only need to look as far as e-commerce behemoth Amazon. BigCommerce’s Jeff Breitenstein, a former buyer at the company, writes that the key to success is writing longer descriptions that draw attention to major product features:
I saw it time and again — products whose detail pages had skimpy content significantly underperformed the products with well-formed titles and descriptions that called out major product features. The difference in conversion was so stark that new product setups without enough compelling info were rejected.
6. Create buyer’s guides
One of the most useful types of content you can provide (in my opinion) is a buyer’s guide. Not only can it potentially help you rank in search, but it can gently nudge your readers toward making a purchase.
One company that’s using this approach with (seemingly) great success is Yale Appliance. Their buying guides rank for many informational queries related to home appliances; after arriving at the site, visitors can then read the guide and leave, or they can download an even more in-depth guide after handing over their email.
Keep in mind your guide should not be used simply as a way to promote your products. Be as objective as you can when choosing products for your guide, incorporating outside research and reviews.
You don’t need to have an old site with tons of content. DevTeam does an amazing job or creating an expert guide on App Development. They detail everything you need to know and do.
They give you everything you need to replicate their product and do everything they are doing. This gains trust with your potential customers and has helped them complete 5,000+ projects.
The goal behind this is to help your customers. Once you gain a customer’s trust, you’ll have them for life.
7. Solve problems with your content
When it comes to product descriptions, we often talk about the importance of listing benefits rather than just features. There’s a very simple reason for this: Discussing benefits helps potential buyers understand exactly how your product will solve their problem.
This is a helpful approach in content marketing as well. Instead of writing about your products, think about what problems you can help your audience solve. Insightly does an amazing job with this by creating guides that help their e-commerce audience solve their problems. Over time, they have worked out tools that work for their customers.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your products or services, but it does mean they shouldn’t be the primary focus of your content.
8. Meet customers where they are in their buying journey
Not every person who arrives at your site will be ready to buy. Some will be at the beginning of their purchase journey, while others will be ready to buy. Some may not even know they have the problem your product is trying to solve!
For this reason, e-commerce sites need to optimize for the complete customer journey. This will necessitate an understanding of how traffic source impacts the path to purchase, and what type of content you need to provide at each step.
For instance, according to Google, visitors who find you through organic search are less likely to make a purchase than those who come directly, and those who find you through branded paid search are more likely to buy than those who come to you through display ads.
As you write and optimize your content, be aware of which sources are most likely to drive traffic to that page. Tailor your content to that stage of the buying cycle, and then gently nudge visitors to the next stage in the process.
9. Include user-generated content
You can create content until you’re blue in the face, but without objective reviews and testimonials, your conversion rates will suffer. These features increase credibility and act as proof that your business or product is trustworthy.
Here are some ways you can add social proof to your site:
- Setting up review rich snippets so your ratings show up in search (great for getting click-throughs)
- Including social media counters on blog posts and product pages
- Using customer testimonials throughout your site, not just on a testimonials page
- Using testimonials in your marketing materials
- Using ratings or reviews in social ads
10. Utilize explainer videos
These are short, punchy videos that — you guessed it — explain your business, products or services. Unlike video tutorials, explainer videos allow you to make your business the star of the show.
Explainer videos can be used in any number of ways: to describe a process, to tell your business’s origin story, to share your company’s vision or to demonstrate how to use a product.
According to Unbounce, these videos can increase conversions by up to 20 percent (and this number is conservative — I’ve seen other stats that put the rate much higher). Considering you can create them yourself for as little as $100, I’d say this is a great investment.
Content marketing can be a challenge for e-commerce businesses. You need to understand not only how to create content that will attract visitors, but how to move those visitors toward making a purchase.
The 10 tips above will give you a good foundation for creating your own e-commerce marketing strategy — one that attracts visitors, answers their burning questions and increases the chances of their making a purchase.
What other content marketing strategies do you use for your e-commerce site?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.