If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you have plenty of options for engaging your community. You might chat up potential customers at a neighborhood block party or use clever signage to entice them into your store.
Ecommerce business owners need to think more broadly. An ecommerce business’s community is essentially the entire internet—that’s about 5.16 billion people. While this can mean greater potential for sales, it also means you need to focus on the segment of people on the internet who your brand and product is for, and think strategically about how to catch their attention.
This is where content marketing comes in. By providing customers with content that’s actually valuable to them, content marketing can help online businesses stay top of mind with target audiences and generate (not burn) goodwill.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing useful, relevant, and engaging content to your target audience in order to elevate your brand, generate leads, and build goodwill with current and potential customers.
11 content marketing tips
- Go deep on target audience research
- Identify pain points and drivers
- Use SEO to meet your audience where they are—on Google
- Write for people
- Play with tone
- Keep it fun
- Establish a content mix
- Create a content calendar
- Use multiple channels
- Implement a technical SEO strategy
- Track results
If you’ve ever published a Facebook post about your business, you’re already a content marketer. Establishing a successful content marketing strategy, however, is a bit more involved. The following content marketing tips can help.
Audience content marketing tips
1. Go deep on target audience research
The better you know your audience, the better your content marketing. Research target audience demographics, interests, buying cycles, and media consumption preferences (including preferred social media platforms). This information can help you create content relevant to your audiences and publish content that reaches the right audience at the right time.
2. Identify pain points and drivers
So what exactly is relevant, useful content? To answer this question, consider your target audience’s pain points and drivers.
- Pain points are your audience’s problems. Consider their day-to-day frustrations, worries, and deepest fears, paying special attention to issues your product can solve.
- Decision drivers are the factors that influence a purchasing decision. Common factors include cost, perceived benefits, ease of access, and social proof.
Use pain points to identify key decision drivers for your target audience, and publish content that provides a solution. For example, if your target audience worries about spending too little time with family, time-saving benefits will be a key decision driver, and a successful content marketing strategy might emphasize how your products or services save time.
3. Use SEO to meet your audience where they are—on Google
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of trying to get your website to show up in Google search results. Applying SEO principles to your content strategy means answering the question: What might my target audience be trying to solve by searching on Google? You then create content that is optimized to show up in their search results, creating an opportunity to expose them to your brand and products.
Imagine an avid hiker is planning a trip to a destination with volatile weather. They might go to a search engine to research their options for waterproofing their hiking boots. If you sell waterproofing spray (or waterproof hiking boots), you might want to create content that explains how your product works and why it’s effective, in hopes of ranking for the search query (keyword) “waterproof hiking boots.” To expand your reach, you might also create articles that offer tips for hiking in the rain, packing guides for long distance hikes with volatile weather, and more.
SEO is all about giving the reader what they want: useful information that speaks to their problem. So while you should mention your products when they are directly relevant to a pain point, don’t overdo it. Too many hard sells can erode a reader’s trust.
Brand voice content marketing tips
4. Write for people
Writing is for readers, and readers are people. Good content marketing strategy puts the human first, even while balancing SEO needs and business goals.
To create user-friendly content, try creating content by imagining the reader as one specific person. Content marketers call these imaginary people buyer personas—characters who represent a segment of your target audiences. Create a buyer persona, and write specifically for them.
5. Play with tone
Brand voice remains consistent across channels, but brand tone can change depending on context. You might embrace a conversational style in blog posts, use humor on social media platforms, or even let yourself get fired up about a change in your industry.
You can also consider adjusting your point-of-view. You might write most content in your company’s voice but occasionally drop in a first-person blog post from your founder or a subject-matter expert on your marketing team.
6. Keep it fun
Content marketing should provide value to your targeted audiences—but entertainment value counts.
If you sell upscale orthotic footwear for professional women who wear knock-out heels to the office, your audience research might tell you that your targeted audience also enjoys cocktail recipes, productivity hacks, and photos of dreamy vacation destinations. Pepper your feeds with a few choice images of high-power women relaxing in the tropics and throw in a few trending cocktail recipes for good measure.
Organizational content marketing tips
7. Establish a content mix
Decide what types of content you will publish. You might decide to publish blogs, social media posts, and email newsletters, for example. Then get more specific within each channel. For example, maybe your newsletters will contain 40% entertaining content, 30% educational content, and 30% promotional content.
8. Create a content calendar
A content calendar (or editorial calendar) can organize the content planning and content creation process. Decide how frequently you will publish content for each channel and drop your ideas into a content calendar.
Make sure to note evergreen content, or content that doesn’t easily go out of date: continually promoting your content pieces can increase ROI on your content marketing efforts.
Strategy content marketing tips
9. Use multiple channels
Successful content marketing strategies leverage multiple channels. If you dump all of your efforts into blog posts and neglect social media and email, you’ll miss out on audience segments who prefer those channels.
Repurposing content for multiple channels can also save time. It might take you six hours to write a blog but only 15 minutes to adapt your blog post header and introduction for a social media posts
10. Implement a technical SEO strategy
Don’t neglect the technical arm of your SEO strategy. Technical SEO improves the back-end structure of your website. With technical SEO, you can find and repair broken images or links, improve loading speed, and boost performance through strategic internal linking.
11. Track results
Use a social media analytics tool and a web analytics tool (like Google Analytics) to track content marketing metrics, including site traffic and conversions. This can help you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. You can also use it to identify top-performing content and repeat successful tactics.
3 content marketing mistakes to avoid
1. Don’t be a copycat
Looking to competitors can help you generate content ideas, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to sound like the biggest player in your industry. A good content marketing strategy differentiates you from your peers, so emphasize what’s unique to you.
2. Don’t navel-gaze
Business owners spend a lot of time thinking about their products and services, but valuable content puts your audience first. Consider these two statements:
- Twenty engineers worked tirelessly for a decade to develop a melon baller using high-performance steel and an in-depth analysis of the anatomy and mechanics of the human hand.
- Professional chefs need both efficiency and precision. Our best-in-class melon baller delivers gorgeous melon balls 30% faster than traditional models.
Your company’s extensive research is a strong selling point, but it shouldn’t come before an appeal to your customer’s needs (and the promise that you can solve them).
3. Don’t write (only) for search engines
SEO is a powerful tool, but writing that prioritizes SEO over reader experience can sound like somebody dropped a bag of keywords on the ground. Search engines are also getting better at prioritizing valuable content, so simply packing a blog post with target keywords might not be enough to help you rank. Instead, look for writers—either people inside your company or freelancers for hire—who have experience and expertise to share, and encourage them to write for people rather than algorithms.
Content marketing tips FAQ
How do I identify my target audience for content marketing?
- Analyze your current customer base.
- Analyze competitor audiences.
- Review traffic to your website.
- Conduct market research.
How do I measure the success of my content marketing efforts?
Indirect: Evaluate your business KPIs. If you experience a 20% jump in sales after implementing a content marketing strategy, you can attribute at least some of this success to your content marketing efforts. Be sure to factor in any other changes in your business model or external factors—like a global pandemic driving up the need for sweatpants.
Direct: Direct methods use analytics tools like Google Analytics to track clicks, engagement, and organic traffic to your website. Some tools can even attribute individual sales to pieces of content.