Speaking from experience, owning your brand’s e-commerce business is tough! You are constantly tied to conversion metrics and are managing not only content, media budgets and digital assets, but also an endless run of quick promotions, inventory and order management, shipping and tracking issues, etc. Needless to say, you’re busy, but you can’t afford to neglect leveraging a content strategy.
This article will guide you toward a results-driven content strategy to increase brand awareness, drive revenue and retain existing customers. Just remember, a sound content marketing strategy should incorporate both offline and online resources to bolster visibility and engagement with your target audience.
Engage Customers With Emotional Stories
Product-driven content helps accelerate the path to purchase, but if your product’s sales cycle is longer, you need something to engage audiences between purchases. Adding storytelling content provides your customers and prospects the opportunity to connect to your brand on a deeper, more emotional level and should not be excluded from your marketing mix. If your products are very similar to those of your competition, emotional content becomes your competitive advantage. Want some inspiration? Look no further than YETI and their high-quality documentary-style content, which showcases their target audience’s outdoor lifestyle and sells the emotional appeal of the brand.
Don’t just create stories to share—find your audience’s stories and encourage them to tell their stories, too, through contests or simply by reaching out to satisfied customers and requesting that they share their purchasing experience or product satisfaction.
Digital strategy tip: Sprinkle emotional storytelling content into your social feeds and emails to engage your audience between purchases. House it on your site in a dedicated section or within your current blog or content hub.
Gain Exposure Through Relevant Influencers
With more and more advertising noise (not to mention the ability to block ads on devices), audiences continue to ignore traditional marketing. With a focus on peer-to-peer marketing, brands can generate strong ROI from well-managed influencer campaigns. Key influencers have deep connections to their followers and can drive your brand’s message in an authentic, relevant way.
If budgets are limited, consider guest bloggers to gain additional exposure and build your brand off theirs. Focus your efforts on strong, relevant content that reaches out and engages your potential customers or a community.
Digital strategy tip: When evaluating potential influencers, place more weight on their engagement rates than on their follower counts alone.
Don’t Cut Paper Out of the Mix
The internet didn’t kill direct mail. Take it from someone who would order her entire fridge from Amazon if she could: I still love a physical postcard or coupon in the mail. Not only does it feel like a reward when I discover it among our bills, but it also stands as a physical reminder to go and spend to get the value the brand is offering me. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) analyzed Bizo and Epsilon data and found that direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to 0.12% for email
Digital strategy tip: Remember to use different promotional codes for your print and digital offers—even if they are the same offer—so you can track the ROI of your marketing efforts through your e-commerce platform and in-store POS.
Display Shared Consumer Values
The amount of buying power millennials continue to have within the economy continues to skyrocket. With their wallets in hand—often and increasingly digital—they actively look for brands that share their values. And because they care so deeply about relevant causes, they statistically spend more to make their voices heard.
You definitely need to be careful and get buy-in from peers within your organization—especially if your goal is to test taking a risk with politically related content—but the payoff could be huge (think Nike, Colin Kaepernick and their $6 billion increase in overall value since Labor Day).
Digital strategy tip: Develop content that speaks to your brand’s philanthropic efforts to educate and inspire your customers and prospects and consider posting it within your brand’s social media profiles. You’ll build credibility as you grow closer to your audience between purchase cycles.
Email Is an E-king of Longtime Customer Value
The goal of content marketing is to gain and engage new audiences and push them to action, but we can’t forget about retaining current customers and keeping them connected to your brand between purchases. Email is such an effective and budget-friendly channel for pushing content to your audience and for allowing them to connect with you on their time from the convenience of their inbox.
For brands whose buying cycle is longer (cars, home appliances, flooring, etc.), relevant and helpful content builds brand equity and keeps you top of mind.
Digital strategy tip: Add a monthly newsletter to your promotional email calendar in order to expand your content mix beyond offer-only communications. Your goal is to stay connected, so create relevant and timely content for better engagement rates.
Quality Over Quantity
With the internet thriving, you’re in competition not only with your traditional competitors, but also with those in the digital marketplace—big and small. To improve the ROI of your content marketing efforts, remember to focus on relevancy, tapping your current audience for insights. A quick online poll or survey will allow you to look outside your brand’s bubble to identify your audience’s interests and desires.
Digital strategy tip: If you’re worried about survey fatigue or suffer from a lack of feedback for statistical significance, think outside the box and leverage social-listening tactics to find trends tied to your prioritized audiences.
Content marketing is now table stakes for most e-commerce businesses, but many have a hard time doing it well because they lack a detailed content strategy and measurement framework to properly measure and track results.
When done correctly, content continues to play a powerful role in driving new audiences and retaining current customers.