eCommerce Inbound Marketing is Difficult. Let’s Make it Easier

eCommerce inbound marketing is difficult

eCommerce inbound marketing is difficult

Is eCommerce inbound marketing really that hard?  Yeah, It is! Let’s face it.

Writing content, blogging, whatever you’d like to call it, is a real challenge for many eCommerce marketers.

Let’s figure out how to make the process easier, and how to do so for your unique product offering.

So Why is eCommerce Inbound Marketing More Difficult?

Keeping content relevant and fresh is hard enough for any site.  For eCommerce business owners, it can be even more challenging.

  • You may be offering products that are available on 5, 15, even 100 other online stores.
  • It can be tough to write interesting copy for products that don’t seem all that interesting.  Think toasters, belts, hard drives, bobble-heads…there are thousands of not-so glamorous, not too interesting products out there.
  • Many stores have lots (100s, even 1000s) of products, which just compounds the problem.
  • Finding interesting or actionable data on your products (in an attempt to provide some interesting facts or statistics) may be a challenge, if any exists at all (see below for how to overcome this).

The list of eCommerce oriented difficulties goes on and on.

It is indeed difficult to write for an eCommerce site.  It’s not like you’re a self-help guru who can write endlessly on topics your  readers would find useful.  Nor are you a consulting company that can write in-depth white papers and case studies that demonstrate your industry prowess to potential customers.

Nope, you’re an eCommerce store.  You sell products.  Can you generate content that will be useful, helpful, or compelling to your existing or potential customers?  Content that keeps visitors on your site longer?  Content that actually makes them want to come back in the future?  Actually, yes.  You can!

Let’s get to it then!

But remember this point first, and don’t forget it.  This point should drive every content decision you make…

It’s about the audience!

It’s not so much about your company. It’s really all about understanding the needs of your audience.

Your content should focus on providing information that your users are interested in.  And ideally, information that is useful, or helpful, or even entertaining in some way.

Here are some great, creative ways to generate quality content for your eCommerce site.

Develop Buyer Guides:

A buyer’s guide is a detailed, in-depth article that helps customers make the right purchasing decision.  These guides are a great option, especially for complex product offerings.  Provide answers to their product questions, and in some cases, tell them what to buy, and you’re more likely to get their business.  Guides help build trust with your customers by providing very useful and relevant information to them.  It’s also a great way to build SEO friendly content which can be optimized for targeted keyword phrases.

A great place to start with buyer guides is in your best selling product categories.

Writing a buyer’s guide is fairly straightforward. You want to put yourself in the shoes of your typical customer.  Remember, it’s about the audience.  So answer some of the common questions and concerns your audience might have.  For example:

  • Determine what problem are they trying to solve
  • Figure out what they want to do with the product
  • Highlight the unique characteristics of this product category
  • Guide the audience through the various options and how they would solve their problem
  • Based on their needs, suggest the products they should buy

Does it work?  You bet.  GunDogSupply.com reports %50 higher conversions on prospects that enter the site through a buyer’s guide vs. those who enter via a standard product category page!

Overstock has an extensive guide section.  Here’s one of many good examples of how they integrate a buying guide with products you can purchase right from the guide page.

How-to Articles and Videos

As a consumer, nothing builds my trust and admiration for an ecommerce site more than content that helps to solve a problem I have.  This is why tutorials and walkthroughs are so valuable.  What a great way to give your customers something of value, and at the same time, demonstrate expertise in your field.  That’s a winning recipe for success!

Video how-to’s  are a win-win for you and your customers.  Video demonstrations of how to solve a problem using a product you sell are SO valuable.

  1. They position you as an expert.  You’re showing exactly how to use the product, and solve your prospect’s problem.
  2. It will help you build your video library (YouTube Channel), which is huge for your SEO.
  3. They help to strengthen the relationship between you and your prospects and customers. Their level of trust with you and the products you sell will be enhanced after watching you demonstrate its effectiveness.

A great example of a video how-to relates to a personal experience of my own.  Recently, I started noticing brown marks on some of our clothes after going through the dryer.  Some Googling brought me to the realization that our dryer needed a new drum felt seal.  A what?  I didn’t know what that was.  But I was determined to figure it out, and see if it was something I could repair on my own.  Sure enough I came across some nice video tutorials detailing exactly how to replace this seal!  The one that stood out the most to me was a video from partselect.com.  They had a video of a technician replacing the drum for my exact model.  I didn’t even realize they actually sold the parts as well, until watching the video.  Sure enough, they sell the part I needed.  I went ahead and purchased the part, bookmarked the video, and successfully repaired the dryer within a couple of days.  I had no hesitation about buying from this company.  In fact I almost felt compelled to do so.  They provided something of great value to me, and in so doing, earned a customer who trusts their brand and sees them as a go-to resource.

Written How-to’s are great as well.  For many of the same reasons detailed above.  A good mix of both video and written options is ideal because you want to be adding both types of content to your site.  One great option is to transcribe the Video into a written version.  Two birds. One stone!  Good written how-to’s provide step by step details on how customers can use your products to their maximum potential.  Technical setup and service instructions, and general advice that answers your customers questions is applicable as well.

Position Yourself as an Expert in your Niche – You do have a Niche Right?

Establishing yourself as an expert in your niche is one of the primary ways for you to gain credibility.  If folks look to you for your expertise and insight, they’re going to be more likely to buy the products you’re selling.  There are many things you can do to position yourself as a top dog.

  • Write well and write often – this is the number one way you’re going to create that perception of expertise and industry leadership.  You’ve got to drop that knowledge!  It shows that you know what you’re talking about.  Write about the things your audience craves.  Usefull tips, insider knowledge, advice, product rankings, in-depth product reviews (these can be even more effective than the ubiquitous ‘customer reviews’).  Just get in the habit of writing, answering your customer’s questions, and providing more detail and insight than your standard ecommerce site.
  • Make it personal – What has been proven to resonate on the web, and in every facet of life really, is transparency.  Show your true self in your content.  Let people in on your personality.  Tell stories about yourself and your company, that give them a glimpse of what you are really like.  Along the way, integrate nuggets of information that demonstrate how you have gained the knowledge you have, and/or how you’re building on that knowledge base as time goes on.
  • Promote what you create – You can write until your fingers fall off, but no one is going to read it if you don’t tell the world about it.  Tweet about your updates, post about them on Facebook, Email your list with details, create a complimentary video and post it to YouTube.  There are lots of ways to get noticed.
  • Piggyback off of other experts – Read their books and write about it, interview them, ask them to interview you (even better), offer up your opinion on industry news and topics, and speak at industry conferences.

REI does a great job sharing their expertise with “Expert Advice” articles and videos. Here’s a cool example of how to choose a backpacking backpack.  In fact, spend some time looking at the way REI does content marketing.  Great stuff.

Use Data as Content

For an eCommerce site, visual, data-based content can be very effective.  Product reviews, conversion rates, customer surveys and analytic data can all be used to produce interesting and powerful product comparisons, rankings and the like.  And the great thing is, if this kind of data doesn’t already exist for your niche or product line(s), that’s okay.  You can extract this data from your existing site metrics.  You can create the surveys needed to support your content strategies.  You can compile user reviews into product rankings, conversion rates into product comparisons, etc.  Limitless opportunities!

Check out this nice infographic from Wine Enthusiast Magazine for inspiration on presenting product and sales data to your customers in a visually appealing way.

Get Customers Involved in the Process

A great way to generate loads of content and keep your audience inspired and engaged is to involve them in the process.  What I mean here is, empower them to show the world what they do with the products they buy from you.

Show the world how real people use your products – You can either seek out the customers on your own or ask them to submit their pictures, videos and stories to you.  This a great way to show what happy customers are doing with your products.  Disclaimer here – I realize that these kinds of strategies are much more suited to shops that sell unique, custom, and somewhat personal items…but even if that’s not you, get creative, there may be an interesting way that your customers are using that stapler you’re selling!

A great example of this kind of content is removable wall graphic retailer Blik.  Their blog features a mix of user submission contests and on-site photo and interview sessions, all highlighting how great these products look in real life.  It makes you want to participate, and buy!

Content marketing for your eCommerce store is tough work.  But the rewards can be great, and you do have options.

How are you developing content for your online store?

I’d love to hear how you are using content in your online endeavors.  Share your experiences or questions in the comments right here.  I look forward to chatting with you.

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3 thoughts on “eCommerce Inbound Marketing is Difficult. Let’s Make it Easier

  1. Andrew Grant

    Good article. I agree it’s tough for business owners. Running the business and being writers too! But that’s the landscape.
    Another idea for content, especially for sellers of physical products is to get content from your suppliers – written, web, video, etc or you could interview their designers or engineers to get more depth n products, arrange to film the factory/ production line etc

    1. Ryan B. Post author

      Andrew, I love the idea of sourcing the suppliers for content. What a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors who may sell the same products from the same suppliers. Not to mention the additional in-depth information you’d be able to provide for your customers.

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