Today's ecommerce space is more crowded than ever before: according to TechJury, there are currently around 9.6 million active online businesses. Statista reports that ecommerce sales amounted to $2.3 trillion worldwide in 2017, a number that is predicted to increase to $4.88 trillion in 2021.
In order to differentiate your business within this flourishing market, an exceptional content marketing strategy is key. Here are ten content creation and distribution practices to help drive traffic to your sales funnel and boost conversion rates.
1. Conduct Detailed Target Audience Analysis
Target audience research is the first step to building any marketing strategy. Your content marketing efforts should always be tailored to your prospective buyers' needs, interests, and behavior patterns.
Analyze your audience and create at least one buyer persona—a portrait of a typical buyer that includes specific demographic and psychographic information.
Google offers several tools for gaining insights into consumer demographics like age, gender, profession, and location. You'll find lots of valuable details in the "Audience" and "Acquisition" sections of your site's Google Analytics data, and if you're running any paid search or social campaigns, Google Customer Match lets you reach out and engage your buyers for more information.
You also need to be aware of your target audience’s psychographics—their values, beliefs, and behavior patterns. Although these factors aren't as directly measurable, you can reach informed conclusions through demographic research or social media activity, or simply by communicating with similar people in the real world.
2. Use Advanced Keywords
It may be fun to create content about anything and everything, but without a data-driven approach, you won't achieve your main goal of boosting organic traffic. This is where SEO and keyword research come into play.
Pay special attention to "long-tail" keyword terms—highly specific, multiple-word phrases. They tend to convert better than individual keywords since they're much more unique. A long-tail term like “strapless prom dresses on sale in Estonia” is much more likely to drive traffic to a specific online Estonian dress store than a general phrase like "prom dresses," which produces numerous hits for competing sellers.
When it comes to keywords for your category pages, it helps to take cues from retail giants like Amazon. Visit Amazon.com and click the "Departments" tab at the top of the homepage, then select a category that matches some of the goods you sell. You’ll see a long list of subcategories, each of which you can turn into a long-tail keyword term for your category page:
This tactic will help you dig deeper through the list and find category-focused keywords that perfectly match the range of products in your online store.
For other keyword ideas, try a nifty tool like Keyword Tool Dominator. Just enter a seed word, and the system will spit out viable keyword suggestions.
3. Optimize Content for the Buyer’s Journey
Once you've refined your target audience and keywords, you can start crafting content to satisfy buyers' needs. There are several main stages of a buyer's journey, each of which requires a slightly different content approach.
At the Awareness stage, you should be delivering content that is purely informative or entertaining rather than promotional.
For example, Paleo Robbie offers its visitors information about the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed beef:
There's no push to make a direct purchase at this point. Instead, Paleo Robbie shows their expertise, engages visitors, and moves them further through the sales funnel. This sets the stage for a later Call to Action for Paleo Robbie's meal delivery service.
At the Consideration stage, you can start to promote your product or service in an unobtrusive way. Purchasing suggestions should correspond with the information or problem you presented in the Awareness stage.
Check out this blog hosted by electronics brand Tefal. Each article focuses on a recipe or cooking hack, but also includes subtle links to specific products that make the cooking process easier. The content engages while presenting actionable solutions in the form of Tefal products.
The Tefal blog also has an "Our Products" link in the top navigation. It's accessible, but not in-your-face.
The content at the Decision stage should explicitly showcase how your product solves the target audience’s problem, and should contain a clear Call to Action, thereby motivating a purchase. This conversion point is the narrowest part of a sales funnel, so every word can influence a visitor’s decision.
MVMT, a famous watch and accessory brand, draws visitors into the sales funnel by displaying a short and elegant introduction to their new collection of men’s jewelry.
The content indicates that there's more information available without pushing users with intrusive promotional language. Being heavy-handed can cause visitors to bounce from your site.
In order to truly round out this content and convert the sale, MVMT should also include a Call to Action (in the form of a link or button) that encourages further exploration or purchase.
4. Invest in Branded Content
Commercial giants like Red Bull, BMW, and Nike have their own content marketing agencies to create branded magazines, branded articles for international publications, branded videos, sports events, and more.
Rather than aiming for immediate conversion, branded content builds a more intimate, long-term relationship with the target audience. People trust a brand that doesn't just focus on selling, but also contributes to a specific industry or community.
Harley-Davidson’s web magazine is one of the best branded content examples around.
5. Create a Unique Style Guide for Your Corporate Materials
Consistent design is essential for developing your brand’s voice. It makes your company more memorable, recognizable, and professional.
Your style guide should include some specific information about preferred fonts, logo usage, and dominant brand colors. Try to involve a professional graphic designer who can create a logo and other branded visuals to maintain a cohesive content style and mood.
World-famous cosmetics brand Maybelline has a very consistent look:
Their blog posts all have a distinct color scheme and font style, and the photography has a connected, editorial feel.
Your style guide can also include a "tone of voice" that describes the preferred grammar and word choices for written content. See how Volusion does it!
6. Think Backward: Run a Content Audit
Always be data-driven when it comes to content marketing. You should regularly track content performance and update it whenever you observe a drop in traffic.
To start, make sure that your website is easily searchable on the web. If you've run into certain SEO issues (Google penalties from lack of categorization or other deficiencies), try to resolve them by following these instructions. Once your SEO is solid on a technical level, you can increase traffic organically by creating more engaging website content.
To adapt your content strategy in a timely manner, it's a good idea to constantly check your previously published content. Look for any changes in key metrics (traffic, conversions, bounce rate) via Google Analytics or Google Search Console.
Once you've identified underperforming content, you can take measures to improve it while still keeping the on-page keywords that perform well. For instance, instead of rewriting an article entirely, you may only need to replace old facts and statistics with more up-to-date information. This has the added benefit of making your content—and your brand—more trustworthy.
Brian Dean, a digital marketing specialist and blogger, conducted a scalable experiment that involved updating older posts on his website. Just by rethinking and rewriting this content, he noticed a 260.7% increase in organic traffic!
7. Boost Abandoned Cart Recovery With Follow-Up Emails
Abandoned carts are one of the most frustrating aspects of the ecommerce business. When a buyer abandons a cart, you have a limited window in which to encourage completion of the sale.
Fortunately, the practice of sending follow-up emails after cart abandonment has been shown to significantly improve click-through rates. According to data gathered by conversion optimization agency CXL, here’s how likely a customer is to purchase after receiving a reminder:
- 30% purchase in less than 20 minutes
- 50% purchase in 20 minutes to an hour
- 60% purchase in 1 to 3 hours
- 65% purchase in 3 to 12 hours
Take a look at the abandoned cart follow-up email designed by fashion retailer ASOS:
The format of the email is similar to the website design, which reinforces brand recognition. ASOS jogs the customer's memory with an image of at least one of the products in the abandoned cart, then adds a pinch of playful, on-brand language to encourage a return visit.
As a final touch, ASOS reminds the recipient of online ordering perks like free delivery and a flexible product return policy.
8. Maximize Personalization
Personalization is one of the most effective marketing trends today. When you speak to each buyer as an individual, you're more likely to hit on the key selling points that appeal to them.
Adjust your forms and email campaigns to your users, making sure to address them by name whenever possible. For even better results, you can create different versions of the same content that addresses users by various demographics.
Amazon is an undisputed leader in content personalization. When you enter their website as a logged-in user, you'll see a homepage that's completely personalized to you: products you've previously purchased or viewed, suggestions based on past queries, and even ratings for sellers and products you’ve added to your wishlist.
9. Be Mobile-Minded
Our society is becoming more “mobile” by the minute. Studies show that mobile purchases will account for more than half of all ecommerce sales by 2021. To safeguard your share of this expanding market, it's crucial to ensure that your content works across all possible types of mobile devices.
Consider shorter written titles, and make descriptive text as brief and catchy as possible. Most users will bounce from your site rather than take the time to “zoom” in for text or visuals; nor do many users want to scroll through a large chunk of text.
The Etsy platform has a minimalist and responsive mobile commerce design that mimics the options on their desktop site:
Notice the mobile site's larger font sizes, easily accessible search function, and convenient site navigation with descriptive icons.
Be sure that your images and navigation menus are "responsive," meaning that they can automatically resize when a mobile device is detected. If you're a Volusion customer, you'll have an easy time with this—all of Volusion's themes are coded to be responsive by default.
10. Spend 50% of Your Time and Efforts on Social Media
Social media is the best place to spread your brand’s voice; it is fertile soil for planting content that you can continue to grow into high yields. On a daily basis, we recommend sharing between one Facebook post and 30 pins on Pinterest.
Once you create company profiles on any relevant social networks, be sure to keep them active with engaging content. Consider hiring a professional photographer or designer to help produce slick product visuals. When your images are attention-grabbing, you're more likely to create the desired snowball effect of content sharing. Social media users can share your posts and spread brand recognition, bringing more traffic to your social media profile and, ultimately, to your website.
Nanoleaf is a great example of an ecommerce site with social media presence. Since their product is custom smart lighting systems, Nanoleaf often reshares user-generated content as a kind of social proof. This solidifies customer loyalty from existing users and provides concrete ideas for new users.
When users enjoy your content on social media, they'll naturally want to learn more about your product and your company. Be sure to include a direct website link in your bio, and you may even get a direct purchase.
To Wrap It Up
When your content includes persuasive language and powerful visuals, it can serve as a direct bridge between you and consumers. The results of these efforts include stronger customer loyalty and a reputation as a leader in your ecommerce niche.
Content marketing may not be an easy game at first, but it's one you can learn to play. Even if you’re a marketing beginner, the tips we discussed here will help you on your way to a stronger content marketing strategy.