The future — and increasingly, the present — lies in eCommerce. Brick and mortar businesses are losing ground, and so in order to compete in today's marketplace, companies must up their eCommerce marketing game.
Only 28 percent of small businesses currently sell products online, leaving this growing field wide open for your eCommerce company to take full advantage of content marketing's potential.
1. Your Content Marketing Reputation: EAT Scores
For ecommerce brands of all sizes, the ability to effectively utilize modern marketing strategies is a key to success. But the eCommerce marketing industry is ever-changing, and keeping up with all the latest trends can feel overwhelming. From SEO to web design, best practices shift constantly, and a strategy that was effective last month may be outdated next week.
But while the definition of "great content" involves multiple, dynamic components that change over time, there’s one underlying element that's been a constant factor in determining a successful business from the very start: reputation.
A good reputation builds consumer trust and confidence, both of which impact your bottom line. But how is reputation determined today?
Once upon a time, your company's reputation depended on word of mouth. In the modern marketplace, a company's reputation relies more heavily on things like Yelp reviews – but there's another reputation factor eCommerce businesses must consider: the EAT score.
Short for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, the EAT score symbolizes your online rep when it comes to content. Google search uses the EAT score to help determine your business's reputation, which decides where you fall in search engine results pages (SERP). While Google's algorithms are ever-changing, recent updates to page-quality rating guidelines place more focus on the EAT score than ever before.
Here's the breakdown:
Expertise: Your content needs to show both search engines and consumers that you are an expert on the goods or services you sell. Demonstrate your expertise by producing useful, relevant, and accurate content. If you're a retailer, work with reputable manufacturers – and point this out in your content. Boost your expertise cred by showcasing recommendations or references from industry leaders.
Authority: The quality of the content you offer builds your authority in the field and verifies your expertise. This may mean highlighting the expertise and credentials of your content creators or, if you're a third-party vendor, showing verified merchant credentials or other proof of affiliation, like a Better Business Bureau rating.
Trustworthiness: Does your content reinforce that 1) you are who you say you are and that 2) youdo what you say you'll do? Providing clear, easy-to-find evidence of customer service information — such as return policies, detailed product descriptions, help chat lines, and shipping information — helps boost trustworthiness. Ensure that your contact information, such as physical address and phone numbers, are front and center. Don't overlook the importance of an SSL certificate/HTTPS, either.
Decathlon is a good example of how trustworthiness is built across an ecommerce brand. Not only it has detailed product descriptions, shipping information, store information but they have a 365 day return policy which they highlight all across their site.
Building your EAT score involves both high-quality content and elegant website structure and design. Making it easy for customers (and search engines) to find the information they need will boost your reputation and your SERP.
2. Qualified Customer Reviews Boost Ecommerce Marketing
If you've done any online shopping or looked up a new place to eat lately, you probably already realize how influential online reviews are. Customer reviews have a huge impact on consumers' purchasing decisions: Research indicates that a whopping 97 percent of consumers look at social review sites before making buying decisions; of these, 85 percent say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family.
Given the importance of reviews, it's not surprising that some shady characters have turned to less-than-upfront methods, creating fake recommendations in order to trick both potential customers and search engines. To weed through all the phony baloney, Google's algorithm favors reviews that are made through Google Qualified Review Partners. Reviews do more to boost your SERP when they're made through Google partner platforms, such as BizRate, PowerReviews, or TrustPilot.
These platforms ensure that reviews are verified and timely, so they can boost your seller ratings. Bonus: Partner platforms offer tools to help you collect and manage reviews, so you can use them to create marketing content for your site, blogs, and social media. Reviews also generate snippets and blurbs that can help boost your organic search results.
Dollar Shave Club has integrated the third party reviews with their ecommerce brand.
Given the power of reviews and testimonials combined with the ability to boost SERP, it’s a no-brainer to add qualified partner reviews into your content marketing strategy.
3. Add AR or Video to Your Ecommerce Marketing Toolkit
As fun as it can be to get a surprise in the mail, not being able to touch, test, or try on a product in person before buying is scary. Fortunately, augmented reality (AR) can help mitigate this all-too-common cause of customer hesitation.
Of course, for small businesses and companies with small marketing budgets, going full AR may not be practical. A simple, cost-effective solution lies in integrating video into your content.
In the last few years, video content has exploded in popularity. More than 87 percent of online marketers utilize video content, and one-third of all online activity involves video. Most importantly, video lets you give your potential customers a much better idea of what they're buying. This is especially true when it comes to product pages – "a picture is worth a thousand words" may be a cliché, but watching an actual human demonstrate how to use a product is much more effective than simply reading a description.
When still images and words fall short, adding video can help bring your products and services to life. Not only will you provide your customers with a better understanding of how your products work or how they're made, you can include promotional content in the form of reviews.
This video by Solo Stove effectively combines storytelling while showcasing the product in action.
In addition to product pages, you can use video to offer insight into industry trends, make comparisons, interview staff or leadership, and provide the kind of content that will increase customer loyalty and trust. Video is an ideal way to brand your business, all while providing customers with relevant, useful content.
4. Partner with Ecommerce Marketing Influencers
Online influencers with a dedicated social-media following can take your marketing to the next level. The good news is that you don't have to shell out big bucks to snare influencers with the highest follower counts. In fact, investing in high-follower influencers may end up costing more money without producing a stellar ROI.
Why? Because influencers with smaller follower counts tend to have higher levels of engagement, and that's what really matters. Studies indicate that influencers with 1,000 or fewer followers have twice the engagement rate as influencers with 1,001 to 10,000 followers. That's good news for your content marketing budget.
Partnering with a range of so-called micro-influencers, rather than spending your whole budget on a single rock-star influencer, may result in better engagement and a higher ROI. Focus on partnering with a diverse group of micro-influencers to reach an engaged audience and spark more interest in your brand.
5. Harness the Feel-Good Power of Cause Marketing
Everyone wants to make the world a better place, so if your business can make customers feel good about their purchase while providing a quality product, it's a win-win! Cause marketing offers a way for you to spark warm fuzzies in your customers while building brand trust and loyalty.
Consumers' values and positions on issues play a significant role in their purchasing decisions. Many will choose certain brands (or, on the flip side, avoid certain brands) based on their belief systems. The trick lies in finding the cause or issue that aligns closely to your business goals. For instance, if you sell restaurant supplies, you may donate a percentage of profits to a food bank. If you run a real estate agency, you could partner with a local homeless shelter. Choose wisely, because if you get it wrong, the whole thing may seem disingenuous – or worse, exploitative.
Once you've identified a cause that aligns with your business, you can choose how you'll give back. For instance, you might donate a percentage of each sale, offer a "buy one and we'll donate one" deal, or ask customers to directly participate, like adding an item to their purchase that you'll then match and donate.
Puravida has partnered with several charities and donates a percentage of proceeds to charity.
No matter which tactic you choose, you'll be helping to build customer loyalty and increasing positive perception of your brand while making a positive difference in the world.
As the importance of eCommerce marketing continues to grow, be open to trying new strategies and tools. Though best practices may change, one thing remains the same: High-quality, relevant content is still king. By focusing on building a stellar reputation and offering quality content, you'll give your business an edge over the competition.