So, you’ve set out to conquer the world of ecommerce, have you? Are you prepared to go up against top brands like Amazon, Groupon and Overstock? If not, here’s something you may need to hear: your competition is already out there, and they’re making their best efforts to outperform your business. What are you going to do about it? You’re going to fight, soldier! And I’m going to help you. First, we need to review what the competition is up to.

Now what

A recent report highlighted a few significant ecommerce trends in 2014. Have a look at the top five. Are you planning to incorporate these trends into your ecommerce business this year? If not, what’s stopping you?

  • Mobile. Sometime in 2014, mobile devices are expected to outnumber humans. All humans, everywhere. Hence, smart ecommerce business owners are making mobile-optimized websites and check-out a priority.
  • Free shipping. Well, did this shock you? We all want free stuff and your customers are no different. In 2014, ecommerce experts are planning to provide faster, no-cost shipping to clients across the globe.
  • Multichannel selling. Statistics indicate that as many as 66% of ecommerce businesses are planning to use multichannel selling in an effort to compete with leading brands.
  • E-payments. Due to the rise in mobile devices and smartphones, customers are seeking new and easy ways to make purchases on-the-go. Universal payment systems or “mobile wallets” are a trending topic for many ecommerce businesses as companies search for more convenient ways to encourage sales.
  • Content marketing. Perhaps the least expensive ecommerce trend in 2014 is an increased focus on content marketing. Companies around the globe are realizing that being seen by their audience is not solely dependent on SEO (thanks, Google), but should include helpful, engaging content.


Prepare to Prepare… Say What?

While I’m not much help providing your customers with free shipping, I can give you some advice on how to tailor your company’s content marketing strategy to maximize ROI, increase engagement and create conversions. Sound like a plan? Sweet!

Oh, there is one catch I forgot to mention. In order to succeed, you must prepare to prepare. What do I mean by that, you ask? Good question. I mean that preparing to create quality content entails a little bit of pre-preparation. Come with me as we explore the four steps you need to take to prepare to prepare.


1. Create Goals

As obvious as this might seem, too many companies struggle to receive desired results because they’re not sure what those results actually are. Why are you investing in content marketing? Are you trying to increase sales, inspire engagement or generate leads? Content marketing can do a lot of things, but unless you’re specific about your goals, you won’t get the results you desire.

2. Discover Audience

Hopefully I’m telling you something you already know. If that’s the case, please forgive me and move on to #3. But, if you’re unsure of who your audience is, what they want and why they should value your brand, your content marketing efforts won’t get very far. Make sure to use available metrics to evaluate your audience’s behavior. Doing so will work wonders for your content marketing strategy, trust me.

3. Define Tone

After you’ve identified your audience, think about your brand’s voice and the tone you want to convey. Is your brand casual and lighthearted or serious and professional? How will your audience respond to your brand’s tone? There’s no right or wrong answer here – the solution is specific to your audience and your brand. Once determining your content’s tone, make sure to stay consistent throughout various content platforms.

4. Document Strategy

It’s not necessary to document the perfect content marketing strategy, as long as you simply document it. Taking this frequently overlooked step will save your business time, money and frustration. Remember, content marketing is not a perfect science. It’s okay to adjust your strategy in the future, but if you never document it, you won’t know what needs to be adjusted.


How to Keep Up

I hope you still have enough energy after all that to keep up with me. Fortunately for you and your business, the team here at CEM lives and breathes content marketing and, more importantly, we want to help your business succeed. Take a peek at the nine tactics guaranteed to get your creative content marketing juices flowing.

  • Blog development. If you don’t already have a blog, you’re missing out on a plethora of customer engagement opportunities. Top brands have been hosting active blogs for years with positive results. As a bonus, blogs provide you with the opportunity to communicate your brand’s true passion – something readers are bound to notice.
  • White papers. For a more professional audience, white papers are a fantastic content marketing tool. Creating industry-related white papers provides your audience with in-depth information that relates to your business and positions your brand as an authority.
  • Product descriptions. Though product descriptions are not considered traditional content marketing platforms, don’t waste the opportunity to promote other content from a product description. Something as simple as linking to your blog for “helpful hints about using XYZ product” increases engagement, provides readers with helpful information and shows that your brand is committed to communicating the value of your products.
  • Use images. Content that contains images receives more attention, shares and exposure online. I’m not saying your brand needs to emulate Picasso, but adding an interesting image (or two or three) to your content is a great way to increase interest.
  • Create video. Everyone loves video. In fact, video is one of the most interesting ways to tell a story. What story does your brand have to tell? Even creating short videos on Instagram or Vine will provide your audience with shareable content that increases brand awareness.

  • Social media. Before creating content for your social media campaign, consider your audience’s preferences first. Choose a few social media platforms that fit your brand and your audience. Though Facebook is the most popular social media platform, brands are using Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine and Instagram to inspire customer engagement and generate leads.
  • Encourage sharing. When investing time in content marketing, it’s easy to forget that one of the true benefits of creating valuable content is the ability to inspire readers to share your story. Make sure to “close the loop” and encourage sharing by including convenient social sharing buttons near your on-site content.
  • Curate content. I know it can be tough to create original content 100% of the time. If you have a small team and have trouble cranking out top notch content on a regular basis, add curated content to your marketing arsenal.
  • Customer reviews. Thanks to a little thing called social proof, customer reviews and testimonials have become a highly effective form of content that encourages customers to make their way from “uncommitted observer” to “loyal customer.”


Go Get ‘Em, Tiger

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of Tony the Tiger. Regardless of your feelings about frosted cereal, this famous Kellogg’s mascot has inspired us to add a little “roar” to our excitement for over 50 years – and that’s exactly what your brand needs to do in 2014. Now, before you go about the rest of your day, take a minute to roar with me! Feel empowered? Grrrrreat! Now, take these content marketing tips to heart and go get ‘em, tiger!

What’s the largest thorn in your ecommerce business’ side? Let us know what you struggle with and how we can help.