Once upon a time, Plato said, “Those who tell the stories rule society.”  We’re not suggesting eCommerce businesses will conquer the world (though Amazon is getting eerily close). But, content marketing gets to the spirit of Plato’s proverb, being that those with a voice and storytelling chops develop audiences, and those with audiences prosper

Shopper value vs values

Many online retailers focus on the transaction, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, there’s a lot of story occurring before that moment. Shoppers could be doing online research, talking to friends, scanning social media, and more. Content marketing is a great way for eCommerce businesses to connect with consumers earlier in the buying journey. 

Why should you consider this approach? An IBM survey found that 40% of consumers are “purpose-driven” shoppers making buying decisions based on their personal values. For context, 41% say they shop based on “value,” or how much they get for their money.

So, eCommerce shops can do just as well building a customer base from its purpose as offering competitive pricing. But let’s face it, a value-driven approach sticks businesses in a race-to-the-bottom contest that reduces profits. In the online arena, you need to keep up with Walmart, Amazon, and ever-rising consumer expectations for prices and product quality. 

A purpose-driven shopper, however, won’t have these concerns. They’re filling shopping carts because of an emotion or connection – not the cold hard numbers. This isn’t an excuse to overcharge or skimp on quality, but you get the point. 

Plato didn’t get by because of his bang-for-the-buck. He became a legend because of the values and ideas he spread. Today, eCommerce businesses can use a similar approach through content marketing to create those connections. 

How does content marketing work for eCommerce? 

A good content marketing strategy doesn’t just help convert sales at the time of transaction. It ensures that your brand remains at the forefront of people’s minds for when buyers are ready. And because you’re connecting based on values instead of transactional value, content marketing encourages stickiness – turning one-time purchasers into loyal shoppers. 

In fact, Hubspot claims that brands that maintain blogs see 55% more traffic, 97% inbound leads, and 434% more inbound pages. For e-commerce SMBs, where consumer interactions are often mechanical and transactional, this means attaining the game-changing power to create a loyal customer base that makes direct purchases and actively engages in organic growth. 

The idea is simple. It is a marketing strategy that involves creating original, relevant, and relatable content for your target audience to interact with. Look at it this way: A door-to-door insurance salesperson is far less likely to sell a policy than the insurance agent living next door who has been helping you learn the ins-and-outs of insurance for the past few weeks. Relevant, valuable content turns your eCommerce shop into a friendly neighbor. 

Keys to relevant eCommerce content marketing

With eCommerce being as transactional as it is, conversion rates at the time of writing this sit around 3%. But when content helps buyers make a decision or solve a problem, buyers become confident. The key is to provide relevant content. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind to generate the stories that build audiences: 

  1. Your consumers: What does your audience want? What are their big challenges? Where has the industry let them down? By putting yourself in your shoppers’ shoes, you can create content they’re looking for, putting your brand in a good position.
  2. The competition: Are they going for a value or values strategy? Can you find an angle that beats them to the punch on price or creating personal connections? Look for chinks in the armor and you may find a sweet spot where your brand and eCommerce platform can shine.
  3. Your company and brand: Although you’re creating content for shoppers, don’t forget about your brand. Consider your brand’s values and what it stands for. What do you leaders think about the industry and consumers? These are all key touchpoints that can add critical thought leadership to the content you produce. They’re vital to creating different content and finding unique angles on topics that help you make customer connections you need. 

It’s also important to put content where it’ll be seen. Plato wouldn’t have made much of a name for himself holding debates in the wilderness. Find out where your shoppers go for information and inspiration, and make your presence felt.

Find your audience 

If you’re grinding away to bring people to your website or can’t win the pricing battle, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of competition in eCommerce, with juggernauts and smaller players all working for the same consumers. It might not be a direct way to double sales in a day, but content marketing could be a useful strategy to build audiences and a community that looks to you instead of the other guy. A good story can turn a person into a legend, a click into a transaction, or a company into an iconic brand. At its heart, content marketing has the power to do just that. 

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