We’ve all heard, “Content is king”.
In a study conducted by Zazzle Media, they found that 96% of decision-makers agree that content marketing has been instrumental for their brand.
BUT anyone who runs an eCommerce business would say: generating traffic and converting it into sales and revenue is not as easy as it seems.
The fact remains that brands who experience success in eCommerce are those who:
- Have eCommerce content marketing strategies in place
- Continuously learn, grow and improve on past mistakes
Here are the 14 most common eCommerce content marketing mistakes you should avoid and the recipe to fix each one.
1. Personas > Real audience insights
Between 25-45 years of age.
Believes in sustainability.
But struggles with finding cruelty-free products.”
You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of creating a buyer persona, but if the above example is the extent of your audience insights, then you don’t know your customers...at all.
To create content they’d actually want to see, you’ll need to go deeper and understand their motivations and challenges.
So the question is - how do you create a thorough buyer persona or customer profile?
Here’s how you can narrow down your target group focus:
a) Conduct customer surveys
Create a survey with 10-12 questions for your existing customer base. The goal of these questions is to know - the journey that brought them to you, their hesitation before purchasing, concerns, or preconceived notions.
You may also want to know their overall shopping experience, post-purchase feedback, and reviews on new and current products.
Your questions should be simple, non-intrusive, and close-ended; they should be answered in Yes/No, MCQs and ratings.
b) Conduct interviews; do them well
Rather than emailing all your clients, you could try conducting in-person or phone interviews.
Use interviews to navigate the conversation to the most important parts of your research. Gain extra insights that may be lost in one-dimension and short email answers.
2. Trying to go “Viral”
One of the biggest eCommerce content mistakes your brand could make is using tone-deaf force-fitting humor. You don’t have to rip into topical themes for the sake of hitting a specific number of blogs or campaigns.
Towards the end of February 2020, Corona USA launched Corona Hard Seltzer: Four new flavors and one splashy entrance.
The marketers at Corona could have postponed the launch when the “hell had already started breaking loose.”
While the pandemic outbreak had already started, the brand further issued a statement that it would push the ad with continued promotion.
Instead, think if content marketing is important for eCommerce? Your goal is to add value to your audience in the form of presenting the information that they care about, instead of newsjacking every trend.
Let’s take the example of Zappos - the shoe and clothing brand.
During the pandemic, they shared stories to inspire the audience, build a connection with them and help them cope with the lockdowns.
3. Focusing more on creating content and less on marketing it
While content is becoming the main ingredient responsible for the success of eCommerce marketing campaigns, the key is to have a content promotion strategy that spans across search and social channels.
Your aim is to market content to engage shoppers throughout their customer journey.
Case in point is the example of Northern Brewer - a homebrew supplier. Since 2020, we’ve seen many beer enthusiasts learning to brew in small batches at home.
BUT there’s a steep learning curve for homebrewers and they can benefit from expert advice when getting started.
And that’s where Northern Brewer nails content marketing with an entire section devoted to customer education.
How to Make Beer takes you to an article on the basics of how to make beer.
What’s notable here is that they integrate the relevant products they sell into the content, helping readers find what they need while increasing their sales.
Upon clicking on the beer-making kits, you’re taken to the page with beer starter kits that you’d be interested in.
In addition, Northern Brewer has homebrew video courses with step-by-step instructions from experts. Your shoppers/viewers are used to consuming content in video format. Step-wise video guides ensure that you cater to the visual learners.
Discounting customer education as a powerful eCommerce content marketing strategy could be the biggest mistake you’re making.
Like Northern Brewer, find areas where you can share your knowledge to educate shoppers.
Hey, have you seen this? 20 UX principles for higher conversions (Updated 2022)
4. Duplicating product descriptions
If you duplicate product descriptions or borrow heavily from sources like copy-pasting from the manufacturer’s text, you could end up hurting your site’s rankings.
Instead of using similar on-page content, here’s how you can come up with unique product descriptions on your website.
a) Entice the reader with benefits
How can your product make the buyer feel happier or healthier? What problems does your product solve?
Skincare brand Glossier’s product descriptions highlight the product benefits.
b) Be specific
Product details add credibility, so be specific in describing the technical details and benefits.
For inspiration, here’s how Zappos describes its range of waterproof shows. None of the points mention the high quality directly, rather it gives an impression of the quality.
Each point highlights features + quality.
c) Cut through the noise with mini-stories
When writing a narrative-based product description, ask yourself three questions:
- Who is making the product?
- What inspired them to make it?
- How was the product tested?
Here’s how Laithwaites offers short stories about the wines it sells. They also include a compelling product description and image of where the wine was handcrafted along with the makers.
d) Use the right keywords with the correct density
Identify the promising keywords and use them in the body, title, and metadata. Ensure that your descriptions are scannable with bullet points.
The product description from Vantastic foods for cats covers keywords like vegan food for your cat, vegan dry food, vet food, and cat food.
5. Focusing solely on SEO
One of the most common content marketing mistakes is over-reliance on SEO for eCommerce to get organic traffic.
Especially for new players, it takes time to rank on search engine results. Despite what marketers tell you, SEO isn’t only about getting to the first page of search engines. Rather, focus on getting traffic that turns into sales.
Think about how your SEO works in conjunction with other marketing efforts like owned, earned, and paid media. Otherwise, a single algorithm change could tank revenue by pulling your rankings down overnight.
Furniture brand Made.com is an excellent content-based eCommerce example that uses a mix of earned, owned, and paid media.
Owned content marketing channels include an Inspiration section where shoppers can go through visual-centric content featuring how-to design, style tips, inspiration, and trending ideas.
The paid media has TV adverts with a highly-effective copy.
The earned media section has articles covered by other media outlets on topics such as back to office.
Think of SEO in terms of wider marketing efforts since overly relying on search engine results can reduce the overall effectiveness of all of the other channels.
6. Talking only about your products
The primary goal of your eCommerce content marketing strategy is to provide value to your target audience and solve their problems. That precedes everything else.
One easy eCommerce content marketing mistake the majority of brands fall into is hard-selling the product.
So how do you correct this mistake?
Start by educating your customers about the problem your product solves. And not about the business itself.
Explain why your brand beats the competition or how it makes an impact (for example, by contributing to the environment).
One of the top eCommerce content marketing examples that nail this is DocATot - selling multifunctional baby dock products.
The brand aims to provide quality products with benefits that competitors do not offer, including the use of zero harmful substances and Oeko-Tex Certified.
Their content marketing campaigns cater to parents by publishing plenty of practical material to help new parents.
a) Solve real-life problems
A good example is their gift guide makes buying a gift for new parents a breeze.
This guide features a numbered list of products like baby massage oil, sleeping bag, and DocATot Delux+ Doc among many others. They let the parents in on helpful information and point out products that solve their problems.
You can do the research and identify other quality brands for your users along with yours. You don’t have to promote your product 100% of the time to make an impact.
b) Personalize the content for different use cases
DocATot covers different topics (scenarios) like - how to take a newborn to the beach, tips for a successful staycation, and more.
7. Content = blog posts
As per CMI, different types of interactive content serve users in different stages of their journeys.
Their research helped them derive the parts in which such interactive content is more effective when used for content marketing.
Instead of focusing solely on publishing new blog posts, add different types of interactive content to your brand’s eCommerce content marketing strategies arsenal.
This can take many forms:
- Interactive whitepapers
These can be used to collect customer information (likes, dislikes, preferences), direct them to relevant products, and encourage users to spend more time on your website.
This interactive quiz from ThirdLove has a set of questions related to fit and style preferences, aimed at helping users choose a bra that would fit their requirements.
Northern Brewer has a free tool Homebrew Refractometer Calculator to make the brewing process easier and prevent gravity mistakes.
If you are wondering how to present your content in an interactive format, identify the pain points your customer may face.
- If they’re getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products available, a clear outcome quiz will quickly help them know what they need to know about which product to purchase.
- If they’re concerned about whether the product is the right choice, an ROI calculator will help them understand the value they’ll derive out of your product.
- If their concern is that the equipment needs an upgrade, the assessment test can gauge the quality of equipment and give product recommendations.
8. Not creating original content for the About Us page
The About Us page is the go-to for a brand to say: This is who we are.
And failing to do so is a huge eCommerce content marketing mistake.
Don’t treat the About Us page as an obligation. Rather than an opportunity to content with your customers, talk about your vision mission and sell your story.
Here’s how to craft a persuasive About Us page:
a) The founding team’s story
Premium eyewear brand MVMT shares how the two co-founders dropped out of college (along with their photos), then covers the product promise and finally the product philosophy.
b) Explaining the ‘why’
Cotopaxi is a brand making durable hiring gear. Their about us page talks about sustainability, contribution to the society, the why behind the name, and the founder’s story.
c) Announcing new arrivals, partnerships, and product roadmaps
Women’s clothing brand ModCloth uses the About Us page to direct users to new arrivals, partnerships, and collaborations, and to highlight the mission.
9. Not nudging the reader to the next step
You’ve worked hard to bring readers to your site’s content. Don’t let them exit without capturing their email ids. In short, avoid content dead-ends.
Your content should drive visitors to the most important pages where they can take action. This includes signing up for newsletters, discounts, and product updates.
How do you make the ask compelling?
a) Show the right offer
Ask users to sign up for your email newsletter or any other offer you have.
Boxycharm’s email holds the reader’s attention with the promise of a surprise in their emails. In addition, the use of an animated arrow directs your attention to the products.
The freebie is time-bound, which you can claim when you purchase the company’s products. What you can learn from Boxycharm is to highlight the scarcity of products.
b) Use the right words
Acknowledge that the visitor is leaving the site. Phrases like wait and before you leave make the user think before leaving your website.
Brooklinen writes benefit-driven product copies for newsletters. Paired with a high-quality image, Brooklinen treats emails like a landing page.
There is a call to action to buy products and it takes into consideration the fact that first-time buyers might need further help (in terms of benefit-driven product copies for newsletters).
c) Inspire people
Huckberry’s emails weave storytelling with product marketing to inspire people to “such the marrow out of life.” Each email begins with a brief anecdote or description followed by an image-heavy, copy-driven design to draw in readers.
Here’s an example.
The image following this is:
As shown by Huckberry, take out time to create the right content that makes people take action or feel a part of the community.
d) Give them a great reason to sign up for your newsletter (more than just discounts)
Apart from its exceptionally well-crafted newsletters, Allbirds uses a touch of persuasion (with words like limited edition products, and material innovations) to leave you desiring for more information and compelling you to sign up for their newsletter.
e) Value > discounts
Taking the example of Allbirds, the footwear brand uses words like stability, durability, and support to invite users to check out their new product range.
f) Community > offers
Beardbrand’s emails give you a sense of community. What follows the smooth and engaging introduction is product recommendations.
10. Using emails only for transactions and newsletters
Since every eCommerce seller is well-aware of the high ROI of email marketing, remember that your prospects' inboxes are filled with the same type of promotional emails.
Only sending promotional emails is one eCommerce content marketing mistake you should stay away from making.
So, how can you stand out with unique high-converting emails?
a) Send personalized emails
For inspiration, here’s the personalized email example Sephora sends to users as restock reminders.
Along with timely reminders, this allows buyers to directly repurchase their favorite items without having to search for them on the website.
Use personalized emails to make your products more accessible to users while making them feel special.
b) Add user-generated content
You can use user-generated content (testimonials) in your cart abandonment emails. Going a step forward, the customer review can be for specific products the user added to her cart but did not proceed to checkout.
Ilia Beauty uses testimonials in the abandonment email to answer questions the potential buyer might have.
c) Help your customers find the right products
Your emails should solve a customer problem. Deep dive into knowing your customer’s common desires or issues.
Drawing from the example of J. Crew's email that shows users how to put together a leopard print skirt.
J. Crew makes it more convenient to purchase a matching outfit by saving the customer’s time.
d) Send product guides
Post-purchase, send useful guides with easily digestible information. This can include useful tips about how to set up the product or about features they may not know of.
Here’s how Allergy Buyers Club uses product guides to explain the product and takes it as an opportunity to recommend relevant items.
11. Using popups only to offer discounts
Did you know about the 3:47:50 rule in eCommerce marketing? Plainly put.
- Only 3% of your website visitors are ready to buy.
- 47% might buy something in the future.
- 50% may never buy from you.
Stores that offer discount pop-ups end up targeting only visitors planning to make a purchase.
Imagine the money you’re leaving on the table by ignoring the rest 97% of website visitors.
How can eCommerce brands use exit-intent popups creatively?
a) Ask customers about their experience
Think of pop-ups as more than just prompts. With the right content in the right place, popups increase your chances of getting customers to do exactly what you want.
Cosmopolitan uses popups to redirect users to product guides.
b) Collecting visitor feedback
Exit-intent popups can be used to ask customers about their shopping experience.
c) Handle common objections
You could have a pre-recorded video addressing the frequently asked questions about your products, delivery, or returns. The video pops up when the visitor is about to leave the site.
Know what’s stopping the customers from placing an order and use an exit-intent popup to solve this pressing issue before the visitor leaves your website for good.
Exit-intent popups are used to target visitors who are about to leave your site.
When you show the right message and convince them to stay and take action, they can help you grow your email list, increase the number of orders, increase order size, and collect feedback.
Hey, have you seen this? Exit-Intent Pop-Ups: overcoming common mistakes + 20 brilliant examples
12. Not focussing on a mobile-first strategy
eCommerce businesses who are not mindful of mobile eCommerce content marketing strategies will lose a plethora of chances because of a lack of captivating mobile UX design.
With 4 billion people using internet services through their mobile phones to do more than half of their daily needs, ignoring mobile content-based eCommerce will leave you in the dust.
How can you create a mobile-first eCommerce content marketing strategy?
- Discover what your users are searching for locally based on geographical trends using Google Trends.
- Understand the mobile search intent which can be different from the desktop search. Include curated keywords used by each mobile and desktop users in your content to make your mobile content more relevant to the target audience.
- Define the mobile conversion points. For example, enable contextual keyboards; have forms with only the necessary fields; and provide keyboards with @, _, & hyphens for quick access to commonly used keys.
- Make your website and content touch-friendly. Mobile content requires increased space between different touch targets. Make it easier for users to take on the CTAs, products, and links to additional content.
- Write copy for mobile. Write shorter headlines (up to 5 words); include a summary type style in the first paragraph outlining the key takeaways; chunk your content into images, short paragraphs, subheads; and have lots of white space.
13. Over-reliance on original content
Content marketing is increasingly getting tough to get right, but once you do so, it generates incredible results for eCommerce brands.
If your eCommerce content marketing strategy involves only creating original content - you’re one among the run-of-the-mill brands posting forgettable blogs no one cares about.
Instead, try a variety of content including:
a) Repurposed content
Instead of re-inventing the wheel every time, repurpose your content into different formats and post it on multiple channels to attract more viewers.
For example, this post by Beardbrand explains the difference between beard oil and balm.
Their videos also have how-to videos that are also posted on YouTube.
b) Creating ultimate guides by combining smaller posts
Furniture brand Made is the best example of how to repurpose content in different formats.
They have four sections in the blog - Inspiration, Buying Guides, Room Ideas, and Interior Design where they mix and match different articles, product pages, and publish guides combining many articles.
The section Find Your Style has a quiz that helps you find your favorite styles and recommends products accordingly.
c) Updating old content
Breathe new life into old content by giving it an update. The benefits of content refreshes are improved SEO, increased audience engagement, and addressing the changing buyer behaviors.
You can choose pages that used to rank well but have fallen off recently and your top-performing pages for content updates.
A checklist for updating old content:
- Keep the facts fresh and look for more recent information on the same subject.
- Ensure the content satisfies the search intent.
- Update the keywords in the titles, H1, H2, body, and meta descriptions.
- Link to new products in your articles.
- Focus on mobile-first indexing.
Hey, check this out: 15 EASY ways to get customer reviews and boost sales
14. Failing to maintain a content calendar
Plan your content calendar in advance so that you never run short of material to publish. Along with targeting the search queries and keywords, tie in seasonal content and promotions around significant dates.
For example, interior design eCommerce brand Studio McGee centers its content around seasonal trends in addition to other topics.
The Lip Bar’s content covers topics like gift ideas for Mother’s Day. They include different products in the gift-idea articles.
Here’s how luxury leather and metal watch straps brand Watch Gecko covers a wide range of topics as a part of their content marketing strategy.
Trending posts (watches of Top Gun), limited edition launches, and new products are a part of their content calendar.
Avoid the avoidable eCommerce content marketing mistakes
All these points highlight that eCommerce content marketing examples do not only involve creating content.
eCommerce content marketing strategy is a mix of strategies, understanding your users, SEO, creating different types of content, distributing these assets, and many other things.
Content-based eCommerce entails constant learning, optimizing, improving, and adjusting.
Implementing these strategies may take time, but once you see the results, you’ll love content marketing for your eCommerce brand.