If you’re not getting the sales you feel your products or services deserve, it’s time to take action, as success is not just going to land in your lap. Thanks to the highly competitive nature of the eCommerce sector, businesses are having to find new and compelling ways to reach customers.
One such method is a content marketing plan, which allows you to subtly finesse your readers into buying your products by solving their problems and displaying your value. With the right content being marketed, half the work of encouraging a buying decision is already done.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing can be a highly effective way of promoting products and its power relies on creating a positive experience for your customers. The product or brand that’s featured usually takes a backseat role, with this kind of advertising focusing on the things your audience cares about.
For instance, if you were trying to build your own computer, you would likely search “how to build a PC” and find an article from a company selling computer parts. The article is helpful and not overtly selling you anything, as it simply informs you of what steps to take while providing handy tips. There may be a couple of links to their products but it’s not aggressive or intrusive.
You might not make any purchases based on reading the article, but perhaps next time you Google something computer-related, you’ll recognize the company’s name in the search results and visit them. You already see the company as being helpful, so you’re more inclined to shop with them.
Why Should I Use Content Marketing?
The main draw of content marketing is how customer-friendly it is. You are essentially providing a free service for your readers. This makes you seem trustworthy and reliable, leading to stronger relationships with customers.
Content marketing also improves your eCommerce SEO as it gives you the chance to rank for a range of different search terms and makes you more likely to get backlinks and gain domain authority. Essentially, content marketing is an organic way to drive traffic to your site and make a good impression on your customers.
How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy
“So how exactly do I get started with content marketing strategy?” we hear you ask.
Well, as with all marketing you need to start with a solid plan and by following these 10 steps, you’ll have what you need to create yours.
Step One - Set Goals
Before you do anything, you should have a goal in mind. This will make your strategy focused and deliberate. Ask yourself: what do I want to achieve with my content marketing?
Content marketing can serve many different purposes. For example, you could use it for search engine lead generation and drive traffic to your site. Or perhaps you want to focus on crafting a fantastic customer experience that draws in new visitors while adding value to existing customers. Or, do you want to make educational content and establish yourself as an authoritative source?
Obviously, you would probably want all of these things, but it’s important to be specific. Your content should have a clear purpose, as this will not only help you to measure how well it’s working, but a concentrated content strategy will be far more impactful. Don’t worry though, as you can have multiple content marketing campaigns running at the same time!
Make sure the goal of your content aligns with your overall goal as a business, meaning that if you’re just starting out and trying to grow your business, your content plan should be geared towards increasing traffic, first and foremost.
Step Two - Know Your Target Audience
Now that you know what you want to achieve, the next question is who do you want to reach? Identifying your target audience will help you come up with a suitable communication style and ideas to reach and resonate with the right crowd.
If you’re targeting young teens looking for skincare solutions then your content should reflect that, as your 5 Tips To Get Rid Of Acne post is going to be a lot more relevant than content about wrinkles and anti-aging creams.
Having a demographic in mind will hugely impact the type of content you create and will establish a much better connection with customers who will find it relevant to their needs.
Unless you’re aiming for a very niche market, you should try and cover a few different demographics, as they often overlap. Having a range of content targeted specifically at 3-5 different audiences will allow you to create more content with greater regularity without sacrificing precision.
Staying with the same skincare analogy, if you target only young teens with acne issues, you’ll run out of content fairly quickly. Broadening your target audience to pre-teens, teens, young adults, and early 20s, you can create content addressing issues related to acne, skin ailments, hair loss, damage due to sun, pollution, and more.
Step Three - Pay Attention To Your Brand Voice
It’s vital to think about how you want to be perceived online, as the tone of your content ties in with your overall brand identity. Since you are promoting yourself indirectly, one of the best things you can do is have a strong, consistent brand voice.
Depending on your target audience, you could be knowledgeable, entertaining, empathetic, motivational…. The options are endless. In some cases, however, going against trends can work to your advantage e.g. if a lot of your competitors' content seems formal, perhaps introducing a quirky twist could be a refreshing change of pace for audiences.
Step Four - Track Your Progress
If your content isn’t having the desired effect, you need to be aware of this and change it. Don’t operate on assumptions or stumble in the dark. ECommerce marketing has the advantage of being completely measurable, making it easy to keep track of metrics.
Those that you can measure include:
- Impact On Business - How has the content affected your business? Keep track of things like site traffic, lead generation, and backlinks.
- Audience Action - When it comes to your audience, understand how they received this content. Did they download it? Did they follow any links? See if there was any response on social media or an increase in search volume. Use these metrics to see what works for your audience, what doesn’t and tailor accordingly.
- Improve Sales - How has your campaign affected your sales numbers? Are you seeing a return on your investment?
Paying attention to the impact of your content is key to an effective marketing campaign, as otherwise, you won’t know if action needs to be taken.
Step Five - Make the Most of Your Engaging Content
When it comes to content marketing, it is not necessary to generate new content every time, as the work you’ve already done can be refreshed and reused.
- Makeover - If you have some valuable content that has hit the right notes with your target audience, build on it. As time passes by, there will be more to add to that topic. As well as updating with more relevant content, you can bring in visuals like pictures, gifs, infographics, and videos to make the old content look fresh.
- Content Curation - Along with creating your own content, you can curate content from other sources too (with credit of course). A common way to do this is by sharing on social media or linking to other people’s videos in blog posts, but you should make sure to always include a comment saying why you think this content is valuable.
- Ask Users - If you have an active customer base that you interact with regularly, you can ask them what kind of content they would like to see. Not only does this give you ideas for fresh content but you’ll have guaranteed audience approval!
- Split Your Content Up – If you have a topic that has a lot of ground to cover, try splitting it up. Instead of one 10,000 word post, release a 1,000-word post each week. You can also expand sections of posts into their own posts. If you’ve already written a 1000-word listicle on ways to lose weight that included a 200-word segment on fiber supplements, you could write a longer post on fiber supplements just by expanding a little on what you’ve already written.
To learn more, check out this resource on re-purposing content for better results.
Step Six - Make A Content Calendar
Being consistent with releasing your content ensures you stay relevant. The more regular and “on-time” your content is, the better an impression you’ll make on your target audience. By making a content calendar, it will keep you organized.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making your content calendar:
- How often do you want to market content? This will depend on the size of your company and how much time and resources you can dedicate to making content. How frequently you post also varies depending on what your goals are. If you’re aiming to increase organic traffic then you should focus on posting as much optimized content as possible. If your intention is to increase brand awareness, then you may want to post less frequently and focus on diversifying your content.
- Identify important dates and events. If you’re selling beard oil, for example, dates like father’s day and Movember will be important times to market and you should plan content in advance for these occasions.
- Try to come up with serial content. A good series premise for blogs, videos, or podcasts will make it easier to come up with content. What’s more, audiences love series and will keep coming back to ones that resonate with them.
- Keep coming up with ideas outside of your planned dates. It’s better to have too much content and not need it than to need content and not have it. If you cannot publish an idea at the moment for whatever reason, put it aside for later. A folder of unused ideas can be a life-saver when inspiration is lacking.
Step Seven - What Type of Content Will You Create?
Just like you need to know your audience and your aims, you also need to be clear about the type of content you want to create and market. In terms of format, the two most common types of content marketing are videos and blog posts but there are lots of variations you can do within these forms.
The blogging format is the second most popular type of content marketing with 86% of companies favoring it. Nowadays, a lot of marketing blogs like to produce “listicles,” and for good reason too. Headlines with numbers in them get more clicks and are the most popular type of headline with 36% of people preferring listicle headlines to all others.
What’s more, listicles are highly shareable and get twice as many shares as other blog post formats. It appears that the orderly nature of dividing information into chunks appeals to our brains and the digestible nature of a listicle makes it ideal in the age of attention-span economy.
Your blog is essentially a blank slate where you can produce endless types of text-based content from instructional content to news to quizzes. Depending on your aims and audience, you can tweak your blog by using different writing styles too, whether they be conversational, tongue-in-cheek, or an expert tone.
Sites like Youtube and Netflix, along with live streams on social media, have thoroughly cemented the video format as our favorite way to consume content. The efficiency of video marketing seems to reflect this, as 80% of video marketers reported an increase in sales directly related to their video content.
A lot of blog content can also be published in a video format, including listicles, how-to pieces, interviews with experts, entertainment, and animations.
Another popular way to reach new audiences is to pay an established content creator to promote your product. This tactic is especially on-trend at the moment with social media personalities being used more and more by big names in retail.
You can pay for content that integrates your product or a related topic, or you can simply ask them to directly promote your product, whether by doing an “ad break” in a YouTube video or mentioning you in an Instagram post or story.
As many influencers have dedicated followings and their audience won’t find it jarring or annoying when they market your product. Furthermore, a lot of online content creators start small and make content on the side, so for many of them, ad sponsorships allow them to make content full-time, resulting in better, more regular content for their fans who will be appreciative of you for making that possible.
Audio content is another format that’s back in a big way thanks to the popularity of podcasts. As people like to listen to content in their cars or while walking, having your own podcast or appearing on other people’s podcasts is a good way to reach a demographic you might have otherwise missed.
Step Eight - Analyze The Competition
As we mentioned before, you should be keeping track of your performance metrics, but your analysis doesn’t stop there. You should also be aware of your competitors’ content marketing strategy and how it is working for them.
When you come up with topics, check search engines to see how much-related content is available for your audience base. Then, try to create content that puts a different spin on the subject. For example, if you see a lot of “tips and tricks” blog posts, go one further and release a video interview with an industry expert.
Coming up with new ways to present content and playing off the competition is a sure-fire way to keep your content fresh and appealing. The internet is saturated with content so being able to set yourself apart will have a powerful effect on your marketing campaign.
Step Nine - Who’s Creating Your Content
Of course, nothing in this world comes for free, so when coming up with a content marketing strategy, you’ll need to allocate roles and invest resources into it. If you don’t have time to create content yourself, then you can do what many do and outsource it.
The things you need to consider when making this decision include:
- Creating Content – Does it make more sense for you to create it or could you be freed from the job with expert help. The benefit of this approach is a fresh voice, however, unless specialized, they’re not likely to have your industry expertise.
- Checking Content – Someone needs to be responsible for ensuring a consistent brand voice and identity across all content. Someone in-house is obviously the best choice when it comes to quality checking either internally or externally created content.
- Which Tools Are Used – professional software and tools can cost a lot of money, especially if you’re making videos. You’ll need to account for this in your marketing budget and find a balance where you are able to make quality content with the resources you have.
Step Ten - Workflow
Finally, for your content marketing plan to operate smoothly, you need a thoroughly planned workflow. To stay on top of your goals and content calendar, your team needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Here is an example of what a good workflow for publishing blog posts would look like:
- Fix the deadline. Be realistic with your expectations here, it’s better to under-promise and overdeliver. Make some allowances in the schedule for things going wrong.
- Create an outline. Have a rough idea of what you want from your content. This is the “big picture” stage.
- Get approval. Check with people in charge that your blog idea is in keeping with the overall strategy.
- Write the content.
- Add visuals. Once you have the text, you can choose which sections would benefit from images or video.
- Get it edited. Have an editor check and make changes.
- Add final touches.
- Check how it flows when live. Check if your content is readable and the format is right for different gadgets and platforms.
- Publish the content!
Don’t Miss Out On The Benefits Of Content Marketing
Content marketing is an essential part of any good marketing strategy. In today’s online world, the best way to reach people is to provide information and entertainment that is relevant to their interests, rather than trying to directly promote yourself to them.
In fact, content marketing is cheaper than other channels and generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing. If you want to draw people in and make a good impression of your brand, a solid content strategy is the way forward. Use the steps above and see for yourself how it can grow your business!