You have it. You have exactly what your audience is looking for.
Sick of waiting around for them to discover you and the DIFFERENCE your company can make?
Don’t worry, dear friend of ours. We’ve mapped out the path to rekindling your love with the metaphorical Jack Dawson. Jack is your target audience, if you haven’t caught on.
For real, this isn’t the Titanic. No one’s gotta drown. And you’ll be smooth sailing by the end of this ultimate guide 😉
We’ll show you real content marketing examples from well-known brands, and provide you with some actionable tips that you can use to build a better brand content strategy for your e-commerce business for the next year ahead.
- Content marketing improves brand authority, builds trust and increases leads.
- All successful content marketing efforts come to those who plan.
- Among countless ways to take action, all you need is one brilliant idea to start.
- You can repurpose content and lean into resources that have been here all along.
Why content marketing for E-Commerce works:
Content marketing is consistently publishing relevant content that audiences want to consume. It helps you to reach, engage and convert new customers. Among a variety of benefits it provides, here’s a few:
SEO & brand authority
If you create helpful content and web pages, your SEO and Google authority will improve. You’re opening the floodgates to compounding results over time.
Relationship building & trust
You want to meet your customers at each stage of the buyer journey. Think of your own buying habits and brand loyalty.
Sometimes, trust alone can be powerful enough to drive sales and repeat business. But go the extra mile now so that your content marketing machine can work while you sleep!
Increased leads & conversions
You have to lay the groundwork of a content marketing strategy and keep at it. Soon, you’ll be sharing the success with your customers.
A 5-step strategy to building your content marketing plan for your E-Commerce brand
Step 1: Identify your target audience (and reassess)
Even if you’ve got some semblance of buyer personas, be sure you know them well. Know their pain points, understand their expectations.
Take a store like Lowe’s, for example: An amateur handyman comes in to find materials to fix a leak in his bathroom. Shortly after, a contractor is looking to fix a commercial building’s pipes. Same store, completely different needs.
Be the company that your customer needs when they need it.
Step 2: Learn how your audience consumes content
Do you think either handyman is on Facebook looking for expert advice? Too much Will Smith and Chris Rock drama over there and not enough time.
They may be on Youtube to check out how-to videos or on Google for a quick listicle of the supplies they’ll need.
Be where your audience is.
Step 3: Research and ideate your content
Try going the DIY route to brainstorm ideas with your team. But keep in mind, it’s one thing to identify a strong idea, and another thing entirely to execute it well.
You’re bound to come up with a page or 2 of pure gold, but make sure it sees the light of day by implementing a content plan.
Step 4: Consider the stage of the buyer’s journey
Know the difference between a warm lead and a cold one. And nurture them as best as you can! You can read up on the different stages of the buyer journey and recommended approaches to securing each.
Step 5: Measure results
Assess your results from past efforts. And be sure to apply the appropriate metric to each content type
We use SEMRush to measure our results. They have a helpful cheat sheet on which metrics matter for your situation.
Image source: SEMRush
We’ll talk more about content types later! But remember, you don’t have to be everywhere at once.
4 ways to put your plan to action
You may not be ready to invest in a content marketing strategy. But there’s still plenty of ways to take action right away.
1. Content hub
Blogs are usually the starting point for a content hub, but there’s no limit. You can repurpose every piece of content you’ve ever made.
But you need a plan to promote your e-commerce business with content marketing.
Why should you consider building a content hub for your e-commerce business?
- Emphasizes thought leadership in key areas of your business
- Provides easy navigation and targeted engagement for your site’s visitors
- Puts your content to good use
Below is a condensed guide to building your content hub:
- Determine goals
- Know your audience & what works
- Audit existing content
- Define architecture
- Create a Content Roadmap and Management Systems
- Write Well and Optimize
- Measure & Improve
Examples of E-Commerce content hubs that we love:
- West Elm, the luxury furniture brand, uses their content hub to inspire their visitors.
West Elm is a strong example of a company that knows their customers well. Anyone shopping on their site is ready to make an investment in a beautiful piece of furniture. So they lure you in by building different versions of your dream space to make you cave.
- Kiehl’s, a skincare brand, uses content pillars to organize their content.
The use of content pillars (AKA topic clusters) is the ideal way to structure your blog/site to be visible to Google. We even do it ourselves! But it’s even more helpful for e-commerce businesses like you.
On their blog page, Kiehl’s features categories such as skincare, hair and even gifting guides. They used customers’ buying patterns to inform them on the needs of future customers.
2. Product photography
Appearance matters in your industry, but you already knew this! Wonder why your competitors are out-performing you left and right? Pay close attention to the full visual experience of other e-commerce brands.
When you shop online, notice the consistency and seamlessness you’re experiencing. Or take note of the pitfalls and inconveniences.
Take a clothing store for example. We can all appreciate beautiful product images. A model wearing the jeans you want gives you an idea of how they may lay on your body.
Ladies – how about the videos of a woman moving back and forth in a dress, its skirt flowing with her movements.
Your customers want to envision your product on themselves, in their homes or in their lives.
3. Subject matter expertise
There are a billion ways to prove your expertise. Even fun ones! We’ll give you a few and leave you to find the rest 😉
- How-to use your product
- How you make your product
- Customer raves or success stories
- Insider tips on effective use and benefits
- Founding story
- Glossary terms or articles (for the technical)
- Frequently asked questions
- Ingredients or materials used
- Gift guides
4. User-generated content
Your loyal customers would love to spread the word about your product. If you don’t have the funds for an influencer marketing campaign, you can still tap into your fans.
User-generated content (UGC) combines your company’s word with social proof. We’re more inclined to trust a real person’s experience with a product than we are a company’s advertising.
Terakeet provides a helpful list on how to encourage UGC:
Airbnb executes this well in a commercial of an elderly couple enjoying a vacation.
A company as large as them, and I bet all they had to do was sponsor this couple’s trip and have them share their photos.
At a smaller scale, your customer’s post might leave a lasting impression on one person. I’d consider that a success.
9 content marketing tips to succeed in E-Commerce:
So, you’ve got an idea of what your content strategy should look like beyond 2022. You’ve seen some examples of brands going above and beyond, and now you might be thinking, “How do I make sure I’m doing this right the first time around?”
Here are 9 tips to keep you sharp and help you stand out:
Tip #1: Figure out what kind of stories you can collect, package and share
Content in 2022 and beyond will be heavily focused on storytelling. As an e-commerce business owner, it’s your job to figure out what kind of stories you can collect and share with your audience.
To find the right storytelling angle, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are my customers?
- What do they do in their free time?
- How do our products help them?
- Why do we do what we do?
- Why should anyone care?
- What message are we trying to send through the stories we tell?
Lean into categories that matter to you and your customers. And keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to share meaningful stories.
Tip #2: Make a list of potential partners you could work with
Think about who you know and who you want to know. Make a list of partners and people you could leverage to reach new audiences and grow your business.
Some partners could help promote your content, others could collaborate with you on products.
Once you have that list completed, create a second list of dream partners that you’d love to work with at some point. Celebrities, industry influencers and other brands that you admire.
With both lists in hand, spend the next few months reaching out to people and making connections. Approach each person with confidence and purpose. Make it make sense!
Tip #3: Embrace a movement
Consumers are crazy about social entrepreneurship. They seek out companies and brands who are working to support causes they care about.
Try to find a cause, nonprofit, or movement you can align with. Create content that promotes your commitment to the cause while spreading your mission.
But be sure you relate your statements back to your company. You don’t want to come off as performative!
Tip #4: Hire content marketing agencies that know what they are doing
Start by looking at how well the content marketing agency is able to show you their own results. Do they rank #1 for important search terms? Are they led by someone who has been in your shoes – a real marketing insider?
Tip #5: Let your product pages do the selling
You should use your blog to educate and nurture your relationships with customers and prospects. Don’t use it as a place to sell.
Your site visitors will know how to find the products – if they want to. You want to help them achieve their goals. And I can guarantee their goal is not to *try this amazing product that will change lives.* Yawn. That’s tacky and you’re better than that.
Tip #6: Create one amazing piece of content and see how your audience responds
Start small. Come up with one fantastic idea and execute it. Put more time and resources into this project than all your others. And then let your audience respond.
If you get strong feedback and engagement, consider creating more content like it.
Some examples of amazing content you could produce (that need to tell a story):
- A well-produced video
- A big interview with a customer or influencer
- A photo series
- An ebook
- An email series
- A landing page full of actionable tips and best practices
Tip #7: Stop doing the stuff that doesn’t work anymore
Don’t create blog posts only because that’s what you’ve always done. Think about the amount of time, energy and money you put into your content marketing efforts. If you’re not seeing traction on the type of content you’re creating, try something else.
Tip #8: Keep watching other brands
Pay attention to the brands that you think are doing a fantastic job with content. Take notes about what you like and don’t like. Borrow ideas and tactics and apply them to your own content strategy.
Tip #9: Set goals and measure everything
If you haven’t paid much attention to the performance of your content, it’s time to start. Engagement metrics like share, likes and comments are great to keep track of, but they don’t tell the full story.
You need to know how many people are viewing your content, where they are coming from and where they go next. Set aggressive goals. Assess your failures and successes. And make changes to your strategy on an ongoing basis.
Don’t reinvent the wheel: See what other companies are doing
What do these content marketing efforts look like when they are put into practice?
It’s helpful to see what some of the most innovative brands are doing right now to set themselves apart.
Here are 5 examples to show you what content marketing for e-commerce should look like today:
1. YETI is going beyond the blog post
YETI made a big push to create compelling stories that align with the values and interests of their target audience. Instead of creating tired, cheesy content about coolers, they create amazing packages made up of journalism-style writing and rich visuals.
They’ve tossed the idea of doing the mainstream e-commerce blog post. Instead, they create content that they know their audience enjoys. You probably won’t even notice the product placements within these videos unless you look with binoculars.
2. S’well is supporting causes and building partnerships
S’well is operating in a particularly competitive product category – trendy, reusable water containers. Nevertheless they’ve been able to gain traction by securing mutually-beneficial partnerships with designers. They’ve teamed up with nonprofits to support specific causes their audience loves.
3. Beardbrand is working with key influencers
Beardbrand is another e-commerce company attempting to captivate a pretty specific and niche audience: beard growers. To connect with their target customer, they’ve focused on education from the beginning. But instead of creating all the content themselves, they’re working with other well-known beard influencers to share tips about beard growth.
The products used in their styling & grooming videos are their own, but they spend hardly any amount of time promoting them. Instead, they focus on providing value. Beardbrand also utilizes email as a way to promote content and boost loyalty among its current and future customers.
4. Harry’s launched an editorial magazine
Harry’s targets a similar audience to Beardbrand, but they approach their content differently. They launched a digital editorial magazine called Five O’Clock that provides customers with tips about grooming, wellness, productivity and more. Most of the content tells a story, as illustrated in this example below from one of the Harry’s co-founders.
5. Herschel Supply Connects Through Experiences
Instead of focusing solely on creating content that features or promotes their backpacks, Herschel sells their audience on experience and adventure.
They publish rich photo features on their blog that take website visitors to different parts of the world. Although you can find at least one product included in the feature, it’s clearly not the focus or purpose of the content, as you can see in the example below.
This feature was taking visitors through a local exploration and tour of Montreal. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the bag being carried by the man in the second photo is a Herschel bag, and if you look even closer, you’ll see a link to the product page for that page below the photo. Very discreet, and not at all forceful.
Content marketing is not meant to be easy
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Today, content marketing success includes:
- Telling stories, sharing experiences, and being more transparent
- Focusing more on quality and actual value, as opposed to quantity or output
- Hiring skilled agencies to create compelling stories and epic content resources
- Focusing more on developing authentic relationships
- Nurturing relationships with prospective customers
- Focusing less on product promotion, and more on helping people
- Being hyper-focused when it comes to measuring performance and success
In the past, you might have been able to get real ROI from lazily publishing 500-word articles on your blog week after week, but it’s not enough anymore. Content marketing for e-commerce is getting much more competitive, and in order to continue seeing any sort of ROI from it, you have to be willing to do more.
And that mainly comes in the form or being smarter upfront by analyzing what has worked on the other side of the publish button.
Then you have to be willing to change your strategy and challenge old ways of thinking.
Over to You
You’ve got the knowledge and tools you need! It’s time to develop your company’s winning content marketing strategy. Looking for some real-world inspiration? Check out these content marketing case studies to learn how companies succeed.
Marketing Insider Group has the experience and resources that can support you. Our team of writers and SEO experts can deliver you optimized, ready-to-publish content every week for one year (or more!).