When it comes to eCommerce content strategy, different types of content are the different tools in your toolbox. You have to know when and how to use each one, otherwise, you’ll try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver.

This piece acts as a complete reference guide to the types of content at your disposal for constructing the content strategy for your online store. Each entry includes a description, a list of advantages, some best practices, and a telltale example.

Think of this guide as a quick-reference catalogue for different types of content, to help make sure you always make the best choice for whatever your content strategy calls for.

Blogs and Articles

The most popular and versatile type of content, blogs and articles, are like the gold standard for content. They can be used at almost any stage of the sales funnel and can range from informative to strictly entertaining. You can even guest-post your blogs on other sites to spread your brand to new audiences.

Blogs can cover a variety of formats: breaking news posts, how-to guides, references guides, and even editorials or opinion pieces. Because they can be so informative, blogs are a great way to establish yourself an authority on your niche.

Moreover, blogs are great for SEO. They’re a wealth of words that, in the right hands, can be tailored to attract the attention of search engines. According to an OptinMonster list of statistics, companies that blog have an average of 434% more indexed pages. The same page also cited that blogs that post daily also get five times more traffic than blogs that post weekly or less.

Advantages

  • Versatile — any format or tone
  • Boosts SEO
  • Frequent informative blogs on your niche establish you as an authority
  • Guest posts get your name to new audiences and improve SEO (despite the critics, guest blogging is still a great way of gaining links and sales)
  • Produce 67% more leads on average than sites without blogs
  • Provides shoppers with information that encourages a sale

Best Practices

Short paragraphs. A blog with lengthy blocks of text looks intimidating and can scare off readers before they even give it a chance.

Catchy titles. Often, users will decide whether or not to read a blog based on its title, especially if the title is the only information they have. Blog title writing is a skill in itself, with its own best practices.

Images. A page filled completely with text can be boring, so it’s best to break up the monotony with images. These images can also help with SEO, as long as they’re tagged properly.

Post regularly. Posting on a regular schedule creates a rhythm and encourages visitors to check back more frequently. Posting irregularly or infrequently annoys fans of your blog. Learn to keep a set publishing schedule.

Example

WatchGecko use their blog to establish themselves as an authority on watches. Among their topics are watch buying advice, cars, motorsports and other topics that are popular among their target shopper.

Buyers Guides

Buyers guides are content that answer the most commonly asked questions about buying a product or type of product. They can be written in a blog format and also as comparison charts or pricing charts. They are especially useful to eCommerce sites, as they attract new shoppers looking for assistance, establish authority on the topic, and usher shoppers further along the sales funnel.

Advantages

  • Use links to direct shoppers straight to product page
  • Establishes you as an authority
  • Provides users with the information they need to complete a purchase
  • Keeps users on-site while they research
  • Attracts new shoppers searching for information
  • Promotes products shoppers may not know about

Best Practices

Know what your shoppers are looking for. To decide what to include in your buying guide, discover what information your users want to know before making a purchase. Conduct some research of your own through user testing, interviews, or search engine research.

Target “inquisitive” SEO keywords. Buying guides are great for attracting new shoppers. Target keywords that potential customers are searching for and then provide them with that information.

Example

As an Amazon affiliate, the fitness site FitRated shares some of the profits from any sales they direct there. With their FitBit comparison chart, they’re able to quickly answer shoppers’ questions through a visual aid and send them straight to the product page with a single click.

Lookbooks (Product Image Galleries)

For all visual markets — but especially fashion — lookbooks, or product image galleries, are a great way to “inspire” desire in a product. Lookbooks are a series of stylistic photos depicting the product, sometimes in a collage format. Their advantage is twofold: first, the artistic nature establishes a deeper emotional connection with the shopper than basic product photos; and second, the shopper can better see the product in context.

Advantages

  • Entertains while aiding the shopping process
  • Establishes an emotional connection with shopper
  • Shows products used in context
  • Strengthens brand reputation
  • Opens opportunity for collaboration with social influencers
  • Material for social media
  • Improves SEO for image searches

Best Practices

Create an experience. Lookbooks work because they enhance the shopping experience. Play into this by designing your lookbook in the right style and tone that your shoppers are looking for.

Showcase featured products. You can give specific products extra attention by featuring them in a lookbook, especially if you’re repurposing the photos for social media.

Example

Online glasses retailer Polette does a great job with their lookbooks, grouping their items into different styles and themes, even including video stories.

They also feature their lookbooks as soon as you land on their homepage.

Social Media

Another core component of any content marketing strategy is social media content. Not only do social media posts promote your brand, they also synergise with your other content posts. A Facebook post can advertise your blog articles, and your blog article can include a Facebook call-to-action.

The style of posts can determine and strengthen your brands reputation; career advice makes you seem professionally valuable, while just-for-laughs posts make you seem relatable and funny. Moreover, a strong social media presence also provides social proof, boosts SEO and provides the opportunity for unique promotional campaigns — the benefits are endless.

Advantages

  • Drive traffic to the main site
  • Attract new customers
  • Create a more personal relationship with customers
  • Boosts SEO
  • Customer research: know what types of customers your business attracts
  • Promotion for sales campaigns and events
  • Generate media coverage
  • Social proof
  • Faster response to problems or complaints
  • Increases brand loyalty
  • Match competitors’ social media presence
  • No cost

Best Practices

Engage in conversations. The upper hand that social media has over other types of content is direct interaction with customers. Sure, there are comments and reviews, but response times lag compared to the immediacy of social media.

Always engage directly with customers to take advantage of the two-way conversation. This requires more than just responding to customers’ questions or complaints — it’s also about starting conversations by posing questions to your followers.

The 70-20-10 Model. Most professional social media marketers adhere to the 70-20-10 model for deciding which type of content to post:

  • 70%: Relevant to brand or business, but not self-promotional. For example, a camera eCommerce site could post a lot of award-winning photography, but not product pictures of their own cameras.
  • 20%: Shared. Still relevant to your niche, but doesn’t originate from you. For example, you could post industry news so your followers look to you to stay up to date. Reposting others’ content is a great way to make friends, too.
  • 10%: Self-promotional. Only 10% of your posts should be direct sales pitches or promoting your own goals.

No matter what, every post on social media should be 1. relevant to your industry and 2. relevant to your followers’ interests.

Focus on the platforms with your demographics. Different social media platforms attract different demographics, so invest more in the ones with your ideal shoppers.

Campaigns that encourage user involvement. Social media opens a lot of doors for creative campaigning. Offer some incentive for users to engage with your social media, whether a coupon code for becoming a follower, or a contest for publishing content with one of your products.

Lean on visuals. Social media feeds favor visuals, and posts with images get 94% more views.

Don’t underestimate Instagram. Instagram works especially well with eCommerce as a means to promote both the brand and individual products.

Use a posting tool. Knowing when to post is a skill by itself, not to mention there’s always a risk of forgetting. Tools like Buffer help schedule and post for you, so nothing slips through the cracks. All you have to do is input your own posts, and they’ll publish it on their own.

Example

Given GoPro’s product line, almost all of its social media content is videos. Their YouTube channel has several successful subchannels divided by subject, including extreme sports, American football, animals, and even their own user-submitted award selections to promote engagement.

Infographics

Since they first started receiving attention around 2010, infographics have steadily risen in popularity. Their usefulness lies in expressing complex data in a manner that’s fast, processible, and even fun. They also benefit the companies that make them: on average, businesses that market with infographics see a 12% traffic increase.

More than just a visual aid, infographics make otherwise bland data like statistics into something entertaining and easier-to-digest. Their potential affords them a degree of creativity in addition to providing genuinely useful information. On top of that, they’re easy to share and go viral, making them a nice addition to the right brands’ content strategy.

Advantages

  • Provides customers with information they need
  • Establishes you as an authority
  • Easily shareable and embeddable
  • Increases new traffic and brand recognition

Best Practices

Narrative flow. The beauty of infographics is they’re more entertaining than just citing facts and data. Design yours with a coherent narrative flow, for example, divide it into topical sections that each build on the previous one.

Promote it. Your infographic will require an extra push to get it passed around and shared. Here’s some ways you can promote them:

  • SEO-laden release post
  • Structured social media releases
  • Manual outreach to influencers and key players in your industry

Example

Diamond Nexus do a good job with their infographics, gaining plenty of engagement on their site with them.

Podcasts

Podcasts are just another way to offer your expertise to your target audience, just like blogs or infographics. But the important thing to remember is that different people have different preferences — some prefer reading, others prefer listening. You don’t have to choose between visual, textual, and audio content; it’s better to have them all to attract all types of shoppers.

Think of podcasts as an episodic variation of talk radio. A podcast for an eCommerce site might feature a charismatic host discussing industry news or topics, or interviewing relevant guests, in periodic instalments.

Not only are podcasts becoming increasingly popular each year, but marketers are investing more in this format due to their unique audience: studies show podcast listeners tend to be well-educated, affluent and also use social media more.

Advantages

  • Establishes you as an authority
  • Targets specific type of customer with affinity for social sharing and greater income
  • Repeat traffic anticipating new episodes

Best Practices

Right equipment. The content of your podcast won’t matter if your microphone makes it indecipherable. You don’t need to break the bank for a sufficient microphone, as long as you shop wisely.

Structure each episode. Structuring a podcast is a little more difficult than other types of content because most people don’t have the experience with audio programming than, say, writing an article. Here are some great podcast scripts and formats from Voices.com.

Trial runs. Especially if you have no experience in radio or public speaking, you’ll want to do a few trial runs before launching your first podcast. This will help you solidify your style and tone, plus knock out any technical issues.

Submit to iTunes. iTunes is one of the best ways to get your podcast heard. Read these guidance suggestions from iTunes itself to make sure your podcast is suitable for submission.

Include a transcript. To increase your SEO and appeal to shoppers who prefer reading and browsing over the commitment of listening, include a transcript of each episode within the post.

Example

Watches of Switzerland do a great job with their podcast, discussing all the intricacies of horology with expert guests.

Video

The Guardian once wrote: “Video is the future of content marketing. That is, if it’s not the here and now.” and how right they were…

Modern and highly visual, video content has a reach unlike any other content. It’s incredibly flexible in subject matter, style, and length, making them suitable for virtually any marketing goals or industry. How-to guides, regular series, product videos and even Dog videos can all give your brand the benefits it needs.

Advantages

  • Attract new business
  • Strengthen bonds with existing customers
  • Deeper emotional bonds
  • Can be repurposed on a variety of platforms
  • Shows products in action
  • Flexible
  • Easily shareable on social media

Best Practices

Product videos. Regardless of your overall content marketing strategy, every eCommerce site should have product videos. The statistics are overwhelmingly positive:

  • 73% more shoppers will buy after watching a video
  • 71% of shoppers believe videos explain products better
  • 58% of shoppers view companies with product videos as more trustworthy

How-to videos. How-to guides establish your brand as an authority, no matter if they’re written or filmed. Some procedures are just explained better on video than in text, and some audiences (such as younger groups) prefer videos.

Include a transcript. Because search engines aren’t yet as skilled at handling video as text, including a transcript of your video boosts your SEO. Plus, it appeals to some users who prefer reading to watching.

Example

Makeup is, of course, an industry steeped in visuals. That’s why the cosmetic giant MAC has pages of makeup video tutorials. This is a sought-after topic for loyal and new customers alike, and the site brings in new traffic simply by providing resources people are searching for.

More often than not, each video gives the brand a chance to feature specific products, which are highlighted at the side of the video.

Email Marketing

While a little different than the other types of content marketing on this list, email marketing is still a worthwhile avenue — especially for eCommerce.

Email serves a variety of purposes. For starters, it can be a source of communicating directly to your shoppers about new deals or campaigns, even with personalised recommendations. A newsletter with a broader range keeps your entire customer base informed on periodic updates and can entice sales through specialty coupons.

At a more advanced level, emails can even be used to collect customer data; for example, you can email a shopper about why they abandoned their cart to improve your site design in the future or to win the customer back and get a sale.

Advantages

  • Direct communication with shoppers
  • Customer segmentation for more accurate targeting
  • High personalisation levels
  • Customisable for different stages of sales funnel
  • Low cost
  • Synchronised to other channels, like your blog and social media

Best Practices

Subject line. Statistically, the subject line has the greatest impact on the success of an email marketing campaign and must be written in a way that entices people to open the email.

Personalisation. Take advantage of email’s capability for personalisation. For example, look at what the customer has purchased in the past and customise their recommendations. Some areas to look into for speaking to specific customers are:

  • Products browsed and purchased
  • Frequently visited categories
  • Geographic location
  • Date of last order
  • Age

Transactional “series” emails. As opposed to the direct emails that are sent to everyone, transactional emails are sent only when triggered by a customer’s action (or lack-thereof). These types of emails are also personalised, and therefore more effective. Here’s 4 examples of different series we recommend:

 

  • Welcome — Whenever a new customer registers or signs up for a newsletter, send them a welcome letter thanking them and reiterating the advantages.
  • Follow Up — One of the most important types of emails, a follow-up after a purchase is the perfect opportunity to elicit the ever-so-valuable product reviews and ratings. Try to time your email around the time of the products delivery, when their excitement is at its height.
  • Abandoned Cart — If the user has placed an item in the cart and then abandoned it, send a friendly reminder as a way to encourage a sale, or use the chance to collect user data about why they decided against buying.
  • We Miss You — When a customer hasn’t purchased anything in awhile, try to entice them with a special coupon, free shipping, or personalised recommendations for new products.

That wraps it up! Are there any specific types of content you’d like to know more about that weren’t listed here? Mention them in the comments and we’ll include some information about them in this post.