If you run an ecommerce website, then you don’t need anyone to tell you that obtaining backlinks is hard work.
Why would anyone want to link to a product page after all?
But there is a way that smart ecommerce marketers can get backlinks and build authority, whilst also dramatically increasing conversions.
It’s a predictable, repeatable process based on simple principles and reusable templates.
And best of all, it’s something that you can put into action today.
Simply put, it looks something like this:
Great Content + Structured Outreach = More Traffic and Higher Conversion Rates.
Sounds too good to be true?
Well, it’s not and we’ve developed the Definitive Guide to Ecommerce Content Marketing which explains how it’s all done.
Ecommerce content marketing – why bother?
In recent years there has been an arms race between the SEO community and Google. Google finally took the nuclear option back in 2012 with Penguin and Panda which made life for ecommerce store owners even more difficult.
Suddenly, natural links from authority sites was the order of the day.
Now we all know that links are important for a good ranking, but getting links to ecommerce product pages has become even harder.
That is where ecommerce content marketing comes to the rescue because it enables you to do exactly that – build high quality links from a wide variety of reputable external sites.
And here’s how you do it…
The foundations of ecommerce content marketing
Before you get started you will need to create a buyer persona. This is an avatar that you can create to visualise your ideal client. You’ll need to understand their needs, their desires and their concerns so that you can create content that addresses these points.
You will also need to consider a buyer’s journey so that you understand their mindset. Typically this includes:
- Awareness – understanding that they require a solution for a problem, need or desire
- Consideration – what options or alternatives are available?
- Decision – having considered the alternatives they have made a decision
Once you have these, then you need to consider what is the purpose of your content and you have two main options:
- Content for Backlinks and Authority
- Content for Conversion
Let’s consider the options and look at the types of content you can create.
Content for backlinks and authority
It would be nice if we could easily create some content, publish it on our blog and get backlinks to it. That would be the logical extension of the belief that Google just gives more traffic to websites that publish regularly.
Unfortunately it just doesn’t work like that, otherwise everyone would be doing it and we would be back to the dark old days of article marketing.
Publishing regularly isn’t always a good thing. Thin content that has a high bounce rate might even be harming you
But as we said above if you create great content AND you perform great outreach then you are going to get those all important high quality backlinks.
So, before you start creating any content the first thing you will need is a list of influencers. These are the established authorities and the up and coming bloggers in and around your industry and marketplace.
Now they don’t need to be writing specifically about your products or services but they will have an audience of your ideal clients. They will also have an established blog, be creating high quality content and have an engaged community of followers on social media.
When we look at outreach we’ll look at the options available, but firstly you just need to create a list of influencers. Using a tool like Buzzsumo can help you achieve this.
From this you can search for terms related to your niche, for example “clothing” + “blogger” and this will bring up a list of people who contain these two keywords in their Twitter bio.
You are also able to sort these by relevancy, number of followers or by retweet/reply ratio. Additionally you can create lists to store these people and monitor your relationships with them.
Now you can start to create your content. And there are several formats you can use.
- Definitive Guides – Anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 words in length these are a proven way to attract links now
- Guest Post – The death of guest blogging has been greatly exaggerated. Find people via Buzzsumos content research tool
- List Based Content – We all love lists. Easy to create and share they are proven to earn links for you
- Expert Round Up – Once you have established some relationships with your influencers, what better way to create authority content than by including their views on a chosen subject
- Awards – Whether you create awards around products or even best of type content, featuring your influencers in your awards are excellent ways to get shares and backlinks
- Product Comparisons – People are pushed for time and they don’t have time to explore all of the options. Comparison type content allows you to impartially explain the differences and help them decide, whilst positioning you as a trusted expert
- Infographics – In some cases they are an overused option, but when done well an infographic can attract backlinks and social shares
Content for conversion rates
As an ecommerce merchant the aim is to sell and this is where conversion based content can really make a difference.
Likewise, there are several proven content types you can work with:
- The ‘How To’ Product Guide – With a foot in both the traffic and conversion camps, a well prepared ‘How to’ guide allows you to be perceived as a helpful expert.
- Buyers’ Guides – A Buyer’s Guide allows you to set the benchmark in your prospect’s mind against which your competitors are measured. This puts you in a strong position when it’s decision time
- Video – Want a conversion increase of up to 80%? Then get video onto your product pages. There are loads of quick, low cost options that allow you to convert existing content into video or if you’re really stuck then just jump on the unboxing bandwagon
- Case Studies – Take your prospects on a before and after journey where your existing clients are centre stage to show that you can back up your claims that you can deliver results
- User Generated Content (UGC) – Increasingly important, UGC is the authentic voice of your clients. Pure solid gold when it comes to improving conversions
- Reviews – It used to be the case that getting reviews was for leading edge businesses to try to get an edge in their market. But the rise of TripAdvisor and TrustPilot mean that genuine reviews are no longer nice to have – they are the vital social proof that you can deliver what you say you can. Just don’t be shy about asking for them and don’t just focus on one review site
Click image to open interactive version (via Eommerce Content Marketing).
Plan ahead with a content calendar
Whether you use an excel spreadsheet or a specialised content calendar, you’re going to have to commit to creating content over the longer term. The more content you create the better you’ll get at it.
Initially just create some outline ideas with headlines and think about the type of content format you want to create.
Also think about your influencers – outreach takes time and you don’t want to leave that until the last minute so the sooner you start reaching out and building relationships the better.
Whatever format you decide and for whatever purpose, one fundamental point you will need to consider is that visuals are important, even more so if you want shares and backlinks.
Let’s be frank, attractive content is going to attract more shares and backlinks. The proof is in the fact that the most shared content in social media is visual.
But equally important is just the pragmatic repurposing of content. It takes time, effort and money to create content so you want to get as much use out of it as possible and that is where visual repurposing comes in.
Here are some options for you to consider:
- Slides – Slideshare gets some serious traffic and creating a set of slides around your content is a quick and easy option
- PDF – Not so great for SEO. However, PDFs are really popular and easy to create and offer for download in return for contact details, such as Veeqo’s Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Marketing
- Video – Just created a Definitive Guide, Buyer’s Guide or a great article? Why not compliment it with a video and create a blog post around it with the embedded video from your YouTube channel like the example below
- Audio – Audio is easy to create and the podcasting renaissance means that audio still has a vital role to play in the content landscape
- Infographics – We’ve looked at them in their own right, but is there a way that you can visually interpret your content?
Optimising your content
It would be such a waste if you spend a load of time creating content only to fall at the final hurdle by not optimising it. This is especially important for any content posted on your blog or website.
Here’s a quick checklist:
- Headline – make it attention grabbing
- Keywords – Identify the ones you are targeting
- Optimised metatags
- Optimised Title and Headings
- Keyword included in headings
- Images optimised
- Keywords are used in the text
- Internal link to other internal pages
- Link to Influencers’ content
- Social sharing buttons included and visible
- Check for mobile friendliness and fast load speed
Once your content is ready you need to take it on a roadshow. The aim is to get as many eyeballs on it as possible – especially your influencers.
Here’s how you do it.
Remember that list of influencers, you need to start following them on social media, sign up to their blogs, start commenting on their latest blog posts, make friends with their community and generally participate in their conversations.
For serious industry bloggers this may take time and patience, but with some bloggers and industry blogs this can be a quick process.
If you are linking out to your influencers in your content then you should get a favourable response most times just by emailing them to let them know.
Once you have a dialogue, just ask them if they could share your content with their followers
The type of content you are creating will hopefully be of high quality and visually attractive. So remember to promote one week, one month, three months, six months, after the initial publication.
So that’s how you can develop a long term content marketing strategy for your ecommerce site using proven content formats.
So are you using ecommerce content marketing yet or do you have plans to introduce it to your marketing sometime soon? Share your thoughts below.
Tony Messer is the CEO and Co-Founder of UK Web Hosting company Pickaweb. The author of two books The Lazy Website Syndrome and The Website Survival Kit, Tony is passionate about helping businesses of all size get the most out of their online presence.
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- The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Content Marketing - 4th March 2016