Starting an ecommerce store is becoming a popular way for more people to make money online. The business model offers low barriers to entry and with a quick online search, one can easily find a plethora of free professionally designed store templates to get started. It’s an instant business for the newest ecommerce business owner.
But simply starting an ecommerce website does not guarantee one’s success. A well-thought-out content marketing strategy will build your brand, increase ecommerce sales, and further your chances for long-term success.
Here, I’ll examine 5 such marketing strategies that will get you started on the right path to brand loyalty and online sales.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that involves creating and distributing a range of content that attracts and engages your ideal audience.
Each content piece is delivered in the authentic voice of your brand and helps to strengthen the connection with your audience, all the while positioning you as an authority in your space.
When done well, it can bolster brand loyalty which in turn leads to more visitors to convert into paying customers.
Ultimately, the idea behind this is to keep your costs low, get your exposure high, and obtain a high return on investment.
The Ecommerce Marketing Process
Before you embark on creating any content, you’ll first want to create a content marketing plan for your ecommerce site. This plan should include things such as:
- Who your target audience is
- Where online your target audience congregates
- How your audience prefers to consume content
- How you’ll address your audience at each stage of the buyer journey
Identifying Your Target Audience
Correctly pinpointing the exact needs, wants, and desires of your target audience will play an integral role in executing a winning content marketing strategy. Yet, you’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs do not know the answer to this simple question.
The general tendency for many ecommerce site owners is to go broad instead of narrow when it comes to creating a buyer persona. For example, if you’re in the crowded space of coffee roaster ecommerce sites, you may want to dial in on your target audience past the generic everyday coffee drinker.
Take Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee brand, for example, which targets busy and highly ambitious entrepreneur-type people. Not only has his coffee brand attracted a niche-specific loyal fan base, but he’s also been able to command a premium price by understanding his target audience.
You can also create multiple buyer personas and segment your content marketing message to speak to each of these groups. Bulletproof coffee, for instance, is also well known for attracting fitness professionals and other health-conscious people. One segment may be interested in learning about Bulletproof coffee’s weight loss capabilities, while another group may be interested in Bulletproof for other reasons.
Find Your Target Audience
Finding your niche-specific target audience starts with understanding the broader market you’re after. Things such as their interests, location, gender, and purchase intent are all great reference points to get you started.
You can also use various tools and methods to dig deeper into the whereabouts and demographics of your audience.
Facebook, for example, allows page owners a powerful set of insight tools that share detailed specifics of the followers of your page. These Facebook insights can give you ideas of topics your audience may be interested in, the location of your followers, as well as the age group most interested in your brand.
Conducting regular surveys of your existing audience is another method to uncover the most accurate audience insights in real-time. I do this using a simple Google Survey and emailing it to my list. No list is too small to do this. The sooner you begin to engage with your audience and request feedback, the faster you’ll get to understanding them better and finding them online.
How Does Your Audience Consume Content
Your audience will vary greatly in the way they each consume content. This is one of the reasons why creating multiple subsets of your target audience will serve your brand well when it comes to ecommerce conversions.
For instance, an audience that is younger and more tech-savvy may prefer content that is interactive versus a one-dimensional written piece. Other subsets may have a preference for shorter content versus long-form content, while others may have a preference for infographics.
This makes not only choosing the topic of your content important, but also the way in which it is delivered to your audience just as important.
Developing a mix of formats that speak to the preferences of your audience will take time to fine-tune. A simple way to get started is to take a look at your closest competitor and note which content format is receiving the most amount of engagement. Start there and continue testing new formats until you determine an optimal mix that works best for your brand.
Create a Powerful Purchase Funnel
The purchase marketing funnel is a systematic process in which you guide your prospect from lead to actual buyer of your product. Each level of the funnel guides your content marketing strategy and further leads your prospect to make a purchase decision.
Needless to say, it’s worth spending time developing a high-converting purchase funnel. Programs such as the One Funnel Away Challenge led by ClickFunnels founder Russell Brunson is one such program that walks entrepreneurs through the framework of this funnel.
The idea behind the purchase funnel revolves around the actions and behaviors of your prospect at the time they encounter your brand. Some prospects may find your brand at the top of the funnel while they are researching information on how to solve a problem. Other prospects may be ready to make a purchasing decision after doing extensive comparative research on solutions to their problem.
For that reason, the way in which you address each prospect in the purchase funnel will vary from one level to the next.
For example, someone interested in treating chronic back pain without surgery may not be aware of other treatments that can help them with this problem. At the top of the purchase funnel, a brand may want to bring awareness to these other forms of treatment. Towards the bottom of the funnel, a brand may speak to the benefits and superiority of their product versus that of another.
Attract and engage your prospect at each level of the funnel and you’ll experience higher ecommerce conversion rates.
Content Marketing to Engage Your Audience
Now let’s take a look at the different content marketing strategies you can implement in order to engage with your target audience.
Content Marketing Tip #1: Email Marketing
We’ll start with email marketing since studies show that it has one of the highest ROIs when it comes to content marketing. In fact, one study shows that email generates $38 for every $1 spent. That’s an outstanding ROI that can easily turn any business into a cash cow money-generating machine for years on end.
For ecommerce, email is an effective content strategy to share your brand story with cold prospects, as well as to build the necessary trust that leads to sales. Well-optimized email marketing campaigns also have the ability to turn existing customers into repeat customers.
Depending on where your prospect is in the purchasing funnel, examples of email marketing campaigns include:
- Pre-Purchase Emails: The goal of this sequence is to nurture your prospect, build trust, and introduce your brand story. This campaign starts the process of converting leads into buyers
- Cart Abandonment Emails: The cart abandonment sequence leads a prospect to come back to the order they did not complete. It builds urgency and it also incentivizes them to make a purchase
- Post Purchase Emails: This is an email sequence for a post-purchase product survey. This allows you to get valuable feedback from your customer, and gives you an opportunity to find a great case study to highlight
These are just some baseline examples of email campaigns that can be used to engage with your audience. Other email templates such as flash sale and product launch campaigns have also been shown to produce ecommerce conversions.
One email that every ecommerce owner should implement right away is the cart abandonment email sequence. According to some studies, cart abandonment is as high as 80%. This is essentially low-hanging fruit that can be easily converted into sales.
According to a MooSend study, 10.7% of abandoned cart prospects went on to complete their purchase after being sent a cart recovery email campaign. That’s a significant number of sales that would have otherwise been lost without such email.
Content Marketing Tip #2: Social Commerce
Social commerce buyers have accelerated at a rate of 25.2% in 2020, which has prompted key social media platforms to advance their shopping and checkout capabilities to align with this trend.
Social commerce allows someone who’s engaging with your brand on a social site such as Pinterest or Instagram, to seamlessly purchase your product without having to leave the social platform.
This integration of the ecommerce experience with the social media platform means less interruption in the sales process. The fewer steps involved, the better the odds that a prospect will follow through with the checkout process.
Currently, Pinterest and Instagram are two key players in the social commerce space, though Facebook and TikTok are making moves as well.
Here are some of the ways your favorite sites are making it easier for you to share content and grow your brand with social commerce:
- Create Shoppable Pinterest Pins: Product-rich pins are enriched with metadata and formatted in a way that lets people on Pinterest know they’re shoppable. When you add product-rich pins to your website, information from your website will automatically sync with your product pin. For example, if you decide to change the price of one of your products, your product pin will automatically update on Pinterest as well
- Instagram Shopping: Instagram allows you to monetize your feed with shoppable posts and videos, no matter where they are in the app. When you tag products in your photos with shoppable pricing tags, Instagram users are enabled to view featured products, decide, and order right from their own Instagram accounts
- TikTok: This video-sharing social networking app may be new, but they are quickly looking to jump into the growing social commerce scene. TikTok recently announced they are testing in-app shopping in Europe to rival the likes of Facebook. Time will tell exactly how they will seamlessly integrate this feature onto their platform
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for how other social media sites also integrate social commerce onto their platforms.
Content Marketing Tip #3: Partner with Micro-Influencers
Micro-influencers are social media stars who have a relatively good-sized following, usually in the realm of 5,000-100,000 followers. They are not quite macro-sized influencers yet, but their growing audience base presents a favorable opportunity for brands to get exposure without the macro-influencer price tag.
Though one of the most appealing aspects of working with a micro-influencer is the deeper connections they have with their audience. Generally speaking, micro-influencers are not overly caught up with their new internet fame and tend to be much more in tune with their audience. This makes the magnitude of their influence in recommending a product much more valuable to a brand owner.
Additionally, new brands that have yet to build an audience can benefit from having instant exposure by leveraging influencer marketing.
How do you find micro-influencers?
Websites such as UpFluence and AspireIQ are dedicated to matching brands with the right influencer. Once you find a micro-influencer that is the right fit, there are many ways to partner with them to uplevel your content marketing strategy.
Here are just a few ways to achieve exposure with influencers:
Amazon Live Streams
If you’re looking to receive an immediate ROI from your micro-influencer partnership deal, then look no further than enlisting Amazon Live Influencers. Ecommerce brands that also list on Amazon can leverage influencers for QVC-type shopping live streams.
These live stream campaigns will help introduce shoppers to your product and educate them in real-time through an interactive environment. Through live product demonstrations, shoppers can see your product in use and ask questions as they come up. Amazon Live Influencers are typically effective at converting customers once they are on the Amazon platform.
With over 2.3 billion monthly active users, YouTube has become the second most popular social media platform. For ecommerce brands, implementing video content as part of your purchase funnel can be extremely profitable, especially when partnering with a YouTube influencer.
Simply take a look at these statistics from ThinkwithGoogle:
- Over 90% of people say they discover new brands or products on YouTube
- Over 40% of global shoppers say they have purchased products they discovered on YouTube
YouTuber influencers are the new celebrities we listen to for advice and product recommendations. They are relatable, everyday people who have the ability to create instant sales for your product.
Ecommerce brands can partner with YouTube influencers in a variety of ways including product placements, shout-outs, and sponsorship deals.
While some influencers enjoy being in front of the camera, others prefer a more behind-the-scenes approach, such as blogging. Ecommerce brands can approach bloggers to write detailed product reviews that have the potential to show up high in search results. They can also enlist a blogger to write content that seamlessly recommends their brand’s product as a solution to a problem the reader may be facing.
In the early days of influencer marketing, simply giving away a few free samples of your product to an influencer was enough to get your product mentioned in one way or another. Nowadays, paid collaborations are becoming the norm for companies seeking to work with bloggers on brand product reviews.
But not all bloggers will reply to your request for a collaboration. Many are simply getting bombarded with emails every day from companies looking to work with them. This is one reason it’s imperative to have a well-put-together bloggers kit to show.
This kit should tell bloggers:
- Your brand value proposition
- The terms of the collaboration
- Expectations of the content and your campaign objectives
- The payment terms
It may take a few emails to get a blogger to reply to your request for a collaboration. Simply stay consistent in your outreach approach and you’ll start seeing those emails coming in!
Content Marketing Tip #4: Blogging
Now that we’re on the subject of blogging, let’s take a look at how creating a blog to promote your brand can serve as a valuable asset in your content marketing strategy.
The first thing to note is that not all ecommerce sites are content websites. Some prefer to keep a standalone storefront without the added work of having a blog extension to it. This initially makes sense since maintaining a content website—commonly referred to as an authority sit—is time-consuming to keep up. Not to mention, it may take many months to start seeing a return on your investment.
So why even bother going down this road?
For one, content sites such as blogs have a long-term value that far exceeds most other content marketing strategies. In essence, you are building valuable online real estate. The more work you put into it and the longer your content site ages, the more of a return it will pay you for years to come.
Much of this online real estate is built through creating searchable content that is indexed by Google, found by your target audience, and points back to your ecommerce storefront.
The more niched down your content website is in covering one central topic, the faster you’ll begin to see results. These results come in the form of showing up higher in online search results for specific keyword terms related to your central topic.
For example, a company aiming to sell backyard fire pits may want to create a content site related to outdoor backyard ideas.
As your audience begins to find your content online, they may choose to share it with friends and family, or on social channels such as Pinterest or Facebook. This further amplifies your reach and the compounding effects of such exposure can be quite fruitful.
Ultimately, a blog not only helps you get found online by potential customers, but it also helps to cement you as an authority in your niche.
Types of content you can produce for your ecommerce blog:
- How-To or Instructional Posts: These are posts that serve as guides in helping someone achieve a desired result
- Roundup Reviews: These are list format reviews of comparison products or services
- Case Studies: These are analysis-type posts that identify a problem, highlight relevant facts, and uncover possible solutions
Content sites are powerful vehicles to distribute your content. They not only bring value to your audience, but they also build awareness and authority for your brand.
Content Marketing Tip #5: Paid Advertising
I’ve left this content marketing strategy for the end due to the higher level of expertise needed to execute this strategy.
Paid advertising is not as simple as placing a fistful of money behind ads to promote an existing product line and expecting an immediate return on investment. Unfortunately, many new ecommerce brands fall into this trap.
The successful execution of any paid advertisement requires an accurate understanding of a company’s long-term value of a customer. This number will help determine how much one can spend in order to acquire a new customer.
But even with these numbers available, many brands simply cannot afford to foot the upfront costs necessary to build a robust sales pipeline using paid ads.
That’s because an advertisement generally starts the discovery process in the purchase funnel. It may get a prospect to land on your website, video content, or another content piece, but it doesn’t always translate into an immediate sale.
So without a battle-tested top to bottom purchase funnel, this content marketing strategy may not be an ideal avenue for all brands to pursue.
Brands that do decide to move forward with this strategy will have a choice of multiple social media sites and platforms to spend their advertising dollars. This includes places such as Facebook Ads, Pinterest Ads, YouTube Ads, and Google Ads.
But first, one will want to identify the type of conversion they’re after and how much they can spend for that conversion.
Here are 3 conversion types based on campaign objectives:
- Lead Generation: This conversion type identifies potential new customers and helps build your customer base
- Purchase Conversions: This conversion type occurs when a prospect makes a purchasing decision to buy your product and becomes a paying customer
- Conversions with No Attributable Source: Not all conversions are measurable. Some conversions may occur from direct hits to your site or funnel without tracking attributes
While this strategy will help some brands quickly scale their ecommerce business, it is a strategy that should be given careful consideration prior to proceeding with it.
Content marketing takes time to see its full effect on your business. And with so many different ways to create and distribute content, you may be wondering which content marketing strategy is best for your brand. There’s no cut-and-dry answer to this. It will take some trial and error to learn what resonates best with your audience and leads to ecommerce conversions.
Ultimately, marketing success has always hinged on building meaningful customer connections. It all starts with identifying your target audience, creating meaningful content, and building a powerful purchasing funnel. When you have these pieces of the puzzle in place, your content marketing strategy will seamlessly drive the traffic necessary for long-term ecommerce success.