The Content Marketing Strategy Guide For Retailers

What’s the role of content in comparison shopping?

Content marketing is getting tons of attention from marketing experts but most retailers are still trying to fine tune their content marketing strategy.

We’ve been told that content is king but does it rule enough to help shoppers make decisions when they’re in the market to buy? YOU BET IT DOES!

Unlike offline traditional adverting, digital content gives you the freedom to experiment with your content marketing strategy. Sure, your CPC ads may be restricted to certain pixel dimensions, but each click takes your customers to a landing page where the sky’s the limit.

There are no defined boundaries that prevent you from providing your customers with as much information as possible and nobody says your landing page content must be text-oriented.

A Picture (or Video) is Worth a Thousand Words

Video is quickly becoming one of the most prominent marketing tools for retailers to improve their conversion rates. It’s easy to produce a “how to” or product demonstration video and embed it on your website. If you’re not video-web-savvy, uploading your videos to YouTube is the easiest way to obtain simple, sharable embed code that can be placed on any web page. Try a free tool like CamStudio to record videos, and if you’re camera-shy, stick to voiceovers. The best part is, videos work. In fact, viewers are 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a video.

BBQGuys.com, which sells high-end grills to professionals and hobby grill masters, does a great job using video to set their products apart from those at mass-retail and other online sites. Their product-demonstration videos offer an overview of each brand’s features and benefits along with practical tips on care and maintenance.

In addition, they offer how-to videos and recipes that can be created by using their products. With high price points, it’s important for consumers to understand why certain brands are worthy of a higher investment.

This video from BBQGuys.com highlights not only the grill’s capabilities, but gives a great overview of the brand’s reputation. In less than a minute and a half, consumers (read: potential buyers) have a complete overview of a brand they may never have heard of before starting their research.

On the flipside, another major retailer in high-end grills is not using video in its product descriptions.

It’s left up to consumers to continue their research via the available PDFs or the manufacturer’s specifications. Consumers are left wondering: Does it really work? Is it worth my money? And, did I really just waste my time looking at information that didn’t help me make my decision?

Price aside, which would draw your attention?

Content Marketing Blogs and Articles

If you’re new to the digital world, you may think that blogs are for celebrity gossipers or moms offering (unsolicited) parenting advice, but you’re wrong. Blogging is one of the most effective – and efficient — ways to keep your site full of fresh, relevant and timely content. Your blog is a great place to share tips and tricks that set your products apart from the competition. Being recognized as a thought leader within the industry will undoubtedly give you an advantage over others on the shelf.

In addition, blogging is a great way incorporate strategic key words and to raise your Google rankings, making it easier for customers to find your website. Ranking among the top on the search engine’s results page increases the percentage of conversions. Furthermore, CPC ads are a highly effective mechanism for garnering first-page placement even if your on-site content misses the mark. (Shameless plug: That’s why CPC Strategy specializes in helping comparison shopping clients maximize their CPC campaigns.)

Back to blogging: Kodak is a great example of a great use of blogging as a search strategy. For example, the company has put together a Tips & Projects Exchange on its site that allows visitors to get real-life, professional tips from Kodak users. In addition, a “photo of the day” shows the quality of pictures Kodak’s cameras, specialty photo papers and printers are capable of producing. Kodak also holds monthly contests which inspire amateur shutterbugs to share their favorite Kodak-produced photos.

Nearly every retailer can produce product-related articles. Consider creating a “Top 10” or “Best of” post that provides detailed, unbiased information. If it’s obvious that you are only ranking your proprietary products, your customers WILL notice and may discredit the information you’re offering. BBQGuys.com gets it right again with their Top 10 posts, among others.

 

E-Books: A Simple Way To Scale Content Production

E-books can be an important part of your content marketing strategy but most retailers don’t think they are a good fit for a B2c audience.

Think about e-books as an in-depth brochure or pamphlet on products or services. But most importantly e-books are wonderful for your content marketing because they’re online!

In other words: They won’t clutter up prospects’ living rooms (or trash cans, like many brochures handed out at trade shows), but can still provide you with information you need. And customers who prefer a hard copy can easily print an e-book and save for future reference. (An admission: I’ve printed off so many seemingly valuable e-books I wanted to read and highlight later, but never got to reading, I’ve since resorted to saving them to my hard drive.) E-books are a great alternative if you’ve got too much information for a blog post.

E-books can also help establish you as a thought leader in your industry. By providing customers with engaging and needed information, for free, and often before they buy, you’re more likely to build brand awareness and forge a relationship that begins even before they buy your product. But, don’t just write an e-book just to say you’ve written one. And please, try to incorporate some valuable information readers can make use of beyond a lengthy brochure for your products. Seriously.

Liberty Fencing offers two free e-books to potential customers. They were smart in developing one for each of their target demos, the do-it-yourselfers and those who hire contractors. The best part: In order to download the e-book, their customers have to share their email information, automatically adding themselves to Liberty’s mailing list, a genius strategy for those wanting to send email marketing promotions to prospects who have willingly added their contact information to an email list.

Customer Reviews = Content Marketing Dominance

Don’t forget to give your customers the opportunity to provide feedback. Ask for testimonials and product reviews. If you’ve done your job and earned their loyalty, most will be more than willing to share their feedback. On the flipside, if you’ve ticked them off or your product failed to deliver, they may be more than willing to share that as well. And, if that happens, be accountable for your actions, apologize and work your tail off to regain their trust.

The best part about user-generated content is that it requires little effort on the business end to make it happen. Think Amazon.com: Create a usable interface for customers to offer feedback and encourage them to do so (10% off your next order for a product review?). You’ll reap the SEO value of these comments without striking a single key.

Zappos does an awesome job at sharing their customer testimonials. They have nearly 10,000 testimonials written by their customers, most of which share positive stories regarding their products and customer service. With nearly every mass retailer selling shoes, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s this kind of compelling content that will sway shoppers away from competitors and land them directly in your shopping cart.

Evaluate Your Content Marketing Strategy

Here’s the bottom line: Your CPC ads will drive traffic to your landing pages, so the ad copy and images used in your ads must be driving conversions. But once that’s done, you have to give your customers a reason to stick around. After all, buying decisions, especially for bigger-ticket items, often aren’t a split-second decision.

By populating your landing pages with a robust collection of information, you’re buying yourself time to make a lasting impression on each prospect. Features like unbiased product reviews and video demonstrations can help transition visitors to buyers. So, you’ve got your CPC campaign up and running, and traffic is booming. Are you seeing the conversions you had hoped for? If not, it’s time to take a look at your content.

• Is your content fresh, relevant and engaging?
• Is your content up to par compared to your competitors?
• Does your content set you apart from your competitors?
• Are you using more than just product descriptions to fuel your sales?

If you answered “NO” to any of these questions, it’s time to consider and overhaul. After all, content really is king, and you should take advantage of the numerous formats to make your site sticky, your products memorable and your reputation solid.

About the AuthorRick is the CEO of CPC Strategy. He started working with online retailers at PriceGrabber and co-founded CPC Strategy in January of 2007. Today CPC Strategy manages the comparison shopping campaigns for over 100 retailers. See all posts by this author here.