Create an E-commerce Content Strategy (Lessons From Top Retailers)
You’ve built your store, added your products, and lined up a fulfillment partner. The only thing you need now is customers. As any experienced e-commerce store owner will tell you, attracting and retaining customers is neither fast nor easy. While the quality of your products matters more than anything else, you also need a sound strategy to reach out to targeted customers. One way to attract such customers is through content. A well-crafted e-commerce content strategy can help you win in the SERPs, beat better-funded competitors in social, and retain a loyal audience. Below, I’ll share how to create an e-commerce content strategy. We’ll look at lessons from top retailers who are winning customers with their content strategies, and what you can learn from them.
1. Win the Battle for Long-Tail Search Traffic
Long-tail keywords, for the uninitiated, are highly targeted, low search volume, low competition keywords. They are an important component for when you are creating an e-commerce content strategy.
Most of them have three or more keywords in them, such as “cheap outdoor Bluetooth speakers”. Long tail keywords have low competition and search volumes but higher conversion rates.
They are information-dense. That is, they reveal a great deal about the searcher’s intent.
Think of a keyword like “cheap car insurance quotes in san diego 2020”. This keyword tells you that the searcher is:
1. Looking for car insurance quotes, not just information
2. Is on a budget and hence, wants cheap quotes
3. Is located in San Diego or wants to buy insurance in the city
4. Wants current information (i.e. 2020-ready)
Based on the keyword alone, you can create a highly personalized landing page that addresses the searcher’s specific concerns. Your conversion rates will be higher since your offer will be custom-made for the searcher.
For e-commerce stores, long-tail keywords can be the key to winning search traffic. In most industries, short-tail “head” keywords are dominated by a few major retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc.). On the other hand, long-tail keywords are mostly served by low authority blogs.
Long-tail Keywords for Retailers
A small but respected retailer can easily win such keywords with targeted content.
Take music equipment retailer Sweetwater as an example. Sweetwater publishes a popular blog called ‘InSync’. The blog frequently hosts content that targets long-tail keywords with the sole intent of winning in the SERPs (and helping readers along the way).
This article focuses on a long tail keyword - “best MIDI keyboards for FL Studio”. This allows Sweetwater to avoid a head-on battle with Amazon and Walmart. Instead, it focuses on long-tail keywords with little search competition and wins big.
When you are creating an e-commerce content strategy, you have to:
1. Find keywords with little competition but enough search volume to justify creating content. The exact numbers will vary for each niche and retailer.
2. Create a mix of editorial and automated content. The latter should leverage your existing data to create highly targeted comparison-focused keywords (such as “product #1 vs product #2”)
3. Focus on keywords with strong buyer intent, i.e. keywords in the last stage of the customer journey. Think keywords like “buy [product name]”, “best [product category]”, “[product name] review”, and “[product name] alternative”.
4. Back up your content strategy with a focused link building strategy.
E-commerce stores that stock a lot of products or sell products with substantial search volume should make this strategy a top priority.
2. Use Branded Content to Convert Visitors
As I mentioned above, winning in the SERPs means creating targeted content. But while you can reasonably scale content creation for late-stage buyer-focused keywords (such as “best MIDI keyboards for FL studio” example above), creating long-form product descriptions becomes challenging.
In general, the more products you have, the more difficult (and expensive) it will be to create such product descriptions.
At the same time, detailed product descriptions are vital not just for winning long-tail SERPs, but also to convert visitors. Customers want detailed product information, slick landing pages, and rich visual media - all of which can be expensive to create at scale for a retailer.
Amazon found a workaround to this problem by letting sellers create their own “branded content”. You might have seen such content on product pages recently:
Amazon’s branded content is a win-win proposition for customers, brands, and Amazon
Such branded content serves multiple purposes:
1. It gives customers additional information about the product
2. It offers brands additional room to explain the product’s features and benefits
3. It offloads the responsibility of creating content from Amazon to the brand
While this strategy can’t work for every retailer, if you operate a multi-brand or marketplace-style e-commerce store, consider giving your sellers content creation tools. This will help bridge the gap between retailer-created and seller-created content.
3. Using Smartphone Videos to Boost Conversions
While you are creating a e-commerce content strategy you should think of mediums such as video. Video has long been the holy grail of online selling. A well-shot video gives customers a much better idea of the look and feel of a product. It also helps retailers stand out from competitors that use image-only product pages.
No wonder that adding video to a landing page can boost conversions by as much as 80%!
The biggest impediment to using video in e-commerce is cost. High-quality video is expensive to shoot, process, store, and deliver. If retailers use it, it’s usually reserved for flagship products.
British retailer ASOS, however, found a clever workaround. Instead of shooting traditional videos, it uses smartphone videos. These videos are shot on regular smartphones, captured in a casual manner, and uploaded without substantial post-processing.
Here’s an example:
This content strategy helps ASOS in several ways:
1. ASOS can scale video production since the cost of recording and editing is substantially lower
2. Smartphone videos can be easily reshared on social media sites without any editing
3. ASOS stands out from other retailers since it has not only high-quality images, but also product videos on landing pages
Add this content strategy to your project plan and you’ll see a marked improvement in conversions.
4. User-Generated Content and Instagram Stores
As an e-commerce store owner, you know how important Instagram is for your business. The more your products lean towards the “lifestyle” side of retail (think fashion, decor, etc.), the more you’ll rely on Instagram for traffic and branding.
Turning Instagram attention into customers, however, is a challenge. You can’t add links directly to products on each post. This means that most retailers end up using Instagram only as a branding tool.
Urban Outfitters is bucking this trend with a content strategy that:
1. Emphasizes user-generated content, thus building social proof and validation
2. Uses dedicated Instagram-specific links in its bio to drive purchases
For instance, when you click the link in Urban Outfitters’ Instagram bio, you’re taken to a URL that replicates the entire Instagram feed. But when you click any of the posts in this pseudo-feed, you are shown links directly to the product in question.
Urban Outfitters’ “LikeShop” links directly to products shown in its Instagram posts
This makes it possible for followers to not just browse but to also buy the products easily.
Along with user-generated content - which is a key decision-driver for 59% of millennials - this content strategy helps move the needle for Urban Outfitters.
Over to You
Creating a winning e-commerce content strategy can be tough. You’re often battling entrenched players in search engines, crowded social markets, and limited content creation.
However, as these four retailers show, some ingenuity, smart content targeting, and a bit of elbow grease can go a long way towards improving your sales.
Kate Lynch is a business and digital marketing blogger who spends her entire day writing quality blogs. She is a passionate reader and loves to share quality content prevalent on the web with her friends and followers, keeping a keen eye on the latest trends and news in those industries. Follow her on twitter @IamKateLynch for more updates.