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This is a guest post by Emma Siemasko from Grasshopper.

Whether you’re selling t-shirts or homemade jewelry, by now you've probably heard that you need to be marketing your business with content.

That's because creating valuable free content creates trust, builds your brand, keeps people informed, gives you something to share on social media and helps you rank in search engines.

More importantly, content marketing helps you attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.

But how many companies are actually walking the walk? And more importantly, how can ecommerce companies like yours create content that breeds fans and followers?

Well, let’s look at how other online stores are managing to sashay down the content runway in style:

1. Create How-to Videos 

How-to videos are an easy way to hook people into your content, especially if you sell a niche product on your site. Luxy Hair sells clip-in hair extensions that give you bigger, fuller hair than ever before, but their YouTube channel is as impressive as their product.

They have a ton of videos on how to use what they sell. Customers can learn how to pick an exact shade, how to store their extensions, how to clip in the hair extensions, and how to use these extensions with short hair.

But they also show people how to do stuff that has nothing to do with extensions. Women can learn how to blow-dry their hair, make a soft romantic ponytail, or put their hair in a quick and messy bun.

In other words, they're giving something away for free (as an attraction strategy) and selling something related.

 

Learn from Luxy Hair:

  • Use how-to videos to explain your product (it might be obvious to you, but difficult for customers!)

  • Go beyond your product and reach your audience with how-tos

  • Never underestimate the power of teaching.

2.  Creatively Answer Your FAQs 

Many ecommerce sites have FAQ pages to deal with common questions and alleviate customer support (and rank in search engines). FAQ pages are a necessary piece of content, so go out of the way to make them awesome.

I love Zirtual’s “Examples” page that explains their service (they provide virtual assistants). They’re not ecommerce, but their personality gives you an idea of just how fun content can be:


REI sells outdoor sporting and camping gear. They field real questions from their customers and answers them in how-to videos on a YouTube channel called REI Find Out.

These videos explain how to use products that REI sells, so that when people search “How to fit your bike” an REI video pops up. These FAQ videos position REI as a camping authority, which is exactly what they strive to be.

 

Put another way, having an awesome FAQ page will help you engage your customers, demonstrate your expertise and show your personality.

Learn from Zirtual and REI:

  • Your customers have questions. Answer them creatively.

  • Use FAQs to fuel ideas for content and boost yourself in search

  • Stop asking your virtual assistants to find you escorts (yick!)

3. Use Photo-Heavy Content

As an ecommerce company, you’re selling products, so get out that camera and figure out how to get really awesome images in your content.

I work for a B2B company, so when I see how ecommerce companies using beautiful photos as part of their content strategies, it makes me so jealous I could scream. Just look at how VivaLaJewels, a tiny ecommerce jewelry company, inspires wows on Instagram.

One Kings Lane goes way beyond Instagram. They sell all kinds of household wares - from picnic tables to mid-century modern dressers to vintage globes. If you visit their “Live Love Home” page, which basically serves as their blog, you’ll be presented with magazine-quality images that’ll take your breath away.

One Kings Lane provides really useful content (love this one on how to paint stairs), while combining it with beautiful, well-placed images.  

Their right-hand navigation shows photos of actual products you can order. A social button as you read encourages you to get connected with One Kings Lane, too. Um, WOW!

Learn from One Kings Lane:

  • Fill your blog posts with beautiful images of what you sell

  • Flank your blog posts with products (but do it tastefully-- no spammy, ugly, self-promotional stuff)

  • Paint your stairs because these look so, so cool

4. Become Your Own a Media Outlet 

If you look around for the best menswear blogs, you’ll find two of the most popular are run by Urban Daddy and Gilt.

To become an all-out authority in your space, it might be time to become a publisher. If you set up a hub where your audience can get info, you’ll separate yourself from companies that are giving the hard sell. Instead, you’ll inspire more trust and authority in your industry. You’ll also generate a ton of traffic through the media outlet. Cha-ching.

GetKempt and GiltMANual are media outlets in their own right, even though they’re run by sites that sell clothes.



Learn from Urban Daddy and Kempt:

  • Consider setting up separate media outlets to build trust

  • You can become a publisher just like Inc. or The New York Times

  • The content you publish does not need to be overwhelmingly branded

5. Be a Little Righteous and Stay in The Know 

Birchbox, a subscription services that sends out beauty boxes once a month, has an arsenal of blog posts focused on issues of appearance. They sell beauty products, so obviously they’re in the business of helping women look great, but they don’t shy away from the tough stuff.

Birchbox welcomes discussions about whether or not wearing makeup is even right, and how wearing makeup effects how society views women.

They report on weird beauty news and reddit threads that are getting attention. They’re not shy about addressing world issues, facing controversy head on, or diving into self-image and beauty issues.

This attitude builds respect in a world where a lot of beauty companies only care about making money. Go Birchbox.


Learn from Birchbox:

  • Take a stand on an issue - it’s impressive

  • Don’t shy away from controversy

  • Be grateful that you can choose from more than 18 haircuts!

Keep Calm and Content On

Content. It’s the material you create to inspire existing customers and the audience you hope to reach (your next customers are out there somewhere!) Ecommerce sites across the web are taking advantage of content’s power. They’re killing it-- and you can, too.

Boost your search results, inspire your audience, build your brand, and become an authority - all with the help of content.


About the Author: Emma Siemasko helps small business owners and entrepreneurs up their game through writing and blogging. She’s the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system, and founder of Frog2Prince, an online dating consultancy.