Content marketing for retail businesses is hard. Seriously. For example, you’ve got Amazon and other giant companies taking a lot of traffic that could potentially go to your website. On top of that, there are thousands of thousands of other businesses, Google requirements, and increasing customer expectations.
A recent study of U.S.-based consumers discovered that Amazon was the top result for product searches, and 49 percent of the surveyed turn to it to shop. While that’s certainly hard to compete with, Amazon and other retail giants outperformed other businesses in Google results only for search requests for specific purchases.
So, this means that if a customer wants a product but isn’t quite sure, e.g. has no specific version, model, or characteristics in mind, then it gets a lot easier to compete to Amazon and other big companies. This is one of the reasons why 64 percent of B2C marketers – a lot of which produce content for retail businesses – are either “very” or “extremely” committed, according to the research by Content Marketing Institute.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
In this guide, I’m going to walk you through seven effective steps to up your content marketing game by meeting Google’s requirements and getting ideas for producing truly unique content that can make your brand stand out from the competition. Here are the steps that we’re learning today:
- Have a Documented Strategy in Place
- Meeting with Customers
- Use Storytelling
- Invest in Deals and Promotions
- Use Email Marketing
- Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
- Measure and Adjust.
If these sound good, read further to know more.
Step 1: Have a Documented Strategy in Place
Creating and sharing content just for the sake of it is a waste of time for any business because a lack of strategy minimizes the effectiveness as well as the contribution to organizational goals. On the other hand, having a strategy:
- Provides a focus for content effort
- Ensures consistency and commitment
- Provides maximum opportunities to improve Google ranking
- Provides a good chance to keep your company on top of customers’ minds
- Gives more opportunities to connect with customers.
Clearly, this is something that any retail business can benefit from. In fact, the definition of content marketing provided by one of the leading bodies in the field – Content Marketing Institute – makes it very clear that it’s neither a tool nor a quick solution:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
A lack of strategy is, therefore, a major issue that can reduce the effectiveness of the content effort. However, the abovementioned Content Marketing research suggested that only 73 percent of B2C marketers have a strategy in place. This shows their commitment and understanding of the importance of being strategic about their effort.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
However, please note that only 33 percent of the surveyed marketers had a documented (written down and clearly defined) strategy. This suggests that their effort might be more effective because they have a document guiding them, which increases their effectiveness.
Takeaway: aim to create a documented strategy to ensure consistency of your effort as well as higher effectiveness.
Step 2: Meeting with Customers
Don’t worry, you don’t have to meet anyone at this point because the main idea here is to research content ideas and topic that could be interesting for your target audience. The main issue to resolve here is the potential irrelevance of content for your customers, which could be a big problem for your content effort.
So, there are several ways you can go about researching the interests and problems of your customers and getting to know them better:
- Conduct surveys on your social media pages and ask what your customers want to know
- Create content personas (representations of your ideal customers containing their characteristics, interests, typical issues, and professional and personal goals), and describe typical problems they face
- Check out the content of your competitors. They have the same target audience, so you can see which content performs well; for example, visit their blog to see articles and guides they write, go to their YouTube to see what kind of product videos they produce, or use content discovery tools to define the most shared content on social media.
Important! Remember that you have the best chance at attracting product research-related traffic (not the traffic with requests for specific products because that’s where Amazon reigns supreme), so try producing more product comparisons, guides, reviews, etc.
Takeaway: if you don’t know what content your customers need, then there’s no point in doing content marketing. Always conduct audience research before creating your strategy to know what could generate the best engagement and drive more traffic to your product pages.
Step 3: Use Storytelling
Storytelling – the use of stories in marketing – is huge right now. Many retailers create story-based content because it’s simply better at attracting the attention of customers. People find stories more interesting to follow, so if you learn how to use stories for your campaigns, you can generate some serious engagement.
That’s why “improving content marketing through immersive storytelling” is perceived as “very important” and “quite important” for delivering great customer experience by 51 and 42 percent of retail digital marketers, respectively.
Source: Digital Trends in Retail, Adobe
You can tell the story of your brand, specific people who work for you, customers, and the impact that your business has on the world. For example, a brand story might describe what motivated you to start the company, what was your mission, and how do you contribute to the world. However, keep in mind that you can only engage your audience with your storytelling if they can relate to it, or you talk about something they strongly believe in.
Takeaway: storytelling in retail content marketing is a great technique to draw more customers and build a positive brand image.
Step 4: Invest in Deals and Promotions
Even though some perceive deals and promotions as a kind of obsolete marketing technique, the reality is much different. According to the 9 Retail Marketing Trends Driving 2018 report, they will be one of the most important components of digital marketing plans and “a key driver of increasing sales and loyalty among customers.”
That’s why 76 percent of retailers increased the number of promotions they offered in 2018, claims the same source. Also, more and more of them are looking for ways to become more strategic with deals and promotions, as well as ways to measure their performance across different digital marketing channels.
Takeaway: increase your investment in promotions and deals and make them as relevant for customers as possible to maximize their effectiveness
Step 5: Use Email Marketing
This step actually demonstrates the importance of having deals and promotions, which we just discussed in the previous section. One of the main reasons why people subscribe to email newsletters is to earn something, so it makes perfect sense to provide them with such opportunities. In fact, chances are you’ve been there yourself when you gave away your email address for a first purchase discount or something like that).
That’s why retail email marketing is so popular these days. And it produces great results, too: for example, research suggested that emails delivered “excellent ROI” for 33 percent of retail and eCommerce marketers, with “the ability to increase sales” being the most important benefit described by them.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns, consider the following:
- Providing subscribers with offers based on their browsing history
- Sending them information about the latest offers, sales, and loyalty rewards
- Segmenting subscribers to maximize the relevance of offers.
For example, here’s an example of an email announcing a fresh VIP offer from a fashion retailer, Rue La La.
Takeaway: using email marketing is an effective way for retailers to increase sales, so consider investing in this marketing channel. However, writing compelling and concise email copies is often a struggle for retail marketers, so the use of professional writing and editing tools like WowGrade.net is often highly recommended.
Step 6: Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
In order for retail content marketing to be as effective as possible, it needs to be relevant. People are so tired of hard sell these days, many of them won’t even consider dealing with a product-centered business. One way to become a customer-centered business and improve customer engagement levels is to personalize your marketing.
Here’s what personalization means:
- Including customer’s name on promotional materials, in emails, and other communication
- Creating offers based on a customer’s interests
- Providing personalized discounts and product recommendations
- Offering content based on a customer’s interest.
Since personalization is widely considered as one of the best ways to improve sales, marketers are increasing their investments in the strategy. For example, the aforementioned Adobe research found that 61 percent of retail digital marketers are planning to increase their budget for personalization, which represents a 4 percent increase since 2017.
Source: Digital Trends in Retail, Adobe
Also, please take note that 56 percent of the surveyed also claimed they were going to increase the investment in content marketing. This supports the fact that more and more retail marketers realize the importance of content for audience engagement, brand image, and sales.
Step 7: Measure and Adjust
The last step in our article is tremendously important. If you don’t track the performance of your content marketing campaigns, you won’t know what worked and what didn’t, so you won’t be able to improve. So, always measure how your campaigns are doing to know whether you’re on the right track.
Thankfully, often you don’t need a lot of investments to measure the performance of your content marketing; for example, you can use free tools like Google Analytics to know the sources of traffic on your website and determine where it’s coming from.
So, there you have it, seven steps to succeed in retail content marketing. If you take each of them and create a strategy for a very narrowed down market niche, you’ll have a good chance to gain your fair share of traffic from Google as well as customers. And remember: content marketing is not a tool, it’s a long-term strategy that takes time and effort. But patience and hard work lead to great rewards, as you can make your business very successful if you do it right.
Adriana Veasey is a professional content marketing writer and blogger. She is currently writing a book on research for B2B businesses because writing and sharing original, useful information is one of her biggest professional goals. Adriana is a contributor at Study Ton.