Say you’ve started a content marketing strategy, created a couple of videos, wrote blog posts and … what? What happens next?

Chances are that not much happens. And it’s not surprising because content marketing is tough, and it takes time.

For an eCommerce, putting up a blog and share company updates will not cut it. To stand out, you need to adopt far more advanced content marketing tactics.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing eCommerce-focused content marketing best practices to end 2019 and kickstart 2020 on steroids.

Starting with taking the time to draft a plan.

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What are you trying to achieve?

Most content marketing campaigns take 6 to 12 months to deliver, according to Neil Patel.

Yet, committing to produce qualitative and relevant content can significantly improve your customer acquisition and brand awareness.

More often than not, marketers identify 5 major goals for eCommerce content marketing:

  1. Developing brand awareness. Through content creation, content promotion, and self-identification from your core audience. Relevant and consistent content usually means a growing audience.
  2. Improving SEO performances. Through articles, videos, shares and backlinks, thus improving your domain authority. Content marketing has proven effects on SEO. In fact, part of SEO is content marketing.
  3. Moving visitors down the conversion funnel – thanks to the phenomenon of brand adoption. As Moz describes it, the more quality content you create, the deeper are the bonds between your brand and its community. As a consequence, your brand can move visitors down the conversion funnel more easily, thus generating more sales.
  4. Contributing to increasing sales volume. This is most brands’ objective. It is possible through combining higher SEO performances, higher conversion rates, and strong brand awareness.
  5. Increasing consumer loyalty. Through repeat purchases and bigger LTV (lifetime value) thanks to brand adoption, stronger brand exposure and loyalty programs enhanced by content marketing.

Now that you have a clearer vision of what content marketing can bring to your business, let’s dive into 7 proven tactics that will significantly contribute to growing your brand.

7 content marketing tactics to boost your eCommerce performance

Starting with — what I think is — the most important part: storytelling.

1.  Invest in storytelling

Successful eCommerce stores aren’t just platforms. They’re real brands that have heavily invested in growing their brand awareness.

And that’s exactly what a brand like Mous Cases has pulled off.

Mous Cases is a company that sells protective smartphone cases online.

The company got famous on YouTube through a series of promotional videos designed to prove their phone cases’ ability to sustain real-life damages and drops.

How did they enter such a competitive market ad grow from 0 to 1 million monthly visitors on their eCommerce?

They used storytelling and smart, well-rounded video campaigns.

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Their storytelling approach went hand-in-hand with a large-scale multi-channel video campaign that included sponsored videos and ads on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Besides videos that supported the storytelling process, the company combined their newly-gained popularity with a well-rounded IndieGogo campaign that raised more than 2.4 million dollars.

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Mous Cases’ website

But Mous’ storytelling doesn’t end on YouTube: it is taken all the way down to the product page that actually sells phone protections, which echoes the main campaign.

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Mous Case Product Page

What’s more, Mous’ controlled storytelling continues on the product pages, where visitors will find customer reviews, often accompanied by pictures and footages to prove cases’ solidity.

This Social Proof trick definitely has a positive impact as it influences consumers’ perception of product quality and highly contributes to reassuring  buyers before they proceed to checkout.

Continuity is key when delivering marketing messages to your audience: make sure that storytelling is deeply rooted within your eCommerce store and more importantly, your product pages.

2.  Deploy relevant email campaigns

Email marketing is key to any successful eCommerce content marketing.

In fact, a study led by the Content Marketing Institute (2013) has found that 80% of content marketers actively use email marketing as part of their strategy. What’s more, Evergage recently (2019) shared that 78% of marketers say that they “employ personalization in their emails”.

However, as email becomes a permission-based marketing channel, your emails have to deliver real value to your audience to drive engagement.

Now, when it comes to driving engagement using emails, PaperLessPost can surely teach us a thing or two.

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They sell online invitations that are convenient for birthdays, weddings, parties and events planning.

According to SimilarWeb, email accounts for more than 12% of the website’s monthly visitors (4.5M). This adds up to more than 500.000 potential buyers per month, coming from emails only!

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Source: PaperLessPost / SimilarWeb

As the company sells seasonal online invitation, it’s not surprising that they use the same strategy to send targeted email campaigns to their audience, showcasing new products and urging potential buyers to purchase.

Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Christmas, the company sends targeted emails to their audience to drive engagement and get buyers back on the website, which is an excellent strategy to create a shopping routine and increase brand recognition.

Besides generating traffic to their eCommerce platform, their email campaigns also help generate direct sales since each picture takes you to a purchase page where designs can be bought.

3.  Blog about what matters to your audience

An eCommerce blog won’t deliver, unless you put the time, effort and money into creating relevant, well-researched original content.

Besides, blogging isn’t just about publishing articles.

Most profitable eCommerce blogs use a mix of articles, infographics, and videos to fuel their content marketing efforts.

To support this view, see how REI Co-Op promotes its eCommerce through a lasting, large-scale content marketing campaign.

REI is a consumer co-operative that sells recreational and outdoor equipment in the US.

In 2018, the company generated over 2.78B dollars in revenues from its 150+ retail stores and its eCommerce platform.

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Source: REI / SimilarWeb

REI doesn’t only sell outdoor equipment, but also vacations and classes: it also has successfully created a strong community through its lifetime membership program.

This is reflected by the fact that the website’s traffic mix contains ⅓ direct visitors and more than 50% from search engines.

REI’s website offers four main types of content that are all focusing on their audience’s needs:

  • Expert advice
  • Blog articles
  • Camping guides
  • An online forum

First, expert advice is a content type that focuses on “how-to” content delivered by experts and meant to inspire, guide and advise the community.

This type of content works well in a variety of industries (including sport-fitness, coaching, health, automotive…) because you’re basically giving away knowledge for free and customers know how to thank you for that.

Their blog (called “journal”) contains several sub-categories ranked by activities. It includes guides, how-to articles, videos, and podcasts.

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REI’s website also features a section dedicated to camping information (called “Camping Project”) that helps travelers to identify campgrounds and nearby recreations, facilities, and attractions.

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Last but not least, REI offers its audience an online forum (called “conversations”) that aims at connecting travelers and outdoor lovers together around various discussion subjects, which reinforces the sense of community for the brand.

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4.  Leverage seasonal events to your advantage

Seasonal content marketing can trigger positive SEO results and drive off-the-charts engagement when done properly.

Enters GoodHouseKeeping, an American magazine centered around women’s interests, product testing as well as recipes, diets and health articles.

Even though GH isn’t an eCommerce company per se, it’s interesting to understand how they manage to create seasonal content marketing focused on products, through affiliate marketing.

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Source: GoodHouseKeeping

Like many online publications, GH generates parts of its revenues from affiliate product links. As a consequence, the magazine creates well-curated, up-to-date seasonal content that puts products forward and drives eCommerce sales.

Interestingly, the online publication makes it easy to shop products from articles by adding convenient, clear call-to-actions below products.

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As you can see in the two examples above, creating seasonal, curated content can yield significant SEO results while generating sales for your eCommerce.

In fact, GH ranks both first and second on Google for the “Christmas gift ideas” keyword, which has 60.000 monthly searches according to KwFinder,

If you want this strategy to work, focus on inspirational and how-to types of content that will generally drive higher engagement rates when correlated to seasonal events.

As an eCommerce company, you should find a lot of value in creating seasonal content and showcasing products (whether yours or not) with proper URL tracking: this is an easy way to track ROI from your eCommerce content marketing activities.

5.  Express your brand values

I probably don’t need to stress how essential it is that you share your business’ content on social media.

However, sharing on social media isn’t enough as you need to come up with content that cuts through the noise, as Forbes puts it.

If you want a new audience to relate to your content, you need strong values to share, which is exactly what Patagonia does.

Patagonia is an outdoor clothing and gear company that is heavily involved in the protection of the environment and refers to itself as an activist company.

The company participates in numerous grassroots environmental initiatives besides its own pledges, such as their commitment to using recycled polyester and organic cotton for their clothing production.

To show their environmental activism and communicate around their brand values, the company is renowned for its mastery of social media marketing, most specifically on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The company also rocks a blog called The Cleanest Line that mainly shares stories and thought leadership articles about Patagonia’s actions and its community members.

Across all channels, one key factor to Patagonia’s social media success is that the company doesn’t promote its products: it promotes its brand and values.

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Source: Patagonia / Instagram

Despite having multiple Instagram accounts (depending on your location), the company promotes its values and environmental activism through UGC and its own content, effectively using its community to nurture the brand messages.

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Source: Patagonia / YouTube

Patagonia doesn’t promote the same content on all social media platforms.

For example, Patagonia’s Instagram account promotes photographs and UGC, as well as short environmental videos.

On Facebook, the company is focusing on promoting its local events and blog articles.

On its YouTube channel, Patagonia focuses on inspirational videos categorized by sports (e.g climbing, skiing, biking) that echo the company’s values and environmental activism.

All in all, Patagonia’s content marketing aims at promoting the company’s values and engaging its community around its core mission, which is to save the planet, according to the company’s mission statement.

Even though the company is heavily invested in social media marketing, notice how Patagonia never pushes its products on its customers but rather urge them to get involved within the community.

6.  Start a UGC Program

UGC stands for User-Generated-Content. While it’s pretty self-explanatory; it means that you get your users and clients to create content for your brand. Content that you can then share with the rest of your community.

There’s one particular company that has leveraged UGC to grow into a billion-dollar company: GoPro.

To demonstrate the magnitude of GoPro’s UGC marketing strategy, just type in “#gopro” on Instagram.

content-marketing-for-ecommerce-gopro-insta

That’s right, it’s been used more than 43 million times (as of Oct. 2019).

As a matter of fact, more than 6.000 GoPro videos are posted online …daily.

Of course, GoPro makes it easy to create content because well, they sell cameras.

But no other camera manufacturer has been able to replicate the same trick.

So how did they do?

Well first, they use a hashtag combined with rewards for the best content creators, which is a first incentive to create content.

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Source: GoPro Awards

They also make it very easy to share videos on social media channels, using tutorials and how-to articles.

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And I mean, very easy.

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Source: GoPro

Besides, GoPro understands its customers’ lifestyles, centered around sports, human performance, travel, and vlogs.

As a consequence, each video that GoPro promotes is designed to echo the brand’s mission that has been described by GoPro’s own CEO:

“We believe the best stories are being lived by our customers… We want to help people self-document themselves engaged in their interests or passions.”

Lastly, GoPro does offer a financial incentive to its consumers from time to time, although this is more of a strategy to create awareness around the newest camera they released than a real incentive to create video content.

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Source: GoPro

Since GoPro doesn’t have physical stores, the company regularly promotes its own website within its content to get customers to buy online rather than in retail stores, although the brand generates most of its revenues from distributors.

7.  Invest in video marketing

Since 78% of people watch online videos weekly (HubSpot, 2019), reaching consumers on YouTube — or other video platforms — becomes mandatory for most businesses.

In fact, video marketing is now used by 87% of marketing professionals in the US, up from 63% in 2017 (Wyzowl, 2019).

ChefSteps is a smart kitchen product company mostly known for one of its products, a sous-vide cooker. It was recently acquired by the Breville Group.

The company is also known for its various recipes and classes that helped the brand generate around 700.000 unique visitors per month.

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Source: ChefSteps

Having produced such a large quantity of video assets, ChefSteps has evolved from being – “just an eCommerce company” – to being a hybrid between an eCommerce and a media company, which is part of the reason why the company was acquired in July 2019 by Breville Group.

As Breville’s CEO, Jim Clayton, puts it:

“ChefSteps has produced tremendous innovation in the content and connected hardware space, and we are excited at the scale we can achieve by combining their content and intellectual property with our current and future consumer products,”

He also adds:

“We also look forward to engaging with, and serving, the very active and enthusiastic community ChefSteps has built around its product and content. I am thrilled with the opportunity to leverage this extraordinary combination of assets while pursuing our shared mission”.

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Source: ChefSteps

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Source: ChefSteps

Taking a closer look at ChefSteps’ content marketing, it’s easy to see why the company has managed to gather such a large community around its products.

First, the company has created a large number of splendid cooking videos that have attracted a relevant audience.

It also created numerous video recipes paired with lively photographs and expert cooking insights that have performed well from an SEO perspective.

Most of the content is also teased or promoted on social media, including on the company’s Instagram account (240K followers).

But the genius behind ChefSteps’ content marketing doesn’t come from Instagram.

It comes from the high-quality videos that they post on YouTube (900K+ followers).

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Source: YouTube / ChefSteps

Similarly to the process used by GoPro to create a bridge between video content and their website, ChefSteps has created videos that involved their main product (a sous-vide cooker) to inspire their customers to cook with it.

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Source: ChefSteps

Besides, they also created a Premium pass, allowing customers to get access to all of ChefSteps’ videos for a one-time 39$ fee, effectively positioning themselves as an eCommerce-media company.

Now it’s your turn

ECommerce requires commitment and a lot of investment to generate results.

But when done properly, it will be the differentiating factor between an eCommerce and a successful brand that’s able to federate a community around their products and services.

Guide to Social Media Management for HigherEd Institutions

Paul Nguyen is Head of Marketing at Éraclès, an e-commerce agency that helps companies design, build and grow their ecommerce platforms.

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