Flying blind in eCommerce: Is your content actually driving sales?

The internet is full of stats about why content marketing works. As per Demand Metrics 70 percent of consumers feel a closer connection to a brand as a result of content marketing. 72 percent of customers believe they form a relationship with a brand as a result of custom content. And the kicker? The average conversion rate of sites with content marketing is 2.9 percent compared to 0.5 percent for sites without.

Content as a silver bullet?

However content marketing isn't the silver bullet it's often presented as especially without the correct framework or methodology. Plus the internet is saturated with content. Stories go viral and fade into oblivion within the span of a couple of days. According to the Content Marketing Institute's 2018 study only 24 percent of respondents rate their content as very or extremely successful. But what about the other 76 percent? For every point in flavor of content marketing there's a counterpoint against; a whole slew of passionate marketers arguing for the case that best suits them. You might already be creating great content but is it converting? Do you have the framework in place to establish full-funnel reporting? Do you know where shoppers are entering and where they are exiting your sales funnel? Where they are making purchases and what's influencing them?

How to create content marketing that sells

The content marketing that finds its way onto many 'best of' lists tends to take an editorial magazine-style approach with gorgeous design and features that are meant to be consumed. Mr Porter a men's fashion e-tailer pairs great journalism with a strong visual style in a 'Journal' that's more akin to a men's lifestyle magazine. However it also works to cross the divide between the 'whizz-bang' of interviewing famous faces like John Legend and the reality of eCommerce conversion by integrating a click-to-shop product experience. Why aspire to be John Legend when you can dress just like him thanks to Mr Porter? Likewise tech giant Intel takes content and makes it work on a staggering scale with iQ its online hub. With three million unique visitors a month iQ is comprised of 18 distinct international sites each targeted and localized to its region. The iQ team follow an editorial bible that sets out the ethos of its approach. But most impressive of all? While traffic is the main metric conversions are the ultimate KPI as the brand mixes high-quality sales content alongside long-form articles aimed to entertain. The lesson? Approach content half-heartedly and your results will be half-hearted; the inverse is true too. Successful content marketing works for five reasons:

  1. It raises brand awareness.
  2. It creates a pipeline of data for retargeting.
  3. It builds lists for email marketing.
  4. It can be reused (with context) on social media.
  5. It improves SEO which in turn improves your rankings organic traffic and ultimately the number of conversions you get.

We've written before about leveraging holiday shoppers so they become long-term customers and much of that advice applies to how you approach content too:

  • Like Mr Porter utilise cross-selling in your content.
  • Use your content to grow your email subscription base i.e. add a sign-up pop-up or bar at the end/in the sidebar of your content.
  • Utilise the psychology of urgency i.e. shop now before it's gone.

How to create content that converts

As well as the above you should emphasize the following.

1. Use emotive language

Emotional language is one of the fastest paths to conversion. You want to encourage your audience to react to add something to a cart or to subscribe to your newsletter. Your goal is to create desire. For many e-tailers it's about creating and selling a lifestyle. Mr Porter teams up with super-cool celebrities like John Legend and Lenny Kravitz to create a connection but also to showcase a very particular lifestyle. This lifestyle creates desire (or even envy) which in turn prompts the target audience to consider the products. Likewise the fear of missing out self-improvement and social-proof are all useful for conversion. Be prepared to persuade!

2. Increase the relevancy and clarity

Intrinsically knowing your target audience is the biggest part of creating content that works. Your content needs to appeal to your customer's needs and concerns. For example if you've provided video content make it shoppable so that your audience can shop the look. It's the backbone of Mr Porter's strategy because it works.

3. Person not pitches

You might think that you should approach your content with the intention of using it to explain why your product/service/company is the best or worth investing in but that's not necessarily a strategy that converts. Take an editorial approach and create content that resonates with the audience because they can see themselves in it and not because you've created an elaborate ad. Ted Baker did this with its 2017 'Meet The Bakers' 360-degree video campaign. The Bakers a Stepford-style couple who reside on Tailor Lane (of course) lived a curated life in a beautiful home designed to appeal to the brand's fans. As you pinched and zoomed around their home you saw them in a variety of scenarios and outfits all of which were shoppable from your screen. Clever and compelling it told a story and set the brand agenda.

4. Close with a strong call to action

Your call to actions are your path to conversion. CTAs that will drive higher conversions will feature visible legible buttons as opposed to linked text and compelling copy urging your user to take an action. Visually they will stand out from the rest of your page. What's also crucial is that you don't adopt a 'get it and forget it' strategy: test your CTAs your buttons your copy and your placement to see what works best.

How to track content marketing

If you don't have full transparency over your content it can be difficult to tell if it's actually working. A 360-view of your data will inform your content and your spend and it'll provide the transparency you need to determine if your content is driving sales. The steps of tracking your content breaks into the following:

1. Determine your KPIs and metrics

Your KPIs and metrics will determine the success of your content marketing efforts. It's not enough to create great content: you need visibility on its performance. If you're starting from scratch set specific timely and relevant goals and match your metrics to boot. For example if you want to grow email subscribers you'll measure conversion rates and the size of your contact list. Or if you want to grow sales you'll measure direct sales linked to specific content.

2. Audit your content

Document your content by platform: social website offline etc. Once it's all documented you'll need to go through your content and assess what's working and what isn't. Is everything optimized for SEO and for relevancy and clarity? Is it well written and interesting? Most of all: does it serve a purpose? When it comes to your eCommerce efforts analysing the content you that's driving sales is vital. Track this through your analytics tools and once you've identified high-converting blogs or articles organise them into content suites. For example you may find that FAQ-style pieces which answer basic customer queries and which have compelling CTAs to purchase work well for you. The next step is to create more content around high-converting topics to drive even more purchase intent.

3. Set up your analytics and track track track

Whether you're using Google Analytics Facebook's reporting dashboard and pixel an integrated analytics dashboard like HubSpot or something else entirely make sure your data is tracking properly. Analyze it adapt it and improve your content so it converts effectively. If you're an etailer using third-party sellers you'll get even better visibility with a 'Buy Now' button. Add the button to your site and you'll be able to track your visitors and the steps they take. Information is power so use it!

Want to effectively track your content?

ChannelSight's Buy Now technology enables brands across the world to increase sales conversions and market share. With clear 'Buy Now' call-to-action buttons brands can monetise content across all channels and offer online shoppers an improved shopping experience with quick and easy options to purchase products they want from their preferred retailer. If you want to better understand your conversion strategy and improve your ROI get in touch today to see how we can help you. Or alternatively watch our on demand webinar on how leveraging digital content can help you increase sales.

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