How to Develop an Effective Ecommerce Content Strategy
Ecommerce is one of the buzzwords of the 21st century. Not only a buzzword but also a thriving and growing market with global ecommerce revenue expected to exceed a staggering $4.89 trillion by the end of 2021. Even as the effects of the pandemic recede, ecommerce continues to flourish. It’s a mighty big pie and everyone wants their slice.
Of course, the market is mainly dominated by global giants such as Amazon, who had a 7.7% share of the total global market in 2020. The likely truth is that you will never challenge those giants but you can still carve out a little, and lucrative, piece of that pie for your own business.
One factor that ties the largest e-commerce business and the smallest home-operated business together is content. If you provide quality content that engages with your demographic while offering quality products or services, then you will see good figures when it comes to sales and conversions.
Just how do you develop that content strategy though? What should it look like and how can you ensure that you continue to provide content that gives you an edge over your closest competitors?
What is content strategy?
Put simply, your content strategy is the approach you adopt in order to create content that helps your organization achieve its main goals and objectives. It should not be confused with content marketing which concerns itself with the actual creation and publishing of any content such as videos.
.A good analogy would be to think of your strategy as your road map and your content marketing as the actual journey. In order to have as smooth a journey as possible, you need that accurate map to guide you in the right direction and, hopefully, reach that ideal destination of more conversions and revenue for your ecommerce business.
Your strategy will dictate the content marketing process and the content you will use and create. It looks to be your plan on how to drive traffic, generate and nurture leads, improve engagement with customers, and improve sales and other business goals. An integral part of any strategy will be identifying and using proper SEO and collaboration with different domains, whether nz domain or au domain.
A guide to developing an effective content strategy
Identify your target audience
The first step to developing your strategy is to know who you are developing it for. Do you have a wide or narrow demographic range? For example, if you are working in the ecommerce B2B sector that sells business phone software or maybe even a quoting software for manufacturing, then you will have a more specialized strategy than a general ecommerce site selling a wide range of products.
If you are not specializing, how do you identify that audience? One way is to look at sites similar to yours or ones you class as competition. You should also look at what social media platforms they utilize. You can use different Google tools to identify what sites users engage with and also the type of content they usually engage with.
Define your goals
What do you want your strategy to achieve? It may be to drive your audience through your sales funnel and to ultimately buy a product or service. Or it could be to increase brand awareness or to develop and nurture leads. Knowing your final objective will very much dictate the direction of your strategy.
A primary goal should be solving a particular issue your targets face. That could be something like a lack of quality products they want/need or the absence of a certain service in their area. Having a clear idea of what you are doing for the customers can better define how you are going to present yourself to them.
Do you have a USP?
Is there something about your company that makes you stand out from the crowd? Is there something unique about you that will make them convert from potential customers to actual customers? For example, if you’re a cloud communication company, what makes your cloud cost management tools different from other companies who sell the same thing. What your USP is could vary greatly. It may even be that your product/service has unique features. It may be that you have a strong CSR or green policy that appeals to people.
Identifying your USP will allow you to put it at the core of any strategy. For example, climate change is a hot topic (sorry) these days, so strong green credentials (such as sustainable products or recycled packaging) are going to appeal to many people. Find that USP and highlight it throughout your strategy,
Decide on content formats
Written content will likely be at the center of any strategy, but what other formats will you utilize? Part of the decision on this will stem from your audience research. For example, you may have identified that your potential audience enjoys videos so you may decide to launch your own YouTube channel and will have to investigate effective YouTube marketing. If you’re a company that sells sales enablement tools, create a video about what benefits your customers could get from using these tools.
This stage of putting together your strategy should also acknowledge one important factor: money. Creating regular videos is going to cost a lot more than a basic written content plan with images, so ensure that any decision you make can be covered by the budget you have allocated. You don’t want to use your budget up with months ahead of you still needing content created.
Choose your channels
Once you have chosen your formats, you can then decide on what channels you will use. While your website may be an obvious choice, you may rely on other channels to actually drive traffic to that website. To give an example, many ecommerce businesses find that there is a close relationship between social media and retail. Posts on social media can entice customers to visit your website.
Channels will also dictate some aspects of the format. You may decide to make a longer video for your YouTube channel but shorter versions for channels such as Instagram or TikTok. It is worth remembering that although you may create one foundation piece of content, you may then adapt it for the different channels and platforms.
Another important part of your content strategy is the decision as to how content will be managed. As well as the format types and platforms already mentioned, that needs to include a clear idea of who is creating what parts, where those parts will be posted/published, and what sort of schedule you may have.
In a smaller business, all of this may be handled by one person. For larger organizations, you may have a team where each member has different responsibilities. In the latter case, you should consider assigning a content manager to supervise the various tasks. It is worth looking at the optimum posting rates when building a content schedule as they can vary from platform to platform.
Whether you have a large or small business, having this strategy framework is integral to how you do business. Now you have a basic strategy, you can move on to building a clearer framework for the strategy as it moves forward.
Building your content marketing strategy
As with many things, the devil’s in the detail and that holds true for your content strategy too. The previous steps have given you a rough framework and an idea of the direction you want to move in. But any foundation needs to be built upon, so now it’s time to add some more details.
If your initial audience research has identified a wide-ranging demographic base, then your content may have to adapt to reflect this. Using data from your CRM would help, such as customer demographics, personality traits, and so on. What works for Customer A may not work for Customer B, so you need to have a strategy that recognizes those differences and that can be adapted to any identified customer segments.
Segmenting your audience according to various factors (such as age or geographical location) will be an important part of your marketing efforts. Creating a different buyer persona for different segments can help with your marketing efforts. It is worth noting that this is not a one-off task; you should revisit and research your segments on a regular basis.
Set specific goals
Your initial strategy will have identified the general goals and objectives you want your content strategy to achieve. Now you want to set more specific goals. Let’s say that your general goal was increased conversions and sales. If you have historical sales data, you can use that to set out clearly defined targets for a specified time period.
For example, in the previous financial year, you made a total of $5 million in sales. You want your new strategy to improve that and you set a target for the current financial year to see a 50% increase to a total of $7.5 million in sales. By clearly defining your targets, you can then more easily and regularly monitor the relevant metrics and KPIs throughout the year to see if you will reach your target and whether any tweaks are needed to your strategy. You can even hire a company that provides product matching software to help you with the metrics.
With any new strategy, you will face a certain amount of uncertainty as to how it will perform. That means that ongoing monitoring and audits are essential to gauge how your content, and your new strategy, are performing. For areas where you have previously produced content, you can use well-performing content as a benchmark. For new content formats, keep a close eye on performance.
By knowing what content performs well and what content performs less so, you can make strategic changes as you move forward. That may involve dropping a particular format (such as podcasts) altogether, or it may just involve looking at what you can do to improve the quality and level of engagement.
Automation & templates
If you are producing large amounts of content, you may find that your human staff are unable to handle the workload. At that stage, it may be worth automating your processes using a content management system (CMS) which can reduce some of that workload and assist in both the creation and editing of any of your content.
If you want to create a lot of video content, you will quickly realize that it can be a time-consuming and costly process. This is where video templates can be of great help. The basics are there for you to customize with your own info and messages, saving both time and money in the long run while still offering quality video content.
Refine your content
You have already set out a plan for the content formats you want to use, now you need to plan it in more detail, especially for content that may take a little more effort such as videos and podcasts. Will all your content be created in-house? Or will you, for example, use guest writers for some of your blogs?
Planning and scheduling are crucial when it comes to the final stages of your content strategy. Don’t rely on a series of post-it notes scattered around your cubicle or office. At this stage, using a dedicated tool such as a marketing calendar to secure the data you gathered can help keep track of what you have already published and what is due to be published.
Your content strategy should always be well-organized. A poorly thought out and constructed strategy can have a negative impact on your business and can lead to lost sales and people having a poor opinion of your organization as a whole. A properly thought out strategy can be highly effective and can help achieve any goals or objectives you have identified,
It doesn’t matter whether you are a sole trader, a small startup, or a large corporation; having a good ecommerce content strategy will have positive outcomes if executed correctly. You also have to recognize that your strategy should not be static; it should be constantly evolving and growing which requires ongoing monitoring and measuring of important metrics.
It is sometimes better (especially for smaller businesses) to start with a basic and easily manageable strategy than with a cumbersome one that could overwhelm you and your resources. Pitch every possible idea in your recurring meetings, get that basic strategy right, and you can gradually scale it upwards and add new formats and channels as you progress.
About the author
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies for Dialpad Contact Center, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.