In the time of digitization, ignoring the importance of online marketing is a serious risk for brick-and-mortar retailers. It is crucial for brick-and-mortar stores to leverage online marketing tactics, such as content marketing, to succeed and thrive.
How do you create content that will help you attract new customers, establish long-term relationships with your existing customers, and reach your business goals? Here are six practical recommendations on how to make your content marketing work.
1. Start a blog.
Gone are the days when blogging was only associated with online diaries and served as a way of entertaining audiences. Today blogs are used by a large number of companies all over the globe as a powerful tool to increase brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and even drive sales.
Blogging marks an opportunity to establish an authoritative voice in your field. You can start a company’s blog to share your expertise and knowledge of your niche with the world.
Let’s say you are an action camera store. You can post articles with tips on how to choose the best camera for specific purposes, comparisons of different camera models, or reviews of your products with technical characteristics and their advantages. This will allow you to establish your brand as a valuable and knowledgeable source of information.
Next, spend some time on research to find out what’s popular in your industry. By knowing what your potential customers are interested in, you can better understand what content they will be more likely to consume. Using tools like SEMrush’s Topic Research, you can find subtopics with the highest search volume, questions people ask, and headlines that resonate with your audience based on a given topic or keyword.
Key Takeaways: When creating a blog, try to establish yourself as an expert in the industry related to your business. Be sure to do some research to discover popular topics discussed by your audience to craft your content around those topics.
2. Update content regularly.
Besides, by regularly providing material that highlights your expertise in the field of business you run, you’re more likely to convince your readers to use your product. When choosing a company and deciding on whether or not to make a purchase, consumers may think of your brand’s name.
However, there’s the other side of the coin. Don’t get it wrong. Fresh content is vital, but more importantly, it should provide value to your users. So you need to put effort into creating something really worthwhile. Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity and frequency.
Key Takeaways: Provide content on a regular basis, but ensure that you don’t generate content only for the sake of content. Make each piece of content valuable and informative to build strong and long-term relationships with your new and existing clients.
3. Diversify your content.
Content marketing provides multiple opportunities to drive attention to your brand. In order to fill your blog with engaging and informative content, don’t stick to one single format, and diversify your material. Consider the following content types for your e-commerce website:
- Buying guides
- Product videos
- Success stories
- Testimonials and customer reviews
- User-generated content
- Lookbooks (product image galleries)
For example, if you sell video cameras, you can create a series of beautiful videos made with your camera to show what your product is capable of. Or you can try to take advantage of user-generated content, using the example of the GoPro brand, which has managed to maximize the value of its customers’ content. Or, let’s say your store provides different kinds of travel bags and accessories. That means you can create, for example, a blog post with a list of the most popular travel destinations or the most budget-friendly places for a beach holiday in Europe.
With so many choices available, you can keep your blog updated with fresh material. You can spread one topic across different formats, so your site visitors will have multiple opportunities to learn about your products according to their needs.
Key Takeaways: Don’t be afraid to experiment with multiple content formats. Check how your audience engages with different types of content, and respond to their feedback in order to better understand their needs and preferences.
4. Check the SEO of your content potential before publishing.
Creative content is important. However, to keep up with the intense online competition, your content also needs to be optimized to rank high on SERPs, so you can reach a wider audience with it.
When creating a new article or a blog post, make sure that it’s SEO friendly. Here are the very basics of content optimization to which you should pay attention:
- Keywords. Use your target keywords, as they are still the key signal indicating what your post is about. But don’t sacrifice quality of content for the sake of keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Title tag. Optimize your title tag, which is an HTML tag that exists in the head section of each page on any website. Make it relevant to the content on the page. Include your most important keywords in your title. Try to keep it under 55-60 characters, as Google usually displays the first 50-60 characters of a title. Don’t duplicate title tags; write different tags for each webpage.
- Structure. Ensure that your content is well-structured by using H1-H6 headings. A good structure makes it easier to digest your content for both users and search engines.
- Readability. Text that’s difficult to read can result in a bad user experience. Your text should be clear, have the right sentence structure and provide the best experience possible. Otherwise, your readers will bounce back to Google right after they land on your blog.
SEMrush offers the SEO Writing Assistant, a tool that checks how SEO friendly your text is while you’re writing it. SEO Writing Assistant is an add-on for Google Docs and WordPress that provides instant recommendations for content optimization based on your top 10 Google rivals—the 10 best ranking pages for your given keyword. Metrics include overall score of a text, readability, recommended keywords, and more.
Key Takeaways: Once you have an idea in mind for what to write about and how to craft your content, consider the SEO aspect. To get your content in front of the right audience—your potential customers—invest your efforts in content optimization.
5. Learn from your competitors.
The truth is that competition on the e-commerce market is fierce. In order to compete with your online rivals, you should be better prepared.
Identifying your enemy can give you competitive advantage. Analyzing your competitors, their strategies, and brand positioning will help you identify their strengths and weaknesses, so you can get a better idea of how to beat them. What’s more, by keeping an eye on what others are doing you can stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
When it comes to content marketing, you can start by studying their blogs. If you spot some good ideas, note them and then try to implement them on your own blog. But be sure that you don’t just blatantly copy those ideas; rather, use them as a source of inspiration and adapt them to your brand. Pay attention to bad ideas as well, so you can learn from your rivals’ mistakes and do better than your competition.
Key Takeaways: Find out what online strategies the best retailers in your niche use to promote their products. It will help you better understand what works and what doesn’t. Discover how they craft their content to attract new customers and build genuine and continuing relationships with them.
6. Use your blog as an opportunity for link building.
Besides offering your audience valuable information about your business and your product, a good blog gives you an opportunity to get quality links. If you provide your site visitors with what they are looking for and help them answer their questions with your content, your blog will be viewed as a reliable source of help to which people will want to link.
High-quality incoming links are important, since they can help you improve your organic search rankings and bring highly targeted referral traffic to your website. That’s why it’s worth investing your efforts in link building.
Keep an eye on your competitors’ backlink profiles to uncover their most important backlink partnerships. See what websites link to most of your rivals but not you. Maybe these domains can be a fresh link-building opportunity. You can also find out who mentions you or any particular keyword related to your business, and that will allow you to spot fresh promotional opportunities.
Key Takeaways: If you have a blog, be sure to provide high-quality helpful material, which will attract genuine back-link links. Check who links to your competitors. Those referring domains can be your potential back-link partners.
Be where your customers are.
Your clients are online, which means you should be there too. Many people are searching and shopping on the web. If your brick-and-mortar business doesn’t have an e-commerce presence yet, it’s high time you consider engaging in online marketing.
Informative, helpful, and engaging content is a great way to link your offline shop with the online world. People come to your website, find your business, read your blog, and find answers to their questions. This can make them remember your brand and even encourage them to stop by at your physical store.
Tanya Vasileva is product marketing manager at SEMrush. She is an art lover and swimmer.