Back in 2013, it was clear that Content Marketing was one of the most rising topic for webmasters and e-merchants, and now more than ever, I can assure you it will become even more of a strategic focus in 2014.
In this article, I will guide you through the technical aspects your blog needs to succeed and then share my very own content marketing process from topic identification, titles and content writing.
Why every online store owner must be concerned about content marketing?
Producing valuable and targeted content as an online business owner is in complete synergy with every aspects of effective Web Marketing; it represents little investment, and when done correctly can offer many advantages:
Producing unique content for your inventory and product pages allows you to handle each product differently. This type of content is often descriptive and every word you use is about improving conversions and sales. When it comes to writing content for a blog, you are free to put your products in perspective and review them and take a completely different approach that will build your brand.
As you will read later in this article, we are going to create content aimed at generating more leads for your online store which will as a result, increase your sales.
Producing amazing content can certainly convince new visitors to follow your blog, through RSS or social media pages, having them subscribe to your blog allows your store to retain more customers.
The point of creating content is to rank for new keywords in search engines and then generate more SEO visits to your online shop. Creating great content is also a great tool for linkbuilding both external and internal:
- Creating great content will generate external & natural links pointing to your site, which is very good for SEO
- When writing new articles, you will insert links pointing to your product and category pages and you will, of course, optimize these anchor text that will then improve your SEO rankings. Go ahead Matt Cutts from Google says you can do it
Then, the last but not least advantage is Social Media. Great contents could go viral and possibly generate thousands of new visitors for you online shop in a very short period of time. That’s also a great way to entertain a community that already follows you.
Technical requirements for Content Marketing
I hope that you are now convinced about the importance of Content Marketing and are determined to become the next content marketing guru. But before you start writing, let’s go through the technical requirements your shop needs.
A functional blog
Obvious, you might say? Of course but when it comes to having a functional blog in addition to an online store, things can get a bit more complicated. First question you might ask yourself: Will it need to be in the same domain name as a URL subfolder, placed to a subdomain, or even a totally separate domain name? Among the SEO community, there is still a lot of debate about this choice of domain for a blog, but when it comes to my opinion, I will always suggest you to place the blog as a subfolder of your store’s domain name.
For PrestaShop users, to easily integrate a blog alongside your existing store, I strongly encourage you to use this blog module for PrestaShop. This tool offers all the required functionalities you will need and easily integrate your blog to your PrestaShop store.
Google Authorship properly setup with your G+ account
This is not about Social Media but mostly for SEO purposes. Linking your blog with G+ authorship allows your profile picture to be shown directly in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). You will find a lot of help here: “Setup Google+ Authorship”
I directly linked the Google SERP because I bet you will click on a link with its author profile picture, and that proves my point on how important it is to have Google+ Authorship properly setup.
Social Media sharing Buttons
What’s the point in writing great content if your visitors cannot like it on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, +1 it on Google+ or even Pin it on Pinterest? The social media buttons allow your content to go viral. This feature is a necessity!
Where to place these buttons on your articles you might ask? To improve social sharing, I always double them, at the top of the article and at the bottom.
Of course, I assume you already have a company page on all of these social networks, if you don’t, please consider creating them right after reading this article.
What if your visitors wanted to subscribe to all your articles with a newsletter? Newsletters can generate many visits to your blog and your shop. I personally think that every e-merchant should consider email marketing, but this is another topic.
As you are going to embrace content marketing you need to measure the performance of your content, how many likes and comments… How many visits on blog posts, as well as how many visits on your product pages coming from your blog… This may not be “Big Data” but these simple figures are easily retrievable and helpful.
Web Analytics allows you to measure the ROI of your Content Marketing efforts as well as help you understand your visitors behavior when interacting with your content and push you to experiment and improve for the next article.
Keep that picture in mind
Content writing process
Now that you are ready to start writing, you must carefully think about what you are going to write.
Take a moment to answer these three questions:
1. What is the product you want to push?
2. What are the needs this product fulfills?
3. Who will be likely to have these needs and buy your products? Can you portray him / her ?
Great! You already have the goals of your article:
- Make your product attractive toward your visitors and generate clicks and sales.
- Generate shares: Like / Tweet / +1 …
- Generate Subscriptions : Through RSS or Newsletters
You also have a clear picture of your target and the needs that will push him or her to buy your products. Try really hard to imagine who is likely to buy your product. Understanding your target audience is key when trying to sell them something.
Start with the headline
A good title will make all the difference since this will actually convince people to click and then read your blog post. To help you with headlines, I really suggest you read this article from Jeff Bullas, providing fantastic Content Marketing Tips
And what about the type of content?
- Text only?
- Text and images?
- Text, images, and videos?
I am sure you already know that the most compelling your article is, the better. Nowadays, no one wants to read an article without a nice picture. The minimum is to have content containing text and images.
Standalone videos could give you the edge but always keep your target in mind. Videos really add value to content but not in all cases. Your visitors might be seeing your post from their smartphone or at work where watching a video might not be as easy. My best suggestion here is for e-merchants to always have text and pictures that will be complemented with videos.
How many words? How people read online?
There is no rule about length in my opinion; you should think that your article should be long enough to be complete and short enough to be concise.
As I am writing this article, I have passed the thousand words mark, and if you are reading this paragraph, I assume that some of you have read every word I wrote. But I know that only a minority reads every word, as most visitors only scan content and go to the points they are really interested in. Read this article from Slate about How people read online.
The Checklist before publishing your new post
I will quote this excellent book from Gerry McGovern which is the “6 Cs of the Killer Web Content”. These are 6 questions you must ask yourself before publishing your content. I always try to ask these 6 questions while re-reading the content I am writing.
1. Who Cares?
2. Is it Compelling?
3. Is it Clear?
4. Is it Complete?
5. Is it Concise?
6. Is it Correct?
Another question I always ask myself is:
- “What is the added value of this content to my visitor?”
You wrote a great article? Now Share it.
Now that your article is online, it’s time to share it to the right people and at the right time, mainly on social networks and newsletters. I am sure you will find articles and studies announcing when and how to share on Twitter, Facebook and all, but always remember you have to experiment with your own fans and customer base.
Content Failure or Success?
Once your article is online and shared everywhere, it’s time to measure everything with your Web Analytics Tool. It is going to be pretty quick to see the performances with Social Media. SEO success will only be truly measurable weeks even months after posting your content.
Whatever the outcome, don’t take anything personally, always try to be analytical, keep what’s working and get rid of what’s not. Taking the time to analyze your content performance helps you improve your copywriting skills and your next articles, remember that.
Ready to write amazing new content? Make your keyboard burn!
Any questions? Add your comment below.
Get free Content Marketing consulting from the PrestaShop Team
Do you already have a store and a working blog? If you read this article entirely, I bet you are willing to get free consulting for your content marketing efforts.
On February 15th, 2014, our team will choose three English speaking stores and provide free consulting for their Content Marketing.
To apply for this free consulting, it’s really easy, you just have to add a comment below with your store URL and tweet this article on your Twitter profile, we will contact you shortly after through Twitter.