Which term do you identify with– blogging or content marketing?
You know, they actually are one and the same.
Content marketing is blogging with one extra step. You try to monetize your blog.
Although it’s only been published for a little over a month, my post How to Make Big Money with Your Blog: Content Marketing has already earned hundreds of social shares.
Clearly, there’s great interest in content marketing.
Today’s guest author Rayhan Vevaina explains being a content marketer is not enough. You should know how to be a successful content marketer.
Why should visitors to your blog answer your Calls to Action? Why should people purchase your products and services and not purchase from someone else?
Rayhan will explain 15 ways you can get your blog to stand out from the crowd so you can be a successful blogger and ultimately a content marketer.
Mastering E-Commerce Content Marketing – A Beginner’s Guide
By: Rayhan Vevaina
It’s Monday afternoon. You just finished writing that epic blog post you spent all week working on. You hit ‘publish’ and sit back. The comments and email sign-ups should roll in at any moment, right?…right??
Don’t count on it. Yours is one of the 2 million other blog posts that have been published on that day alone.
A few years ago, you could publish an average blog post and expect to get decent traffic to your site. Today, it is not enough. Just starting a blog is no longer a precursor to success.
The exponential rise of blogs in the last 6 years (And this is just Tumblr blogs!)
Due to the recent explosion of content being produced on a daily basis, many people assume that quickly throwing up a blog and writing a few posts is enough to augment their marketing process.
The problem is that the majority of entrepreneurs (e-commerce and otherwise) approach content marketing with the wrong attitude. In my opinion, if you are starting a blog to land immediate customers and sales, you are going about it wrong. The ultimate goal of your efforts should be to provide massive value and build long-term relationships. (I use the term ‘content marketing’ instead of ‘blogging’ because good content marketing provides structure and an overarching plan to your marketing goals.)
Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy
Having a well planned and structured content marketing plan has many beneficial side effects –
1) Added trust.
Your audience needs to build some form of trust with you before they decide to buy your product. If you’re constantly able to provide remarkable content that legitimately adds value, people are more likely to buy things from you down the line. One thing to keep in mind is to keep the content relevant to your brand/niche. If you sell pet products, for example, center your content around topics that your audience can resonate with – pet grooming tips, pet training videos etc
2) You establish yourself as an expert in your field.
This ties into the trust factor – when you establish yourself as an authority in your niche, people are more inclined to revisit your website and eventually become customers down the line.
3) Referrals and connections.
If someone enjoys the content you produce, they are more likely to refer you to friends or family. Boom! Instant trust, because it comes from a trusted source. Even if that person isn’t ready to buy yet, their friends and followers might be.
So, what do you need to do to inspire trust and see repeat visitors?
You structure your blog for success. Here’s how:
8 Ways to Be a Successful Content Marketer
Figure out your Value Proposition
Before you jump in and start creating, there are certain things you should have in place and figured out:
First and foremost – What is your value proposition and who are you targeting?
It is easy to fall into the trap of creating content for anybody and everybody. Broad content means more visitors and conversions right? Not necessarily. By trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. Even if you sell a broad range of products, you should still take the time to figure out your ideal customer.
You should be aiming for an engaged audience over a large audience. An audience that resonates with your brand and message is more likely to buy your products and be an ambassador for your company.
Your value proposition tells people what your brand is about and why it’s worth paying attention to. It’s what makes you stand out from all the other content out there.
Your 7-second pitch
A useful exercise in figuring out your value proposition is the 7-second pitch. The rule is – If can’t pitch your store to someone in 7 seconds or less, they will lose interest and look for a better alternative to their problem. You only have a small window of opportunity before people think “This isn’t worth my time right now”.
The great thing about your value proposition is that it can help you determine the headline or tagline for your blog or website. A Better Lemonade Stand is a great example of this – their headline/value proposition is succinct, to the point and tells you everything you need to know about what follows.
You can also get creative in the ways you display your store’s value proposition. Take this example from Pipcorn. They are able to convey their value prop (‘all natural popcorn’) quickly and effectively using a well-designed image.
What to blog about
Figuring out what to consistently blog about is a common concern of many e-commerce entrepreneurs. Fear not, though, because there is a virtually unlimited reservoir of topics you can write about in new and interesting ways.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to spend some time coming up with a content marketing plan. Once you’ve figured out your value proposition, you will be able to identify a few key areas or topics that will resonate with your audience. Take these topics and brainstorm various ways to expand on them.
The trick is not to limit yourself with topic ideas. Come up with as many subtopics as you can. From there you can further expand on the topics and come up with more specific post headlines.
With this method, it is easy to come up with a varied list of topics that you can repeatedly call upon to use for your blog.
Structuring your posts
Compelling content tends to be long, so you want to structure your posts in a way that doesn’t lose your audience’s attention.
I won’t talk too much about how to create compelling headlines because it warrants a topic of its own and has already been extensively covered, but you must nail the headline to get people to read the actual post.
If your headline doesn’t work – people won’t bother to read the rest. And that’s a real shame especially if you’ve spent time writing great content.
The best resource I’ve seen on writing great headlines is ‘How to write Magnetic headlines’ by Copyblogger. It is an extensive (and free) guide and will teach you everything you need to know about writing effective headlines.
[Related Post: How to Write Powerful Headlines [Ultimate Guide]]
When most people land on a blog post, they don’t meticulously read every word from Point A to Z (Not at first at least). Think back to the last time you read a long blog post. Chances are the first thing you did after reading the headline is scroll through the article to see what it looks like.
When you use subheads, you’re effectively breaking your post up into distinct sections. This will help with the writing process and will make the content much more easily digestible for the reader. On average you want to aim for 3-4 main subheads and 6-8 sub subheads.
If you don’t have subheads, you have no real structure to your posts and chances are people will simply leave and go somewhere else. This happens very fast so make sure you grab the reader’s attention with compelling subheads, images, and lists.
Images or anything visual (graphs, charts, infographics) are a great way to keep readers hooked on what they are reading. We are visual creatures, and well-placed images can keep readers going when mental fatigue starts to set in.
A word of caution: Make sure you’re not using images just for the sake of it, but because they actually support and reinforce what you have written.
Adding clear Calls to Action
Once you’re consistently delivering valuable content to your readers, you should start thinking about what you want them to do after they consume your content.
CTAs are a great way to guide people into taking action and to leave a lasting impression on their mind. The most common CTA seen on blogs is a link to sign up to the store’s mailing list at the end of the blog post. These definitely can work, but they are also easily glanced over.
Here are a few ways to enhance the effectiveness of your CTAs –
1) Optimal Placement
The bottom of your post is not the only place you can add a CTA. Add a relevant CTA in the middle of your post if it ties into your content. Or add a mailing list sign-up on the sidebar so it’s always there when readers are scrolling through. The idea is to get creative and find optimal ways to place your message.
2) Make it relevant to your post
Don’t blatantly try to drive people to your store/landing page by adding a generic CTA message to every post; customize it so that it fits the topic. An easy way to do this is to offer a downloadable checklist of actionable steps based on each topic. This way, if people don’t have time to read the entire article, they can download your checklist/whitesheet/graph/flowchart, and you collect their email address.
An example of a relevant lead magnet/email opt-in that works given the context of the blog post from Neil Patel’s blog:
This opt-in works well because it ties in so well with the blog topic – ‘4 Simple Yet Effective Tactics That’ll Improve Your Email Click-Through Rates.’
3) Don’t annoy your reader
Your reader is your biggest fan and ambassador. Try not to inundate them with a thousand different CTAs. If you have a pop-up offering a discount, a slide in survey form, a link to check out a similar article and other distractions, the reader won’t have a chance to absorb the content and definitely won’t think of sticking around for more. Pick a maximum of three CTAs and make sure they all relate to each other.
If you are using a pop-up to collect information, trigger it so it only shows up after a certain amount of time or when the reader’s mouse is reaching for the exit button. There is nothing more annoying than a pop-up asking for information before you’ve even had a chance to read the content.
4) Pick a type of CTA and stick with it.
Decide what you want the reader to do and only add those CTAs to your article. If you want your reader to opt-in to your mailing list, add you on Twitter and drive them to your product page, you’re just confusing the reader which end up leading to inaction on their part.
5) Make it easy for your reader to share your content with their friends.
Here are a few ways to easily share content –
Click to retweet:
There are many great plugins that can do this. Essentially you allow readers to retweet a quote in your post while giving the author credit.
This is beneficial in 2 ways – your blog gets highlighted on social media, and the person quoted gets notified that they have been featured. It’s a win-win for everybody!
Facebook Like button:
Facebook buttons are extremely easy to add to your store’s blog and are an easy way for fans to show love for a well-written post. A quick click leads to a whole new audience that gets to see you content.
To set up a Facebook Like button –
– Set up and configure your button. (You can test and see what it looks like before you add it to your website).
– Copy the code Facebook gives you, and paste it on your blog.
Twitter Retweet Button:
You can do the same for a Twitter retweet button by visiting the Twitter button page and follow the above steps.
[Related Post: 4 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Enjoy Effortless Blog Traffic]
Create. Analyze. Tweak. Repeat.
At the end of the day, not everything will work exactly the same for everybody. The best way to achieve consistent results is to see what works best for you, do more of that and eliminate what doesn’t serve your brand.
[Related Post: 17 Reasons High Page Views Should Make You Panic]
Keep these guiding principles in mind, but don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative. If creating content for your brand seems like a chore, you might be going about it in the wrong way.
Bio: Rayhan Vevaina is a web designer and founder of ShopZen, an on-demand task support service for Shopify stores. He is a lifelong learner in the areas of content marketing, design, front-end development and advertising. Find him on Facebook or Twitter to say hello.
Readers, please share this post. Rayhan’s tips will help bloggers know how to boost traffic and get their Calls to Action answered whether or not they want to be content marketers.
Have you already tried any of Rayhan’s tips? Which do you think is the most valuable? Have you tried to monetize your blog? Do you have any valuable tips to share? I look forward to your answers in the comments section.