When you think of your next customer—will you find them, or will they find you? For most eCommerce businesses, the answer to that question is that you always have to go searching for customers, usually through some kind of paid advertising. But the best eCommerce brands know that the answer should be, “both”. The reality is, with so much competition out there, your business should be taking any and every opportunity to get your customers’ attention. While most eCommerce brands have mastered the outbound approach, business owners who make a strong effort to bring customers inbound will have a unique advantage over their competition. The foundation of a successful inbound strategy is content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing by definition is the process of generating and sharing content—blogs, articles, social media posts, videos, infographics, and other written and visual pieces—to passively attract relevant consumers with the hope that they will keep a brand top of mind until they’re ready to convert into paying customers.
Many eCommerce brands ignore the power of content marketing, but it’s growing in popularity for eCommerce companies because it has long-term SEO benefits and consumers prefer being approached with value versus direct marketing and sales efforts. In addition, content marketing helps boost any traffic-driving activity an eCommerce brand does, which lowers the cost of acquisition.
For eCommerce, content marketing doesn’t usually work on its own, it is an important way for businesses to attract new customers and generate brand equity. Through content marketing, eCommerce brands can educate customers, give them value, encourage word-of-mouth spread, lead to those short-term sales that every business wants, and take it one step further by building long-term loyalty.
Why eCommerce Content Marketing is Important
These days, consumers are becoming their own salespeople, in that they are doing their own research about products before they make purchases. In fact, 81% of consumers research their products online before making a purchase.
Content marketing isn’t just for B2B businesses—even consumers making small decisions take time to research before purchasing. Opening a conversation and educating customers with content gives businesses an advantage because they get to tell their own story. As consumers become more educated and get more access to information, the role of an eCommerce business has to evolve. Customer expectations are high, and businesses need to change their approach to meet those expectations.
Many eCommerce brands avoid content marketing because there is time and effort involved, and it doesn't seem like it would be worth the effort for a relatively small transaction. Great content marketing isn’t just about that one transaction though—it’s about engaging people and building a relationship with them over time so they continue to come back, and maybe even tell others about a brand. Content marketing shouldn’t be a burden on customers, it should be a welcome conversion, and should extend into the long term.
What Are the Benefits of Content Marketing?
Taking it one step further, eCommerce content marketing has strong value for a business, and companies are reaping the financial benefits of increased revenue generated from it.
Search Engine Optimization
It's tough to beat this benefit that content marketing brings to any industry. The idea of optimizing for search engines is to create content that answers the questions people search for on Google, Bing, or whatever other search engines they're using. When content is created that aligns with the keywords that people are typically searching and follows guidelines that make it more friendly for search engine algorithms, this content will move higher into the search engine rankings and more eyes will see it. And of course, the more eyes on a brand, the more likely those eyes may be people that are interested in a purchase.
Creating interesting and relevant content allows people who may not yet be ready to pull the trigger on a purchase to engage with your brand. They may find content they like, engage with it, and begin building a relationship with your brand. From here, you can continue to serve them with additional relevant content that will resonate with them and build that brand loyalty that every business wants.
Branding and Recognition
You know that there are plenty of people out there that will know, love, and benefit greatly from your product. They just haven't heard of you yet. Creating relevant and useful content regularly about your industry, product, and other things that matter to your customers will make them trust you and increase loyalty so they think of your brand when they want to buy a product like yours.
More than that, content allows you to show what makes your brand unique and show customers why they should buy from you.
Value and Education
As consumers become more empowered to research what they need before making a purchase, eCommerce businesses need to take that opportunity to give those customers what they’re looking for. Creating content on topics relevant to the industry or that addresses customer pain points allows brands to educate while encouraging them to make a purchase. With enough relevant informational and educational content, brands can become the authority on a subject and a thought leader in the industry. As an authority, your brand will have an easier time gaining trust and getting people to make a purchase.
Builds Relationships With Your Customers
By creating relevant content that interests and engages customers, a brand has an opportunity to hold conversations with them. This means visitors to your website may stay on your site longer, click on links, visit multiple pages, reach out to you on live chat or your social channels, and share your content with others. This not only gives you deeper relationships with customers, but it also makes them feel like they are part of a bigger community and instills a passion for the products and the brand, which is crucial for repeat purchases and ultimately referrals to other passionate customers.
Generates More Sales
Of course, the benefit that every business wants? More traffic. More leads. More sales.
Content that reaches the right people with the right message will ensure that businesses get more of everything they want. The key to successful content that leads to sales is consistency. People need to know that you are there with the information they need when they need it, so the more content that you create that answers their questions, the more you'll find that content converting.
Brands Doing Right By Content
Beardbrand Inspires the Urban Beardsmen
Launched a few years ago as a community ahead of a product line, Beardbrand engages a niche group—”urban beardsmen”—through video and blogging. They’ve developed a voice that speaks to their target audience, and they use content to help those consumers with any issues they face—anything from why men should shift from neckties to bolo ties, to how hormones affect hair growth. While their content often lives on their website, they’ve developed their community through their social channels, including 1.6 million + YouTube subscribers. Their tip for building a passionate community? Most importantly, listen to your customers. Their head writer Wil Mouradian learned a lot from customers just from reading what they say and truly hearing them. Their goal is not just to sell stuff, but to provide style inspiration alongside their beard care products. One piece of content proving their all-inclusive and customer-caring vision is their viral video of a homeless man getting a haircut. With more than 8 million views, they struck a chord with their community members and far beyond to others.
Away Luggage Carves a High-Flying Niche in the Travel Market
Back in 2015, Away co-founders knew their suitcases wouldn’t be ready in time for the holiday season, but they saw the opportunity to launch their brand anyway. Instead of a product, they created a beautiful book, “The Places We Return To”, featuring dozens of creative and influential people and photographs of their favorite travel destinations around the world. The founders knew it's not just about the product, it's about the feeling you get when you think about the product. Since then, they've launched a range of popular suitcases, but have also become publishers of a travel brand. Their digital travel magazine, Here, features beautiful photography and articles about travel. The community they built is extensive and passionate—some content has more than 3.5K shares on social media. Their magazine is the home to their content, but they use their social channels, like their Instagram which has 535K followers, to amplify it.
Northern Brewer Brings Craft Beer to the Masses
Beginning as an eCommerce brand that sells home brewing starter kits, as well as ingredients and equipment to allow people to brew beer at home, Northern Brewer realized that they can take this very small niche audience and grow it with just a bit of education. They realized that while people might be interested in brewing at home, there was quite the learning curve, so they brought their knowledge to the masses with their customer education section. This has led to many passionate customers, who have created a review section that raves about the company and the brand.
The Evolution Continues
As customer expectations rise higher, eCommerce brands that step up to meet those expectations will connect with customers on a level that competitors will not be able to match. There are many ways that content marketing can help brands reach these heights, but it takes a bit of effort, knowledge, and organization to get there. Having an eCommerce platform that keeps marketing teams on track and nimble is just the first step of getting to a point where making these strides will be possible.