Two words: pay attention. And now, some more words.
Make It Meaningful
One prominent shift we saw this year across all communication avenues was the rise of compassionate marketing. Across the board, companies moved away from trying to be funny or cute or edgy, and toward being honest, transparent, and supportive. As an e-commerce business, the opportunities to create a meaningful connection with customers and prospects at this level are plentiful.
Doing this successfully requires demonstrating a deep understanding of your audience at that moment of communication. Get your hands on as much customer insight and analysis as you can, from recent demographic studies, to website analytics, customer service data, surveys, social media activity, and anything else you have or can gain access to. Once you’ve crafted thoughtful, qualitative messaging consistent with your brand identity, disseminate it through your website, video channels, e-mail marketing platform, and any other mediums in your digital portfolio.
Make It Personal
Content-driven personalization is a strategy that encourages visitors returning to your site to pick up where they left off. One way to execute this strategy is by setting up an e-mail or marketing automation campaign based on past engagements, carefully helping usher prospects along the sales funnel. At 3E Public Relations (3E PR), we use marketing automation strategies to simplify this process, allowing us to deliver personalized content interested parties can use as they make their way toward a decision.
So, let’s say a user visits your online shop and adds an item to their cart but then abandons it. With a marketing automation campaign, you could set up a path whereby that user receives an email the following day reminding them they left an item in their cart, accompanied by a video or blog post reviewing your company’s return policy. This not only gets you back on their radar, but also provides the customer with useful information—which they may not have been aware of—that they can now keep in mind as they consider this and future purchases. It also serves as a strong complement to a retargeting initiative that is part of your paid strategy.
Make It Useful
The perfect material for content marketing is educational without directly promoting any products or services a company sells. That’s why newsletters are such a perfect format for content marketing. Because a newsletter is created and presented on behalf of a company, there is an opportunity to imprint that company’s DNA all over it without explicitly trying to sell something. Consider featuring news articles on industry-related trends, relevant survey results, studies, and other third-party news. The goal is to offer information that’s so valuable, consumers develop a loyalty to your brand.
While content distribution is the focus of a newsletter, one of its great benefits to creators is as a data resource. The basic information required to subscribe provides you with a baseline of information about your readers. Performance data generated from their continued engagement with the newsletter allows you to evaluate what garners the best response, respectively. It’s also common and encouraged to sporadically ask newsletter subscribers what kind of information they enjoy most or would be most interested in receiving. All of this is valuable knowledge both in terms of market research and successful future content development.
Make It Better
Like a good product, good content solves a problem—something 2020 was rife with, to say the least. In today’s often-turbulent e-commerce market, alleviating online customers’ concerns can be accomplished through early, frequent, consistent messaging, properly placed to reach the right audience at the right time.
So, as you look ahead to 2021, draw inspiration from the abundant supply of recent examples in which brands demonstrate how they utilize content marketing strategies to solve their customers’ problems. Take Walgreens, for example, which began posting a series of short, informative videos answering common questions related to COVID-19 as part of its Ask a Pharmacist series on YouTube.
Make It Timely
Consumers’ attention span is fleeting. One of the most impactful sales and marketing strategies a business can implement to catch their audience’s eye is to zero in on what matters to them at a particular moment in time. That’s why holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, daily observations like National Coffee Day and National Pet Day, and the latest celebrity gossip get so much attention and engagement—it’s what’s on people’s minds during finite period of time. It’s like the content version of supply and demand.
Early this year, we were in the midst of conducting an annual e-commerce consumer study on behalf of our client, Dotcom Distribution, when the pandemic hit the country. It was instantly the headline of every conversation; it became clear that society was about to become much more reliant on online shopping, and with that came both a need and opportunity for education. To that end, we collected a second round of behavioral data, this time pertaining specifically to e-commerce in the coronavirus era. This provided Dotcom with exclusive, timely, relevant information to incorporate into the content they delivered to consumers’ in alignment with the emergent interest in and desire for that information.
As you enter the New Year, getting inside the mind of your customer should be at the top of your list of resolutions. Your goal should be to create content that is meaningful to your audience, but remember: in order to do that, you must first gather meaningful data.
Most small or early e-commerce businesses fall into two camps: you know you need to up your content game but need help or guidance, or you want to better understand the tools and strategies that suit your specific needs or goals.