The eCommerce industry continues to grow at an amazing rate, with online sales expected to hit $684 billion by 2020. But with growth comes competition, and as the space becomes more competitive, it becomes more and more critical for businesses to find that unique selling point that will push them through the clutter. And even then, the average eCommerce conversion rates hover around 3-4%. So even when you can get your customers to find you, it can be challenging to communicate to them why they should buy now, and (more importantly) why they should buy from you.
In comparing content marketing to traditional marketing methods, it costs 62% less and generates three times more leads. So if you’re not seeing results from efforts like print advertisements and radio commercials, here’s how to offer value to your customers, build a connection, and boost sales with content marketing:
Start with a strategy
Your content marketing efforts will only yield results that affect the bottom line if there’s a clear direction. A comprehensive content strategy will require:
- Definition of goals (short term and long term)
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Persona research
- Keyword identification
- A content calendar leveraging a variety of different types of content
- A social media promotion schedule
Still can’t picture what your content marketing strategy should look like? Take a look at this B2C example here.
Consistent and strategic blogging can help you build trust with your audience. Sharing valuable content that your audience finds helpful in their daily life or job will allow you to establish thought leadership in your industry.
Do some research for keywords that have a high volume of monthly searches that relate to questions or queries people have about your industry. Then, build your blog titles around those keywords. Your goal is to find out what your customers want to know that there isn’t a lot of information about. Aim to publish at least one blog per week.
Blogging is an excellent way to increase traffic, but what happens after those visitors leave your website? Make sure they stay engaged with your brand by providing opportunities throughout your website to subscribe. Whether you invite them to “join your newsletter list” or “subscribe to the blog”, create a form to collect those email addresses and start building your list of leads.
Post guest blogs on related sites in your industry
Not only is it important to publish content on your own blog, but when other businesses or blogs link back to your content, it helps readers and Google see you as a trusted resource. It’s a common content marketing strategy to write blogs for other websites which link back to yours. The benefits of guest blogging include:
- Increase in traffic
- Reaching a wider audience
- Boost domain authority and therefore search rank
If you’ve got relationships with others in the industry, reach out to them and offer to write a guest blog. You can also look for links on related industry websites along the lines of “Write for Us” or “Submit an Article”.
Before a buyer is ready to purchase from your site, they go through a process called the buyer’s journey. One of the ways to guide your customers through this journey is by providing them with a “freebie” or free content offer. Your potential customers will share their email address in exchange for the freebie, allowing you to start building your relationship with those leads.
Examples of freebies can include:
- Stock images
- Illustrations or fonts
Get creative! Similar to the way you’d build your blogging strategy, start with keyword research to find a need and then create your content offer plan from there.
Set up lead nurturing email automation
Once you’ve captured email addresses using your freebie and blog subscription, you can start building a relationship with those individuals through email. Using an email automation tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact, set up lead nurturing email streams for different types of personas or actions they’ve taken. These emails should be:
- Short and sweet — people receive an average 88 emails each day so don’t waste their time!
- Align with one goal per email — make sure all links and calls-to-action support this goal
- Provide a clear benefit to the reader — ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”
Sharing valuable information and popping in their inbox regularly will help you move your leads down the buyer’s journey or funnel.
Here’s an example of a standard lead nurturing campaign you could set up:
*Triggered by download of freebie
Delay 1 day
Email 1: What did you think of the [freebie]? Can I answer any questions?
Delay 2 days
Email 2: I think you’ll also like these resources.
Delay 2 days
Email 3: Still interested in ? Use CODEABC for 10% off.
The delays between emails will be entirely based on the length of your sales cycle. Most eCommerce websites have a shorter sales cycle which means you can likely use a similar lag to the example above to help you stay top of mind among your leads.
The key to successful lead nurturing emails is to be as personable as possible. Try to make your reader feel like they’re receiving a single email that was meant just for them, not a mass email.
Share non-promotional material on social & paid social
Social media is an extremely valuable channel to share content to drive eCommerce sales. Facebook, in particular, has the highest conversion rate at 1.85%. Leverage the 80/20 rule when sharing posts: 80% of posts should be unbranded content your followers will find valuable/interesting, 20% can be brand/product-focused.
If you’re not seeing the results you’d expect, social media algorithms might be working against you. It takes time to increase your followers and get a good amount of engagement, so eCommerce brands are often better off promoting posts to boost sales faster. You can run ads or boosted posts on almost every social media platform: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, Snapchat.
Choosing the best platform to advertise on will depend on where your audience spends time. Thorough persona research, in-depth knowledge of social channels, and testing organic content on multiple platforms will help you identify the best ones to put spend behind.
43% of people want to see more video content from marketers and 51.9% of marketing professionals identified video as the marketing effort with the highest ROI. Video used to be used primarily in the awareness stage to generate engagement but has evolved to become an effective strategy to guiding the buyer along the sales funnel. Professional product videos, customer testimonials, and personalized sales videos are excellent types of videos to build into your content marketing efforts. It’s also wise to create shorter and less expensive videos on social media such as Facebook and Instagram Live, Snapchat, and YouTube.
Measure your results
Just like a workout regime, you probably won’t see drastic results in a week. For your eCommerce company, it may mean you need to be consistently creating content for your audience in order to start seeing sales on your website. Using the goals you established in your strategy and the KPIs you’ve identified, create monthly reports to track your progress. Share the reports in a monthly meeting with your sales and marketing teams to uncover any gaps in your content or improve your efforts.
Creating fresh content that’s optimized for your audience provides additional opportunities to convert your audience. If you’re finding that your traffic is plateauing, organic rankings aren’t budging, and sales aren’t increasing (or worse, they’re decreasing!), a content marketing strategy will help you accomplish this.
Talk to an eCommerce conversion specialist to identify opportunities in your content marketing strategy to increase sales.