I want you to close your eyes for a second and imagine this scenario.
You got to bed (too late) as usual. But when you wake up in the morning instead of rushing to see what meagre results your meagre Facebook marketing budget has produced while you slept, (if any) …
… Instead, you wake to an email informing you that you’re now ranking #4th for (insert the keywords/s you want to rank for here). And… wait for it…
…that sweet ranking position on the first page has bought in a nice little stream of traffic while you slept––and… 3 sales.
I know, I know, it’s the stuff of dreams right?
Well, what if I told that actually it isn’t – at least not when you know how to create an Ecommerce content strategy that actually converts.
Would you want to know more?
If you answered yes, then get settled in because you’re in for a treat. In this rather detailed guide, not only will you discover:
- How you can create a sustainable traffic source to your online store (which generates sales)
- How you can increase trust with your customer (so they are confident to buy from you)
- How to improve your organic Google search results (without doing anything spammy)
- How to position your brand as the’ go-to’ when it’s time for your customer to shop
But you’ll also know exactly how to create an Ecommerce content marketing strategy for your online store. With that being said, I think we’d have enough preamble and should just get started.
How To Create An Ecommerce Content Strategy: Table of Contents
- What’s an Ecommerce Content Strategy & Why You Need one
- The Data Driven Argument For Making Content A Priority
- How To Create Your Ecommerce Content Marketing Strategy 101
- How To Create Your Ideal Customer Avatar (+ a worksheet)
- Mapping Out Your Ideal Customer’s Buying Cycle
- Establishing Your Content Objectives, Keywords, and KPI’s
- How To Establish A Content Publishing Schedule (you can stick to)
- How To Create Time For Content development (even when you’re busy)
- How To Plan Your Content Promotion & Amplification Strategy
- How To Build Your Email List With Your Content
- How To Select The Tools & Software You Need (+ my top recommendations)
- Different Types Of Content You Can Create For Your Online Store (+ examples)
- 2017 Ecommerce Content Marketing Trends You need to be aware of
What’s An Ecommerce Content Strategy & Why Do You Need One?
Before I go any further, I need to make sure you’re clear about the difference between strategy and tactics.
Because, even though these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same thing.
Your strategy is the ‘what’ part of your marketing plan. It’s your long-term objective for what you’re trying to achieve with your Ecommerce content strategy.
Whereas your tactics, are the ‘how’.
A detailed breakdown of the steps you plan to take to help you accomplish that objective.
But world renowned business guru Michael Porter, takes the idea of strategy a step further:
“Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”
And I’d be inclined to agree with him.
To sum it up: Your Ecommerce content strategy is the blueprint for how your brand will compete for the eye’s, mind’s, and wallet’s of your ideal customer.
Jump back to chapter guide
The Data Driven Argument For Making Content Creation A Priority
Did you open your online store because you heard it was a quick and easy way to start your own business?
I’m guessing if that was the case then, by now – unless you’re one of the lucky ones with the cashflow, skill and time to really get down and dirty with paid traffic – you might be feeling a little duped?
That’s understandable, and all hope is not lost.
But, if you want to play to win? Then a change of strategic direction is in order.
And I’m hoping that just as you were influenced by screenshots of mega revenues, you’ll once again be influenced by the numbers. And this time, those numbers haven’t been fabricated.
Did you know that…
- 2.4 percent of respondents said they installed an ad blocking app or browser in the previous 4 – 6 months, but 7.8 percent said they had done so very recently, either in November or December 2015, or January 2016 – source.
But wait, it gets worse…
So what does this alarming data mean for your online store?
Well, it means that if you’re relying purely on paid advertising to drive traffic and sales to your website–you’re in (costly) trouble. And those stats were for 2016 (update coming soon).
81%+ of marketers found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. – Source.
Now it would be easy to read these statistics and interpret them as ‘I need to spend more time posting on Facebook.’
But that’s too simplified an approach.
See, what it ‘doesn’t’ say is, how much increased traffic they got in as ‘little as 6 hours per week?’
Or, which social media channel drove that traffic increase. But you can bet your bottom dollar there will be one channel which did 80% of the heavy lifting.
Don’t believe me.
Go check your Google analytics, I’ll wait.
- Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%) – source
Now, I’m not quite sure how you read that?
But I take it to mean: if you want to experience year-on-year growth for your online store then you need to innovate with your Ecommerce content strategy, not just add more noise.
And I can’t speak for you, but this seems infinitely more do-able than putting all my efforts into trying to master a complex advertising platform (Facebook) which gets more expensive each day. Especially, when realise that the cost of that learning curve could put you out of business.
How To Create Your Ecommerce Content Strategy 101
If you’re still reading, I take it that you too believe there has to be a better, more sustainable way, to drive traffic to your online store?
I’m also going to make the assumption that you want to create a brand which has clout in your space.
Nodding your head? Then you’re exactly who I wrote this post for. So let me show you step-by-step how you can use your Ecommerce content strategy to help you achieve that goal.
But first, we’ve got to go back to basics. Yes, again.
- How To Create Your Ideal Customer Avatar (+ free worksheet)
“Hint: if your market definition has the word “anyone” in it, you’ll probably fail.” – Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit.
Creating your ideal customer avatar doesn’t have to be some arduous affair that takes weeks, but it will take a little time, research, and attention.
Though, when you consider this document is essentially the roadmap to your ideal customer’s wallet, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a task worth doing properly.
What I’d recommend to new store owners is to always add value, no matter what. Sure, start from your product, and yes, absolutely work on your branding. But if your reader isn’t walking away feeling good about what they’ve just read, watched, or looked at, you’ve failed your mission. Always ask yourself how your consumer is going to benefit from your content, and you’ll never get it wrong. Whitney Blankenship – Ecommerce-nation.co
Tips for creating your customer avatar:
- Make your profile as personalised and detailed as you can. Give your customer a name, age, location. Heck, even give her a face.
- Think about the holistic interests of your customer. Get clear on the different areas of their life and lifestyle which are important to them.
- Identify the problem your product really solves for customer.
Because you’ll find there’s:
And just like with the whole strategy Vs tactic thing, there’s a subtle difference. Miss it and miss out.
Still not convinced you need to spend time creating your ideal customer profile?
Feel free to check out this post when you’re done here – there’s also a handy customer avatar worksheet you can download for free.
ACTION STEP: Fully flesh out your ideal customer before you start ideating on your Ecommerce content strategy. And remember, while you might like what you sell, you are not your customer.
PRO-TIP: Spend some time in online forums and communities where your ideal customer hangs out. Listen to their challenges and questions, and pay attention to which type of content and messaging they respond to. More on how to do that later.
- How To Map Out Your Customer’s Buyer Cycle
Not quite sure what that is or why it’s important?
Well below I’ve shared an example of those different stages. And just for fun, I’ve taken it from the standpoint of the conversation going on in your customer’s head.
- Shit, this garden is bigger and more work than I imagined, guess it’s time to get a proper lawn mower
- Hmmm… I wonder how much one of those bad boys will cost, I remember Bob bragging about how much he spent. Don’t want to go broke, but can’t let Bob show me up
- Let me do my research before I present this to the wife. I know she wants a show garden, but let’s see if she wants to spend a fortune to get it and keep it?
- Oh… wait a second, I wonder if I can get a deal on Ebay? A lawn mower’s only gonna get dirty so why not get it secondhand?
- Errrr no! Can you imagine the argument if I get a no-refund dud on Ebay, and still have to shell out on the real deal. Buy cheap, buy twice!
- Okay, let’s see who’s got the best deal? And that better include free delivery ‘cos I sure as heck don’t want to pay for something that size be delivered.
I’ll stop here.
Can you see all the different stages Richard’s going through before he makes a decision?
If you sell $10 water bottles, or $67 dresses, your buyer cycle will probably be a lot shorter – which might make you think to skip this step.
..it’s this intelligence which will allow you to create an Ecommerce content strategy designed to engage your customer at all stages of their buying cycle, while seamlessly guiding them through your sales funnel.
Hear the term ‘sales funnel’ and instantly feel like a snake oil salesman?
Then let me reframe that for you:
– Present your prospect with the information they need to be able to make an informed buying decision – on autopilot.
ACTION STEP: Plot your customer’s buyer cycle. Once you have a clear picture of what that looks like, decide which content assets you’ll need to create to meet them where they are.
PRO-TIP: List all the silent objections or questions your customer might have that would stop them making a purchase. Then, make sure you weave the answers to these objections and questions throughout your content.
- Establish your content objectives, keywords, and KPI’s
It’s wise to get clear about what your objective and focus keyword is for each piece of content you create–before you create it.
Also, you need to decide what key performance indicators (KPI’s) you’ll use to measure whether you’re meeting those objectives:
- Is your post designed to educate – so you get less pre-sales emails?
- Is your post designed to position you as an authority or high-end brand – so there’s less price resistance?
- Is your post designed to increase brand awareness – reducing touch points needed to make the sale?
- Is your post designed to get you on the radar of influencers within your niche – so they can help amplify your content or partner with you?
- Is your post designed purely to entertain and nurture your audience so they know you understand their needs? Empathy is a powerful marketing tool that shouldn’t be overlooked.
TAKE ACTION: Decide on your content objectives for the next three months, then plan what keywords you want to target with the content you’ll create.
PRO-TIP: Ecommerce content marketing is the long game. If you publish a post and expect to rank for that keyword term overnight, you’ll be disappointed.
A better plan is to set up a weekly rankings check reminder in your calendar, so you can track your results. In order to make sure your Ecommerce content strategy is working for you, it’s essential to regularly check and analyse your results.
- How To Create An Ecommerce Content Publishing Schedule (you can stick to)
Experts differ in their opinions on how regularly you should publish new content.
Some say three posts per day. Some say at least one per week.
While others, like SEO expert Brian Dean from Backlinko, subscribe to the – do the opposite approach. Meaning, you can’t do what everyone else is doing and expect to standout.
Interestingly, Brian only publishes new content every six weeks or so.
But when he does post fresh content it’s always an in-depth, well written, and beautifully designed post. In other words, it’s content worth waiting for, sharing, and linking to.
Your brand isn’t required to publish Backlinko level content to get results. But saying that, I’d highly recommend you follow many of his optimisation tactics as he knows his shit!
However, you do need to have a clear vision on how often you’ll publish new content. As, ‘whenever you feel like it’, just won’t cut it. This is why having a content creation calendar really comes in handy.
TAKE ACTION: Do you have older content that doesn’t have a clear purpose or which you know could be improved?
Go back and freshen up your older content and improve your SEO optimisation for those posts, then, change the post publish date – and republish.
PRO-TIP: If you’ve created a post on a similar topic but your newer piece of content is definitely better, you can forward your old content to your new content using a 301 redirect.
- How To Make Time For Content Creation (on a regular basis)
Content that will become a long-term asset to your brand is rarely produced in an hour.
And when you start creating content designed to rank in search engines, you’ll be surprised by just how long it takes to research, write/edit, and create images for each post. I know I was.
TAKE ACTION: Decide how many pieces of content you want to put out each month, then, bake in at least 8hrs of content creation time to make each post ready for publication.
Once you start expecting each piece of content you create to take at least that length of time, you’ll be able to plan your time and resources accordingly.
PRO-TIP: Don’t edit your writing as you go along, just write.
I like to outline the content, set a timer, then write none stop till my time is up–as this helps to gamify the process a little. Edit your content once you’ve exhausted your ideas, and with a fresh pair of eyes.
- How To Plan Your Content Promotion & Amplification Strategy
You can have the best Ecommerce content strategy in the world, but you’ll have wasted your time if no-one sees your posts.
Content promotion is an art form in and of itself.
A clever combination of consistency, strategic repetition, and getting your content in front of industry influencers with a much larger reach than you.
The great thing about having a strategic Ecommerce content strategy, is that you’re able to get out ahead of yourself (and your competition). Especially when it comes to building relationships with influencers who you hope will share your best posts.
TAKE ACTION: Write a wish-list of influencers who you’d like to see share your content, comment, or link back to you. Then, commit to getting on their radar by doing all of those things, for them first.
PRO-TIP: Create an content promotion checklist.
This tool can be used by yourself and anyone else on your team involved with content creation, to make sure that key promotional tasks are executed every time you publish a new article.
- How To Use Your Content To Build Your Mailing List
When you create high-quality, supremely helpful content, readers are often happy to give you their email – but you need to give them something (and somewhere) to opt-in to.
The great thing with long-form content is there are natural opportunities to link to your opt-in offer directly within the post. And, you can always add an exit intent popup to your content pages, to make sure they see your offer.
TAKE ACTION: Decide on what your email opt-in offer will be. Then, make sure your email capture form is set up to play nicely with your website. Next, double-check all your emails to make sure everything is delivering smoothly.
PRO-TIP: As you start to grow your traffic don’t be afraid to test different opt-in offers. And don’t forget, there are many things you can offer which are not an immediate discount.
- How To Decide What Tools You Need ?
Whether you’re a one man band, or have a fully fleshed out team to help you execute your Ecommerce content strategy, you’ll need some tools to help you:
- Research your content ideas
- Create your graphics, videos, or other forms of media
- Build and manage your email list
- Spy on your competition – oh that’s just me ha?
- Conduct link building outreach
- Create landing pages
One of the things which slowed me and others down when starting out, was not having the right tools of my trade.
This also usually meant doing an irritating, time consuming service transfer later on down the line.
Does this mean that you need to have pro-versions of every tool straight out the gate?
Not at all!
But think about what campaigns you want to execute, and then get clear around what tools you need to launch them quickly and effectively.
This way you can invest in a powerful set of marketing tools you’ll actually use, right from the start.
This article shares 67 Ecommerce marketing tools (you don’t need anything close to that) which I either use, have used, or have reviewed.
But below you’ll find a much shorter list of my favourite tools that specifically help you action your Ecommerce content strategy – and the reasons why I love them.
My Top Ecommerce content marketing tools – in no particular order
EpicBeat: Use this tool to find out who and what you’re up against. Also to find potential guest blogging opportunities, and influencers who’s radar you need to get on.
Why I love it: To be able to win the content marketing war, because make no mistake, it is a war – you need to know who and what you’re up against. This tool helps you find that out.
My top three features:
- Incredible search function
Use the filters to really dial in what you’re looking for, then, click go-to insights to get all the information you need on who is shutting own the internet.
- Content format and type analysis
Not every piece of content you create has to be a 5200+ word blog post (like this one). As you can see infographics come out on top for the term ‘content marketing’ – not written content.
Find out what content format is killing it for your niche, the plan to create more content in that format.
- Text analysis
With data on everything from word count to reading levels, this tool takes all the guesswork out of creating content designed to rank well and get lots of social shares.
Ahrefs: I call this tool the FBI of the internet.
This is not an exaggeration, it really is that serious.
In fact, it’s so powerful, that I’d advise you only invest in it if you’re serious about building an Authority Ecommerce brand. If you are? Then Ahrefs is your secret weapon.
Why I love it: Knowledge is power, and if you take the time to get to grips with this pro-tool you’ll have enough knowledge to be dangerous.
My top three features:
- Keyword and backlink alerts to your inbox
Set up alerts to let you know about new keywords and backlinks gained (and lost) for you (and your competitors) and have them arrive daily in your inbox.
- Phrase match SERP results
Just because a keyword looks like low-hanging fruit doesn’t necessarily mean it’s within your reach.
What I love about this function is that with a click of a button, you quickly see the page page #1 SERP results for your chosen keyword.
This function also lets you know how many backlinks those sites have pointing to that page – effectively letting you know what you’d need to do to compete.
Sometimes you realise the top ranking pages are just too strong for you to go up against right now.
This information is vital if you want to create an Ecommerce content strategy that yields results sooner rather than later.
Go grab your competitors top performing articles and plug them into this cool feature. Link intersect lets you see which websites are linking to those posts, but not linking to yours.
Boom! You now have another website to reach out to for a backlink.
Canva: The image creation saviour of the world. Before this tool came on the market I used to hire a part-time graphic design assistant, but not any more.
Now, anyone on my team can create quality branded graphics without having any specialist design skills.
Why I love it: It’s quick and easy to get set up with, and the interface is very intuitive to use. Not to mention the learning curve of mastering it takes days, whereas Photoshop takes months.
My top three features:
- Template creation
I love the premium Canva for work option as it allows me to work easily with my assistant on creating templates we can use repeatedly. Canva is easily the lowest cost tool in my kit, but the value and time saved is immense.
- Branding folder
The branding folder function allows you to upload your custom fonts and brand hex codes, so you know longer have to use the standard fonts or waste a ton of time finding your exact branding colours every time you create a new graphic.
- Quick resize function
One of the biggest pains in the ass with creating images for social media, is that you always have to create images in different dimensions.
Canvas’ one-click resize button takes all that hassle away. Simply move some elements around and you’re done.
Types of content you can create for your online store
Let’s be honest, if you’re a one-man-band, chances are you don’t have an endless amount of time or a particularly deep marketing budget.
This means you need to select your content creation activities wisely, and make sure you focus on creating the sort of content most desired and engaged with by your ideal customer.
There’s an overwhelming amount of content types you can choose from.
But my advice if you’re just getting started with your testing your Ecommerce content strategy, is to focus on what I like to call: the triad. Video, long form blog posts, and your email newsletter.
Let’s take a look at each content type in the triad and why they work so well.
- Branded video content
Before you start hyperventilating let me make this clear, this doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production.
Check out this example of low-cost branded video content that does the job nicely.
Video converts. Period.
But if you’re not sure why, here are a few reasons you’ll need to be aware of:
• It offers a chance to see the product in-action before purchasing
• It offers a chance to educate on the product and answer FAQ’s
• It offers a chance to develop a connection with the people behind the product
Now you know the reasons why, and realise it doesn’t have to cost the earth, the only thing left to do is decide what video assets you’ll create for your Ecommerce content strategy, right?
2. SEO optimised blog content, preferably long-form
Long-form SEO content is a post written to rank for a specific keywords that’s 1500+ words or more.
Now don’t me wrong, not every post you write needs to be long-form or SEO driven. But at least 80% of it should be. You’ll find 50 examples of Ecommerce content marketing in this post, many of them long-form SEO’d content.
But you know what’s really interesting about these examples?
How many social media shares these posts got, and, which platform generated most of those social signals. I wonder if you know which came out on top?
TAKE ACTION: If the idea of writing long-form content brings you out in hives, rather than pretend it’s something you’ll get round to, decide whether it’s possible for you to outsource this task.
PRO TIP: Quality content takes time to create, and those who are exceptional at it charge prices which reflect their skill.
Look for new talent you can hire and train to become part of your content creation team to get more budget friendly rates.
3. Weekly email content – even when you’re not running a sale!
While there’s no substitution for creating and executing the sort of long term Ecommerce content strategy we’ve been discussing throughout this post. Don’t forget email is a great place for micro-blogging, as well as selling.
Rather than only emailing your subscribers when you have a new sale or promotion, create a content focused automated email sequence that all new subscribers go into – before being segmented by their actions.
TAKE ACTION: Write your automated email nurture sequence. And make sure it contains a mix of content designed to inform, educate and entertain, as well as sell.
PRO-TIP: Tools like ConvertKit allow you to tag subscribers according to the actions they take when reading your emails.
2017 Ecommerce Content Marketing Trends You Need To Be Aware Of
- Backlash against social platforms
Think that’s complete BS? We’ll check out this video from popular you-tuber PewDiePie.
Now from what I can see his channel is still live, but he’s not the only influencer getting mad with social media, or the only brand moving to their own platform.
Why should that matter to you?
Well as you can see from this graph from Tomoson– one the biggest influencer marketing platforms around – working with a mega influencer ain’t cheap.
According to The New York Times, a top influencer with 3-7M followers charges $187,500 per YouTube video. For a post on Instagram or Snapchat, they charge an average of $75,000, and for a Twitter post, approximately $30,000.
The same article reported that macro-influencers, who have somewhere between 50,000 and 500,000 followers, charge a lot less than mega-influencers.
TAKE ACTION: Stop hoping to catch a break with a mega influencers and start cultivating relationships with the micro and macro influencers. Those influencers of the future, who are still open to affordable partnerships
PRO TIP: Focus on building your own audience and influence from the get-go. But don’t forget that very Ecommerce content strategy can be given a major boost with a great influencer behind you.
- Visual marketing is increasing (still) and can’t really can’t be ignored
Vennage ran a major survey of 300 marketers and discovered that 53% of those surveyed said that been 91 and 100% of their content contained visual material.
You might be reading this and thinking, errmm I run an online store OF COURSE my content is visual. That’s why I want to clarify something:
– Constantly posting pictures of your product – no matter the platform – is not content promotion. It’s a poor attempt at making sales–that’s probably not even working out that well for you.
This post on how to promote your online store has lots of free and nearly free ideas you’ll find helpful.
TAKE ACTION: Evaluate the type and the quality of the visuals you’re currently putting out. Make sure you have a mix of product images and other easy to engage with visual content.
PRO-TIP: Plan your social media up to 4-weeks ahead so you can make sure you have creative for key holidays and promotions, as well as non-sales based visual content.
- User generated content (UCG) will be more persuasive than branded content
Think about it for a second…
When you’re looking for information on a product before you make a purchase, who and what are you mostly likely to believe and be more persuaded by?
The company who toots their own horn every 5-seconds, or , the brand who has a legion of happy customers evangelising (with pictures) all over the social web.
My guess is number 2, right?
TAKE ACTION: Make it a priority to showcase happy customers, and go hard to get customers to send you reviews and images of them using your product.
Take a look at this visual gallery from Tulled Dreamers, and tell me it doesn’t make you want to run out and order a hand-tied tulle tutu for baby girl? I rest my case.
PRO-TIP: If you can, develop an automated system for requesting this UCG from your customers.
- Email marketing will be resurrected
Despite all the naysayers publishing click-baity and misleading articles saying email marketing is dead, nothing could be further from the truth.
Email marketing is far from dead, it’s just getting hard to do well.
In 2017, brands need to look at elevating their newsletters from merely educational to relevant, interesting, and entertaining content—perhaps even interactive experiences.
This may include video, quizzes, puzzles, and other ways to get users directly involved with the content you publish. – Source
Make building your email list a priority. Above gaining more Instagram followers or more Facebook fan page likes. Yes, I said that.
Social media engagement is a beautiful thing, but subscribers on your mailing list is an asset far more valuable in the long term.
TAKE ACTION: Commit to emailing your new subscribers at least once per week. Mix up sales based emails with educational, informative, and entertaining content.
Pay attention to which emails get the most opens, links clicks, and most unsubscribes.
PRO-TIP: Test both plain text and visual emails – remember, people often disable the show images option in their email inbox.
If you’re still reading this post let me congratulate you.
At this point, you probably know more about creating an Ecommerce content strategy for your online store than your closest competitor.
But, reading a blog post is not the same as doing the work, so that’s what I encourage you to do next.
GET TO WORK!
But as we wrap up I have a question and a request:
- Let me know what challenges and questions you have about creating an Ecommerce content strategy for your online store in the comments. Feel free to leave a link to your store, I plan to choose 1-2 to review and give some feedback on.
- If you think this post was a worthy read, which, if you’re here I can only assume you must do? Please help me amplify this content by sharing it in your communities.
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