Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is part of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise-level retail analytics and business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.
In the world of e-commerce, you’re always trying to bring customers to your site.
Once users arrive there, you obviously want them to purchase your products.
But the traditional methods of getting customers to your store don’t work in the world of e-commerce.
You won’t be advertising in the newspaper, for instance, or on the seat at a bus stop. You won’t print flyers or brochures to distribute.
Once you get customers to the store, you can’t greet them in person and ask them what they like about the store or how they found out about your business.
Want to know the best part?
There are other ways to attract customers, learn about your customers, and engage customers.
It’s through quality content on your website.
But just posting content won’t do it. You need to be strategic, and you need to measure your results so you can be constantly improving.
If that sounds scary, don’t worry.
Here’s our beginner’s guide to a data-driven content strategy, starting with understanding content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
In a nutshell, content marketing is telling a story about your business, and its products or services. Those with a compelling story will attract attention. But it’s not about telling one story.
It’s about a long-term strategy that will develop a relationship between you and your customers.
It’s about consistently delivering quality content that’s relevant to your customers and potential customers. It’s about building your brand by interacting with customers and developing their trust.
Using data to develop, monitor and tweak your strategy will help you save time and money because you’ll get quality content to the right audience. That will lead to conversions.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Get To Know and Understand Your Potential Customers
Start with the basics of any kind of marketing, developing customer personas. That’s relevant whether you sell one product or many. You need to understand your customers and potential customers before you can deliver content that will resonate with them.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Use Google Analytics to learn customer demographics like age, gender, location and income.
- Use Google Analytics to examine how customers behave on your website. For instance, how are they arriving there, what pages do they view while there, are there posts that are more popular than others, etc?
- Monitor social networks to see what kind of posts your readers like and share the most.
- Monitor your email campaigns to find out what topics receive the most click-throughs to your site.
These will all help you know your customers better and give you ideas for content topics.
2. Expand Your Knowledge of Your Industry
Whatever your business niche, expand your knowledge of what’s trending so that you can position yourself as a leader in your industry. This is known as content analysis and will help you understand what content will be of value to your customers.
Here’s how to put that into action:
- See what your major competitors are talking about on the web. We don’t mean you should copy your competition, just get an understanding of their content, challenges and successes.
- Use hashtags and topic keywords to examine social media for trending topics in your industry.
- Study negative comments about your industry, or challenges that are faced, for ideas on how you can help customers solve problems.
- Read industry forums, social media groups, and conference agendas, all of which can give you ideas for hot industry topics.
Use these various techniques to do keyword research by gathering key themes and threads in your industry. Expand that by doing searches for products in your industry. Think like a customer and collect that information.
3. Establish Goals
With that background information in hand, you can now establish goals for your content strategy.
That means for all your content, you need to define its appeal and purpose. What customers will it serve? What customers will find the content appealing?
You need to define your key business needs, your key customer needs, and how your content will address those needs.
You don’t create content for the sake of having content. Each blog post, social media post, and email campaign needs to have a purpose.
4. Create the Content
Now it’s time to get into the deliverables: the content itself.
Based on your research and the data you’ve gleaned from existing customers, website users, your industry and more, it’s time to develop the content.
By content, we don’t mean simply an article on your business. There are a lot of options available to you for addressing the needs of your customers.
Blog posts are a powerful way to bring new visitors to your site, and keep repeat visitors engaged. You can also use videos, FAQs, how-to guides, newsletters, emails and social media, to name a few.
For instance, let’s say you sell an aerosol product that lubricates automatic garage doors to keep them running smoothly. In your research phases, you learned about your target customers, about the challenges people have with automatic garage doors, and about complaints customers have about existing products.
Your strategy could include content such as:
- Blog posts on issues people have with keeping garage doors running properly – highlighting your product as a solution to good maintenance.
- How-to videos on using your product properly.
- Have customers sign up for a regular email newsletter with steps to proper garage door maintenance to help avoid issues.
- Create an infographic with the key steps to keeping your garage door running properly.
- Write an ebook on choosing the right garage door for your home.
You can even re-purpose your content, by using a blog post that you turn into a video, and then edit it to include in an email, which you also share in a newsletter.
And all of these can be highlighted on your social media profiles.
5. Blog More Than You Want
Your strategy has to include a regular schedule for creating and sharing content. It’s not enough to do one blog post a month. That will get you traffic, and generate more leads than you would with no content strategy.
But a good strategy needs more. You should aim for fresh content at least twice a week, for maximum effect. Just make sure the quantity doesn’t impact the quality. If you can only do one high-quality post a week, then that’s your goal.
You should establish an editorial calendar so that content creation is part of your regular work.
Your social media postings should be done on a constant basis as well.
But here’s the kicker:
Don’t overdo it with social media.
One or two posts a day with unique content is much more valuable than repeating the same posts, on the same platform, and copying them to every other platform.
Do analysis to find out the best times to post on various platforms. This could vary by social media but also depending on your target audience and industry.
If you don’t have access to that kind of information, you’ll have to figure it out yourself by monitoring the effectiveness of various posts and their timing.
And just because you’ve studied the data, and maybe even have the tools to automate some of your work, don’t lose your human element in your content and your engagement with customers.
Content marketing is still, at its core, about story-telling.
6. Measure, Evaluate and Adjust
As with any strategy, you need to measure how effective it is and where it needs adjustment.
Analyse which type of content resonates with customers, and create more of that.
Ways to do that include:
- Monitoring how much time users spend consuming your content.
- Watching the bounce rate for your content pages (when users land on the page and leave quickly).
- Tracking the number of new visitors that arrive at your site via your blog.
- Tracking the number of repeat visitors.
- Tracking which emails get the most click-throughs to your site.
- Following the journey of customers to conversion, so you understand what drove them to finally make a purchase.
- Watching social media to monitor the engagement of posts, such as likes, shares and mentions.
Then you can dedicate resources to those formats that are working and stop spending time on those that aren’t.
An effective content strategy is one of the best ways to generate new visitors to your website and increase conversions for your business.
But it’s not just about creating any kind of content and posting it.
It’s about understanding your audience and their needs.
It’s about creating quality content.
And, it’s about monitoring your effectiveness and making adjustments where necessary.
Our guide to a data-driven content strategy gives you the 6 steps to creating and delivering valuable content so that you can get customers “into the store.”
Time to work on your strategy!
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