Competition in the eCommerce space can be brutal. A 2016 study of consumer behavior found that nearly 90% of online buyers check Amazon even if they find the product they need on another website. What’s more worrying is that an overwhelming 55% of customers begin their product hunt directly on Amazon.
Even if your buyer was one of the 28% of customers looking up products on Google (or other search engines), chances are high that they end up on Amazon anyway, given the site’s overwhelming presence on Google search rankings.
To understand how content marketing can help eCommerce businesses counter the Amazon challenge, it is important to first understand what a typical customer journey looks like.
The Three Stages Of A Customer Journey
A customer’s buying process typically goes through three distinct stages.
Awareness – The customer realizes a problem and acknowledges that they need a solution. For example, they may notice that their computer is getting slow and needs either a repair or a replacement.
Consideration – At this stage of the buying process, the customer starts weighing in on the various options. Should they simply fix their computer? Or, should they buy a new one? Also, should they trust the same brand once again? Or, are there better brands in that price range?
Decision – Once the customer has weighed in on all the options, they narrow down their list of choices and evaluate the features and price one more time before making a purchasing decision. If you are an online store competing merely on price, then this is the ideal stage to target a customer since they start price-shopping at this point.
Advertising forms a big part of eCommerce sales and a lot of stores rely on this channel to target customers during the decision making process. This may however not work in an Amazon dominated space. This is because a buyer who has already narrowed down a list of products is very likely to directly go to Amazon.com for their purchase. Advertising to your customer at this stage of the buying process may thus prove to be futile.
Ecommerce businesses must instead target customers during the ‘Awareness’ and ‘Consideration’ stages of the buyer journey. Content marketing is crucial in achieving this. With a successful content marketing strategy, you may succeed in building a narrative that influences the customer’s decision making process. Let us look at how you can go about this.
Identifying The Customer Acquisition Channel
Before we start working on a content strategy, it is important to understand your industry and pick the right channels that work for your customers. An apparel retailer may look at social media channels like Pinterest or Instagram to reach prospective customers in the ‘Awareness’ or ‘Consideration’ stages of the buying process.
If you sell branded products instead, search engines are a good bet since a lot of research during the ‘Consideration’ phase happens through Google. Once you have identified the right channels, you could dive straight into the content creation process.
What Content Works Best
Content comes in a wide variety of forms – blog posts, research reports, videos, infographics, Q&As, user generated discussions, press releases, etc. The content type you pick should be influenced by the acquisition channels you wish to target.
For instance, if you are targeting Instagram, you must be looking at creating high quality photos, GIFs and videos. On the other hand, if you are looking at SEO, then detailed blog posts and insightful reports work better since they are more likely to show up on Google for the relevant keywords.
The Pair Up Strategy
This is one of the most effective ways to market your eCommerce site with content. The idea here is to create content assets that are tied to specific product pages. Content assets like blogs and videos have greater marketing potential than an eCommerce sales page. It is thus easier to promote these content assets and drive visitors from here to your product pages.
Let us look at the pair-up strategy with an example of a store selling shoes. A basketball player in the ‘Consideration’ phase of the buyer journey might be searching for the latest basketball shoes. In addition to researching on the latest models, your target customer might also look up for answers to questions they have about specific features in a shoe that they are interested in. A golfer, for instance, might want to know if spiked shoes are really worth it.
In the pair up strategy, the first step is to create content that answers these specific questions. A comprehensive article on the topic, “Best basketball shoes in 2018” could thus attract a lot of target buyers to your blog post. Visitors to this article may then be directed to the product pages of all the various shoes recommended in your article. This way, a consumer in the ‘consideration’ phase of purchase can form an opinion based on the blog post you have published, and when they are ready to purchase, may click through and buy it from your portal.
The pair-up strategy can be applied to other forms of content as well. If you are looking at Instagram to market your products, you may create infographics specific to a certain brand like Nike or Adidas and link to these product pages from here.
Marketing Your Content
The success of your content marketing strategy hinges on effective distribution. If you are targeting search engines, then it is important to invest in SEO so that your blog pages are seen by potential buyers during their research stage.
For social media channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, it is important to identify the right influencers and market your product through them. Influencer marketing can be an extremely effective strategy to build traction and can have far-reaching impact for your brand and your products.
As we noted earlier in this article, advertising is an important component of any eCommerce marketing strategy. Advertising can also be used to spruce up your content marketing campaigns.
One popular way to do this is to spend a small amount of money to promote your latest content pages among the targeted audience. Such a strategy helps you set the ball rolling and can help you build traction for your content assets. You may complement this campaign through remarketing ads that target your audience with repeat exposure.
Remarketing can be quite effective in this case since it helps keep your brand visibility active through the ‘Decision’ stage of the buying process. Conversions through remarketing are generally high due to this.
Content marketing is not totally foolproof. What works for one campaign may not necessarily work for another. Customer choice keeps evolving and so does the content necessary to influence them.
It is important to monitor the performance of your campaigns and identify the metrics that contribute to their success or failure. This could include factors like content quality, published time, marketing strategy, conversion rate, etc. Measuring these metrics for each of your campaign can help you decipher what works and what doesn’t. Tweak your content and repeat the process all over again for your future campaigns.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps for project management, email discovery and meeting room booking. Hubbion has been ranked in the top 20 project management apps by Capterra.
Featured image taken from Pixabay.com
All in-content images provided by the Author.