September 30, 2022
Future Proof Your Ecommerce Brand: Why Do You Need Content Marketing?
The world of eCommerce is evolving, and having a strong digital content strategy is now no longer just important for your business to grow and succeed, it is essential. Content, or a lack of it, can make or break your business. Done badly, or not at all, and you are essentially making your website look as unattractive to potential customers as possible and are driving them away. Done well, it can transform your business for the better.
Content is king
This really shouldn’t be news to any eCommerce site or any business owner just starting to build their online brand. The term ‘content is king’ has been repeated ad nauseum for at least the last decade and even though it has largely fallen on deaf ears for many small to medium business owners, the time has come where the advice can no longer be dismissed. The fact is the right content in the right place can reach a far wider audience than any other marketing method ever can and increase conversion rates exponentially. It can build your brand, establish your industry authority and turn you into a thought leader that your customers love, trust and will keep buying from again and again. Having explosive content that informs, entertains, helps solve a problem and speaks to a wide target audience will make you stand out from the crowd and give you a significant edge over your competitors. It is this same content, and these same results that will at the end of the day be the difference between selling a lot of products and being successful, or not.
Put quite simply, no eCommerce business can thrive in today’s marketplace without great content, yet despite this, so many still don’t take this powerful tool seriously. Even fewer understand the true potential for great content marketing, or just as importantly, how to use it to their advantage.
eCommerce marketing used to be relatively simple. You could throw a ton of products onto a website, pay for some ads, and largely rely on Amazon and eBay to do a lot of the hard work for you. It worked. It was a good strategy. In today’s world though, it just isn’t enough.
The brands and businesses that are thriving now are ones that are getting ahead of the curve and are taking that competitive advantage with a strong, rich content strategy.
Those brands have seen that the eCommerce market is swamped with competitors all trying to do the same thing and sell the same products, they have taken note of the fact that customers are becoming increasingly savvy and choosy about who they decide to spend their money with, and they have taken steps to ensure that they are the ones who will capture their target customers attention.
And essentially that is what content marketing is all about. It is about providing your customers with a rich experience beyond simply shoving a product in their face. It is about going that extra mile for them, being a resource for them, providing a service for them or answering their questions and concerns. It is about doing all of this simply to make their customer journey better and to build trust and authority with them.
If you can’t start to convince potential customers that they should buy from you from the moment they find your site, then they will simply buy from one of your competitors instead, and that of course is assuming they even see your site at all.
The challenges of content marketing
The big problem most people have with content marketing is the fact it is a long term strategy. It is not like traditional marketing where you can divert some resources, expect instant results and get a quantitative return on investment a month later. Content marketing is all about quality over quantity, it is a long term plan of action designed to build your brand, raise awareness and create a relationship between you and your potential customers, and the big mistake most brands make is not taking it seriously enough to devote the right amount of time or resources to it.
Now to be fair the majority of business owners, especially smaller brands or eCommerce sites don’t always have the in house talent to create a sustained marketing campaign, never mind a strategic content map for their entire site. Many quite rightly want to devote resources to other immediate priorities such as stock levels, actual sales and little things such as staffing or accounting. That is understandable. Small teams only have a finite amount of resources.
But that is where the importance of outsourcing comes in. Hiring skilled experts to take over certain elements of your business for you, like content creation and strategy, can be a bargain when you consider the long term gains and return on investment that content marketing brings. The important thing is not to undervalue it to the point where you are palming it off on a single member of staff who is also doing all of the social media, customer outreach and all those other things you have heard are important but have no time for.
Imagine for a moment that everyone on the planet magically found your website at this exact moment. What would they see? A bunch of products thrown up on the screen? Some basic product details? Perhaps even a short description or two? All of that is great. If some of those people are already in a position to buy your products you may even make a few sales. Perfect! Job done. But what about everyone else? Do you want to leave all those other people with a bad impression of your brand? Do you want them to see your site, instantly lose interest and then fall off the sales. funnel? Or do you want to keep them interested, pull them through that sales funnel and convert them all into paying customers?
If you answered yes of course I want everyone who sees my website to make a purchase, and quite frankly who wouldn’t, what reason is your website giving them to do that? Are you providing them with information they need? Helping them answer a question or solving a problem they have? What first impression are you leaving them with?
Too many basic eCommerce websites are poorly designed with a bad user experience. Either that or they are poorly written with a small amount of content that is full of errors or just not relevant to the audience. What reason would those readers have to stick around on that site, much less buy its products or services? Would you buy from a website like that?
This is the key to understanding the importance of content on your eCommerce site. Having a content rich website goes far beyond simply selling products and services, that is just the end result. Genuine content elevates your website and gives it a professional, accomplished feel, leaving your customers with a first and lasting impression that they can trust your brand and that they are safe when buying from you.
The most successful brands and online businesses in the world use content not just to push a specific product, but to provide a service to their customers above and beyond simply selling them something.
Studies show that before making a purchase most shoppers will do research online. They will trawl through hours of video, online articles, reviews and blog posts, even for the most mundane of objects. Shoppers who are looking for garden furniture may want to know the best type to buy for their individual space, they may be curious as to how to take care of that brand new garden table or need inspiration on what to buy. The most successful online stores in that space all give a large amount of content to provide that help and inspiration. A range of articles and guides aimed at diverse target audiences can repurpose the same content soft selling the same product to a larger audience.
This of course also has the effect of making sure that you are found by a much wider range of people than you could ever reach any other way. The SEO benefits of content alone pay back your investment into it, people searching for specific products will be far more likely to find your website if you are beating your competitors in the rankings, but it goes far deeper than that. It isn’t just the customers who already know they want your products and services you want to reach, it is those who don’t even know they want them yet. It is the people who search the ‘how to guides’ on YouTube, the ones who look for inspiration on how to solve a particular problem or issue, the people who ask Google for help on what tool to use or for ideas on where to go, what to do and how to do it.
If people are asking questions about products and services in your industry, then you want to be the brand they come to for answers. You want to be that resource they turn to when they need something. Becoming the de facto expert in your industry by building your brand authority with expert content is one of the single best ways to ensure you capture people at every level of the customer journey. That way when those potential customers are ready to buy, yours is the sales funnel they are already on. The expert, professional level content you have provided them with has built that brand to customer relationship, it has built a level of trust in your brand. It has told potential customers that you have been a useful resource for them and that they should cross over that line and make that purchase.
All of these benefits and more are incalculably valuable to any business, but to be perfectly blunt you won’t get any of them without a rich body of content on and off your site. A true content strategy is an investment in the future of your business and it is one that you can’t afford not to take.