Common eCommerce Mistakes | Content Planning – Part #3
It has been well reported, here and on numerous digital marketing blogs, that content is one of the many keys to drawing an audience into your brand. The internet as a whole is loaded with content, opinions and educational resources. Content marketing is a great tool for communicating with your audience.
Every great ecommerce web site contains excellent content and that rarely happens by accident.
For many of us, it is easy to expound on beliefs with our words and talk about ourselves and our wares. Producing and publishing content is more than education and news reporting. Understanding this fact is the difference between a fun blog, an opinion laiden editorial versus content marketing that feeds SEO, Social Media Marketing, Lead Generation and eMail Nurture Campaigns.
Common eCommerce Mistake: Lack of Content Planning
As content marketing continues to grow as a method to fill your web site with your thoughts, opinions and beliefs it is still an area most ecommerce sites fail to plan for. Meaning, just as we mentioned in the article about a Strategic Marketing Plan, Content Planning is a must. However, most ecommerce web sites fail to plan and we at Viral Solutions see this quite often.
We too often see content produced as a space and time filler rather than as a key component to an overall marketing strategy. As Viral Solutions we have produced over 650 such articles, which is a major expense for the agency, but over the years we have seen our organic reach and social sharing (that's free ya' know) grow exponentially.
You must plan your content in advance. This plan will help your writers do research rather than whip out an article because you need one. A quality content marketing plan takes into account upcoming major events, holidays that impact sales and new product announcements to name a few. Your content marketing plan should build brand awareness, site traffic and fuel your customers to make purchases because your article fed their why.
A lack of long-term content planning, that is coordinated with an overall marketing strategy, used to fuel your e-commerce transactions is a major mistake we see in our digital marketing agency. Most ecommerce businesses slap product on a site, maybe write a blog article when they have time, and hope people come to buy. Planning your content well in advance turns this accidental marketing tactic into one that is strategic.
A great content marketing planner is not a short-term venture. You are looking at many years of content production. This is why we believe in quarterly manageable plans and a variety of writers, who by the way, are some of the most critical people you can employ in your ecommerce business.
How to build a content marketing planner
First, connect with your marketing team or agency on at least a quarterly basis for a half-day session during which you will brainstorm about your upcoming content needs. Most content falls into one or more of several categories.
You should be using each and every content style and delivery mechanism listed below.
- Entertainment. This is content that has an emotional connection and builds awareness. The content should come in many forms, including but not limited to quizzes, competitions, games, branded videos and content that may inspire viral sharing. Coca-Cola sells a commoditized product and they are experts at using the emotional play with their content to build brand loyalty. “Advertising is getting less effective as technology gives consumers more ways to avoid it. And, media savvy people are comfortable getting information and entertainment from brands. What Coke really understands is the need to embrace their role as a lifestyle brand and create lasting emotional connections with consumers. They are using content, entertainment, video and storytelling to engage customers.” ~ KingFish Media This is where video plays a major role in content distribution as the human viewer connects with the visual cues of the presenter.
- Inspiration. “Simply slapping a call-to-action at the end isn’t enough. Chances are your past content successes contained many, if not all, of the same attributes.” ~ MOZ. Be inspirational! A great singing voice can be found on stage in any local restaurant or tavern. They can also command an audience of thousands. What's the difference? The difference is the person who can inspire an audience, move them to action and entice them to follow their performance. Anyone who says “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is probably not a marketer. Here is where your content needs a social community of supporters, product reviews and endorsements by authority figures in an industry. People love it when they are inspired by other people who have enjoyed doing business with you. Include such inspirational content loaded with legitimate reviews and ratings in your content marketing planner.
- Convince to Convert. While it is said that 80% of prospects become customers based upon emotion the remaining audience buys based upon fact. Your marketing content planner needs to account for this audience. People who buy on fact tend to be professionals that are analytical by nature (Accountants, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, etc). To convince this audience to convert your ecommerce platform will need content that details a product or services features, provides case studies, grants free demos in video format, supplies checklists, schedules webinars, creates calculators and price guides. These pieces will contain such information that fuels the rational thinker over the emotional thinker.
- Educate. Building awareness through education is the most common form of content that appeals to the rational thought process. Educating your audience helps fuel your authority over time. The tools and tactics of content that educates includes such formats as quick guides, press releases, trend reports, infographics e-books and basic blog articles. Your content marketing planner needs to account for the audience that is not entirely sure what it is you do, offer or believe. Educational content will help you with that audience.
Your content marketing options should also contain facts and figures about your customer journey, purchase habits and decision styles. This information is best obtained from those who are in regular contact with your customer as well as Google Analytics.
What are your goals for the content you produce? Traffic? Awareness? Attention? Opt-in conversions? Authority? Each of the content styles above, especially when methodically produced using all facets, styles and deliver mechanisms can and will achieve all of those goals over time. Your job is to be committed, consistent and persistent.
What do I do with all this content?
At Viral Solutions we use content derived from a solid marketing strategy and customer engagement plan to fuel our email marketing, SMS (text message) marketing, video marketing and social media presence.
When you have a solid content marketing strategy with a team of talented writers your social media postings will now be purposeful rather than whimsical. Any social media channel needs a purpose and a set of goals. This cannot be managed without a strategy. Yes – you could get lucky by just doing whatever comes to you. However, that method is not sustainable or trainable. Your social strategy goals should accomplish the following.
- A community following. When you use a sophisticated and well-crafted target audience approach your audience will love your content and gossip about you online in social channels. People do business with people. Engaged people tell others they love your products and services. Social media today is simply an electronic version of timeless gossip and community gatherings. Build your community with content they love.
- Service guides. Your sales team, your customer service team, your managers and your public needs a resource of information that they can rely on to speak for you and provide answers to questions that match your belief. Your service desk and those support people will become empowered with your content and embrace your social media channels. Gold will flow out of their mouths as they provide consistent responses that align with your overall business plan.
- Event and product awareness. Your content speaks to your audience so you can separate yourselves from the noise. This is how you become a difference maker. Being different is how you polarize an audience to attend local events and learn how your products are different. How many public motivational speakers are there? How about kinds of bottled water? Millions! Target a niche' and be different with content that speaks to your audience's needs.
If you don't plan it or measure it – you aren't managing it. What do you do now?
Your customers have a known lifecycle and take a known path on their journey with your products and services that you offer oneline. Make sure you have that mapped. Make sure your automated marketing campaigns follow, direct and influence that flow too. Make sure someone is responsible, accountable and has the authority to make changes.
Depending on the size of your business, establish a voice of your content. Is that one individual? Is that a different person depending on topic or delivery mechanism? Is content production a shared process?
Document and plan your content on a calendar, make sure you account for all the various delivery mechanisms mentioned above. Now evaluate article performance by the number of hits, time on page, conversion rate and return-on-investment.
Align your various social channels with matching content. Meaning, that Facebook tends to be dominated by women over 45 and Pinterest is loved by a much younger audience and LinkedIn is a hangout for professionals and recruiters. You must know what buyer persona uses what social channel. The same goes for email marketing versus SMS (text message) verus on-site live events. Choose your words to match the channel which in turn matches your buyer persona.
Fittingly, next week we will discuss the overuse and thew wrong use of a buyer persona.
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