How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide
Welcome to the digital age. Gone are the days where your marquee says it all and your store competes with a handful of vendors for local clientele.
The downside is that your business is now competing on the world’s stage, the upside is that your business has the ability to market it’s product to every consumer with internet access.
So how is it that you set yourself apart when you’re competing against thousands of vendors who sell the same or similar products? How do you cut through the noise and reach the consumer? How do you get that same consumer to frequent your business and become a lifelong customer or client?
The answer is found in creating a bulletproof content marketing strategy and executing an efficient and targeted campaign.
Your website is your storefront. We don’t just mean this in only the literal sense. Everything a potential customer observes and internalizes about your website speaks to who and what they will believe your brand to be.
First impressions can mean everything when thousands of websites are competing for your market share. Don’t let negligence lock you out of creating important consumer connection.
Much as a brick and mortar store with rude employees and poor merchandise organization would create a sense of distaste in a first world consumer, the importance of online branding is not lost on the e-commerce consumer.
Creating a content marketing strategy that resonates with customers isn’t as easy as you might think. Fortunately, the tools now available to online retailers make it possible to test consumer reactions, track data, and create a campaign with high conversion rates.
Finding Your Niche
Going too broad is one commonly made mistake by brands. Finding a sweet spot in a niche or underserved market is always a great choice for carving out an online market. If you don’t have billions in market capital, stop trying to compete with online superstores. They already have the market and the capital to outspend, out innovate and undercut your lowest prices.
You have to accept that consumers have infinite choices when it comes to buying products online. What you need to create is the motivation that keeps your customer from price checking your product against the prices of a major online retailer or searching out a good enough replacement.
To do this, you have to create a connection with your customer. You can also do this by convincing your customer of the unique nature of your product or scarcity of its availability.
Some websites choose to use widgets and apps that can be easily integrated into their retail platform. If you use a website platform like Shopify, you can easily add widgets that encourage customers to make a purchase.
These apps may include countdown timers that let the shopper know that the sale price they’re viewing is available for a limited time only. Other widgets may show shoppers an upsell option.
Upsell options may offer buyers a special discount if they choose to purchase more items. Other apps may show customers similar items that they may be interested in.
For a complete step by step guide to finding your niche, please check out the following guide:
How to Find Your Niche: Your Step-By-Step Guide for 2018
So how else do you create this drive and connection in your consumer base? You’ve got to get to know your customer.
Digital Marketing Insights
So who are your customers? Perhaps even more importantly, WHERE are your customers? Do they like Instagram or Facebook? Do they use Snapchat or stay off social media altogether?
What do they like? What other common interests do your consumer share? How can this insight help you create a more detailed consumer profile?
Our aim is to create a broad and detailed painting of a narrow market.
If you already know exactly who your target customer is and what they like without the use of data, great. You’ll have an opportunity to check your accuracy when you’re done fielding the data from your digital analytics.
Enter the Facebook Pixel. The Facebook Pixel is a unique marketing tool that allows you to create uniquely targeted ads that go straight to your target market.
To use the Facebook Pixel, you’ll need to input a simple line of code into your website’s HTML code. This tool will harvest priceless data from every visitor that comes to your website while still signed into their Facebook Account.
You can use this data to see what products your customers look at the most and what ads they best respond to. Once you’ve figured out your customer, it’s time to create the content that your data will be used to retarget.
Target and Retarget
Retargeting is another great aspect of digital analytics. Retargeting is the process of using ads to reach out to a customer who has previously purchased from your website or shown interest in your goods or services without following through with a purchase.
This insight not only helps you reach an audience that is interested in your products but also helps you create ads featuring the items they are most likely to buy.
You can even create specific ads that target people have put an item in their shopping cart but abandoned the item before check out. Maybe they’ll reconsider their choice once they know that they can use a coupon code… Pretty crazy, huh?
Creating The Content for Your Content Marketing Strategy
Facebook marketing data is the perfect vehicle to get your message to the consumer. Now we just have to figure out what your customer needs to hear before they book your services or buy your product.
Your data should give you a clear indicator of who your client is. Your next step is figuring out the ‘voice’ of your brand. The voice of your brand could be serious, sleek, and stoic or funny and lighthearted.
If you’re targeting millennials, your ads should look different than the ads you use to reach out to seniors. That’s not to say that your product can’t be sold to both sets of consumers, but by using targeted ads, you can ensure that unique ads show up on the feeds of different consumer groups.
SEO can be another great form of content marketing. SEO is an acronym for ‘search engine optimization’. Basically, it’s what search engine algorithms use to rank content.
Is your pet supply website on the 15th page of responses when you google ‘dog food store’? Chances are you aren’t using SEO. Search engine algorithms rank content based on what websites seem to be an authority on the topic.
This means, the more content your content host and the more times that the keyword ‘dog food store’ makes it into your content, the more likely your website is to rank highly in a web search that uses those keywords.
A great way to raise your search engine ranking is by adding a blog to your page. Yes. You too can blog. It doesn’t matter if you’re an online jewelry store or an Instagram celebrity, having an SEO blog on your website will help improve your website’s search engine ranking.
As a bonus, you can use your SEO content to motivate your buyer. If you’re a store that sells hair products, you may choose to include blog pieces that explain how to achieve certain looks or styles. You can promote several products that the buyer may not have considered previously.
With the way SEO works, it seems that the more content you have the better. Making sure you include terms that are relevant to search engine queries is important too. Using terms like ‘how to’ or ‘low price’ before your keyword is another smart move.
If you’re still feeling a bit lost on SEO concepts, that’s ok too. Marketing experts can often use AdWords to help you determine the more relevant keywords to your brand.
Further, if you don’t think blogging is your strength, there are services that can help you create content that speaks to your customer base. Relevant content that inspires and motivates your customer base is only a click away.
Make Your Own Graphics
Websites like Canva are a great place for business’ to create great marketing materials. The website is free to use and most templates are free or inexpensive. Websites like Canva are often also available in app form. This can give you the freedom to create mockups and brainstorm ideas when you are away from a computer or on a long wi-fi free flight.
Using these apps, you can create tools that will enable you to create graphics that speak to your market. Be careful not to overload your social media ads with words! Your advertising bids will go up on platforms like Facebook.
Because consumers like to look at pictures more than they like to look at pictures with words all over them, Facebook views photos that feature text will often end up costing you more.
Before making your ad, it’s always a good idea to look at the ads being run by your competitors. Look for common threads or themes in the ads used by your competitors.
Consider what makes your brand unique. Then attempt to incorporate your authentic branding into the strategies that seem to be working for multiple companies.
For best results, consult a marketing expert who has experience creating successful online marketing campaigns. They can help you avoid costly mistakes that could waste your valuable ad budget.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
Don’t put a lot of your ad budget behind a new advertisement without testing it first. You’ll want to run a variety of ads for a variety of markets to test performance before sinking any serious money into a single ad.
Your winning ad will reveal itself over time. Test and re-test! Double and triple check your audience selection until you’re running a narrow and targeted campaign. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted by Facebook ad audiences that seem large. You want to keep your audience relatively small and under 300,000 if possible.
Don’t run your ad to cold traffic. Make sure that you use the analytics available to you to create a targeted campaign aimed at people who have shown interest in your items or items from similar retailers.
If you are a service-based business, make sure the ads are only running in areas where you are able to offer your services. e.g. Don’t run nationwide ads if you are a plumbing business with a single location.
Are you happy with your online advertising and ready to scale your audience? Don’t go in without your hard earned social proof. Social proof is the term used to describe the likes and comments your ad has already received. This social proof helps build trust with the consumer.
No one wants to be the first customer on a sketchy looking dropshipping website. In a similar fashion, people are far less likely to click a link that hasn’t had any likes or shares.
Don’t lose your social proof when you decide to re-run a successful ad that did well in testing. Marketing experts can show you how to keep the social proof you gained in your market tests when you launch your larger campaign.
Building Your Best Campaign
For more insight into the world of content marketing strategy, it’s often best to contact an expert. If you have more than a few hundred dollars to spend on your marketing campaign, a marketing expert is your best choice when looking to avoid the waste associated with trial and error.
A marketing expert can save you and your company major ad dollars and avoid the pitfalls of potential errors.