There are a variety of ways to help customers find your business online — but many of them require a financial outlay on your part. Luckily, content marketing offers a lower-cost alternative to paid ads. It democratizes the playing field: if you’re willing and able to put in the work, you’ll be successful even without major financial resources.
Let’s define what content marketing is and then explore three ways it attracts your ideal customers.
What is content marketing?
At its core, content marketing is about problem-solving.
Your target customers have a question or a problem, and they’re looking for answers. You offer a product or service that solves their problem. If you give them valuable — and timely — information about their issue, they’ll be more likely to choose your offering as their solution. The information you give them is content marketing.
Content marketing takes a variety of forms, including:
- Blog posts
- eBooks, guides, and checklists
- White papers
- Special reports
No matter the format, the goal remains the same: to give potential customers solutions, answers, and clarity.
Here are three ways to grow your online store with content marketing:
1. Attract leads
Without content like posts or tutorials, your website relies on product pages. But not everyone knows they need your product, or that it even exists. People don’t head to Google to search for a product; they search for an answer. That’s one reason content marketing goes hand in hand with search engine optimization.
Suppose your online business is relatively new and a friend asks if you have liability insurance. You ask why you need liability insurance. Your friend just replies, “Because every business has it.” That isn’t very helpful! So what do you do? You go online and search, “why do businesses need liability insurance.”
You’re asking a question, not searching for “best liability insurance companies.” You’re not ready to buy insurance, but your question is one that could eventually lead to a purchase. If the information you find convinces you that you need liability insurance, your next step will be to look for insurance providers.
Some insurance companies have blog posts that answer this question and other companies don’t. Which companies will show up in search results?
That’s how content marketing attracts leads.
See it in action: Online stores with effective eCommerce content marketing
Newly engaged couples
Suppose you just got engaged. You have a million decisions to make. You’re not sure who to include in your bridal party and how to ask them.
Marrygrams, an online business that sells wedding cards and related products, has a blog post that answers this very question — and it offers a variety of ways to ask people to be in your bridal party using gifts sold by Marrygrams.
A person struggling with how to ask people to be in their wedding won’t search for “wedding party gifts.” Instead, they’ll search for phrases like, “how to ask a friend to be a bridesmaid.” Marrygrams’ post answers this question with product and gift ideas they sell.
Winter can be tough for dog owners. It’s no fun to take your dog out for a walk when it’s raining sideways, so you just stay inside and keep warm. The problem is, your dog needs exercise. So you might search, “How do I keep my dog active in the winter?”
2Hounds Design, which sells dog leashes, collars, and related products, wrote a blog post with five ways to help your dog stay active during colder months.
When you find the answer to your question on 2Hound Design’s site, you might also poke around to see what products are available. If your furry friend needs a new leash or collar, you’ll make a purchase.
Would you have found this site without that article? Highly unlikely.
2. Nurture leads
You can do one of two things with your new leads:
1) Sell them something immediately
2) Collect their contact information and start nurturing them
The second choice is for leads who may not be ready to buy, but want to stay informed about your products and services. If you offer them valuable content — an eBook or a free guide — they’ll gladly hand over their email address or follow you on social media.
Your leads are now contacts, and you can now follow up with them as long as they remain on your mailing list. As you continue to produce new content — blog posts, videos, PDFs, infographics, webinars — send it to your email list and post it to your social media accounts.
By continually providing content that solves problems and answers questions, people begin to trust you as a source of valuable information. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll choose you.
3. Convert leads into buyers
Depending on the problem you’re solving, some content can directly sell the solution and link to appropriate product pages at the same time. Like the Marrygrams blog post — it solves a problem through sales, suggesting specific items readers can use to invite people to be in their bridal party.
But you can still convert readers into customers through blog posts that don’t specifically relate to your products.
Gorilla Printing, a large format printing business based out of New York, wrote a blog post that explains how large format printing works. They show several examples and give details about the process. If you go to the page, you’ll notice a chatbot in the corner. Readers might have additional questions, which they can ask directly on the post without having to navigate elsewhere.
Gorilla Printing uses content marketing to attract leads and then offers additional ways to engage with them. Within the blog post, and most certainly near the end, you should always give the reader a next step to take. At the very minimum, you should offer them a way to contact you — like a chatbot or link to your contact page — or a free offer in exchange for their email. Though it may not result in an immediate sale, continuing to engage potential customers increases the chance that they will become paying customers.
Is eCommerce content marketing easy?
Yes and no. While you need to provide accurate, truthful information, you don’t need to write an award-winning article every week to accomplish your goals.
You do, however, need to publish content consistently. For many, this is the hardest part. A few sporadic blog posts are unlikely to make a significant impact on your site traffic. Create a plan to publish a certain number of blog posts in a given period of time — maybe one post every two weeks.
Write about topics you’re passionate about and that you can relate to your business. Listen to customers and take note of the most common questions they ask. Then, answer them in writing.
The most important thing? Get started.