Content may be the most overused word in marketing, but what real value does a good content marketing strategy bring to ecommerce businesses? We explored that theme in a Day 3 fireside chat at Retail (R)Evolution 2018 that featured Matt Osias of the digital marketing agency and “outsourced CMO” Hawke Media and Tim Forman of The Tot, which is part parenting editorial, part children's retailer.
I knew attendees were in for a great session because Pitney Bowes has already been working on a case study with The Tot ahead of the event. Through that work we learned that content was literally the key to the company’s success because it allowed the brand to tap into the commonly understood experience that is pregnancy and parenting.
I also had the chance to speak with Matt and Tim prior to the panel backstage, where the vibe were calm and collected. From the green room, Tim gave me the scoop on his two best performing blog posts to date: a post about how pregnant mothers can take care of themselves in the fourth trimester, and another about preparing for pregnancy. As Tim explained, top trending content can drive top-trending products, as well.
“We keep our content at a high level and use it at the top of the funnel to bring in prospects with the goal of getting that first and often most important conversion, which is when a client signs up for email,” he told me. “And then we can start feeding product recommendations from there and the path to purchase is in place.”
Both speakers expanded on that idea throughout their talk.
Both Matt and Tim spoke to the importance of an editorial calendar to keep you on schedule, especially in retail businesses where seasonality is a factor.
“Seasonality is definitely good to pay attention to as you do not want to miss an opportunity due to poor planning,” Matt said. “It is something happening organically and you can ride that wave way before the date comes around. It’s a great way to reap the reward of good planning.”
It’s also important to think about the format and quality of your content. As Tim explained, content establishes credibility. The Tot’s objective is to become a trusted voice in parent, so it’s important for them not to do any direct selling in their content. It’s better to be viewed as an authentic expert and trusted advisor to your readers.
To keep their content impartial, The Tot employs an editor of chief who works outside of the marketing department, that way the company’s revenue is not directly tied to their content. The editor manages up to 36 pregnancy and parenting experts who contribute to the website, and the company’s strategy is to produce material that is inspiring, credible and that addresses two factors:
· Who are we writing for?
· What problem will this content solve for our readers?
This strategy has paid off in a big way for The Tot: more than half of their site visitors view both their editorial and ecommerce pages.
Of course, the objective of content is ultimately to drive up awareness of your brand and, eventually, purchases. Matt advised becoming familiar with the content marketing funnel to understand how readers can eventually flow down to become buyers.
Different content formats can satisfy different objectives along the customer journey, whether it’s a quiz to entertain and drive awareness of your brand, or a pricing guide to push from the consideration stage toward an actual purchase.
Quick Ways to Get Started
Matt and Tim both offered tips and tools that can help any business get started on developing a content strategy. One approach is a “Mad Libs” approach that can help you formulate your strategy:
Another way to get off the ground quickly is to focus on writing about relevant evergreen topics that will stand the test of time. A headline like “How to boil an egg” is bound to be relevant for a long time, and if your article ranks highly on Google, more people will find your site through organic searches as a result. So, think about problems that your products solve for people, write a blog about it, then make sure that the product pages that you want to drive traffic to are just a click or two away.
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Then, dive into the results from one of the biggest global ecommerce research reports of its kind. The Pitney Bowes 2017 Global Ecommerce Report surveyed more than 1,200 retailers and 12,000 consumers around the world, outlining both retailer and consumer perspectives on the global ecommerce landscape. Download the report to learn how these trends provide key growth opportunities.