Content marketing online stores

How to: Successful content marketing for online stores

Is your competition performing better than your online store so far? Do you finally want to generate more leads and steal the competition's sales? Product and category descriptions are the absolute minimum these days. If you want to generate hot leads and be successful, you should develop suitable content for every phase of the customer journey. In this article, we offer you the ultimate guide to content marketing for online stores. You'll learn all about the different formats and the roles they play.

Content in e-commerce has an important role to play: That of an advising specialist in a store. This is why it is so important that the content answers all the relevant questions of the online store's potential customers. After all, if questions remain unanswered, it is unlikely that a sale will be made.

What are these questions? And how can you best answer them? There's no one-size-fits-all answer. Content requirements vary greatly depending on the product, industry and target group.

Content marketing in e-commerce based on the customer journey

With this information in mind, we now set about planning the content. I take a typical customer journey for this:

  • Awareness phase: People in the target group become aware of a need or offer. They begin to research (e.g. via Google). Recommendations on the social web and elsewhere also play a role.
  • Consideration phase: The people are well informed and have already found initial solutions. They compare the offers.
  • Decision phase: They have made a decision and now want to make sure it is the right choice. When they feel confirmed, they order.
  • Retention phase: Immediately after the purchase, it becomes clear whether the selected product or offer meets the requirements. Here it is important to support new customers so that they do not regret their decision.

There are variants of the customer journey with further steps and it can be useful to subdivide the individual points. These four points are sufficient for our initial overview of the topic. Below, we present the individual aspects of content marketing for online stores in detail:

Awareness: Creating attention

You sell products via your store and want to be found by the right target group as soon as they have a need. Or is that already too late?

Yes, ideally an online store should already be in the consciousness of potential customers before a need arises. This is why advertising often aims to make a brand known: it should automatically be considered as soon as a corresponding need arises. In extreme cases, particularly successful brands even become synonyms for their offering. One example is Google when it comes to search engines.

Most online stores will not make it quite that far. But that is not necessary. How can brands still make it into the consciousness of the relevant customers?

This is where we enter the big playing field of content marketing in the classic sense: relevant, helpful, excellently prepared content aimed at the beginning of research and decision-making. The aim here is not to sell, but to build trust. Content marketing is seen as a means of community building in order to build up a positively attuned readership. They should be much more open to your offers. You can find out whether they actually are by sending out special newsletters, for example: Does this group react differently to users, for example, which you reach via Google Ads?

Which of these formats and ideas are right depends entirely on the target group and the competitive situation:

  • What do the people you want to reach expect and like?
  • Where can they be found?
  • How easy or difficult is it for you to get attention here?

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to ensure that your online store is found in search engines. Examples include blog posts, how-to articles and other helpful content.

One option is a corporate blog or corporate magazine: a separate section on the website where people can find useful and helpful posts . Another option is to publish this content directly in the online store. This means that content and offers are more closely interlinked. However, the content is not as easy to find. This link can also make it appear more promotional than it should.

Either way, search engine optimization plays an important role for stores. In addition to the general tips on SEO, we would also like to give you an exciting tip: It's worth taking a look at schema markup. This allows you to mark up and display product information, for example, so that it appears directly in the search results (e.g. Google Shopping).

social media marketing

Activities on social media are ideal for making a store better known without selling anything directly and immediately. A good mix of promotional, informative and entertaining posts is important here.

More content marketing ideas

  • Use clever email marketing to draw attention to your online store and attract potential customers even before they have a concrete need.
  • Address different groups of people with useful explanatory graphics or helpful videos. These are also good ways to draw attention to yourself via different platforms and channels.
  • Design your accessible website and optimize it for mobile devices. After all, the most relevant content is of no use if it is difficult or impossible to access for significant parts of your user base.

Ultimately, the basic idea is to draw positive attention to yourself in various ways. Prospective customers will look at your social accounts and your website. Last but not least, clever storytelling helps you stand out from other providers.

Storytelling in marketing

What is storytelling? How do I integrate it into my online store? We address these and other questions in our article on storytelling in stores. Get started and boost your sales.

Consideration: Helpfully available at site

In the second phase, the people concerned have already learned a lot about possible solutions to their problem. They most likely have several solutions to choose from, which they are now comparing. Your task now is to make the most convincing offer. And that is not always the cheapest price. First-class service and a good reputation also play an important role.

  • Write helpful product descriptions to stand out positively. Especially if many other stores have the same or at least similar products and offers.
  • Use comparison tables, application examples and similar content to help your prospects make the right decision.
  • Integrate customer ratings and reviews that convey a feeling for the products and at the same time underline the trustworthiness and quality of your online store. Here we are in the area of user-generated content: content that is created by users .

Decision: Addressing final questions and concerns

At this stage, an interested person has basically made their decision but has not yet ordered. This is a critical time. Now it's your job to address as many questions and concerns as possible in your online store.

Detailed product information

Therefore, make sure that you provide detailed product information. This is one reason why complete product brochures can often be found on an e-commerce website in addition to the basic key data. Remember our tip from the beginning? The content takes on the role of an advisor.

Personal service

Of course, you have the option of offering personal service at this point, for example via a hotline or a contact form. However, bear in mind that such services can be cost-intensive if you want to provide them reliably and around the clock.

Some people will also not spend time sending a message or calling. This is especially true if the store's products and offers are available elsewhere. The competition is then just a quick click away.

FAQ area, knowledge database & instructions

It is therefore better if visitors to the online store receive their answers directly on the website. Therefore, set up at least one FAQ section that deals with the most frequently asked questions. Depending on the product group and industry, a knowledge database, documentation or instructions can be helpful. Some people will want such in-depth information before they make a purchase. So make sure that they are not only available, but also easy to find.

Elements for trust and reliability

You should take the following aspects to heart to make your store appear reputable, secure and tried and tested:

  • Inform your customers about shipping and payment information. If you don't know the store yet, take a closer look here.
  • If you offer a money-back guarantee and similar supportive offers and measures, make these as clear as possible.
  • Show social proof, for example in the form of testimonials, to inspire the last critics.

Once you have considered all of this and gained new customers, you can be happy, but you can't sit back and relax just yet. Because just as critical as the decision phase is the subsequent retention phase.

Retention: When new customers become fans

Immediately after the purchase, there is the difficult situation of buyer's remorse. This is particularly the case with large purchases, but can also apply to smaller purchases: Your customers question at that moment whether they have made the right decision.

If you forget this important phase, you will be confronted with complaints more often. Customers could even leave and the trust you have painstakingly built up will be lost. In the worst-case scenario, these people will vent publicly, for example on social media. And this in turn can cause lasting damage to your image if people who are still at an early stage of their customer journey stumble across it.

Realize that your work is not done with a sale. In many ways, it is just beginning. This is one reason why the customer journey is not visualized as a timeline with a beginning and an end, but as a cycle.

At the same time, the positive view applies here: If you succeed in inspiring your new customers, you can gain loyal and long-term fans. Not only will they bring you recurring business, which is much more profitable than attracting new customers. They can even become multipliers who recommend your store and your offers to others.

  • Offer your customers helpful instructions. These can take the form of text, but can also include photos, audio or video.
  • Delight your customers with first-class customer support - both in person and via suitable content.
  • Engage your customers via a newsletter and offer regular content with added value.

Key figures for measuring the success of your online store

In addition to targeted content marketing measures, targeted performance measurement is very important. This is the only way to determine whether your activities are profitable or not.

Evaluation of content marketing measures

How much return is your content marketing generating? How do you find out whether your content activities are contributing to your goals? In our article, we show you how you can measure success.

Conversion rate

An important metric is the conversion rate, i.e. the proportion of all visitors who perform a desired action. At this point, don't just think about purchases, but also about the phases of the customer journey beforehand. For example, you can measure how many people subscribe to a newsletter or download a product brochure after reading a post. Such micro conversions are important measurement data for gaining as comprehensive a picture as possible.

Bounce rate, time spent & pages viewed

Another interesting measured value is the bounce rateHow many visitors leave your website after just one visit to site? It also includes the time spent on the website or the number of subpages viewed.

Customer satisfaction surveys

Not all interesting and relevant values can be determined fully automatically. Here it is often a good idea to provide small surveys that ask visitors about their satisfaction with a piece of content or process, for example.

At the same time, you have to live with a certain degree of uncertainty. There is no combination of metrics that will show you with 100% certainty where and how your content is working.
Example: A person clicks on your Facebook ad and buys something because they have already got to know your store through helpful articles. In Analytics, it looks as if the ad brought in the new business. In reality, however, it was the content that created the necessary trust.

Find out more about this interesting topic in my article on content KPIs. Ultimately, it is important to approach this task with the right attitude: You want to inform your potential customers as well as possible and be available to them at site . If this is the yardstick for your content work, you are definitely on the right track.

Excursus: Amazon platform vs. own store

Are you still at the beginning and thinking about which channel you should use to offer your products and services? We would like to help you decide whether it is worth having your own store or whether selling solely via the established platform Amazon is sufficient.

We have already mentioned above brands that are becoming synonymous with what they offer. Amazon is certainly an example of this when it comes to e-commerce. Many people search here first when they want to buy something. Nevertheless, it can still make sense to (also) operate your own store. What are the arguments in favor of having your own online store?

  • You remain independent of the sometimes unpredictable changes in direction of a large platform.
  • You have the chance to stand out from the crowd with your specialist expertise and service. The e-commerce giant Amazon is one of the largest general stores in the history of mankind. It is not always easy for customers to make the right purchase decision in the jungle of products on offer. The range often seems chaotic and confusing. With their own online stores, however, small stores can specialize and offer an individual service. A specialist store for musical instruments, for example, could respond much more individually to the needs of its own customers, explain the products better and be available to answer questions. A giant like Amazon cannot do this because it does not "scale". Amazon's strength is mass, not class.
  • You can literally show your store's face, for example by having specialist advisors give a personal Comment on review of a product or category. One key to this is the right content marketing for online stores.

Conclusion: Content marketing for online stores

Let's summarize once again: In times of saturated markets and homogeneous offers, content marketing is the needle in the haystack to set yourself apart from the competition. Content should not only convince people to buy, but also cover all phases of the customer journey.

In the awareness phase, you should rely on social media, email and search engine marketing and provide accessible infographics and videos. The consideration phase is all about providing potential customers with product descriptions, comparison tables, application examples and reviews at site . In the next, hot Decision phase, you should provide detailed product information (e.g. descriptions, knowledge base, FAQ) and information on payment and shipping conditions to put the icing on the cake. But that's not the end of your work: the retention phase is all about converting your customers into loyal fans by offering instructions, support and newsletters.

And don't forget to track your measures. This will help you find your long-term recipe for success in content marketing for online stores.

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