Ecommerce Content Marketing: Best Practices for 2018

May 17, 2018

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is taking over the world -- there’s no doubting that.

With 93% of marketers now using content marketing, there’s no sign of its power slowing down.

...Especially when considering the fact content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, yet generates almost 3x more leads:

 

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So, with a passion for distributing content and knack for writing words that sell, content marketing could soon become the marketing tool that propels your eCommerce business into a world of increased traffic, conversion rates and more importantly -- sales.

But with so many types of content out there, which one should you be focusing on? eCommerce brands are knocking-up 5,000-word eBooks and whitepapers, and ploughing thousands of dollars into content creation.

Truth bomb: that’s not always the key to success.

In this article, we’re sharing the eCommerce content marketing best practices. Put them into place and you’ll see the results you’ve always dreamt of:

Why is Content Marketing Important for Ecommerce Brands?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of content marketing, let’s quickly run-through the benefits of it.

(It goes beyond “more site traffic” -- although that is true.)

On a basic level: content is communication -- it’s how we communicate online. Being a company that sells products or services solely through the internet, eCommerce brands rarely have the opportunity to jump on a phone call with their ideal customers.

Instead, they communicate with their potential customers through content.

...But where does that leave you in terms of sales?

Well, think about this: people buy products when they trust the company selling it.

It’s partly the reason why 88% of online shoppers look for reviews whilst making their purchase decision. Before handing over their hard-earned cash, shoppers want to know you can be trusted with it.

How do you do that, exactly? The answer’s simple: through content marketing.

By proving your authority and industry experience through content marketing, you can increase your conversion rate almost 6 times:

6 Best Practices for eCommerce Content Marketing

So, you’re looking to create a content marketing strategy which allows you to experience a surge in conversions for your own business.

To have any chance of success, you’ll need to follow these six best practices:

1. Know Your Audience

In order to create excellent content that drives results, you’ll need to know who you’re writing for.

(Think about it: if you’re creating content around your women’s clothing line,, you’d want to use phrases like “comfortable”, rather than “festival-ready””, if your main customer base is older women -- as opposed to younger teens..)

But how exactly do you find out who your content should be aimed toward?

It’s simple: buyer personas.

Buyer personas are documents that detail every common trait of your ideal customers. They usually include the basics like name, age and location, but could be expanded to include:

  • Job title
  • Interests or hobbies
  • Income level or salary
  • Values, fears and pain points
  • Education
  • Goals and motivations

The more detail included in your buyer personas, the better. You will have a clearer, deeper understanding of who they are -- and what makes them tick.

You can add these extra details to your buyer personas by:

  • Sending customer surveys.
  • Engaging in one-on-one discussions with your previous customers.
  • Talking to your sales team. Since these people chat with your ideal customers all day, they’ll be able to identify common traits.

Once you’ve fine-tuned your buyer personas and made them as accurate as possible, you’ll need to refer back to them when you’re creating an eCommerce content marketing strategy.

There’s no point creating them if we’re not going to use them, right?

So, scan over your buyer persona and think of the information they’d like to read. (You could also browse Twitter, take a peak in Facebook groups and search through Reddit to find types of content that are well-loved by each shared interest.)

Your final job here is to create something similar.

Let’s take a look at this concept in-practice.

Grazia, a women’s fashion magazine, has a younger audience with shared interests such as travel, fashion, and blogging.

In a bid to strengthen their connection with these younger teens, Grazia created a content marketing piece called “5 bloggers, 15 outfits and 48 hours in Milan”:

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Ticking three interests off their buyer persona box (travel, fashion and blogging), this piece was bound to resonate with their ideal audience -- boosting trust and impacting future magazine sales.

2. Vary Your Content Types

When we say the word “content”, you might be thinking you’re limited to blog posts.

Even though blogging is a fantastic way to get started with eCommerce content marketing, diversifying your content types allows you to create content that your buyer personas are proven to enjoy.

Think about it: if you’re only publishing blog content, you’re missing out on a bunch of people who’d be interested in seeing other types content from you..

(Plus, if you broaden your horizons and create multiple types of content, each published on various platforms, you’re instantly boosting the number of eyeballs on your content.)

So, while blog posts are the most popular type of content, your eCommerce business could benefit by experimenting with different content types -- including newsletters and video:

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...Yes, you read that correct: video is a type of content, despite it not being in text-form.

With the average person being found to watch more than 1.5 hours of online video content every day, it’s a fantastic way to position yourself in front of a new audience -- especially if you’re publishing to YouTube, second largest search engine in the entire world.

Video content allows you to experience other benefits that traditional written content doesn’t offer, too. That’s because 71% of shoppers believe videos explain products better, and 73% more shoppers will buy after watching a video.

You’d be crazy not to take advantage

Typically, a successful piece of video content for eCommerce businesses:

  • Are short: you only have 20 seconds to capture your viewer.
  • Tell stories: did you know that emotional content is shared more often?
  • Fun: the people you’re appealing to are, in fact, humans -- not robots!

A fantastic example of eCommerce video marketing comes from Nine Line Apparel. An online fashion retailer, they created this short explainer video to show potential customers key information about their brand:

https://youtu.be/hIV0ZLnWwxM

Not only is this video marketing example short and to-the-point, but it’s fun.

Who said eCommerce marketing had to be boring?

3. Optimize All Content for SEO

From product descriptions to blog posts and YouTube videos, our third eCommerce content marketing best practice is to optimize all content for SEO.

That’s because organic is the top traffic source for eCommerce brands, followed only by email and PPC. If you’re wanting to reach the top spots in Google and see results from your content marketing strategy, it’s a no-brainer!

Now, if you have any SEO knowledge, you’ll know that keywords play a huge part in SEO. But before we rush and stick any old phrase into our content, it’s wise to think about which keywords will have the biggest impact on your eCommerce site.

(Spoiler alert: it relates back to knowing who your audience is.)

In order to optimize content for SEO, we’ll need to find these keywords.

You can use tools like Ahrefs to do this -- simply enter your industry and find a variation of popular related phrases.

As a general rule, you should select:

  • Short keywords: for product and service pages. These tend to have higher commercial intent, but are also tricker to rank for. For example: “men’s sneakers”.
  • Long-tail keywords: for blog posts and other indirect marketing content. These have lower commercial intent, but build trust and impact long-term sales. For example: “best sneakers for older men”.

Once you’ve found your keywords, it’s time to start targeting.

For content hosted on your website, you’ll want to put your keyword phrases in:

  • URLs
  • Meta titles and descriptions
  • Heading tags
  • On-site content
  • Image alt text

This will help search engines to understand what the content is talking about, and identify what the page should rank for.

Fancy another example? Take a second look at the blog post you’re reading. Optimized for the long-tail keyword “eCommerce content marketing”, I’ll bet you can spot the phrase in various places throughout the article!

4. Update Old Content

Following on from optimizing for SEO, you could take your organic search strategy a step further by updating old content.

Why? Well, because Google prefers fresh content; their algorithm is designed to show the most relevant results for a user’s query.

We’re always told to combine the use of evergreen and topical content. You’ll need to publish topical content that’s relevant to the here-and-now, along with how-to guides that’ll serve your customers well, no matter the time of year.

...But what happens when your topical content passes its “sell-by date”, and is no longer relevant?

Let’s look at an example. A company selling sneakers might create this type of content in 2012:

  • “How to Choose the Best Sneaker” (evergreen)
  • “Top 10 Sneakers” (topical)

It’s likely that the evergreen content that we used as an example will still be relevant -- even though it was published six years ago. The advice they’re sharing isn’t going to change, so there’s probably little need to update the piece.

The topical post, on the other hand, is unlikely to still be relevant to current search queries. Chances are, new sneakers have come out that should be on the “top 10” post, and the old piece of content isn’t doing our fictional example any favors.

So, in an attempt to improve their organic search traffic, the sneaker company would want to update this old piece of content and make it more relevant.

They could include; new products, change the meta title to include the current year, or talk about shoe trends for this season.

All of these tasks could potentially make Google view the content as more relevant (plus it’s more likely to get links back as opposed to an outdated article), boosting its’ ranking and performing better in the SERPs.

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Revisiting and updating old content also helps in the social media world, too.

Think about it: why would you want to promote a topical piece that’s no longer relevant?

You wouldn’t. A list of the best sneakers in 2012 won’t be of interest to your current audience -- but a quick tweak could help to make it relevant for modern times.

If your old content still remains unpromoted since the day it was published, it’s unlikely to be seen by your recent social media followers.

By simply tweaking this article (and making it relevant again), you’ve automatically got a great piece of content to fill your social media queue with, and drive traffic back to your website.

Although old content doesn’t always get pushed to the unexplored depths of page 50 on Google, promoting your content (and positioning it in front of your ideal customers both on social media and Google) is a surefire way to make the most out of your eCommerce content.

You can re-share this updated content to your social media channels, and wow your current audience with your knowledge. This will drive warm leads back to your site, and potentially generate a conversion.

The best part of this step? It’s super easy.

Simply head back into your Google Analytics and check which blog posts have declining traffic. For each article, you could:

  • Add new data points.
  • Insert internal links to your newer content.
  • Rewrite specific sections.
  • Make it relevant for the current year -- i.e. swap mentions of 2015 to 2018.
  • Do keyword research again. New phrases may have become popular since you first published!

One HVAC company used this content marketing tactic in an attempt to boost their rankings.

After refreshing their old content, the eCommerce company saw results almost instantly. They’d managed to take over 600 new spots in the SERPs -- with almost 500 of those being on the first page -- within just one month.

Not a bad result for a few hour’s work, right?

5. Work with Influencers (or Get Their Attention)

You likely already recognize that the world’s going mad for influencer marketing.

Every eCommerce brand wants a slice of an influencer’s audience -- and for good reason.

On average, businesses are making $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing. That’s a 6,500% ROI.

Luckily for you, you can tie-in the influencer benefits with your existing eCommerce content marketing strategy.

The best part? It’s pretty straightforward to do, and takes the pressure off in-house content creation.

To do this, you’ll need to identify popular influencers in your niche. Depending on your budget, you could target:

  • Micro-influencers: with fewer followers, but high engagement levels.
  • Large influencers: with more followers, but potentially less targeted followers

Working with each type of influencer has its own benefit. For example, micro-influencers usually have an engaged following, leading to high conversion rates.

However, if you’re looking to drive brand awareness, partnering with a large influencer could see your brand exposed to millions of people.

Identified the influencers you’re looking to work with? (Hint: you can do this by searching for “industry + bloggers / vloggers”, or browsing for content that’s already popular in your niche by using tools like Buzzsumo).

Once you’ve got your target list, shoot each influencer a quick email -- mentioning you’d love to collaborate with them.

But, there’s one key thing to remember here: influencers want to know what’s in it for them. Just like you wouldn’t publish someone else’s content on your Instagram page without any benefit for your own brand, influencers want something in return for promoting your content.

So, think about the incentives you could offer. That could be:

  • Free products
  • Discount codes for their audience
  • Generous commission on any products their audience purchase

Have you got a response from your influencers? Great! It’s time to create your content.

Ask the influencer to think about how they could mention your brand in their current content. (Remember: influencers know their audience best, so it’s sometimes wise to leave them with creative control.)

Fancy an example? Here’s how Naturebox partnered with Cullen & Katie -- YouTube influencers in the lifestyle and parenting niche:

After following this process with a handful of other influencers, Naturebox’s brand awareness hit the roof. Combined, the nine videos drove over 775,000 views, with an average click-through rate of 6%.

Not bad, right?

If you’re reading this and have concerns about a smaller marketing budget, you don’t need to cross influencer partnerships off your content marketing to-do list.

In fact, you can partner with influencers on a smaller scale and still see great results.

To do this, create your content , as usual, and follow the best practices outlined here. im to make it the best piece of content you’ve ever created.

The only difference? Mention micro-influencers in your content. You could:

  • Mention a quote by them in your whitepaper.
  • Link to one of their blog posts in your own article.
  • Include them in a roundup post.

Then, once you’ve published, you can get a spare pair of hands to help with distribution and promotion.

Simply send a quick email to the influencer, letting them know you’ve mentioned their site in your recent piece of content -- and ask them to consider sharing the article on their social platforms.

6. Be Consistent

Our final tip for eCommerce content marketing is simple: be consistent.

82% of marketers who publish blog content consistently see a positive ROI from their inbound marketing efforts -- and you could see similar results by sticking to a content plan.

So, pick a schedule that works for you.

Ask yourself: how many pieces of content are you able to publish per month?

If your answer is four, set a publishing day stick to it. (That might mean you’re publishing a blog post every Tuesday.)

But why is this important?

Well, publishing consistently drives traffic back to your website. If people expect an awesome piece of content every Tuesday, they’ll make a mental note of it and return each week. Remember, traffic is essential:we can’t see results from our marketing if we don’t have anyone to convert.

So, turn up and post frequently -- it’s the only way to build trust with the people you’re driving to your eCommerce site.

However, this step comes with a warning: quality is better than quantity.

You don’t want to be consistently publishing mediocre content; you want to be publishing awesome, 10x content.

Find the balance and create a content schedule that works for you. Remember: it’s better to publish one high-quality articles per week, rather than four low-quality ones.

Final Thoughts

Now you’ve created the perfect eCommerce content marketing strategy, we’re confident you’ll see results.

However, it’s important to remember that content marketing is a long-term investment.

Trust, which is critical in purchasing decisions, takes time. It’s unlikely you’ll see an influx of new sales from a single piece of content, but stick with it. You’ll be there in no time!

Elise Dopson

Written by Elise Dopson

Well versed in the B2B, SaaS, and marketing realms, Elise develops awesome content with her data-driven approach and insight.