How to Increase eCommerce Sales with Content Marketing
It’s becoming more challenging to promote your eCommerce business. The Internet is noisy, and consumers are skeptical. They probably run the other way if you try to sell them stuff too frequently or overtly.
How do you stay top-of-mind without turning people off?
That’s where content marketing comes in.
Content marketing has proven to be an effective strategy for increasing eCommerce sales. It does so by:
- building brand awareness
- driving traffic
- moving prospects further down the funnel
- optimizing the buying process
- building trust and relationships
- increasing customer loyalty
- positioning your business as a voice of authority
Not only is content marketing an effective strategy, but it’s also easy on the wallet. It costs 62% less and generates three times more leads when compared to traditional advertising.
However, that doesn’t mean you can throw some blog posts on your website, cross your fingers, and expect sales to skyrocket.
As more and more marketers are leveraging the power of content marketing to generate leads and drive sales, consumers are becoming more discerning. You need to be strategic with your content creation and promotion, so you can stay ahead of the pack, drive high-quality traffic, and convert it into sales. Here’s how.
1. Get Focused With a Results-Driven Strategy
There are many things you can do in content marketing, and not every tactic will lead to the results most relevant to your business.
Define a direction for your content marketing efforts to ensure that you’re spending your time and resources on activities that’ll move the needle most.
Document your content strategy, which should cover the following:
- Long-term and short-term goals
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) in relation to your goals
- Buyer persona(s)
- Keywords or key phrases
- Editorial calendar (taking into account holidays, seasonal events, and your company’s marketing calendar)
- Promotional schedule, which could include social media, influencers, and email marketing
Social listening solutions like Simply Measured Social Listening provide meaningful insight into the types of conversations your audience(s) are having on social media. From this insight, you can define a strategic direction for the type of content you produce, identify influencers that can broadcast to an even larger audience, and build strategies that align with what’s trending in the social space.
2. Branch Out With Content Types
Text (e.g., blog posts) is only one of the many types of content you can deploy as part of your content marketing strategy.
Using a variety of content formats will give you the opportunity to appeal to different audiences, and will help increase engagement.
Some examples include infographics, memes, videos, product reviews, user-generated content, case studies, client testimonials, ebooks, podcasts, and slideshows.
If you’re using images, make sure to include keyword-rich alt tags and title tags so search engines can “see” your content.
Regardless of the content type, keep in mind that it should be created to keep your audience engaged with your brand, improve your website’s SEO, and move your prospects along the buyer’s journey.
3. Show Your Products In Context
Content marketing is first and foremost about building trust and relationships through valuable and informative materials. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mention your product or services if they’re relevant to helping your audience achieve the results discussed in the content.
Let’s say you’re selling supplements, and want to promote a line of vitamin C products. You could post an article titled “X Ways to Boost Immunity This Cold & Flu Season,” and mention taking vitamin C supplements as a way to avoid getting sick. You could include a link to your vitamin C product page, along with the recommendations, without appearing overtly promotional.
Video is another great medium to show your products in action. 43% of people want to see more video content, and 51.9% of marketing professionals identified video as the marketing effort with the highest ROI.
Videos can be created for every stage of the sales funnel, from awareness all the way to conversion. Some ideas for video content include product demos, how-to videos, customer testimonials, and personalized sales videos.
You can also use shorter videos for social media. Facebook and Instagram Live, Snapchat, and YouTube are great channels for building awareness, engaging with your audience, and driving traffic.
4. Get the Most Out of Blogging
Blogging is still the tried-and-true content marketing tactic. However, many businesses aren’t maximizing the potential of each post to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert sales.
Before you start writing, do some keyword research to understand what potential customers are searching for online with regards to your products or services. You can use this list of keywords to inform your topics and titles.
After you’ve published a post, don’t just sit on your hands and hope people will flock to your site. You need to put in the effort to promote your post in order to drive high-quality traffic.
Your blog post promotion may include:
- Sharing it on social media
- Sharing it in social media groups
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Commenting on other blogs
- Paid promotion
Also, keep in mind that a majority of the traffic won’t immediately convert into customers. You should have some kind of lead-capture mechanism set up on your website for visitors to sign up to your mailing list so you can continue building trust and relationships with them.
In addition, you can accelerate your visitors’ purchasing path by offering a limited-time discount or free shipping offer to convert more traffic into leads and customers.
Last but not least, don’t forget to use retargeting to keep engaging with visitors who have consumed your content but haven’t yet converted into customers.
Content shared on your blog or through your owned social profiles can be tracked using Simply Measured Conversion Tracking—informing you of your best-performing social channels and how they directly contribute business value.
Above is a screenshot of Simply Measured Conversion Tracking. We can identify that Facebook is this brand’s most influential social platform according to the amount of business value it contributes. Twitter and dark social channels are also making an impact on this brand’s business value, which is quantified if you dive deeper into the app.
5. Build and Leverage Relationships
Guest post on websites that your ideal customers frequent to reach a new audience. Guest posting also helps you build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and boost SEO with backlinks.
Make sure to identify sites that are good matches (in terms of audience and topic), and then put in the time to create high-quality content. The sites should have an established audience and a plan to promote guest posts.
If the guidelines allow, include one or two relevant links back to your website (or product pages). Don’t forget to craft an intriguing bio, and include a link to your website in the “About the Author” section.
Guest blogging is just one of the many ways to get in front of a new audience. You can build relationships with influencers in your niche and ask them to promote your content (text, images, videos, etc.) to their followers.
You can also ask influencers to write content for your blog. Once their post is published, ask them to share the link with their followers to drive traffic back to your website. This strategy is called “reverse guest posting.”
When appropriate, add callouts or promotional images sparingly in the post to share relevant products, and promote them in context.
Simply Measured has a robust guest blogger program and often seeks out industry professionals to share their thoughts and ideas regarding the latest trends in social media. These guest bloggers provide new perspective and insight into social marketing, both through the social marketer and content marketer lenses.
6. Share Non-Promotional Content on Social & Paid Media
You have spent the time and effort to create content. Now it’s time to make it work harder for you. In fact, the best content marketers spend 20% of their time creating content and 80% of their time promoting content.
Follow the 80/20 rule when sharing posts: 80% of your posts should be unbranded content that provides value, and 20% can be brand- or product-focused.
Non-promotional content helps you build trust and brand awareness. It’s also easier to get people to click through when you’re sharing valuable, informative, or educational content.
Organic reach can sometimes be slow and unpredictable. You can drive more traffic and boost sales with paid media (i.e., ads and boosted posts) on almost every social media platform, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Snapchat.
Make sure to do your homework on buyer persona to help decide which platforms will give you access to your ideal audience. That will help ensure you’re in the right place at the right time so you can deliver the right message and maximize ROI.
One promotional channel that is often overlooked is Reddit. It’s not for every niche, but it can be very effective for the right audience because there is more engagement and less noise on the platform.
Reddit attracts a different breed of users. Here’s what to keep in mind when advertising on Reddit:
- Contribute value to the community
- Be transparent – don’t try to trick users to click or game the system
- Have a sense of humor – people go to Reddit for entertainment and socializing
- Speak the language – Reddit allows you to target specific sub-cultures, so take advantage of that
- Roll with the punches – Reddit users can be brutally honest. Respond to their comments, address any concerns, and use the feedback to inform your next round
Through paid social advertisements or sponsored posts, you can create highly-targeted content to grab audience attention and direct them to your site, where they can learn more about your brand (and its offerings) or make purchases.
Content Marketing Is a Long Game
You probably won’t get Internet-famous the moment you publish your first post. Building a reputation, brand awareness, and SEO juice takes time – often a good 6 to 12 months – even for the best content marketers.
The key to making content marketing work for your eCommerce business is to create and promote content consistently, and measure your results based on the goals and KPIs identified in your strategy.
Track your progress with monthly reports, collaborate with your sales and marketing team to improve your efforts, and course-correct if necessary to make sure you’re hitting the mark.
If you’re looking for more inspiration to boost the effectiveness of your content marketing game, check out our post 6 Brainstorm Resources for Content Marketers.
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Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant. He specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.