Most eCommerce stores do not attract enough customers through organic search so they have to spend a ton of money on Google. It’s not a problem if you love spending the money but my guess is you don’t. And there is a better way. That way is through content marketing and it should be an integral part of your content strategy for eCommerce.
Content marketing for eCommerce achieves three things.
However, most smaller eCommerce stores, those that do not really reach scale are very hesitant about doing content marketing and there is a good reason for that.
They are usually overwhelmed with the following questions: “What should I write about? Where do we deploy that kind and how do we actually do it right? This is not in our wheelhouse, we’ve never done this before. Why can’t we just do things the way that we’re always used to?”
Well, you certainly can choose to continue doing things the old way. But you won’t get the results you need. It’s good to look at many examples of very strong brands that do content marketing spectacularly well. Amazingly a ton of their revenue — 30%-40% of it — comes from content marketing. Here are the tactics that show you how they attract new customers using the best eCommerce content with the strategy and purpose behind it.
First and foremost, product descriptions must be absolutely comprehensive. A great example of very comprehensive product descriptions can be found – you guessed it – on Amazon, with the bestsellers — ones that have many reviews of their products. You will see that their product descriptions are incredibly comprehensive. The way that you come up with a very strong product description is to think about every possible question that customers have asked you in the past (or might ask) about your products. Your product description must answer every one of those questions.
Second, think about why customers would not want to buy your product and address those points in your product description as well. If you nailed these two points, your product descriptions are going to be so much better than a typical product description that you will see on most eCommerce websites.
There are a number of reasons why this is such an important part of your eCommerce content. For starters, the more exhaustive your product descriptions are, the more questions those product descriptions answer, the higher the probability that people are actually going to buy your products.
But there’s another cool factor that comes into play. As people comb through your comprehensive product descriptions, they’re spending more time on your website. More time spent on a website in comparison to your competitors’ product pages results in a higher Google ranking. Yep. Because the more time people spend on a website the more authoritative Google considers that website.
Google will end up ranking your product pages higher and your website higher than your competitors because it sees more value in your product descriptions than a dozen of your competitors’ pages.
Tactic number two: BLOG! I know this may sound strange: blogging for an eCommerce brand? Yes. Absolutely. And here’s the reason why.
Unless you sell a commoditized product, customers like to research and understand their options and understand the product that they buy before they actually buy it. Many times, on products that are valued at $50-60 or more, people will spend considerable amount of time researching and understanding what is that they’re buying before actually buying it. So it would be great if you actually write blog posts explaining your products, the benefits of your products, how they compare to others, etc.
The second type of blogs is actually comparison blogs, meaning, you could say: “Best [type of product] 10 lists.” You actually compare different products in your blog post.
Why? Because people, before they buy, tend to feel a certain internal resistance — they have purchaser anxiety. They do not know if this product is going to work out well for them or not. So content creation for eCommerce in the form of blogs is a way of helping your prospects lower their anxiety and make their buying decisions.
You’re also benefiting from the prospect spending more time on your website by reading your blog. If that cumulative dwelling time, or averaged dwelling time, is longer than it is on your competitors’ websites, Google will, once again, consider your website as a more authoritative source on the subject of these product lines and it will, in turn, rank your website higher and in turn send more customers to your website. So yes, blogging does directly boost eCommerce sales.
A third way to attract more customers is via YouTube videos. I know you have seen those a million times, but do you actually create them for your brand? Chances are you haven’t. We have audited thousands of eCommerce stores and noticed that most of them do not create product demo videos. This is a grave mistake because with product demo videos, you could accomplish a myriad different things.
Number one: people are searching for information like “how-to” videos and other content directly related to your product line. They want to understand how to actually use those products and maybe see it through a visual representation.
Number two: when you create those videos, you do not have to deploy them just on YouTube, you can also deploy them in your product pages themselves, thus helping the customer understand how the product will be used and whether they actually like it. Demoing product makes a ton of sense.
Think about the old days of QVC (that’s a TV channel for those of you not old enough to remember QVC!). For every product they sold, they would spend about 20 minutes in a demo of that product. They’d explain the product left and right, up and down and explain how to use it. Nowadays, you do not need to spend 20 minutes explaining it but maybe two minutes will suffice.
The best example of a brand that does product demos incredibly well is Zappos. You can say: “Yeah, but they are Zappos, they can afford to spend the time to do product demos for hundreds of thousands of SKUs. We’re smaller, we can’t do it.” But that is not true.
If you think about it, a product demo can take no more than five minutes if you already set up a camera, a mic, lights and all you do is just do a product demo. If you know the product, it’s quick. You record that video and you deploy it on YouTube and you deploy it on your product page. That’s killing two birds with one stone.
Again, when people go to your product page, if they’re watching a video and reading through the description, they are, again, spending more time on your site which tells Google that your website is more authoritative than your competitors’ websites because people are spending more time engaging with your content.
So yes, Youtube eCommerce marketing tactics like this, combined with producing product demo videos in general, are another great way to increase eCommerce sales. You’ll attract more people to your store and to convert more of them into actual buyers for spending money with you.
Tactic number four is actually what I just talked about above: product demos. Product demos really help you convert people into buyers. Think about it: all of us are incredibly visual. We want to see. If we cannot touch it first, we at least want to see the product, to understand whether we’re going to like it or not. Product demos, video product demos are incredibly compelling tool to help you convert more visitors into actual buyers.
Tactic number five that can help you convert more visitors into actual buyers and increase your eCommerce revenue is to give them buyer’s guides. If you are selling a higher-end item, something a prospective buyer may not have purchased before, give them a guide that will help them actually understand and select the product you sell.
It could be a downloadable guide or something accessible right there on the website — not just the product description, but a guide that actually teaches a person how to buy this type of product. Most people have a lot of anxiety about buying the product that they have never purchased before. Do it even if your return policy is phenomenal.
The reason for doing this is because people are lazy, they don’t want to return products. They’d rather buy something and keep it than go to the UPS store and return it. They want to make that decision and not worry about it. Buyer’s guides are a phenomenal way to educate your customers and prospective customers about your product and convert them into actual buyers.
Tactic number six that is incredibly effective for eCommerce brands to maximize their conversion rate is to deploy an abandoned shopping cart email series.
You have probably heard about it a million times, but do you actually do it? We have audited so many eCommerce stores only to find that a very small percentage — single digits — effectively deploy those email series or follow-up email series. Businesses that do deploy email follow-up, usually do it in a very lazy way. They may send one or two emails and those emails are really blunt.
When most people go through the checkout process get stuck at a certain point. They leave because they need to do something else or they’re not sure whether they actually wanted the product. They may not like the checkout process or the options for shipping, etc. When someone abandons their shopping cart on your eCommerce store, you need to send them emails that remind them and educate them about why they wanted that product in the first place. It’s a gentle nudge to buy that product.
These are three different types of messages that fall under the category of email marketing for eCommerce and you should deploy all of them.
In fact, we recommend deploying the very first message about 30 to 60 minutes after they abandon the shopping cart. If you can do that using SMS, it’s great. Text messages work spectacularly well when they’re done in a very timely manner. Something like: “Hey, we saw that you wanted to buy product X but didn’t complete the purchase. If you’d like to do so, just click on the link here.”
It’s a nice reminder because they might have just been distracted and now they forgot. If you follow that up with a series of emails or just do a series of emails where you remind them, educate them about the product and its benefits, then nudge them by possibly giving them a small additional discount or a little giveaway like an add-on, it could motivate that reluctant buyer to actually make the purchase.
The seventh tactic is an extension of eCommerce email deployment and it’s very effective for eCommerce stores. Simply put. Send more emails!
The moment that your customer places an order, most eCommerce stores send them an email with order details and then that’s the end of the conversation. How bizarre! You want to make a sale to get a customer, not the other way around! But in 95% of all cases with eCommerce stores, it’s the same story: the store sends the customer that one email of confirmation and maybe shipping follow up and that’s the end of the journey.
You expect them to buy more from you, but that rarely happens. In order to maximize that customer return rate, what you have to do is follow up with them in a way that creates value. Add something to their lives rather than just be another promotion, another promotion, another promotion in the email inbox.
How do you do that? Once you send them a confirmation, follow it up with an educational video that may show them how to use your product best or any other video or guide you can come up with that makes sense. Videos are more effective. Show them how to use that product best and maybe create a video series that teaches them how to use your product.
Again, it could be applied to just about any type of product. When you do this you develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with that customer and because most eCommerce stores are ridiculously lazy when it comes to doing this, the customer will look at you in a very different light than they do other eCommerce stores with which they engage. After all, in marketing and in sales, you want to stand out in the positive light, create a memorable experience for your buyers so they actually remember you and want to buy from you again.
Tactic number eight. Incredibly successful eCommerce brands create a helpful email series. After their customer buys a product for the first time, after they send follow-up emails that teach the customer about how to use the product best, they send them another series of emails.
Of course there’s always a question: “How often is too often?”
Chances are your emails one way or another will not be looked at but one out of ever few will be looked at. Have an email in the customer’s inbox once a week. That gives you a runway of about 52 emails per year. Now most eCommerce stores just make all 52 of those emails promotional flyers.
That’s not the right way. The right rule is this: 50% of your emails should be educational in nature — it should teach something that adds some value to the customer’s life. 35% of your emails should be entertaining — still something on the topic of the product lines that you sell but there’s some sort of an entertainment value. 15% of the emails can then be focused solely on sales.
So, 50% on education, 35% on entertainment, 15% on sales. Most eCommerce brands, if they do any type of email marketing, focus 100% on promotion. That is wrong. You’re not building a relationship, you’re teaching your customers to be dollar-driven and not brand-driven. You want to build a loyal following with people who want to buy your products time and time and again. To do that, you educate them, you entertain them and then you pitch something to them that’s relevant and in the right proportion.
On the entertainment emails, a good example is the Dollar Shave Club. Their commercials are hilarious, very low cost production. You could do the same thing with the products that you sell. It’s easy. Look for some examples, just go to YouTube and Google hilarious video promotions for different brands. You’ll see tons of examples to draw inspiration from.
Tactic number nine used by incredibly effective eCommerce stores is retargeting with content. Our favorite is to do this with the “stories” feature on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’re selling consumer products, stories are a phenomenal way to remind your customers about your brand. Most of the time consumer brand products are doing incredibly well with very short stories. They’re super easy to create. You can buy a relatively inexpensive camera, light, mic and that’s all you really need to do. Some smaller shops even do it with their smartphones.
So your total investment into creating an unlimited amount of stories, aside from a little time and effort, is $1200 if you buy a good camera, mic and lights, give or take. These stories could be 30 seconds long. Simple and fast yet easy, ongoing reminders for your customers about you and your products.
Ultimately, you want to heat up your existing customers through every channel where they might be looking and interacting with your brand because that really creates the loyal following where people, once again, want to continue buying your products.
Here’s bonus tactic number 10 and this we’ve seen done by very small eCommerce shops and very large eCommerce shops and everything in between UGC – user-generated content.
You can ask your customers to create really simple videos or even images of them using your products and give them a $5 Starbucks card or another discount or perk in exchange for posting those pictures. It works phenomenally well because:
It is very important to remember that every piece of content you create must have a “call to action.”
Whether that call-to-action is to buy something or check something out on your website or download a form or fill in a survey or redeem a promotion matters not. Your content just needs to always contain any call to action because the ultimate goal of content marketing is conversion. If there is no call-to-action, there is no conversion. If there is no conversion, there is no sale, then ultimately what’s the point? You must have calls-to-action in most or all of your content with the exception of the stories (which at least can feature a hashtag, social media handle, date of an important event, or something else engaging).
So, now that you’ve reviewed this content, here’s what you should do next: assess whether content creation is something that you should be doing in-house or hiring an agency like Catapult Revenue to help you create. Make a plan and deploy content and help attract more customers, increase your average order value and obviously increase your customer return rate.
If you feel that this is something that you cannot do in-house effectively (and most eCommerce brands definitely prefer to have an expert agency to do it for them), then reach out to us, talk to us. We will show you how we do things, how we develop content plans and leverage them effectively. Tf this seems to be a right fit for you, perhaps you hire us. If not, you will have learned something valuable either way. So please reach out by phone or through the Contact Us form on our site. We would love to hear from you!
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Catapult Revenue, ensuring that all client’s revenue goals are met via Catapult’s marketing strategies.
40 practical ideas that will undoubtedly help you grow your eCommerce by at least 25%
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