Let’s talk about ecommerce content marketing and it’s importance.
So many online store owners and marketers ignore the power of content marketing. But, every other traffic-driving activity you do will work even better for you (that means lower cost of acquisition) if you have a good content marketing strategy and execution.
I could dive in and tell you all about PPC (which I will) or how to optimize your site for search (which we will talk a bit about), but neither of those activities will get you a 10x boost in traffic without content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
In general, content marketing is creating content and sharing it to targeted audiences to generate more leads, solidify branding and drive more customers to your website. It’s a form of inbound marketing, where you provide information that online users are looking for.
Let’s briefly talk about developing a content marketing strategy and how this will take your marketing efforts to the next level.
What Should You Write About?
For an overall content marketing strategy, you can utilize methods such as creating videos and ebooks, setting up PPC campaigns and writing blog posts to maximize audience reach.
In order to maximize traffic, you will want to build an authority website. You can do this by writing relevant, fresh content. Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a content marketing evaluation for your existing blogs, there’s a gameplan for you.
Let’s get right into how to do this step-by-step, with content marketing tips that will get you started on the path to free traffic.
1.Use Google to Research Content About Your Niche or Selling Vertical
First, go to Google and type in something along these lines:
- news about “your niche”
- top stories “your niche”
- press release “your niche”
This will bring up the latest news and press releases about “your niche.”
Learn more about the parameters of niches in this article on vertical markets.
2. Determine Niche-Specific Content Gaps on Which You Can Earn Backlinks
If you are looking to get more traffic, then you will want to get as many backlinks as possible. More importantly, you want obtain backlinks from powerful blogs and influencers in your niche.
This is the secret weapon to making ecommerce content marketing work for your business.
If you want to get a high amount of traffic to your blog or website, then try creating posts with tons of valuable content in long-form posts instead of creating a lot of smaller posts. The reason is that people will be more inclined to share a long, valuable post rather than small posts that only give small amounts of information at a time. I learned this strategy from Brian Dean at Backlinko.com. A master at getting high value backlinks the right way.
That Google search you did is incredibly important. Look at what Google suggests at the bottom of the page based on your search. This gives you a clue to how Google categorizes content for this search.
Here is an example for a search on “news about selling futons online.”
Looking at other search queries related to that, someone selling futons should write content that targets these key phrases. If I were you, I’d start by answering “What is a futon” and building out a long form piece that helps to educate a customer on what it is, the differences and benefits, and how to find the right one for them to buy.
3. Use Google to Find Your Most Compelling (and Challenging) Competitors
Now, look up competitors by typing in search terms related your niche in Google. Let’s say I am looking up “futons.” This brings up a list of competitor websites. I try and choose one that looks like it is most relevant or similar to my own site.
In this case I would probably choose thefutonshop.com as a competitor to analyze.
4. Use Buzzsumo to Analyze Your Competitor’s Site and Content
Next, go to Buzzsumo.com.
Enter the competitor website and click search. This will show you the most recent content created by that competitor as well as what social media platforms their content has been shared on the most.
Here is an example search:
You can see the most recent content written and what social media platforms their content was shared on. This is just an example to show how you would find popular content in your niche to write about.
Your next goal is to write a piece of content on that topic that is 10x better than what you competitor did, and then share that with the right audience to earn it the distribution you know (thanks to Buzzsumo) it can get. Without producing seriously standout posts and guides, your ecommerce content marketing efforts will likely be in vain.
Social Media Marketing: How Should You Share Your Content?
Now that you have your content down, it’s time to start sharing it with your target audience.
Start out by determining where your target audience spends most of their time.
Social Media Marketing is just one facet of your overall ecommerce strategy but it’s a very important one. You might want to learn about the demographics of each social media platform so you can decide which one to target for your marketing strategy.
- Instagram.com: Instagram is very visual social media place. If you have a product that has lots of great images then this may a place to show off your product.
- Twitter.com: If most of your product is informational and text driven then you might want to use Twitter as this will allow you to give a short description of what you just wrote about on your blog or website and point users to it. It is a better way of letting your users know there is new content and a short description of what is it about without sending out an email every time.
- Facebook.com: Even though I would say this is an “older” social media platform I still wouldn’t count them out as they are continuously innovating. You will probably have a very loyal fanbase on Facebook. Also, if you are looking to get real time feedback or do real time teaching then you may want to consider Facebook Live as they handle all of the technical aspects of running a live video session.
- Pinterest.com: This is another social media platform that is heavily focused on visual appeal and images. The benefit is others can tag your product or website images that will then show on their wall and automatically create an underlying link that points to your specific product page.
- Linkedin.com: If you are wanting to target business minded individuals then I would absolutely suggest Linkedin.com.
- YouTube.com: If you can create videos then YouTube is a great way to share your content. Videos are engaging and generally have higher conversion rates when building your audience and email list.
You’ll want to build up a community on the platforms that are most relevant to you. That means you need to post frequently and keep your audience up to date. And there are a variety of ways to do this.
One great way in the current age of Facebook is by creating private or invite-only groups. I know –– this goes against all basic reasoning (i.e. less people will see your stuff). But this strategy is working incredibly well for multiple people, including The Hustle, A Better Lemonade Stand and AMZ Profit Pros.
These groups allow increased engagement from your audience. Check out how the founder of The Hustle engages with active community members to get feedback for his product on the cheap (and drives up loyalty, too!).
With 35 interactions on that post (including mostly comments!), they earned a 2.5% engagement rate based on the audience size. On Facebook, an average engagement rate for a business post is 0.5%-0.99%.
Additional Resources for Advertising on Facebook
Guest Blogging: How to Get More Backlinks for Your Content
Guest posting on blogs or similar websites is a great way to get more traffic. Let’s use my website as an example.
You would go to Google and type in “futons,” “futons for sale” or “cheap futons.”
If you want to narrow your search down to articles or blogs writing about your niche, then just add that to your search such as: “futons blog.”
Once you find blogs with similar content, you can ask if they accept guest posts. If so you can write a great article on their website and get a link back to your website in return.
Search for blogs that write about your niche. Links from websites that relate to yours will help you more in Google than a link from a random website that does not relate to your business. Targeted referral traffic is very valuable as well and should not be overlooked.
Here are some major, heavy hitting websites where you may try to become a guest post contributor. You may or may not be accepted, but if you are then you will create a great place to share content and have a link back to your website. Make sure you have quality articles to submit before you try these:
- Entrepreneur.com: Become an Entrepreneur.com Contributor
- Forbes.com: Apply to Be regular Content Contributor. You can contribute on Forbes opinion page. Just submit your completed article here: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inc.com: Have a one time post idea submit to: email@example.com Contribute regularly as a columnist. You can find out more and submit a request to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- BusinessInsider.com: Submit a well thought out article to contribute here for consideration: email@example.com. If you want to learn more before you submit an article for consideration you may want to read what they say about becoming a contributor here: Contribute to Business Insider
- FastCompany.com: This will tell you how to submit to FastCompany: Submission Requirements. After you are satisfied with an article that you think will fit well on FastCompany.com then you can go ahead and submit it to: Editor – Rich Bellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This website lists out even more places to guest post that may not be as hard to get in.
PPC Campaigns: How Should You Advertise Your Content?
You can use PPC to get immediate traffic, but just make sure you have a plan for what you will do with the traffic.
Are you trying to get sales? Build up your email list? Solidify your brand in the marketplace?
Your goal will determine how you setup your campaign and how long you run it. Usually this is more of a long-term investment than merely an immediate revenue-generating strategy. You can also use PPC to help determine what content to target in the long term based on testing and results.
For ecommerce sites in particular, use PPC to test and tweak your product conversion rates.
The way things are placed on the page, the content, the product descriptions, the about us page, the shipping info and return policy, whether you have a phone number on the top of your website and safe website symbols such as SSL and BBB images, etc. All of these things can help or hurt your conversion rates.
This could be the difference between making side money and making unbelievable, work from the beach money.
Let’s say you get 100 visitors to your ecommerce store daily. Just using this number to make the math easy. Typical ecommerce conversion rates range from 1% – 3%. So, if you are like most average ecommerce stores, you will make 1 sale per 100 visitors. If you could get 2 more sales then you have just increased your sales to 3%.
Small changes can make a huge impact on your bottom line. Using PPC to get more immediate traffic is a no-brainer, but working on conversion rates is just as if not more important than getting a few sales.
Increase Your Revenue 220%
Focusing on customer conversion and lifetime loyalty can increase your revenue 220% in less than a year.
You should also use PPC to determine what content converts the best so that you can determine which keyword phrases to target for the long term.
You don’t want to build out a content marketing strategy and write random articles that do nothing for your sales or that help you reach your goals.
You can find out fairly quickly what content users want through PPC by monitoring not just clicks or traffic, but actual conversion. From there, you can determine which content you should invest more time and money into creating.
Which PPC Platform Should You Use?
When trying to decide which PPC advertising platform to use, remember there are specific users and mindsets you are targeting with each.
For example, let’s briefly compare Facebook Ads to Google Adwords in terms of its audience.
Imagine you are searching for a futon. You go to google and type in “futons for sale” or some keyword phrase.
Google Ads (Adwords) show up on the top and side of the search results. The user is searching for a specific product and the Adwords ads that show up relate to exactly what the user is proactively looking for.
Now let’s go to Facebook. Suzy Que is checking out her latest friend feeds when an ad appears on the right that says “Need a cozy Futon?” Suzy was not even looking to buy something, or even thinking of shopping, much less buying a futon.
These are just a couple of the slight differences in why you would choose one PPC advertising platform over another. They each have strengths and weaknesses depending on what you are trying to promote.
Become an Expert: How Should You Drive Sustained Traffic to Your Content?
Another way to get more traffic to your website is by becoming an expert. People will look to you to provide valuable content and may ask you to contribute to high ranking blogs –– which gets you those valuable backlinks you need to land on page 1 of Google search.
A couple of cool ways I have found to do this is to answer questions for users (and don’t try and sell something to them). Give away value and people will want to eventually pay for your expertise.
Here are a few ways to start.
1. Answer questions on Quora.com
Just sign up for a free account and begin answering questions related to your business. I would suggest not trying to sell unless it is very relevant to the question they are asking. Doing this increased my traffic by 200%.
2. Respond to Reddit.com subcategories
Again, just try and offer value. If you try and sell or self-promote on Reddit you will be banned (or ghosted), so this is more of a long-term strategy.
3. Comment on relevant blog posts and videos
If you have something of value to add then leave a comment on a blog post or YouTube video. This will help get your name and brand out there.
4. Seek out related podcasts
Once you have a little traction for your website and/or niche, then you may want to reach out to related podcasts that do interviews.
They are always looking for podcast content. This will help increase your audience and credibility.
If you have enough valuable content to offer, then you may consider starting your own podcast but there is a huge time commitment so make sure that is a path you want to take.
Ecommerce Podcasts Worth Your Ear
5. Create a video teaching series
Create a video teaching course and put it on YouTube.com, Vimeo, etc.
You don’t have to give away everything in this series, but definitely give away enough value to make it worth it for someone to watch and want to learn more.
You can also offer this course on places such as Udemy.com, Lynda.com, Pluralsight.com and more depending on the content.
6. Create Valuable Assets for Others
Here are a couple ways to create value through content for your targeted audience.
1. Create an infographic.
Create an infographic about how to “fix a futon cover step-by-step” that will help others in your niche. Let’s say you are showing customers how to fix their futon cover. If the graphic is good enough you may get links back to your website by others using this infographic to add value to their audience.
2. Do market related studies.
Search for recently posted blogs and news articles about your niche and offer up related polls and surveys. You can hire people from Upwork.com, Fiverr.com and Mechanical Turk to do these polls and surveys for you.
You help them by adding relevant, real-time user feedback and you get a link back to your website and content in return. I learned this from Dmitry Dragilev of JustReachOut.io. JustReachOut is a great tool to find content and journalists related to your website (check out his How To Pitch Press Guide for more tips on email outreach).
We Have Traffic, What Now?
Now that we have gone through a few ways to drive traffic to your website let’s talk briefly about what to do with them once they are there to bring them back and offer enough value for visitors to share your content with others.
I could go through an entire series about what to do with traffic once they have found your site, but I want to focus mainly on ways to increase traffic through user interaction.
1. Make your content easy to share
First of all, if you have a blog or section of your website where you are writing valuable content, make it easy to share. If you are using WordPress, then this is incredibly easy. You can add social sharing buttons using a WordPress plugin.
Two I would suggest are:
How BPI Sports Blends WordPress and BigCommerce
BPI Sports sees 207% increase in revenue.
If you are not using wordpress then there are tons of free widgets. Here are some I would suggest if you are not using wordpress:
2. Setup a webinar
If you are comfortable teaching and interacting with people, then you might consider setting up an interactive webinar.
The beauty of this is that you can record it and offer it at any time for users to view later. I would suggest using something like WebinarJam for this as it is incredibly simple to use.
Ask those that visit your website to sign up for the webinar and to share the webinar with their social media accounts. You can offer an incentive to those sharing if you would like to gain more viewers.
3. Create a useful related software tool
Now I know this may scare some people off when reading about setting up a software tool. There are plenty of freelancers that would enjoy helping you build a software tool for your website and will do it for reasonable prices.
You can check Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, etc to find a development expert.
Having return visitors to your website is just as important as getting them there the first time.
Here is an example of a simple tool. It is a google rank checker. If you are teaching others about SEO and internet marketing it may be useful for them to check their website rankings from your website based on particular keywords.
If you are in the real estate, mortgage or banking industry you may consider having some sort of calculator written that will help users determine the amount of home they can afford or how much they will pay based on total home cost plus amortized loan payments over time.
BPI Sports, an ecommerce site, has even set up a quiz to help users build their own customized plan. This is an example of another tool.
These are obviously just examples but you can create a useful tool for your audience that will keep them coming back to your site as well as give them an incentive to tell others about it.
Final Word on Content Marketing
Getting more traffic to your site is only the first step in growing your business. Once you have them there, you want to engage those users, build brand loyalty and trust and make sure that that traffic comes back again –– this time without you having to pull them in via an ad.
This is why a content strategy is so helpful. You can use content in ads to pull customers in, then engage them in that content to prove your expertise which will earn you trust for the long term.
You aren’t going to convert every single visitor to a sale the very first time they land on your site. With the average ecommerce conversion rate being 1-3%, you need another way to capture interest and grow brand awareness. Your content marketing strategy is one way to do it.
And once you have your strategy in place, you need a team to execute — but that’s a lesson for another day.
Just be sure you have an email capture form, too, for anyone who doesn’t want to buy, but does want to hear from you more often.
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