Traditional retail marketing can feel like a game of cat and mouse. It often follows the sequence of placing ads on Instagram, hoping your audience notices them while scrolling, and hoping they’ll remember your message when shopping. This outbound approach is about seeking out the customer, and while it has its benefits, it can be intrusive and costly.
Retail content marketing draws in customers by providing value and sharing insights. Instead of bombarding your audience with promotions, content marketing subtly engages and educates, creating a genuine connection.
Here’s how to use content marketing to build an engaged audience that has an intention to purchase from your retail business.
What is retail content marketing?
Retail content marketing is the strategic creation and distribution of relevant content designed to attract and engage a brand’s target audience.
The goal is to engage and later drive customers to a purchase decision.
Retail content marketing usually involves educating, entertaining, solving problems, and connecting with a target audience on an emotional level.
A thorough strategy should aim to deliver content that resonates with customers’ lifestyles, pain points, and needs.
Retailers can create a variety of content across channels like:
- Store blog
- Social media accounts
- Email marketing newsletters and campaigns
Content lets you gather people from a variety of channels and bring them back to a central location: your online shop.
Benefits of retail content marketing
A solid retail content marketing strategy comes with plenty of benefits for retail brands. Along with a potential uptick in sales, retailers can expect to boost brand loyalty, lower their marketing spend, and reach more of their target audience.
Build brand awareness
By sharing high-quality content consistently, retailers can remain top of mind for consumers.
It’s no longer a case of potential customers seeing your Instagram ad once and forgetting about it shortly after. Instead, your audience will interact with tailored content at every stage of their journey.
Whether they see your product demo Instagram Reel or read your blog on trending items, content helps them remember your brand when they’re ready to interact or purchase.
Grows trust and loyalty
Valuable, informative, and authentic content builds trust among your audience. This trust can lead to purchase, and then develop into brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Regular content updates give existing customers a reason to return, building an online community and following around your brand.
It’s a cost-effective strategy
Compared to other advertising methods like PPC ads, content marketing often delivers a higher ROI.
It’s a cost-effective strategy for reaching and engaging potential customers. Why? Unlike other traditional models, where you need to pay per click or impression, you only need to invest in content production and distribution. So you’re not paying extra for any clicks or purchases that happen as a result of the content.
4 steps to build an audience for your retail business
Building an audience for your retail business involves a mix of strategic and creative steps. You’ll need to take a holistic view of your entire content strategy to make sure it ties together.
Here’s how to get started with each of the key content marketing channels for retail businesses.
1. Create a blog people want to read
Blogging is still one of the easiest ways to start building an audience. More than 75% of B2C content marketers use a blog to distribute content.
Before you start writing, make sure you understand your target audience.
Conduct market research to identify and understand your potential customers’ demographics, preferences, motivations, and buying behaviors. Then create a buyer persona for your customers, and use it to help guide your blog post topics.
To generate relevant post topics, start by asking questions like:
- What problems do my customers have? Do I have the solutions?
- What are my customers struggling with right now? What do they not know how to do, and how can I help them learn those skills?
- What questions do my customers ask that I can answer?
You can also use blog posts to spotlight select items in your store. Remember to frame your blog content in terms of the customer. It’s about them, not you.
That’s why you want to explain how a customer can solve a problem (perhaps by using something you sell) instead of just writing about how great your brand or products are.
Use this quick checklist to make sure your positioning is on point.
Your blog posts should be:
- Helpful and informative. Be thorough and focus on actionable advice if you give suggestions or tips.
- Empathetic to your readers’ needs. Don’t push your own agenda at the expense of addressing their questions, problems, or concerns.
- Valuable. Always seek to solve problems, provide advice, or give information.
- Authentic. Write in a way that’s true to yourself and your brand. If you struggle with this, try writing the way you speak.
- Relevant. Keep blog posts on topic. You can tell a variety of stories, but they should all be focused or somehow tied back to what your audience finds important.
If your content ticks these boxes, then add it to your content calendar.
Once you’ve brainstormed a list of topics you want to write for your blog, choose a publishing schedule. For example, you may choose to publish once a week or twice per month.
Whatever you decide, choose a schedule you can stick to. You need to be consistent with your content if you want to build an audience online.
Homewares brand Life Interiors uses its blog The Journal to share actionable home decorating tips, cleaning advice, and updates about new brand partnerships. The result? The blog acts as a one-stop shop for customers to get advice and find out about the latest trends.
2. Develop a social media strategy
Using social media can help you boost your store’s visibility and grow your audience. It’s usually best to pick one or two platforms where your target audience spends time. If you try to grow an audience on multiple platforms, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and posting inconsistently.
To develop your retail social media strategy, first, identify your target audience and find out where they spend time. Then post social media posts on those platforms.
For example, if your target audience is urban millennials, Instagram may be a good place to spread the word about your brand and what you offer to customers. Alternatively, if you’re marketing to younger consumers, TikTok may be a better match.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, start building your online audience by sharing high-quality content regularly.
Here are a few best practices to follow:
- Stick to a consistent brand aesthetic and tone of voice.
- Follow a regular publishing schedule so your audience knows when to expect your content.
- Use platform-specific tools, like hashtags and @mentions, so posts are easy to find, see, and search.
- Publish different content formats like Reels, carousels, shoppable posts, and Stories.
- Interact with people’s comments, tags, and mentions of your brand.
Not sure what to share with your audience? Here are a few content ideas to get started:
- Reels showing behind-the-scenes snippets of your brand
- Live Q&A sessions with your founder
- Stories counting down to a new product launch
- TikToks with tips on how to use your product
- Images that feature products, staff, store, or relevant events you host
- Tutorials and product demos
Brooklinen uses its Instagram to share new bedding colors, style guides, and discounts with its audience.
3. Develop an email marketing strategy
People on your email list are some of your most engaged audience members—they took the time to sign up or have already purchased from you.
To build your email audience, incentivize people to sign up with discounts, exclusive content, or early access to new product launches. Place email sign-up forms on your website, checkout sequences, and social media channels.
Skin care brand Cocokind welcomes new website visitors with a 15% discount if they sign up for the newsletter.
For best results, personalize the experience. Use the recipient’s name, suggest products based on past purchases, and consider location-based offers.
Keep your messaging concise and customer-focused. Use persuasive subject lines, clear calls-to-action (CTAs), and engaging visuals.
Outline a schedule for promotional emails, newsletters, abandoned cart reminders, and seasonal campaigns to maintain consistent communication.
Where possible, automate your email campaigns. For example, automation for welcome series, birthday offers, and cart abandonment emails ensures timely interactions without manual effort.
Showerhead brand Canopy uses its welcome emails to educate target customers about how the brand’s filtered showerhead can improve skin and hair health.
4. Experiment with other content types
Writing blog posts or publishing Instagram posts are among the easiest pieces of content for retailers to create. But don’t feel limited to just these strategies.
Depending on your own interests and the preferences of your audience, you may find video content on YouTube or Facebook Live generates more interest and builds your following faster.
Video is a particularly powerful tool for retailers because it gives you the ability to display your products, how they work, and the results they provide in a way that’s engaging and easy for your audience to consume.
Video provides more information on how items work—and how to use them—which may make a more compelling case for your customers to make purchases than a blog post or photo alone.
Play around with your content and see what you enjoy creating and what mediums resonate with your audience. Think about their current habits and where they spend time now:
- Book stores: A blog might make sense because you sell to readers.
- Office furniture shop: Starting a podcast talking about the challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship might do well and give you a platform to promote the office supplies and other products you sell.
- Food products: Get on TikTok and share quick and easy recipes featuring your products.
There’s no shortage of ways to engage with your audience with different content formats.
For example, Firebelly Tea uses TikTok to respond to users’ product questions. The brand creates quick video explainers to clear up doubts about how to use the product.
Is your retail content marketing working?
Not seeing an immediate increase in traffic? Don’t worry, that’s normal. Content marketing success takes time and consistent effort.
It may be several months before you see significant growth. Use Google Analytics (and the analytics built into social networking profiles and email management systems) to track your progress.
It’s not about seeing exponential or rapid growth month to month. Instead, look for trends over time. Is your traffic trending upward? Is your audience of social media followers increasing over time?
More importantly, are you reaching your target audience?
It’s better to reach a smaller quantity of your target audience instead of a large number of people who aren’t the right fit for your product.
Ultimately, success isn’t measured by the number of social media followers.
What matters the most is your audience’s engagement with your brand’s content.
Let’s say you have 1,000 people subscribed to your newsletter. If only 10 people open each email, and none of them click or make purchases, those 1,000 people aren’t engaged.
Use tools like UTM codes to track where your website traffic is coming from (social, referrals from other blog posts, and campaigns you’re running) and analyze which referral sources are most effective at sending you traffic.
Platforms like Google Analytics and ChartBeat offer you insights into how long readers are engaging with your content, whether they’re engaging with more of your content, and if they’re converting.
These metrics can give you a deeper view into whether your content marketing efforts are meeting your needs, what pieces of content convert best, and how to tweak your content strategy.
4 examples of successful content marketing
Looking for some ideas to inspire your retail marketing strategy? Here are four examples of retail brands with successful content marketing campaigns.
Skincare brand Cocokind uses its blog to share tips and advice for caring for complex skin conditions like discoloration, forehead blemishes, and dark spots.
The brand shows how people can use its products as part of their skin care routine for specific conditions. But the main emphasis of the blog is on solving people’s skin care issues, as opposed to promoting products.
Prioritizing education over promotion helped Cocokind become a thought leader in the skin care space.
2. Jones Road Beauty
Jones Road Beauty uses interactive content like quizzes to help educate its target audience about available products and the pain points each one solves.
Visitors answer a few questions about their skin tone, issues they’d like to fix, and how they’d like to use a product. The quiz then matches each user with the right product for their unique use case and preferences.
Customers enjoy a personalized approach—73% of shoppers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations.
At the end of the quiz, you can ask people for their email address in exchange for personalized content that solves their specific pain points.
3. Muscle Nation
Sportswear and supplements brand Muscle Nation shares free workouts and recipes on its site. Its blog features detailed information about supplements and news about upcoming events.
It’s a hub where new and experienced fitness fans can find lots of relevant information to enhance their lifestyle.
4. State Bicycle Co.
Purchasing a bicycle can result in a lengthy decision process. With so many available models, use cases, and price points, it can be hard for shoppers to make a final decision.
State Bicycle Co. makes it easier for its audience to determine the right bicycle for them by sharing product comparison articles on its blog.
Each article features bullet point lists of each bicycle’s strengths and drawbacks. At the end of each comparison article, there’s a CTA encouraging readers to reach out to the team with further questions.
This educational content positions them as trusted experts, especially because they explain the pros and cons of each product.
Telling stories to your audience through content marketing
A solid retail content marketing strategy will help get your brand in front of more of your target audience.
The best way to grow an audience online is to tell your story in a way that’s real and authentic. And the best way to keep your audience coming back? Tell stories that include helpful and valuable information for the people you want to serve.
Retail content marketing FAQ
What are the benefits of retail content marketing?
- Increasing brand awareness
- Building trust and authority with target audiences
- More cost-effective than other advertising methods