A step-by-step guide to creating an eCommerce content strategy
At a time when digital content creation and consumption has gone through the roof, you may be asking yourself, is it worth adding your voice to the mix and how do you make sure you’re heard above the rest? The bottom line is, if you don’t put yourself out there, you can’t expect your customers to find you. And in today's day and age, content is the way to go.
Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads than traditional marketing (while costing 62% less). But how do you do it right? You need a content marketing strategy that’s going to engage your audience, keep you on track, and achieve your goals. So let’s dive right in.
What is content marketing?
The simple answer is that content marketing is creating and distributing content to your customers and target audience. Sounds pretty straight forward right? Wrong. Randomly producing content in the hope that it will get you the results you’re hoping for is not only a waste of time, but it’s also a waste of resources. You need a detailed and well thought out content marketing strategy that plans how you’re going to use content to achieve your business goals. This includes written content (like blogs), videos, images, podcasts, infographics, and white papers (to name just a few).
Content marketing targets customers at every stage of the sales funnel. From providing general information to potential customers at the top of the funnel to educating middle of the funnel shoppers on your products to providing that final push to customers at the bottom of the funnel.
Content marketing is an essential part of any eCommerce marketing strategy (and if it’s not part of yours, you’re really missing out). As well as providing your audience with a better customer experience, a well-executed content marketing strategy greatly improves your SEO and helps to drive your brand awareness, traffic, conversions, and ultimately your revenue. It works because it’s organic. Unlike ads which are put in front of your customers and are often ignored or blocked, your customers go out of their way to seek out content, giving you the opportunity to build awareness and a relationship with your potential customers.
Want to explore how content marketing could help your business? Our team of experienced, specialist content marketers are on hand to answer any questions you may have, simply contact us today.
Step 1 - Understand your audience
To have any chance of convincing your customers to convert, you first need to know who your customers are. It’s likely that you’ve already got some kind of understanding of your audience. But to create a content strategy that’s going to get you the best results, you’ll need to create your ideal buyer personas.
The deeper and more detailed understanding you have of your customers, the better. And that’s where buyer personas come in. We’ll give you a quick overview of buyer personas here, but for a deeper dive into understanding your customers, check out our buyer personas guide.
So, what makes up a buyer persona? You want to collect the type of data that will help you create the content your customers need. The main place to start is with your customer demographics. Age, gender, geographic location, and hobbies are the main data categories you want to be looking for. However, depending on your product, other demographic data might also be useful like your customers' occupation, relationship status, beliefs, life goals, income level, and family size.
As well as demographics, your buyer personas also need to include information on your customers online behaviour and shopping habits. Discovering whether your target audience tends to access content via video, images, or written blogs gives you a good idea of the type of content you need to create. Identifying the devices and platforms your customers use is also vital to creating a successful content marketing strategy.
Here’s an example of what one of our buyer personas looks like…
You now know what you need to find out about your customers. But where do you get this information from? There are many data collection tools that you’re probably already using that can give you a good idea of your buyer personas. For example, Google Analytics, your CRM system, and Facebook Audience Insights (if you run Facebook ads) are all great places to start. Another option is to just ask your customers. Carrying out customer surveys (you may need to offer an incentive) can give you some great insights into who your customers are and what their pain points are.
Step 2 - Identify your goals
Your ultimate goal is to increase your stores conversion rate and grow your revenue. Content marketing can help you achieve these larger business goals, but it can also help you achieve so much more.
Unless you’re just focusing on bottom of the funnel content (in which case you’re really missing out), content marketing doesn’t always directly lead to sales and revenue. Focusing purely on the goals of conversion and revenue will not show you the full impact content marketing has on driving your profit. For example, content targeting terms like “what is x” will drive organic traffic to your store but due to the target term not having conversion intent, this content won’t increase sales or revenue, just your store's traffic.
Therefore, making goals with metrics that can be tracked is essential to show the true success of your content strategy. These goals tend to be things like an increase in click-through rates, content downloads, time on site, email sign-ups, and traffic growth. All of these boost brand awareness which will ultimately translate into profit as your customers move down the sales funnel.
Identifying these goals for your content marketing campaign will give you a clear end point in which to focus your content strategy. This helps to guide every aspect of your content strategy from the type of content you create to how you distribute and promote your content.
Step 3 - Conduct a content audit
If you were about to drive to a new restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, inputting the restaurant address into your satnav without inputting your start location would get you nowhere. Or even worse, inputting the wrong start location and ending up following directions that aren’t taking you where you want to go.
Creating a content marketing strategy with an end goal without knowing where you’re starting (or wrongly guessing where you’re starting) is the same. You need a detailed audit of your current content and how it’s performing so you know what direction you need to go in to reach your end goals.
So what should your content audit identify? The main pieces of data you need to pay attention to are the page type, the content format, the content topic, the buyer’s journey stage, and the engagement performance. This should give you a good idea of what content types and topics are currently performing well (and not so well) amongst your target audience.
Your content audit may identify pages that can be deleted as they are performing really badly and would have no benefit if improved. Much of your content will probably fall within the category of needing optimisation. This could be a full overhaul to rewrite the existing page content or it could just be a few minor tweaks. Then you might have some content pages that are performing really well and don’t need improving at all (you’ll want to create more of this content).
Step 4 - Create your content strategy
Now it’s time for the main show, the whole reason you’re here - to create your content strategy.
Content ideation could be considered the most important part of creating your content strategy. After all, the content itself is what the content strategy is built around. We recommend starting by looking at your buyer personas. Your buyer personas will hopefully be able to give you an idea of the format of content your target audience prefers. This will give you a good starting point to know whether your content will be focused more around video, written, a mixture of the two or another type of content.
Once you know the format of content to create, you need to brainstorm the topics of content to create. But brainstorming content ideas that your audience will actually find useful isn’t always easy. So we’ve put together some tips on where to start:
Keyword research: Use tools like Ahrefs and your Google Adwords account to discover what keywords you're currently organically ranking for and what paid ads keywords are converting best. You can then create content around these keywords.
Competitor research: Identify what content topics and keywords are working well for your competitors and create your own content around those topics.
Customer services: Ask your customer services and sales teams what the most common questions and pain points are that your customers contact you about. Use this information to brainstorm content topics that answer these questions and solve the pain points for your customers.
Online communities: Another way to find out your customers common questions and pain points is to look at social media communities and Reddit forums around your business and industry.
Differentiators: You could create content around your USPs (unique selling points). However, it’s important to use keyword research to identify if your customers are searching for this.
Ask your customers: You could go straight to your customers and ask what their pain points are and what content topics they would find useful. Getting verbal feedback over the phone, video, or in person will give you more useful and less-filtered insights. However, written feedback via customer surveys can also be useful.
Don’t forget that you want to target your customers at every stage of the sales funnel. Therefore, your content formats and topics need to reflect the needs of your target audience at every stage of their buyer journey.
Once you have a list of content topics, it’s time to prioritise them into a content calendar. But how do you know which topics to prioritise over others? We recommend starting with bottom of the funnel content as this will get you the quickest ROI. These topics should be focusing on longtail keywords that have a lower keyword difficulty and lower search volume but high purchase intent.
Organisation, communication, and teamwork are key for a successful content marketing strategy. And that’s what a content calendar provides you with. Your content calendar will help to keep all the members of your team on-track and up to date with the process of your content projects. However, it’s best if one person is responsible for creating and managing the content calendars for your business as this consistency is what will lead to your growth.
What should go into your content calendar:
Stage in the sales funnel
Who will create the content
Progress of the content (from creation and editing to distribution)
It can feel daunting to include so much information, but the more detailed your content calendar is, the easier it’ll be to create the content, know what the progress of each piece of content is, and track its success.
Content is organic, meaning that as long as it’s been properly optimised for SEO, over time it’ll build its way up the SERPs to organic success. But ensuring your content is optimised isn’t the only thing you can do to encourage organic success. You also need to build your authority in the eyes of search engines. The best way to do this is link building to gain relevant backlinks from other authoritative sites within your industry.
Although organic success is what you should be aiming for as it’s cheaper and sustainable, nobody likes waiting. So while your content takes the time it needs to build its organic success, you may want to promote your content to get quicker results. There are a number of ways you can do this and which ones you decide to use should be dedicated by what your target audience will access and respond best to.
Social media: Social media marketing works best if your brand already has an established presence with a reasonable following on the social platform your customers use most (use your buyer personas to identify this). Not only does promoting your content on your social media pages target your existing customers who are already interested and ready to engage with your content, it also targets and engages new customers through paid ads.
Earned media: Promotions from outside sources can include Digital PR, but can also be customers, featured interviewees, and the public commenting, sharing, and talking about your content. If you’ve created high-quality, relevant content for the right target audience, this should occur naturally.
Email marketing: Email marketing isn’t just about promoting your products and sales. Promoting new (and optimised) content to your existing customers that they might be interested in is a great way to get your customers back on your site and engaging with your brand.
Paid media: To reach your target audience who haven’t necessarily interacted with your brand yet, PPC ads and paid social ads are a great way to get your content out there and build brand awareness. This can be a trial and error method and can result in little results for a high cost if not done properly. If you’re interested in exploring your options within paid media, we’d love to have a chat.
Step 5 - Execute the content strategy
Everything is now ready for you to put your eCommerce content strategy into action. It’s time to follow your content calendar to create, edit, optimise, and promote your content.
When creating your content, it’s important to remember to include keywords and CTAs, follow a clear structure, and ensure that what you're creating is relevant to your target audience. We have a range of guides to help you create the best content from YouTube and TikTok content to written content.
Feeling overwhelmed? It might be the case that you have a lot of content you want to create but little time, resources, or team specialisms. In that case, it might be useful to outsource aspects of your content strategy to freelance content creators or eCommerce marketing specialists (like Contrast).
Step 6 - Track your performance and optimise
Your content strategy has been created and has been or is in the process of being executed. So that’s it all done right? Wrong again. Your content marketing strategy shouldn’t be a one off project, it should be treated as a living thing that needs regular attention and nurturing.
If you don’t track your performance, you won’t know if you’re any closer to achieving (or even exceeding) your goals, and that was the whole purpose of creating a content strategy in the first place. You need to be able to see which parts of your content strategy are working well and which parts are not working so well. You can then focus your resources and attention on creating more of the type and topics of content that are achieving your goals. Even if your content is performing excellently, there’s always room to optimise and improve your content strategy.
Now it’s your turn
Content marketing gets results. Start developing your content marketing strategy today and you’ll see what it can do for your brand. Just follow this guide a step at a time and you’ll be seeing a boost in your business in no time.
Do you have some questions or would you like to get some advice from eCommerce content strategy specialists? Here at Contrast, we have the experience and skills to guide you from “can I do this?” to “I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible”. All you have to do is get in touch.