No matter what you’ve heard before, let me put things straight: e-commerce isn’t an easy game.
Putting together a website and adding products is the fun part. Getting the business off the ground and surviving in the highly saturated e-commerce market – that’s where the real challenges start.
One of the preconditions to survival is the ability to generate traffic to your shop, then convert visitors into buyers. If you ask me – someone who’s run several online stores and helped other sellers to launch their businesses – both traffic and conversions are equally important for success.
The question is: in the long-term, what marketing is best for bringing people to your store and convincing them to buy?
Two words: content marketing.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. (Source.)
Here’s why you should invest your time and money in creating online content.
Why e-commerce businesses need content marketing
First: content can help you generate traffic.
If you want to rank on search engines, you need content. The more up-to-date and useful the content on your website is, the better your chances to rank in top positions on Google.
Besides that, when you publish new content, you have something to share on social media and people have a reason to click and visit your store.
Second: if you provide your visitors with relevant content, they’re more likely to buy from you.
Stats show that websites that use content marketing have the average conversion rate of 2.9%, while sites that don’t – only 0.5%. That’s six times the difference!
And third: the majority of e-commerce stores don’t invest in high-quality content, so you have the chance to stand out.
Content marketing is a way for you to increase your customer loyalty and retention. And if you wonder why you need that, then look: it’s been calculated that just a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%.
So, content marketing is a must-do. But where to start? Here are four tested and true content marketing tactics that are proven to bring great monetary results for e-commerce businesses:
- Landing pages
- Blog posts
- Email campaigns
When people shop online, all they can rely on to make their buying decision is your product descriptions and visuals. And when it comes to visuals, there’s a reason why people love videos – they present quick and rich content, which make them more efficient than images.
Videos are especially important if you sell clothing and footwear, as this is one of the product categories that people still prefer to buy in-store. As Raitis Purins, the head of marketing at Printful states – that’s quite understandable:
”Online shopping experience is quite one-dimensional – it’s difficult for customers to grasp the feel and fit of a product. Having well-written descriptions and detailed product photos is a good start, but if you really want to help the customer make a purchasing decision, use video content. While it takes more time to produce, it’s worthwhile,” Purins says.
And he’s right. Stats show that customers are 144% more likely to add the product to the cart after watching a video. Other research has found that 64% of shoppers are most likely to finish their purchase after watching a product video. Overall, people are willing to spend two minutes watching a video about a product they’re planning to buy.
What type of videos are shoppers looking for?
First – product demonstrations. Those are informative explainer videos that show how the product looks, fits, and/or functions.
Printful, the print-on-demand dropshipping company, uses product videos to demonstrate how products look and fit, as well as options for print placement.
Second – product reviews. Those are third-party comments on products they’ve purchased from you. In such videos, people not only show the product but also rate it and give their opinion about its quality and performance.
Ethan Newberry (The Ginger Runner) is a pro ultrarunner, as well as a gear reviewer. In this video, he gives his expert opinion on Topo MTN Racer running shoes.
2: Landing pages
First things first – what is a landing page?
A landing page is a webpage that someone lands on – either from organic search, paid ad campaign, social media post, or any other way.
Landing pages are usually created for a specific marketing campaign, for SEO purposes, or can serve both purposes at the same time.
Campaign-specific landing pages usually go in hand with certain advertising or marketing campaigns and are designed to guide people towards one goal – conversion (either that’s a purchase, subscribing to your email list, submitting a request, or any other.)
Startup Vitamins – an online store that sells motivational t-shirts and other print products for startup founders – has created a landing page for their Halloween sale. They used paid ads and social media posts to promote the deal, and whoever clicked on their ads and posts was taken to this landing page.
SEO-focused landing pages are usually dedicated to specific (long-tail) keywords. You can design a landing page for each of your products, features, use cases, competitors, industry keywords, etc. Each page would target different keywords, allowing you to broaden your potential reach.
Catchbox – a brand that sells throwable microphones – has created landing pages for each of their use cases. This one is for event and conference organizers:
Why does your store need landing pages?
Because stats show that campaign-specific landing pages have 2x better conversion rates than product detail pages – 1.49% vs. 2.98%, to be precise.
Simply explained: according to the study, if you take 200 people to a product page, 3 of them will make a purchase. If you take people to a campaign-dedicated landing page, 6 of them will submit an order. You can do the math.
3: Blog posts
Blogging is not only a great way to show what your brand stands for, connect with your audience, and build trust, but also to increase organic traffic and boost your store’s conversion rates.
Here are just a few stats that prove that:
- Blogging 2-3 times a week is found to lead to a 177% traffic increase (source)
- 61% of customers have made a purchase based on a blog post they’ve read (source)
- 60% of consumers feel engaged with a brand after reading custom content on their blog (source)
- 80% of users completely ignore paid advertisements and only focus on organic results, mainly, blog articles (source)
What articles should you write? Generally, the most valuable pieces are those that generate traffic and those that convince people to buy your product (read: have high conversion rates). In the best-case scenario, it’s the same article.
Now, to write an article that ranks well and generates organic traffic, focus on things that search engines like, such as:
- Relevant keywords (try doing your keyword research prior to writing an article)
- Strategic keyword placement (in the headline, the first sentence of the article, sub-headlines, etc.)
- Decent length (1500+ words)
- Easy to scan through (pay attention to formatting, use sub-headlines and bullet lists, write short paragraphs and sentences, etc.)
When it comes to generating conversions – first, make sure that the content and message of the article matches its headline and keywords used. That is, if the headline says ”10 t-shirts for men”, don’t list shirts for women. Give people what they came for, and you may see an 87% increase in conversions.
Second, make it easy for readers to go from your article to the product page – link to your products, insert calls-to-action, set up a slide-in, etc. Once the blog visitor has made a decision to buy your product, take him or her directly to the page where it’s possible to do it.
What articles tick both of the boxes – are great traffic generators and have high conversion rates? The answer is: product guides.
Craft lists of gift ideas for different occasions (holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.), lists of related or similar products to yours, etc. Remember to include your product as one of the options.
This article on the Velosock blog – a store that sells sock-like bike covers – generates nearly 65x more revenue than other posts.
4: Email campaigns
Email marketing means using email to promote your products and services, as well as build a relationship with your current and potential customers.
Now, before you roll your eyes and say that no one reads emails from brands anymore, you should know that email marketing still has a higher ROI (return on investment) than any other marketing method. Studies show that for every dollar brands invest in email marketing, they can get on average $44 back. That’s a 4400% ROI!
Email marketing starts with building your list of subscribers – people who have deliberately given you their email address for you to send them branded content.
Here are a few ways to build a list:
- Add purchasers to your list (just make sure to ask for permission to send them promotional content, especially if you sell to Europe – that’s required by the GDPR)
- Place sign-up forms on your website and blog
- Set up a popup that offers visitors to leave their email address before they leave your store
- Create a lead magnet – a valuable piece of content, such as e-book, checklist, etc. – that people can get in exchange for their email
Be-with is a brand that designs clothing for couples that encourages touching and cuddling. Their lead magnet is a short synopsis of the famous book ”5 Love Languages”. To get the e-book, people are asked to leave their email.
Start growing your list as soon as possible, and never stop – it’s been found that people who are freshly subscribed are more likely to buy something.
Once you have a list of subscribers, what type of campaigns should you send?
Here are some ideas that I’ve tested and recommend:
- Product launches – whenever you add a new product(s), inform your subscribers. Give them a limited-time discount to encourage them to submit an order.
- Promotions and deals – surveys show that deals are one of the main reasons people subscribe to newsletters in the first place.
- Product round-ups – like ”best-selling products of 2019” or ”most popular summer designs”. Round-ups are fun and engaging content that a) highlight your popular products, and b) entertain your subscribers (because who doesn’t want to know the winner?!).
- Cart abandonment reminders to visitors who’ve placed products in their cart, but haven’t finished their order.
- Upselling and cross-selling campaigns – emails that you send to purchasers and encourage them to either buy another product or buy a better (and slightly more expensive) version of the product they’ve already chosen.
Dollar Shave Club – a subscription-based e-commerce business that delivers razors and other personal grooming products – offers its customers to add more products to their order before it’s shipped. It’s a way to increase order value and, therefore, store revenue.
Now that you know which content marketing efforts bring the highest monetary results, which tactics are you planning to try first?