How to Create a Diverse eCommerce Content Strategy
Creating content to market your online store is a fundamental part of gaining brand recognition and attracting new customers. Instead of promoting your store and products directly, content marketing is the practice of sharing valuable information with your target audience to connect with them, provide useful tips and expert knowhow, establish a relationship, and ultimately drive sales.
Content marketing strategies are typically centered around any of the following:
On-site content, like blogs, guides, and infographics
Informational, educational videos
Lead magnets, like eBooks and checklists
But before you get started on creating content, you’ll need to create a strong content strategy in order to make the most out of your marketing. In this post, we’re going to discuss how to do that so you can gain long-term results—including sales.
What is content strategy?
A content strategy is a clear plan that details the goals you want to accomplish with your content and how you plan to achieve them. It often details what types of content you want to write, the general topics you want to cover, the SEO keywords you want to optimize for, and the audience you want to reach.
A strong content strategy should always include specific action items that explain how you’ll optimize your content to reach your goals and should consider how you’ll reach users at all stages of the sales funnel.
If you want to increase on-site traffic, for example, an action item may be writing blogs that target specific SEO keywords. This will help your site show up on Google when customers search for topics that are related to your market.
Content strategies are essential to giving focus to your blog posts, videos, and lead magnets, and a necessary step in helping you build your brand.
When you’re creating a strategy for your online store, strike a balance between gentle promotion, relationship building and education. The latter two are the most essential and should be the primary focus, as they’ll keep users reading longer.
Most people, after all, read blogs, watch videos, download ebooks, and attend webinars for information, not for what feels like a sales pitch.
How to Create a Professional eCommerce Content Strategy In 7 Steps
Creating a professional and effective content strategy can be done in seven steps. While it’s best to assess and tweak it at least every six months, the core of your strategy will stay the same.
Here’s how to create the content strategy for your online store in 7 easy steps:
Write down your content goals
Set action items
Define your target audience
Dive into competitor research
Start with topic & keyword research
Create a content schedule
Assess, monitor, & optimize
01. Write Down Your Content Goals
You absolutely need to know what you want your content to do for you before you start. This will affect how you’re optimizing it, the audience segment you focus on, and the topics that you choose.
Write down your overall business goals for your content marketing campaigns (like selling more or increasing brand recognition) as well as smaller steps you want to accomplish in order to reach those goals.
These are a few common ones:
Increased site traffic
Heightened SEO visibility
Improve your site’s domain authority
Increase social shares
Establish credibility for your brand or building thought leadership
Drive email sign-ups or other forms of lead generation
Boost sales and increasing product knowledge or awareness
02. Set Action Items
After defining what you want to achieve, break down a list of tactics that you plan to use to accomplish each individual one. Not all posts will be able to accomplish everything.
One post focusing on lead generation, for example, won’t really be focusing on driving sales. That’s okay; you want to be strategic about what you’re optimizing for.
Here are a few examples of action items:
Increase organic site traffic through SEO: Create blog posts that target specific high-traffic SEO keywords. Optimize your blog posts by placing keywords in your title and meta description and including two inbound and two outbound links for each article.
Generate email marketing sign-ups and leads: Create lead magnets like ebooks and webinars which are designed to capture lead information if they subscribe.
Heighten site visibility: Add traction to your blogs to increase backlinks by creating more valuable resources than your competitors, writing guest blogs that link back to your site, and using strategic anchor text to link to your own posts on your site.
Build thought leadership and credibility: Interview experts, share high-value guides and resources, include at least three reputable statistics and sources in each post, and offer new case studies with original data. Create videos featuring key members of your team sharing valuable insights.
Increase social shares: Place “social share” buttons at the top and bottom of each post, and add “click to tweet” CTAs around quote-worthy content. Share your content yourself on social media while tagging any influencers quoted or interviewed.
Drive sales: This is likely your most important goal. While you don’t want your content to sound too salesy, mention products in your posts or create video tutorials to show off your products’ value.
03. Define Your Target Audience
When creating content, it is important to understand the audience you are targeting.
Who will be reading your blogs and eBooks, watching your videos, attending your webinars and analyzing your infogaphics? What are they hoping to learn and how can you offer it to them?
A great way to get in the heads of your consumers is to create buyer personas. Think about your audience’s demographics, interests, income levels, stage of life, consumer behavior, needs, and essential pain points. Then create content directed at them.
Make sure to consider your current audience as well as any other audiences you hope to expand to.
04. Dive Into Competitor Research
Competitor research is an often overlooked part of the content strategy creation, but it shouldn’t be.
Look at what direct and indirect competition is doing and gain inspiration from their content. Aim to do something more and something a little different. Snag their best strategies and adapt them for your brand.
If you want to take this to the next level, use tools like BuzzSumo and SEMrush to identify top competitors in your space, including those who are ranking for SEO keywords or topics that you want to rank for.
Use the Domain Overview tool in SEMrush to review your competitors’ sites. Find what brings in the most traffic for them and determine what type of content it is, as well as the length, style, and formatting. Consider the topics they’re covering and what keywords they’re ranking for.
BuzzSumo can be used to help you find competitors for specific topics you want to write about, showing you what’s performing best in terms of social engagement.
05. Start with Topic & Keyword Research
You’ve conducted the research into your own goals, your audience, and your competition. Now it’s time to apply that to topic creation.
Use a two-tiered research approach to choosing your topic and keyword research:
Choose topics based on your market
First, start by writing down topics that you believe your audience would love that your business can also offer insight on. You may have a few ideas from your competitor research, or frequently-asked questions your customers have. If your customers are frequently posting on social media or questioning Google about “what can I do with matcha,” having a blog post like “Ten Recipes You Can Make with Matcha” is a good option.
You’ll want your content to show up in Google so that it can be found by a wide range of potential customers or enthusiasts. To help your post appear in Google searches, use a tool like Moz or SEMrush to conduct SEO keyword research on these topics to find the best keywords to optimize the post for.
Pro tip: Make sure that you’re setting the keyword research to the country that you’re targeting.
Choose a topic based on SEO keywords
Use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool (pictured below) and search for broad, generic terms that people search for related to your market. For example, use a term like “matcha” or “vegetarian diet” as opposed to “organic matcha powder” to see what pops up. You’ll likely find a list of long-tailed keywords. These keywords are so specific (like “what is matcha?”) that it’s easier to create content that delivers exactly what the user is searching for.
Look at the content that shows up on Google when you search these keywords and make sure your content will match the style and intent. This will ensure happy readers and lower bounce rates. It’ll also give you plenty of ideas that you may not have thought of otherwise.
As you’re creating topics and conducting keyword research, always keep your audience as the prime focus. If a topic isn’t relevant to them, it won’t connect. If you’re selling t-shirts to Gen Z customers, for example, your audience probably isn’t all that interested in reading “How Cotton Shirts are Manufactured,” even if it’s relevant to your business. They’d rather read “The Top 5 Trends for Graphic Tees in 2020” or “How to Style a V-Neck for Any Occasion.”
You’ll want to organize your topics based on the goal they can help you accomplish and whether they’re appealing to the top, middle, or bottom of the digital sales funnel. Diversity within the scope of your brand is key; it keeps your audience interested because you’re creating touch points for as many potential customers as possible.
06. Create a Content Schedule
Your topics are ready to be written! Now it’s just time to space everything out. You want to consider timing when it comes to publication so that you can share diverse, engaging content on a consistent schedule.
First, determine how often you’ll be posting. Uploading blog posts at least once per week is a good starting place if you’re short on time and budget. Posting daily is a great goal if you’re able to scale. Hiring a freelancer (or two, or three) can help you scale content as needed without sacrificing quality.
Lead magnets like webinars or ebooks should be released either monthly or quarterly, whatever you’re able to do consistently.
Uploading video content at least once weekly is ideal, but create what you can.
Then, plot out which topics you want to write and when you want to publish them. Map your schedule out using an editorial calendar at the beginning of the month so that there’s plenty of time to do research and accommodate special events. You may want to time a blog post around the release of a new product, for example, or having holiday-themed content out some weeks in advance. You’ll also want to avoid publishing similar pieces of content one after another unless you’re publishing an intentional series.
07. Assess, Monitor & Optimize
As your content strategy is implemented, monitor your progress closely so that you can adapt as needed. Note that it will take several months (sometimes longer) to see progress. That’s okay; it’s about momentum.
Watch your key performance indicators (KPIs). Signs that your content is doing well should include low bounce rates, high average time spent on a page, increased visitors, and plenty of in-post clicks. Google Analytics can help you track all of this.
Social shares and engagement is a nice plus. Sometimes, though, high-quality content doesn’t always get large amounts of social engagement; it’s more important to look at click-through rates and time spent on the page.
Look for content that’s performing well, and what isn’t. See if you’re ranking for the keywords that you’ve targeted, and if your webinars and videos have strong view completion rates.
Then optimize your strategy moving forward. You can update past posts, revising them with new and more relevant information. If you notice that some formats perform better than others, like discovering that your infographics outperform short videos, you can shift your content production, too.
Content creation can be like the holy grail of marketing for a business, but only if it’s executed strategically. Businesses with eCommerce websites should invest the time into creating a strong, perfect-for-them content strategy that is designed to appeal specifically to their target audiences. This is how you can set yourself apart from the competition and scale your business moving forward.
eCommerce Content Marketer
Ana is a content marketer specializing in eCommerce, finance, and marketing writing, though she's written in over 23 different niches. Based in Orlando, she works from home with her three very enthusiastic canine coworkers.