I use the phrase ‘content is king’ with some caution because it’s been used so many times now that it’s bordering on cliché. Like a lot of clichés though, being tired of hearing it doesn't stop it from being true.
Ultimately, if your content isn’t any good (or if it’s non-existent) then it doesn't matter what marketing or SEO strategies you implement – they’ll simply fail. And this is about more than just updating your blog once every week or so to let Google know you’re a real person, this is about engaging your customers so that they develop an emotional connection with your brand.
As a retailer, if all you’re obsessed about is your position in the SERPs then fine, you’ll probably rank for the appropriate keywords and that’s great. But search engines don’t buy clothes, homeware, electrical appliances, beauty products, toys or anything else you may sell, so it’s just as – if not more – important to ensure your customers are aware of your brand and are fully engaged with it.
Retailers are particularly well placed to do some fantastic things with content, although many don’t seem to realise it, so we’ve put together a list of ways in which retail brands can use content to get to the forefront of their customers’ minds.
Know your audience
Large retailers such as Next and Very.co.uk sell a wide variety of product types ranging from fashion to home appliances and, because of this, there can be a temptation to try to be all things to all people. However, this can have a negative effect on content as it becomes disjointed with large swathes of it being items that your core customer base just isn’t interested in.
So if your customers are predominantly ABC1 working mums aged 25 to 45 with interests in fashion and the home, tailor your content to them. They probably aren’t that interested in the latest PlayStation game, but they probably are interested in new home trends, kidswear and stylish workwear. They may also like the odd cheeky shot of male models showing off your latest men’s swimwear – something Next do very well on their Instagram feed!
Write for your customers – not Google
As I said before, it’s ridiculous to rely solely on SEO best practice to reach your customers. It’s fantastic if they see you on that first page on Google when they type in ‘striped cushions’ or ‘work dresses’ but if they feel no connection to your brand they may not click on you at all. And even if they do and your content is poor then there’s a good chance they’ll bounce straight off – meaning Google will eventually send you shooting back down those rankings.
Your content should be useful. So whether it’s tips on how to wear tartan, a list of the year’s top Christmas presents for kids, or a guide to getting the Scandi trend into your home (as Very.co.uk have done on their blog), you’re giving your customers something they actually want to read because they’ll learn something they want to know. And if they find your brand useful, they’ll engage with it and be more likely to purchase from you – something that Google just won’t do.
Forge an emotional connection
This is essential in gaining the trust of your customers by showing them that you know exactly what they want and need from your brand. Equally it can come from just giving them a great piece of content that they want to consume.
This video from Marks and Spencer’s Mother’s Day campaign is a great example:
I loved watching this video because it reminded me of making cards and gifts for my own mum as a child. It also reminded me that a Mother’s Day gift should be something meaningful and not something bought at the last minute without any thought. And for this reason I went to M&S for my mum’s Mother’s Day gift and card this year because I knew that they understood that and I trusted them to have products that my mum would love.
Interact, interact, interact
Interacting with your customers is paramount if you want them to engage with you and stay loyal. This can be through social media tools or your website (ideally both) and it has the added benefit of driving awareness of your brand.
Very.co.uk’s sister brand, Very Exclusive, have a great approach to this on Instagram, looking out for images of people’s purchases and regramming them – making fab use of free user generated content while engaging with their customers and making them feel valued.
The promise to regram people’s purchases is an incentive in itself, of course, for customers who may want more followers for their own Instagram account so it’s a win-win scenario.
Make sure your message is consistent
Once you know your audience it will become clear what your content marketing message should be. Once you’ve decided on it, stick to it. The reason people become loyal to, say, a particular newspaper or magazine is because they know that reading it will fulfil a certain need for them. Your content needs to do the same – fulfil a particular need for your customers and make sure you keep fulfilling it so that they return time and time again. If you randomly change things up or go off-brand, customers will notice and it may be off-putting.
Get your content to the right audience
Just as SEO best practice won’t work in isolation, neither will great content. To make sure people are looking at your brand’s site, you need to outreach your content to relevant influencers, bloggers, news sites and online magazines to drive traffic back to you.
At Hit Search we’re experts in content marketing and outreach that works. We don’t just do this for our clients, but for ourselves, by placing articles like this with key national and international sites which, in turn, brings new clients to us. If it works for us, we can make it work for you as well so produce quality content and use it to forge strong relationships with the outlets and people that matter.
For more info on how we can help your retail site with its content marketing ambitions, speak to an expert today on 0845 643 9289.