A Match Made in Internet Heaven: Content Marketing Meets eCommerce

The size of the global ecommerce market is growing at an exponential rate. According to an e-marketer study, ecommerce retail sales across the globe are expected to reach $1.6 trillion by the end of 2015, and $2.5 trillion by the end of 2018.

The study further forecasts that China alone will be responsible for more than $1 trillion in retail ecommerce sales by the end of 2018, followed by USA which will reach almost $500 billion.

This is great news for you if you’re just starting an online store or have an already established ecommerce business. However, the growing size of the market also means that there’s more competition.

So in order to take advantage of this growth, you need to make sure that you’re using the most effective marketing and branding channels to promote your business and establish your brand image.

Smart Insights suggests that an overwhelming majority of marketers consider content marketing as the most viable digital marketing strategy (with almost 30 percent opting for it, followed by Big Data at 14.6 percent). 

Commercially Important Digital Marketing Trend

Image via Smart Insights

But how exactly do you make content marketing work for your ecommerce business? You can find many articles written about this, but in my opinion here are some of the fundamental things you need to do.

1. Create Content Around Your Products That Actually Gets Shared

If you’re using content marketing as one of your primary marketing strategies, you need to start a blog and create a lot of high quality content that complements your products.

But what’s the use of publishing great content if people don’t read and share it with their friends?

Don’t just assume that people will share your content if the quality is great. They won’t.

Unless, of course, you scientifically craft your content in a way that aligns it with the interests and emotions of your readers.

According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, people share content when,

  • It reminds them that life is short and they need to take action
  • It reminds then that dreams can come true if they strive
  • It gives them hope
  • It challenges conventional wisdom
  • It goes against the popular opinion
  • It makes them look knowledgeable
  • It makes them smile
  • It helps them take immediate action
  • It helps them associate with their idols

But ecommerce content is supposed to be boring right?

Not really.

Some of the most successful ecommerce websites like Asos, Shopify and Bonobos are killing it with highly engaging and innovative blog content that readers love to read and share.

Do mention your products in the content, but don’t make it look like a sales pitch. Instead, focus on the needs of your readers and create content with real life examples and scenarios that people enjoy reading.

2. Build Authority and Relationships with Data Heavy Content

Since there’s so much competition in the ecommerce space, you need to find relevant high quality backlinks to your content so that you can rank higher in search results, attract more traffic and get more social shares.

Easier said than done.

Influencers, and bloggers in general, won’t link back to your content unless it gives them additional value.

A great way to do this is by creating data heavy posts that are visually appealing. To be more precise, include embeddable images and infographics in your blog posts.

I know creating infographics takes time, but the effort will certainly pay off.

OkDork discovered that infographics attract the highest number of shares out of the different kinds of content. I’d assume that the more your content is shared, the likelier it is to be linked back by other bloggers.

 Average Shares by Content Type

Image via OkDork

But even if you can’t create infographics every time you publish new content, you should always include one or two embeddable images with key statistical takeaways from your post. You can create these images using tools like Canva or Piktochart, or make existing images embeddable by using an embed code generator.

You can reach out to influencers and other established blogs with your business proposal and offer your infographics for free. I recommend using tools like Yesware and Tilkee for email tracking to see if your proposal has been read by the recipient.

Most of the times, if your infographic or embeddable image has value, people will gladly accept your offer.

This will not only give you quality backlinks and more social shares, but also help you establish a strong brand image in your niche.

3. Create Product Pages with Rich Visual Content

Content marketing is not just about blogging and backlinks. For ecommerce retailers, it is equally important to have visually rich and content heavy product pages.

Include as much relevant information on your product pages a possible. Don’t use similar or spun content just to save time and effort. It will not only get you in trouble with Google but it will also damage your reputation.

Also make sure that you’re using a flexible ecommerce solution that allows customized changes to the product pages. I say this because apart from the standard product description, prices and stock details, you should also be able to include the following elements to your product pages, when needed.

  • Client success stories and testimonials
  • Video previews
  • Case studies of customers who used your products
  • Relevant and high quality posts from your blog related to the product.

Adding these additional information sources to your product pages has a huge impact on buyer psyche.

Here is a good example:

 Biosteel Sports Drink

Image via BioSteel

The more authoritative content you share on your product pages, the higher your chances of converting leads into customers.

4. Make Your Ecommerce Store Social Media Friendly

Ecommerce and social media is a match made in heaven. Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest can be used as complete ecommerce stores on their own.

But while it’s not wise to base your complete ecommerce strategy around a social network, you do need a social media friendly ecommerce store.

This specifically means that your store and product pages are mobile responsive, and have easy to use social sharing options. You can add social media widgets using AddThis or DiggDigg.

Another important thing is to enable Facebook open graph, Twitter cards and Pinterest Rich Pins for your website. When these are enabled, your products will appear much more optimized for social networks and drive higher engagement.

You may also want to give your visitors the option to sign up on your website, and comment on your blog posts and product pages, using their social media accounts.

In short, make sure your ecommerce website encourages people to share your content and products with their friends.

Wrapping Up

Content marketing can help you distinguish your ecommerce business from the competition, and help you earn the trust of your prospects. You just need to make sure that you create really useful, data driven, actionable and enjoyable content that people not only want to read but also share with their friends.

If you can create a content marketing strategy that complements your core products, you’ll be able to convert a lot more visitors into long term buyers.

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