Just four in 10 B2B marketers say that their organisation has a documented content marketing strategy in place, according to recent research by Content Marketing Institute. This is despite the fact that having clearly defined steps and goals is empowering the most successful companies to manage targeted campaigns that deliver ample ROI.
If you are promoting your ecommerce site in the run-up to Christmas, or you just want to improve your returns generally, you need to create a strategy that you can work from and refer back to so that you can deliver meaningful and consistent engagement, and drive revenue.
Why does a website need a content strategy?
Getting people to your website to complete purchases is the main goal, and content marketing can make this process much easier by effectively easing the consumer through the sales funnel. You do this by serving them content that addresses their needs and helps them to solve pain points. This works in both B2B and B2C settings.
Content marketing is positioned as a soft sell, in contrast to a traditional advert, for example, which is very brand-focused. You provide insights and added value via content that earns goodwill and then engagement.
This engagement comes in a variety of forms, and this is where it can become more complex. For example, a single piece of content is rarely enough to seal the deal. A new client may read two excellent blogs and then eventually decide to purchase after clicking through from a social media post with a discount or offer. Research shows that B2B buyers often view multiple pieces of content before making a decision.
A content strategy will help you to make sense of all this and create the content that will get someone from A to B in the shortest and most effective way possible. A documented and well-executed strategy will therefore increase traffic to your site, increase brand trust and convert customers, but it can do much more than that. It feeds into everything you do when trying to increase sales and revenue.
What’s the best way to create a strategy?
The first step on the path to creating an effective ecommerce strategy is identifying who is actually buying the products from your website. This is your target audience, and the content you create should be tailored for them.
You can create a targeted buyer persona by mining data from your website for insights, getting feedback from sales teams, and referring to first-party contact databases.
A persona is not just based on demographics such as age and location though. You need to consider factors such as personality, motivation and pain points. Why exactly are visitors navigating to your website? Are they on the verge of completing a sale or just comparing products?
When you have a complete understanding of a target audience, you can then deliver content via their preferred channels at the right time. Being aware of the different stages of the funnel is important here as those at the top may just want answers to common questions, while those at the bottom may be ready for a more targeted sales pitch.
Now that you have defined your audience and outlined how they consume content, you can move on to content creation. Before you get started here, you should conduct more research related to topics and keywords.
Building out content based on topic clusters is preferable here as you will create a comprehensive body of work around related topics that are important to your business and your customers. Completing a keyword gap analysis will also throw up a few important terms that you are not ranking for. You can then tailor your content for these terms.
What content formats are best?
Most content marketing formats align with an ecommerce-focused content strategy, but there are several that are particularly adept at increasing traffic, encouraging trust and driving conversions. A few formats you could use are:
- Blog posts
- How-tos, tutorials and product guides
- Original photography
- Case studies and customer stories
- Email marketing
Blog posts have been the cornerstone of content campaigns for the vast majority of companies, for good reason. Targeted, in-depth blogs with a word count of between 500 and 1,000 words will inform and educate and, in turn, generate leads and strengthen relationships. You can also include internal links and calls to action to move readers through your site.
Videos, infographics and photography are also among the visual content formats that can really work in an ecommerce setting. This is because they increase immersion, which is something that generally leads to an uptick in sales and the value of each order.
Product guides, how-tos and other tailored articles are also an excellent outlet for providing the information and insights that people need before they check out. All of the formats listed here also align neatly with search engine optimisation efforts, which is another part of the equation.
Email marketing should not be overlooked either because, as mentioned earlier, you will need to follow up and re-engage with people who have read your content but might not have followed through afterwards.
Should I update copy for webpages?
While your actual webpages for products and services are not directly related to content marketing, you should nevertheless update and optimise your site to increase the chances of converting visitors who have clicked through from an article, blog or social media post into paying customers.
Production descriptions are essentially your digital shop window. The text on these pages must be accurate and relevant, and packed with the details that potential customers need during the sales cycle.
Partnering with an agency during this stage might be the solution for your business as professional copywriters will be able to tailor the language, tone and style of the content to your specific requirements, and create a mass of copy within a short timeframe.
Now, you have everything in place to successfully promote your site and convert customers. Strategy is not a set-and-forget practice though. You should aim to update and optimise your strategy after measuring results and taking feedback on board.