4 Steps to Create a Stellar Content Marketing Strategy
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It’s 2016 and you’ve been reading articles about the benefits of a killer content strategy for over half a decade now. You get it. A stellar content strategy increases qualified web traffic, boosts organic search rankings, creates brand awareness, lifts conversion rates, and even generates sales. Perfect.
Now you may be wondering, “But how is it applicable to my eCommerce site and who on Earth has 6-12 months to spare before they start seeing results and some actual ROI?” Well... you should.
Content strategy for eCommerce is everything right now. It separates the top sellers from the bottom dwellers. And all long-term investment scare tactics aside, as an eCommerce business, you need an awesome content strategy to generate sustainable revenue and create raving fans.
Did you know that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and produces 3x as many leads? That’s probably why 90% of organizations leverage content as a part of their marketing efforts.
Marketers are shifting their budgets more towards content and shying away from other means like paid and display advertising. Just last year, 69% of senior marketers allocated their digital marketing budgets to content marketing. Why?
Because you’re more likely to climb Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.
Or because, on average, you see over 1700 banner ads a month and I’d bet you a buck that you don’t remember any of them.
Developing a successful content strategy has a lot of moving parts. So for this post, I’ll hone in on four factors that can have a profound impact on your bottom line and help you get your content engine turning out leads quicker.
1. SEO and Research
When you start experimenting with different SEO tactics to boost rankings and increase your traffic you’ll soon realize that having a content strategy and creating unique content is the best way to achieve sustainable SEO. SEO and content are like two peas in a pod that work together to create coveted 1st page Google rankings.
When creating your content strategy you first need to approach it from an SEO and research perspective. Here’s why. First of all, without incorporating good on-page SEO tactics into your website, your published content won’t have the potential reach that it could.
Secondly, unless you do thorough research on your target audience before creating content, you’ll find yourself screaming, “Wilson!” louder than Tom Hanks trying to find your lost message in a vast sea of web content.
There’s a ton of resources available to help you get started with creating good on-page SEO. Here’s an awesome visual representation of all the ranking factors on a web page from the experts at Moz:
Research In conducting research around your content strategy it’s important to research your audience and formulate buyer personas. I don’t mean the surface-level kind of research that ends with you saying, “my target market is anyone who’s interested in my product/service”.
But rather, having a documented and scrupulously detailed outline of what your ideal customer looks like, uncovering things like:
Interests Desires Goals Demographics Pain-points
You can do this by first digging into existing customer data. Figure out how they found your content and lump the similarities between your customers into groups.
When you look at your CRM data, can you uncover any purchase trends or buying behavior that can be linked to a greater group or purpose? Break these out into 2-4 groups and begin creating segmented buyer personas.
Next you need to conduct interviews with customers and prospects. Our partners at Hubspot created a good starting outline for your interviews.
Once that’s been accomplished, refine the outcomes from your data analysis and your customer interviews, and compile them into visually appealing documents. Share these with your team and get start creating hyper-targeted content.
Knowing who you’re talking to is the first step in creating an awesome content strategy. After that you need to figure out what you’re going to say. Easier said than done!
When you’re brainstorming topics to write about, you need to analyze what your prospects are searching for. Keywords help with this. When you conduct keyword research, you’re uncovering words and phrases your prospects and customers are using in search engines to find products like yours.
Tools like Google Trends can help determine the relevancy of each term and phrase. Google Trends shows you the popularity of the search term over time and allows you to compare it with another phrase. This is helpful when you’re dealing with semantics or looking at two completely different words. For example, “e-commerce” vs. “eCommerce”, or “short-tail keywords” vs. “long-tail keywords” respectively.
There’s plenty more places to find the type of language your customers are using besides search engines though. Go to popular forums like Quora and see what kind of questions people are asking in your industry. What words are they using to describe their challenges? Who’s answering? What kind of phrases are reocurring? This is a great way to find new keywords and phrases to start incorporating into your content and web pages.
Also, look at the search results within your internal site. You can get some good keyword nuggets by analyzing what people are searching for within your website.
When you have an understanding of what keywords to target, do some brainstorming around content planning with those keywords in mind. Create all kinds of content that addresses customer pain points, answers common questions, shares wisdom, and more.
3. Include User Generated Content
User generated content (UGC) refers to any form of content (podcast, advertisement, video, blog, photo, etc.) that is created by a user (or customer) of a product or service.
American Eagle did this by creating a campaign around their new intimates collection by using photos of real women wearing their products and encouraging them to use their hashtag #AerieReal.
Coca-Cola did this by labeling their drinks with people’s names and encouraging customers to get creative and share images of themselves with a coke.
UGC is important to generate because consumers have grown skeptical of brands and have a hard time trusting companies. However, consumers trust recommendations of brand from a friend and a Cutting Edge PR study revealed that 74% of consumers chose companies/brands based on others’ customer service experiences shared online.
Is UGC important? Absolutely.
Another reason why you need UGC? Free advertising. And who doesn’t like free? Encouraging your customers to share and promote their your products or service is great because you receive free exposure and publicity.
UGC also boosts customer loyalty. If a customer shares a picture of them using your product and you respond on social media or leverage it on your site that’s a big win for them! They get to feel like they’re part of a community.
Incorporating UGC into your content strategy is simple. Start with a hashtag. Encourage online sharing by incentivising customers with discounts, reposts, shares, or whichever tactic works well with your eCommerce business. Then start showcasing the UGC on your website, your social media channels, and your product pages.
Online retailers are showcasing UGC on their websites to help show what their products look like in the real world. Here are a few examples:
Brathwait Watches, with their hashtag #brathwait, showcases instagram photos of their customers on their website homepage:
Aritzia, a womans clothing retailer, uses the hashtag #myaritzia to showcase their customers instagram photos of unique outfits that have been created using Aritzia clothing:
Filson encourages their customers to use the hashtag #Filsonlife. Filson then creates unique posts showcasing their customers on their blog.
4. Expand reach with Social Media
Social media might not be the new kid on the block anymore but it still remains unparalleled when it comes to expanding the reach of your content. With social media, any size company can become well known and popular online.
For an eCommerce business, one of the most powerful things about social media is that it can give you a platform to rapidly grow your company no matter what stage of growth you’re at.
When you create buyer personas and keyword-driven content, sharing it on social media expands your potential reach. If you use relevant hashtags, share and post on the right channels, target the right audience, and leverage key influencers, social media can be your secret advantage over the competition.
If you sell a specific product, and cater to a certain industry, scope out the key influencers within your industry and leverage their fanbase. Reach out to them and be specific about what you want them to say about your product or service. This can be an incredible way to reach thousands, and potentially millions, of buyers.
For example, a large clothing or footwear brand could reach out to different celebrities they know their ideal customers respect and look up to; like Nike did by leveraging Lebron James, or Adidas with Kanye West.
This type of social media sharing also coincides with UGC. As you organically grow your social media channels by sharing targeted content, leverage your industry’s key influencers, you’ll be promoting UGC, in turn expanding your reach.
There’s a lot of factors that go into creating a stellar content marketing strategy. As you leverage SEO, research, buyer personas, keyword targeting, user generated content, and social media you’ll quickly uncover how effectively you can grow your business with content marketing.
But be patient; content marketing isn’t an overnight success. However, if you take these four tips into consideration, they will help you plow through some of the initial barriers to entry and allow you and your team to start increasing your sales and expanding your reach.
Over to you. What has been the most successful tactic for you in creating your content strategy?