How to Promote Your Online Store With Content Marketing
Posted Dec 7, 2017 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team

How to Promote Your Online Store With Content Marketing

Content marketing worked long before the internet.

Roger Parker is a long-time advocate for content marketing and one of the most popular commercial bloggers in the English-speaking internet segment. He started his career when nobody had heard about the internet.

As a newbie marketer, Parker got a job at Magnolia Hi-Fi, which sold audio and video equipment. He quickly assessed the ineffectiveness of classical advertising. His company could not beat major competitors by cutting prices. Therefore, Roger Parker bet on content marketing.

Magnolia Hi-Fi created a series of educational guides. They taught consumers how to choose audio systems and other equipment. Parker distributed black-and-white guides as free inserts in the newspaper. He noticed that subscribers were throwing out newspapers after reading but kept relatively poorly designed guides.

The guides of Magnolia Hi-Fi are a classic example of educational content. Here are a few topics from black-and-white inserts:

  • What to look for when choosing a radio
  • How to properly install a stereo system
  • How to improve the quality of music playback.

18 months later, Magnolia Hi-Fi had grown from a small store in a not-so-prestigious Seattle area to a small network operating from centers in Washington, Oregon, and California. And at the beginning of the 21st century, the owner sold the Magnolia Hi-Fi network of consumer electronics stores for $87 million.

Roger C Parker

This man used content marketing before the internet

Today, most online sellers have better starting conditions than Roger Parker had. They do not need to pay printing companies and negotiate with newspapers about the distribution. It’s enough to publish high-quality content on your website.

Why Content Marketing Works Better Than Ads

Having great content on your e-commerce website works in three ways:

  • It makes it easier for people to discover your website
  • It helps customers find the product information they are looking for
  • It makes you look human, smart, and trustworthy.

Can’t good ads do just the same? There are at least three strong benefits of content marketing over ads.

1. People are tired of ads

They have learned to look through banners and skip content blocks that resemble ads, as Nielsen Norman Group discovered during their eye-tracking research.

Eye tracking research

Eye-tracking research proved people ignore ads and similar-looking blocks

Not only do people ignore ads (marked with green frames); they also skip content blocks with a similar design and placement.

Content marketing helps against banner blindness. If your audience is overwhelmed with ads and ignores them, attract their attention with useful content. We’ll look into the meanings of “useful content” very soon.

2. People consider ads only after choosing a product or service

CEB marketers have established that customers refer to ads to study offers and choose the best price mostly when they already know what to buy. If you attract new audiences only through advertising, be prepared to compete on pricing. In other words, you will have to drop your prices and sell products much cheaper than competitors (read here why that is a dead-end strategy).

People want to make their own decisions. Customers are looking for information that helps them to consciously buy goods and services. Choose to be the one who informs them.

3. Great content lasts longer than ads

A decent blog post is like good wine. It becomes even better with time, gaining SEO juice, views, comments, and shares. It constantly works for your reputation and establishes emotional connections.

Great blog content

The long-term effect also makes content marketing a cheaper strategy. Once created, a piece of content keeps paying back. And after all, you don’t have to rob a bank to write a blog post or shoot a video on your smartphone.

How Content Makes People Buy

Sales funnel. There’s hardly anyone here who doesn’t know what it is.

Sales funnel 2

When people need to buy something, they do the research. They can ask their friends, or google it to understand what product they need and to compare features, brands, and prices. If you’ve got relevant content on your website, it’ll appear on Google. More people will become aware of you.

Marks & Spencer’s content shows up on Google

Marks and Spencer’s content shows up on Google

Marks and Spencer autumn winter trends

The page sparkles interest with current trends and links to product pages

As soon as you are on the radar, purchase consideration starts. Customers need to fight their doubts, trust issues and come to the final decision. It’s time to capture them with gated content (request the reader’s information in exchange for the content) such as webinars, software downloads, and ebooks.

Turns out, the duration of this stage depends on how hard it is to part with the money:

The amount of product research they [customers] do depends on the price of the purchase; as the price increases on a purchase, their amount of research will increase as well.

It results in more stages in the buyer’s journey. If your content can keep your customers’ attention close to your online store and help them make decisions, you increase the chances of making a sale.

Related: What is the Buyer’s Journey and Why Should You Care?

How to Use Content Marketing to Promote Your Store

The easiest way to get started with content marketing is blogging. You don’t need much money or infrastructure to write an article. If you have more time and resources, consider videos, professional photography, podcasts, and graphics.

Don’t get upset if you feel too loaded for content marketing. Start small by blogging occasionally, and later, you’ll be able to recycle that content into other formats.

Learn more: The Importance of a Blog and How to Start One for Your Store

Let’s find out how to create great content that makes people want to buy.

1. Help to choose

Customers do research before making a purchase. It is an opportunity to provide them with quality information.

You are the expert in your niche. If you sell tea, you know the difference between English Breakfast and House Ceylon. It’s naive to think that all your customers have the same competencies.

Publish a blog post about different tea types and explain how to choose the right one. If you don’t have a blog, you can do the same on social media. Don’t forget to link to your store.

How to choose tea guide

The Loose Teas store educates visitors with a tea guide

Important: Keep your products at competitive prices; otherwise, people will get educated on your website and go somewhere else to buy the products.

2. Attract with objective reviews

Product reviews are one of the top means of content marketing. There’s a nuance: users want to learn non-advertising descriptions that focus solely on the merits of the product and an unbiased evaluation of products by experts or real users.

You can partner up with a YouTube reviewer to make it viral and fun. Just look at this guy, Daym Drops, who is an exceptionally charismatic food reviewer.

If vloggers are out of reach, refer to a local micro-influencer.

If you are on a budget, it’s not a reason to be upset. You can look for a charismatic customer and ask them to create a review, case study, or an interview for some bonus.

People are more likely to believe in reviews of consumers, not specialists. According to eMarketer, internet users read reviews of other customers 12 times more often than product descriptions from the seller or the manufacturer before buying. Researchers in iPerceptions have established that the publication of reliable user reviews on the site increases the conversion by 63%.

Learn more: Easy Tips for Using Product Reviews to Promote Your Store

3. Educate

Nell Stephenson is a nutrition expert. She sells consultations, meal plans, and cooking classes in her Ecwid store. Alongside selling, she actively blogs on her website to educate her audience on paleo meals and healthy lifestyle.

Paleoista blog

Paleoista blog

Consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand immediately after they consume early-stage, educational content.

Simple explanations of difficult topics generate traffic. Lowe’s uses content marketing to teach potential customers to work with tools, glue wallpapers, hang shelves. Even if you have never held a hammer in your hand, Lowe’s YouTube channel will make you a jack of all trades.

“What kind of hammer do I need in the house? How to connect two wires? How to drill a hole in a ceramic tile?” Lowe’s videos answer these and many other questions.

4. Engage with different content types

Content marketing is not just text and YouTube videos. Below you will find examples of online store marketing using different types of content.

Lowe’s does not only provide long video instructions. The retailer manages to put useful tips into the format of six-second Vine videos.

Lowe’s on Vine

Lowe’s on Vine

According to Annalect marketing agency, almost 2/3 of all likes on Instagram and Pinterest are related to the user’s desire to purchase the goods in the picture. Agency experts found out that one in five users who share a product picture, subsequently buys it. So remember to make use of photography.

Related: 10 Ideas for Creative Product Presentation in Instagram Galleries

Other content types that you can use are:

  • Physical/digital catalogs
  • Infographics
  • Newsletter content
  • GIFs
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Instagram Stories
  • User-generated content
  • Customer spotlights
  • Memes
  • Quotes
  • Live videos.

Read this post for more digital content examples: 11 Digital Product Ideas That Fit Almost Every Storefront

Share Information

When planning the content strategy for your online store, make the interests of existing and potential customers your priority. Educate them and share exclusive product information.

Don’t wait till you earn big dollars to invest in marketing. Start small and analyze what works for your audience and what doesn’t. If you need help with creating your content, check out the Ecwid blog for photography, video, and copywriting tips — and stay tuned. :)