Content marketing is the secret ecommerce weapon most of your competitors are failing to use properly.
Success is no longer just about product pages. Building out your blog will help:
- Generate an evergreen flow of free, targeted, quality traffic.
- Showcase your products solving specific problems.
- Drive up loyalty, repeat purchases and customer lifetime value.
But only if you do it strategically.
This guide to ecommerce content marketing will help you do just that. Providing you with the knowledge to develop a sales-driving content marketing strategy, create SEO-optimised content and build relevant backlinks to your articles.
Table of Contents
- What is ecommerce content marketing?
- Step 1: Customer personas & journey
- Step 2: How to find keyword ideas
- Step 3: Creating content for your ecommerce store
- Step 4: Building backlinks to get your content ranking
- Step 5: Tracking content performance
- Step 6: Promoting content elsewhere
- Ecommerce content marketing final thoughts
Download a printable version
What is ecommerce content marketing?
Just so we’re all on the same page, ecommerce content marketing is about creating content assets (blogs, PDFs, podcasts, etc.) with the specific intention of:
- Engaging people at various buyer journey stages (more on this next).
- Nudging them along the path to making a purchase.
This isn’t to say simply driving people direct to a product page doesn’t work (because it does).
Step 1: Customer personas & the customer journey
To develop an effective ecommerce content marketing strategy, you need to understand your customers.
Most businesses create a customer persona prior to running a marketing campaign. And it should include information like age, location, interests, and gender.
The customer persona is an essential part of a business development strategy. It will help you identify what your customer would be interested in at each stage of the customer journey.
It’s important to create content for each stage of the customer journey. There are five stages:
- Awareness. You become aware that a specific problem exists.
- Consideration. You start looking at and comparing solution options.
- Purchase. You buy a product to solve the problem.
- Retention. You continue to engage with content from the company.
- Advocacy. You refer friends or colleagues to the business.
At the top of the funnel is awareness.
People in the awareness phase tend to make more general search terms – for example, ‘running tracks in London.’ These search terms are often less competitive as they have less immediate value for a business.
In the middle of the customer journey, you have the purchase phase – for example, ‘Nike running shoes.’ These buying terms are generally harder to rank for but have a high ROI.
Your content marketing strategy should target a mix of keywords from each stage of the customer journey. You’ll want to create relevant keyword focused articles, sales pages, and guides. This content will help you engage visitors and generate sales.
So that’s the theory covered.
Step 2: How to find keyword ideas
Your customer persona should give a starting idea of their main interests in relation to your products.
It’s now time to check that people are searching for these phrases. You do this using keyword research tools.
Keyword research tools are used to find out what people search for online and how many people search for these terms. The most widely used free tool is Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner is easy to use – log in with a Gmail account and enter your keyword ideas. The tool provides you with a list of related search terms based on what you entered.
When coming up with keyword ideas, focus on the first two columns:
- Keyword by Relevance displays a list of potential keywords to target based on what you searched for.
- Average Monthly Searches is the monthly number of searches for this keyword averaged out over the year.
You can also add filters to Keyword Planner, with Location being a popular one. This is an essential filter if you’re running a local retail store or only ship to and serve certain countries.
These all do a similar job to Keyword Planner. But can make it much easier to organise and track your keyword performance, and spy on competitor rankings.
I also use Keywords Everywhere, which is a paid browser extension helping you come up with keyword ideas as you browse the web:
At the end of this process, you simply want a long list of relevant keywords and/or phrases to target.
Take all the ideas from your research tool and either create a list in the software itself, or export to a spreadsheet.
As you come up with keyword ideas, you’ll also want to list down the keyword difficulty. This is a score from 0-100 ranking a phrase for how hard it will be to rank for – we’ll move onto why this is important later on.
How to steal your competitors’ best content ideas
The tactics shared in the previous section involve coming up with content ideas independently. Of course, you can always steal the content marketing strategy of your competitors.
To do this, you’ll need access to one of the premium SEO tools mentioned earlier.
Using an SEO tool like Ahrefs, you can review a competitor’s site to find their most visited pieces of content. Just go to Site Explorer, enter the competitor domain and select Top Pages down the left:
You’ll then see their top pages and what keywords they rank for. Plus, there’s a whole host of other analysis you can do too.
You can also use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify the most popular content on a site based on social shares.
Step 3: Creating content for your ecommerce store
Now that you have a list of keywords to target, you’ll need to start creating the content. Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, review what is already ranking for these terms in the search results.
Let’s go back to the hypothetical running store.
You might decide to write an article on how to stop your shoes from smelling. This phrase gets 720 searches a month:
A quick review of the search results on the first page reveals:
- The majority of the articles in the search results are list posts offering different tips.
- The article ranking in position one is only 558 words.
So you can hypothesise that to have a good chance of ranking for this phrase, you should create a list post that is at least as long and as useful as the ranking piece of content. Ideally, you’d go 2-3 times as long and more useful.
This research helps you understand the kind of content you should create.
Once you’ve completed your research you need to start writing.
It’s useful to provide writers with some guidelines. Here is a summary of the guidelines I provide to my writers:
- Imagine you are writing for a university graduate who speaks English as a second language.
- Lay out your article with headings before you start writing. This gives your article structure.
- Keep paragraphs under five lines and use bucket brigades.
- Mix up the length of your sentences to make your content engaging. Like this.
- Use the Hemingway App to check how hard your content is to understand, and Grammarly to catch typos.
The above are general writing tips. I also provide an SEO guide for writers. This includes:
- Use your keyword in the URL, headline, headings, and once every five or so paragraphs.
- Add relevant internal and external links to your content.
- Create a catchy meta headline and meta description.
- Add optimised images every seven or so paragraphs to break up the chunks of text.
The above is the kind of tips the Yoast WordPress plugin provides for writing content. As you can see, the fundamentals of writing engaging SEO optimised content isn’t too complicated.
But that’s not to say it’s simple. So let’s cover four of the above points in a bit more depth below…
Mastering keyword density
As mentioned above, the basics are to use your keyword in:
- The URL.
- And once every five or so paragraphs.
Optimising internal links for sales
You need to think about moving users from your blog to a product page to be successful with ecommerce content marketing. Ultimately, this is how your content efforts are going to pay off.
You do this through relevant internal linking:
To interlink from content to sales/product pages, add a couple of calls to action for relevant products. Do this within the first third of the article, and then again as a final CTA.
This is about subtlety. Your posts should primarily be out to help readers solve problems they have related to your niche, with a gentle nudge to any relevant product pages.
Of course, these posts always mention to use their coffee for everything. Like this one about making ice coffee:
Zoma are another excellent example of ecommerce content marketing in action.
They sell high quality mattresses and pillows. And have a blog packed full of useful info on choosing bedding and sleep equipment.
And just like CRU Kafe, they’ll always subtly mention and link to their products in the posts.
Like this one on choosing the best mattress:
You can find a comprehensive article on internal linking strategies on the Yoast blog.
Optimising images for page speed
Every time a person accesses your website, they request information about the page from your servers.
The larger the size of the file, the longer it takes for the request to be fulfilled. The longer it takes for your content to load, the higher the percentage of people who leave your site.
One of the most substantial parts of a web page is the image files.
There are a lot of different things you can do to optimise your image files. At the very least, resize your images using an online tool like Pixlr.
And for regular blog post images, aim for a file size of 200 kb or less.
Three further things you can do to optimise page load times include:
- Defer the loading of images until a person on the page needs them. This is called Lazy Loading.
- Host your pictures on a sub-domain or CDN. This speeds up the load time of the images.
- Create responsive images. This means different image sizes are loaded by default for mobile, desktop, and tablet.
Optimising images doesn’t technically fall into the remit of content marketing. However, it is an essential part of optimising your content for the internet (and search engines).
How to optimise metadata for SEO
Metadata is information about your page, which appears in the search results. You have:
- The meta headline, which is your site’s title.
- The meta description, which is the text that appears underneath.
If that’s not clear, here’s an example:
To get results, you need to:
- Make your meta-data enticing and clickable.
- Create a custom meta headline and meta description for each post.
- Include your target keyword in the meta title to help with ranking.
- Include your target keyword in the description so it becomes bold and stands out in results pages.
Both meta-titles and descriptions have length limits – but you can use a tool like this to help.
Download a printable version
Step 4: Building backlinks to get your content ranking
Once your ecommerce content marketing campaign is up and running, you want to get your articles ranking. This means building links to your content.
Initially you should shortlist a couple of posts to promote. If you have a small team of marketers, pick up to five articles.
You’ll then need to review how difficult it will be to get that content ranking. This involves analysing the backlink profile of ranking content.
You can review the backlink profile of any page using an SEO tool like Ahrefs backlink checker:
SEO tools use various metrics to measure quality. The three most widely used metrics, which rank sites on a scale of 0-100, are:
- Domain Authority (DA): rating system used by Moz.
- Domain Rating (DR): rating system used by Ahrefs.
- Trust Flow: this is a score developed by Majestic.
Domain Authority and Domain Rating are fundamentally the same things: They measure the power of a domain.
Trust Flow meanwhile is a measure of the trustworthiness of a backlink. This essentially tracks how many spammy links a site has relative to quality links.
You should review the backlinks of your competitors to see how many authoritative and relevant links they have. At the risk of oversimplifying SEO, one of the most important ranking metrics is the number of authoritative, relevant and trustworthy (ART) links a page has.
To improve your overall rankings, you will need to generate these types of backlinks to your content.
There are two main ways to do this:
- Guest post on third party sites.
- Ask for a link insert on an existing piece of content.
(You can also make an infographic filled with relevant stats and research in order to attract general backlinks to your site to build up your overall Domain Authority.)
Of course, not all links are created equal.
You ideally want to collect links from relevant sites close to your niche that have the following metrics:
- DA/DR 50+
- Trust Flow 20+
- Traffic 5,000+
But any link that’s relevant and not spammy will have a positive impact.
The easiest way to find sites with these metrics is to review the backlink profile of an authoritative website in your niche. You can then export a list of referring domains to manually review:
You can now use outreach software to contact the site owners asking for a guest post.
This is the template that I use when pitching a guest post:
The email could probably be a bit shorter, but the copy works – just put your personal spin on it. There’s a nice article on Voila Norbert with tips on how to write professional emails.
When you’ve secured a guest post opportunity, make sure you write a great article that does you justice. When building backlinks, follow a couple of common-sense rules:
- Don’t build too many links back to a single piece of content in a short period of time.
- Vary your anchor text. Sometimes it can be relevant, sometimes it can be random.
- Don’t always link to the same piece of content.
Essentially, you don’t want to do anything that would raise red flags to Google et al. By implementing this guest post strategy, you’ll slowly generate relevant links to your content – and increase your search rankings.
Step 5: Tracking content performance
The final stage of your ecommerce content marketing strategy involves reviewing how people engage with your content. This means considering any negative feedback, and improving your content accordingly.
There are a couple of parts to this process.
Firstly, regularly review what people are doing on your page via Google Analytics. Keep an eye on:
- Bounce Rate. The number of people who visited your page and left without clicking onto another piece of content.
- Time on Page. The amount of time a person spent on the page. The less time they spent, the less value your content offered.
- User Flow. Where the visitor goes after visiting your page. (Do they exit? Or go on to product pages?)
So pay attention to making your content engaging, useful and to the point.
Step 6: Promoting content elsewhere
It’s not just about getting your content ranking in Google.
Over time, you’ll (hopefully) create a bank of genuinely useful articles for your target audience. So it would be madness not to use these assets as much as you can.
Make sure to try:
- Using a scheduling tool (like Buffer or Hootsuite) to regularly spread content across social channels.
- Sharing your content in relevant Facebook groups and forums where possible.
- Driving paid social ads to content to push them into the top of your funnel.
- Retargeting visitors who didn’t buy with ads to your content.
- Setting up email flows with a tool like Klaviyo to re-engage buyers immediately post-purchase using your content.
Ecommerce content marketing final thoughts
The ecommerce content marketing strategies in this post will get you on the right track. But to make it work you need to be strategic, write genuinely useful articles and (perhaps most importantly) be consistent.
Once you’ve committed, do whatever it takes to publish posts regularly. That means either outsourcing to professional writers via a platform like Upwork, or putting in the effort in-house.
Do it right and it could have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Download a printable version
Want to save a hard copy of this post for later? Download a PDF version to print, read offline or share with co-workers.