What You Ought to Know About Content Marketing

by Gav Stevens
Head of SEO

You don’t need to be a digital marketing guru to sell things using the internet. But you definitely need to know about content marketing – what it is, why its so important and how to do it effectively.

Building a successful eCommerce business that repeatedly generates sales takes more than running a few Google ads or social media posts.

You need to embrace inbound marketing. You need to use content to attract, engage and convert more prospects into customers.

Here’s what you need to know for effective content marketing of your eCommerce business.

1.   What is content marketing?

Content marketing is about sharing useful and meaningful information with people who are of interest to your business.

There are three types of content:

  • Text
  • Audio
  • Visual (image & video)

Typically, written content is the easiest way to get started because everything required is already at your fingertips.

eCommerce content marketing relies on tapping into people who are already seeking products for their needs. To be successful, your content must help carry them on their journey to buying the right (i.e. your) product for their needs.

Over time, your audience of prospects and customers will come to rely on your business because it makes a part of their life better. These will become your ‘loyal customers’ who eventually turn into ‘brand ambassadors’ who do your marketing for you.

Effective content marketing is about communicating the right information, to the right people, in the right way. 

2.   Why invest in content marketing?

Creating useful content that guides people’s thinking increases the perceived value of your brand. The more useful you appear to people the closer they get to you and your products.

This is why you invest time and money providing people with free information and help.

The value of content marketing to your business is attracting organic traffic to your website. But not just any traffic – these are people actively seeking the information and, inadvertently, the products you provide.

Organic traffic is a stream of potential customers that come to you with two defining characteristics:

  1. They’re aware of their need
  2. They think your product is the answer

Sustainable sales and growth requires both which makes content marketing uniquely powerful and critical to the success of any eCommerce business.

3.   Hatching an (imperfect) plan 

At this point, most content marketing guides will talk about ‘creating a content strategy’ where you ‘work out who your customer is’ so you ‘can speak their language’.

This is the right approach and a professional one. It involves answering a bunch of questions, like:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What do they want?
  • Why are they struggling? What do they need help with?
  • What information do they require?
  • How many steps until they buy something from you?
  • Why wouldn’t they buy from you?
  • How should you communicate with them?
  • What type of content should you use?
  • Which tone of voice will they react to the most?
  • Where do they hang out online?

But here’s the thing. You might not know any of this stuff?

Trying to answer questions like these without proper insight is near-impossible and can be misleading. So, instead of getting lost in what you think you know, it’s best to keep it simple and focus on what you actually know.

What is the most obvious benefit of your product(s)? What kind of research does a prospect do when looking into your product? What are the major considerations involved?

Creating content about these things is where you should start – your initial roadmap.

New content ideas will appear once you get going. Then, revisit the questions above to reveal a more thorough ‘persona’ of your ideal customer – rinse and repeat to make your content attract even more organic traffic.

4.   Words are where the start is

Growing an audience means building relationships through your content.

To do this successfully content has to be authentic and connect with people. Your needs, your knowledge and your experiences as they relate to the products you sell.

It’s this unique perspective that will draw people in and compel them to stick around and buy something.

So, the first step is to create some content that’s worth people’s attention. This means it has to be good enough to make them give up the most valuable resource of all – time.

The written word lends itself to starting out because everything required is already at your fingertips: a computer, an internet connection, and of course your thoughts.

Blogging is the tried and tested method of using writing for content marketing. It’s where you write about topics (e.g. needs and benefits of products) that are relevant to your audience on an on-going basis.

This stimulates interest in your business, what you sell and that generates sales.

Starting a blog is easy, especially with the onset of content management systems like WordPress which requires no technical ability whatsoever. It’s continually pushing content until organic traffic appears that’s much more challenging.

5.   Nurturing the (perfect) copy

Perfect copy isn’t about perfect writing.

It’s about the written content really connecting with people which will happen if it’s an extension of you. With this in mind, find written content in your niche that appeals to you then work out what you like about it.

Then, model your written content in a similar way but with your unique insights and voice. This will draw in like-minded people which is important for building the right kind of audience.

Of course, there is a little more to the writing itself. Whilst your copy doesn’t need to be technically perfect, it does need to possess three essential elements.

a. Headlines make a big difference

A headline determines whether your blog post gets read or not. For your content marketing, that’s a big deal.

It’s the difference between lots of readers and none. The content could be world beating but it won’t matter if the headline is flat and draws no-one in.

Great headlines are curious, succinct and to the point. They tell people what to expect whilst intriguing them at the same time.

But there’s more to them than that.

A headline needs to filter out readers as well, catching the ones you want whilst repelling those that you don’t. Attracting a bunch of people who quickly abandon your post because it’s not relevant to them is pointless.

Learn to craft headlines so the right people read your posts – if this turns out to be frustrating and time-consuming, you’re doing it right.

b. Make it personal

A blog post will resonate with someone if it feels real, like you could be sitting together talking over coffee.

Forget technical correctness and semantics, just write like you would to a friend. This makes your words sincere and authentic which conveys emotion. It’s this emotive writing that derives and builds the connection with your readers.

If a great headline grabs a reader’s attention, emotive writing keeps and satisfies it.

c. Don’t overcomplicate things

The best blogs are free-flowing and easy to read. They break things down into easily digestible pieces so a reader knows what you’re talking about at all times.

This type of content marketing is about connecting with people through your writing.

The moment you begin to use more complicated words and overly technical sentences you risk losing them. If this happens a connection can’t happen. Readers will drift away which results in them doing nothing – no reading, no understanding and definitely no engaging with you.

Break up your sentences and make sure each one leads neatly on to the next. Take time to ensure your writing is as simple as possible.

6.   An obvious truth

All this will be a total waste of time if you don’t get traffic to your blog.

To do this you need to understand some Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO focuses on driving website traffic from Google (which gets 92% of search traffic so forget Bing etc).

The goal of any search engine is to provide the most relevant content for any given search query. In other words, Google has to understand your web page in comparison to all the others.

It does this by indexing (i.e. cataloguing) every web page on the internet. Basically, it assesses a site by going through every page, post, word and link to determine what it’s about.

You’ll notice that searches return millions of results – that’s all the pages for that query, ranked according to their relevance. The most relevant is position 1 on page 1 of Google, which means it gets the most traffic (i.e. clicks).

So, SEO is about using specific techniques and practices to get web pages, including blog posts, ranked as high as possible in search results.

7.   Just lay the foundation (for now)

It wouldn’t be helpful to explain the whole of SEO in this post – it’s way too big a topic. Safe to say though, it can’t be ignored and needs to be incorporated into your blogging activities sooner rather than later.

For now, you need to know about search intent.

This is the underlying reason behind a query typed into Google search. It’s the core of all SEO activities i.e. tapping into a specific search intent so you can provide a super-relevant answer with your content.

For example, if I searched for ‘best tower speaks for home theatre’, my search intent is to learn about great tower speakers with a view to purchasing them. If I typed in ‘hotels in Miami’, I’m clearly seeking information about accommodation options with a view to booking one.

Your content needs to be all about your unique experiences and insights, but also provide answers to people’s search intentions too. The chances are you’d do this anyway at least to some extent. But, it still makes sense to pay special attention to what people search for in Google.

Search Google to work out what the search intentions of people looking for solutions in your niche are?

Incorporate your findings into your content creation by making each blog post answer one search intention at a time.

If your blog posts are relevant, they’ll gain a reputation with Google accordingly, which will result in some traffic. The more traffic, the higher the reputation which leads to more traffic and so on.

This is simplistic and there is more to proper SEO obviously. But, for now you’ll invest time creating blog posts that answer specific search intentions. This is the most fundamental aspect of SEO for blog-based content marketing and can be built on with more in-depth practices down the line.

8.   Customers for life

If your content delivers genuine real-world value to readers who are interested in the types of products you sell, it will stimulate interest in your online store.

Even better, if you provide product insights your target audience doesn’t realise they need to know, not to mention the means to purchase said product, you’ll land customers for life.

You’ll be the go-to online store because you helped them in a way no one else did.


What You Ought to Know About Content Marketing