Globally, ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. If you want to survive in the dog-eat-dog ecommerce world, you need a strong marketing strategy but, not just any marketing strategy. Ads are expensive, plus — between banner blindness and ad blockers — most users don’t even notice ads online these days, social media organic reach is abysmal unless you want to pay to play and email works, but only lets you reach people you are already connected to.
What is an ecommerce business to do?
Enter content marketing. Content marketing generates three times more leads than paid search strategies. Content marketing works, and you need to use it to survive in the ultra-competitive ecommerce world. But, your content needs to be good. Four million pieces of content go live daily, making it harder than ever to stand out.
Not sure where to start? Here are seven ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Create Interactive Content
Plain text blog posts are boring. Posts that include images are a bit better, earning 94% more views than those without. But, content is so much more than words and pictures.
As Jeff Bullas put it, “Interactive content is king.” But what really is interactive content? Interactive content can be just about anything that engages your audience more than just reading.
Content pieces such as follow-along videos for tutorials, you could also create an interactive infographic using any online image tool like this one from computer security company Symantec. They use sliding visuals and embedded polls to create a highly engaging piece of content about internet security threats.
It’s much better than reading a boring 40-page report, right?
Create Content on Topics Your Audience Cares About
Content marketing isn’t about selling your products. It is about entertaining, educating, and enlightening your audience — and it starts with finding trending topics your audience cares about. Start with internal data. Look for products that are just starting to take off, then create content related to that product.
Airbnb’s Wanderlust blog publishes travel content, a topic they know is near and dear to their customers’ hearts. But, they start by looking at growth data to uncover destinations that are rising in popularity; these are the hidden gems that travel lovers cherish. Then, they create content about those cities. The posts juxtapose striking photographs with text to create interesting and beautiful content.
You can also use Google Trends to find trending topics. For example, an electronics ecommerce store might search use it to search “’iPhone cases.”
Google Trends shows how popular the term is over time. You can also see what areas of the country or world search a term the most often and also use the “Related Topics” section to find other relevant popular terms.
Go All Out on Video Marketing
If you want to survive in today’s competitive ecommerce world, you need to be using video. Why? Because people don’t read on the internet; they skim. In fact, 43% of readers just skim blog posts.
The solution? Video.
Video is one of the most effective forms of content marketing, driving 66% more qualified leads. And, 83% of video marketers say video provides a positive return on investment (ROI). How? 45% of the global population watches more than an hour of video content online. Every. Single. Day.
Still not convinced?
Snowboard Addiction, a startup ecommerce store selling snowboarding gear, implemented video to their content strategy. Doing so propelled sales from stagnant to $1 million in a year.
Most of their content until then was written. It lacked the engagement that their brand desperately needed. So, the team started creating tutorial videos where they could recommend products and suggest premium content.
Those videos took off.
Today, SnowBoard Addiction has hundreds of snowboarding tutorial videos for boarders of all levels. The results? Snowboard Addiction is now a million dollar business due mostly to their investment in video content.
FreshDesk, an online business support company, has also been rocking their video content marketing. They create explanatory videos, like this one, which walks customers through how the platform works.
FreshDesk’s videos are creative and quirky, but also informative. Remember, your videos don’t necessarily have to be serious — they need to fit your brand.
Create Radically Useful Content
A lot of brands pay lip service to content marketing. They say they want to create really useful content, but then they crank out another poorly planned and horribly executed listicle. And, according to the latest studies, that’s a massive waste of time.
Poorly planned, thin-content only results in a scroll map that makes you want to cry. Instead of another boring article that people don’t read, try offering content that is actually useful. Radically useful, even.
What does radically useful content look like?
Venngage’s massive lead generation study is a prime example. It took countless months of planning and development before even putting pen to paper. Now, it’s a massive guide complete with an infographic and long-form copy:
Another great example is from Who Is Hosting This. They published an in-depth guide to finding the right hosting company. It walks readers through every step of the decision process — what type of site are you building, what is shared hosting and who does it work for, what is cloud hosting and what does it do?
The posts answers all of the questions a reader might have when looking for a host. They also included a chart of the most popular hosts and have a compare tool so readers can compare the benefits of each host.
Long? Yes. But radically useful for readers who don’t know where to start.
Share Customer Stories
The benefits of sharing customer stories are twofold: First, customer stories show prospective customers why your products are awesome.
People listen to other people; even online. In fact, 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Best of all, sharing customer stories is easier to create. It’s less work and effective, so that’s a win-win, right?
Let’s look at what this looks like in practice.
Help Scout recently began focusing on telling customer stories. They found sharing customer stories helped break down barriers to entry, highlight features the brand themselves weren’t focusing on and gave prospects a framework to solve their own problems.
Tim Thyne, who is the Head of Sales and Partnerships at Help Scout, says:
“Stories make us all pay closer attention to what matters. Start paying attention to the stories unfolding in your organization, and figure out how to help the best ones spread. Because people have a lot to say, and if we’re smart, we’ll start listening.”
Here is another example from Fitbit, the fitness tracker.
This post highlights the success of one of their customers who used Fitbit to make a dramatic change in his life. Before Fitbit, he weighed over 350 pounds and was struggling with diabetes and high blood pressure. Today, he runs marathons and he credits Fitbit with helping him dramatically improve his life.
His story is more convincing (and cheaper) than any ad the brand could run.
Double Down with Lead Magnets
Creating content that gets traffic is great, but what you really want to do is move prospects into your sales funnel, right?
That’s where lead magnets come in.
Lead magnets — an incentive you offer in return for a visitor’s email addresses — encourage prospective customers not to just consume your content but also to engage with you as a brand. They also build your email list and help you retarget site visitors on other platforms.
Wondering what the most effective lead magnets are? As it turns out, reports and videos produce the most leads and social media contests, webinars, and blog posts also top the list:
Content Marketing Institute uses reports as lead magnets by publishing dozens of custom research reports and whitepapers.
CoSchedule, a digital marketing calendar platform, uses a tool called Headline Analyzer as a lead magnet. The automated tool ranks headlines based on word balance, length, and keyword inclusion. The tool is free, but they do ask for your email before giving you the results.
You could also offer a coupon code, shopping guide, or free shipping offers as lead magnets for your own online store.
Customize & Personalize Your Content
You know customization works. Personalized emails, for example, drive 6 times higher transaction rates. In fact, 87% of people said that receiving relevant content from brands improves how they feel about a brand.
How can you put this to work in your content marketing? It all starts with language. Grammarly, an online editing tool, makes it easy with their Goals feature.
You set goals based on your audience and Grammarly makes suggestions to customize your language based on your goals. This review of Grammarly walks you through all the features.
Or, you can use smart content, which lets you adjust content to your users in real time. Hubspot offers a Smart CTA feature, which allows you to customize your content based on industry, lifecycle, or location.
For ecommerce stores, the easiest way to personalize content to your customers is by personalizing related product suggestions through cross-sells or upsells.
Ecommerce is not for the faint of heart. It is a highly competitive, fast-growing industry filled with thousands of competitors. Standing out based on price is incredibly hard and can eat into profit margins.
But content marketing? It works.
The truth is, you cannot survive in ecommerce without content marketing. But successful content marketing requires more than churning out product descriptions and bland blog posts. If you want to succeed with content marketing in ecommerce, you need to focus on creating compelling, interactive, and radically useful content about topics they care about. The ideas above will inspire you to get started.
Which content marketing idea will you try first?