Content Marketing for eCommerce in 2021: Dos and Don’ts

By Travis Jamison - December 16, 2020
6 mins read time
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Content marketing, no matter what form factor you choose to go with, is one of the best ways to reach and engage customers.

But the simple fact is, the great majority of brands churn out copy-paste versions of the same thing, attaining average results and continuously racing to keep up with the competition.

In 2021, however, things are bound to get different. As the world leaves behind one of the most challenging years in recent history, marketers can expect significant changes in the digital space.

With strong evidence testifying to the fact that consumer behavior has shifted in 2020, eCommerce businesses can make the required modifications to their content marketing strategies to produce the outcomes they’re after.

The following are the top Dos and Don’ts of content marketing for eCommerce in 2021.

DO Create Content for Real People

When planning content marketing strategies, a large number of brands tends to make the same mistake: they plan for SEO.

And don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing incorrect about basing your strategy on rock-solid data and analysis. In fact, search engine optimization, along with the research it requires, makes for the absolute best way to ensure you benefit from your production. But, try not to get too lost in the keywords and analytics.

When planning a new piece, consider the why and the who it’s supposed to serve. Give it purpose.

Try to come up with topics that will benefit your customers. Moreover, address the issues that relate to what you do.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic brought up a variety of questions about the health and safety of vulnerable age groups. With this in mind, Bay Alarm Medical, an eCommerce business that serves senior citizens, created a variety of posts aimed to help the community.

Their approach was to offer helpful information on their blog, as well as to link to reputable resources. What’s more, they committed to providing free masks for their buyers. By taking on this type of strategy, they not only created content that answered common search queries, but they managed to offer real, actionable advice to anyone impacted by the situation.

DO Address the Different Stages of the Buyer Journey

When creating content, you must understand that not all customers are necessarily in the same part of the sales funnel.

While some may still be in the awareness stage, looking for educational information about a type of product, others may need more in-depth technical data about your offer. Then, of course, there are those people who have already bought from you (or your competitors). They will most likely be looking for advanced guides on how to make the most of their purchase.

In 2021, try to produce content for different stages of the buyer journey. You can look at a variety of brands for inspiration.

For example, GILI Sports does a great job on their blog, where they address a variety of topics from complete beginners’ guides to expert advice on subjects such as paddle boarding with dogs or DIY board repairs.

 

DO Follow Data

We’ve already touched on the subject of research before content production. And while we stand behind the advice that your content strategy needs to be based on real people rather than search engine algorithms, it’s still important to keep an eye out for analytical information.

Make sure to use the top research methods, discover the right keywords, follow the engagement for your posts, and keep an eye on how your pages are performing.

With just a little bit of work, you’ll find what works and what doesn’t and have clear guidelines on how to make the most of your content marketing budget.

DO Encourage UGC

There’s plenty of research data to support the benefits of user-generated content (UGC).

But pure numbers aren’t the only reason to encourage customers to tag you in their social media posts. UGC is more than a testimony to your products’ quality. It’s also a way for you to become relatable. The best thing is, with the right tools, you can easily collect UGC and adjust it for a variety of platforms, as seen in the example below.

Home goods store, HomeSense, has embraced user-generated content.

First, they encourage customers to share their favorite HomeSense finds on social media by using the hashtag #MyHomeSense. Then, they repost those authentic customer images across their brand’s social networks. Finally, they feature that engaging social proof on their website as inspiration for shoppers.

DON’T Over-Promote

Going forward in 2021, make sure that your eCommerce content strategy focuses on value instead of promotional messaging.

Along with the many changes in consumer behavior, 2020 brought along a heightened distrust people have in brands’ advertising.

A study from May 2020 showed that only 14 percent of people trusted ads, 70 percent distrusted what they saw on social media, and almost 40 percent said they were not OK with companies targeting them for their advertising.

With this in mind, eCommerce businesses need to adapt to the changing climate.

For next year, most brands should focus their efforts on regaining and nurturing trust, as well as positioning themselves as the authority on relevant questions.

And the best way to achieve this? Genuinely valuable content.

DON’T Try to Please Everyone

Another lasting effect that 2020 is going to have on eCommerce content marketing is that the eventful year forced most brands to take a stand on prevalent issues.

The challenging part for marketers was acknowledging that addressing these issues and events could, possibly, displease some of their customers. Still, remaining silent threatened to do more harm than taking a stance.

In 2021, the trend is expected to continue. Not only will consumers expect brands to make a commitment to relevant concerns, but even more, they will continue their ongoing shift towards those companies whose values align with their own.

A content marketing strategy can very much be a way for eCommerce brands to communicate their values and mission. Adidas has been doing it since 2019 with their Futurecraft project, while Airbnb launched their #weaccept campaign back in 2017 promoting inclusion.

Taking inspiration from big brands, smaller eCommerce businesses should start getting more involved and personal. Even when it means ruffling a few feathers.

DON’T Limit Yourself

If your content marketing relied solely on a company blog thus far, now is the time to embrace the future.

Thanks to easily accessible tools and distribution spaces, eCommerce businesses can reach large audiences and achieve better effects with new formats.

Podcasts, for example, are a valuable form of content to invest in, seeing that 90 percent of listeners consume them in the home, and 70 percent don’t multitask while listening. Video is another excellent form to experiment with, as it’s been consistently popular on a variety of platforms.

Of course, you don’t have to pick content types that require such expert production skills.

The brand SomniFix uses a variety of assets on its website, including scannable text, illustrations, and GIFs. But the best thing about such diversity is the fact that each of the pieces of content can be modified and repurposed for use on other marketing channels.

DON’T Neglect Promotion & Distribution

The last piece of advice for eCommerce brands in 2021? Don’t let your hard work go to waste.

The common mistake of hitting publish then waiting for traffic to miraculously go up simply won’t do in a reality where 70 percent of brands are investing in content marketing.

Instead of adopting the launch and pray approach, why get active in getting more eyes on your text, graphs, images, videos, and audio creations.?

Distribute your content through email, post it on social, optimize it for SEO, and, of course, don’t forget to build quality backlinks from authority sites.

Moreover, don’t be afraid to employ paid promotion methods for pillar content. Especially if it addresses commonly asked questions or helps new customers discover your brand.

Conquering With Quality

As you can see, the Dos and Don’ts of eCommerce content marketing for 2021 aren’t too complicated. In fact, they’re accessible to almost anyone, regardless of their budget or experience.

So, instead of wasting energy on pumping out tons of content, shift your focus to quality. Pay closer attention to what your customers are saying and follow their engagement rates to see what works.

You’ll see, with just a bit of commitment and a true-to-your-values strategy, you’ll be able to achieve excellent results that are sure to have lasting effects both on your revenue and your branding.

Travis Jamison

Founder @ Smash.VC

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