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Sales are always the top priority for an e-commerce site. However, a complementary content marketing strategy can not only improve the site’s blog integration, but it can also encourage shopping. In this video, we discuss the most common content pitfalls on e-commerce sites and how to avoid them.

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Video Transcription

Hey, everyone, Ross, founder of Siege Media here, and today we’re gonna talk about “E-commerce Content Marketing Best Practices.” A common client set we have is e-commerce, so we’ve learned a bit about that over time. I wanna share some common tips I’ve been thinking about recently that we deploy and recommend to clients or potential clients.

Have a Harmonious Blog Setup

One that I see very often on e-commerce sites that is worth mentioning is the setup of the blog experience. So, I think it is especially common in e-commerce to basically be disconnected from the main site and also be on a subdomain for a few reasons. For one, it’s generally a security concern. The CMS for the main site is living on its own CMS very often. Shopify and other, similar e-commerce setups are one of the few that do that.

But for more enterprise setups, almost always it’s disconnected from wherever the content is hosted. And because of that, the security team and the dev team will primarily set it (if there isn’t an SEO to actually make it an advisory there) on a subdomain that is disconnected. Of course, as SEO we know that you should move from a subdomain to a subfolder. We have several case studies that are moving from that setup to increase our client’s traffic, somewhat significantly.

We have 50%+ increases from doing that, but not just from the setup of the main site to the blog. Because these sites don’t always have content in their DNA, their blogs feel dramatically different from the main site. You sometimes can move from the blog to the main site and create a completely different experience. It creates a lack of harmony, which in turn is bad for actually converting users.

Blogs should feel similar to the main site. That can be done in a few ways, but primarily I think it is very critical and recommended to pull in your main navigation and your main footer for an e-commerce experience. Always, you want to create a good shopping experience in e-commerce, which is also good for SEO.

Because if you’re doing something top funnel, middle funnel, and generating some links to it, that will power those pages more when you are internally linking appropriately. And also for users, it’s just a more natural experience to go back to the main site and shop when you’re doing these kinds of things.

So, I would suggest generally for e-commerce sites: look at that setup, make sure you’re off a subdomain, and your blog feels similar to the main site. I think there is a common trend that there are a lot of like publisher, fluffy type e-commerce blogs, and it should feel the same. A blog is an educational experience. It should entertain as well, but these need to be harmonious or you end up being one of those mini e-commerce sites that end up killing their blog strategy because you realize it’s not converting at all.

So, another element of this harmony that I like can be found on sites like Crutchfield or to REI, where you’ll see that their blog sections are subcategorized in their navigation by advice for those sections.

If you go to the running section for REI or the outdoor section, you’ll see their specific call to action for a TV content section for that. And on REI, it’s the same for their subsections as well. There’s not just a blog link in this corner. That’s not great UX. People come into Crutchfield, they come into our REI for many different reasons. You can go outdoors for lots of different reasons, you can set up into your TV experience for many different reasons. So, why would you put them into one narrow funnel? That is a great user experience and I think it will also help the conversion action, the relevancy, the time on-site, all those things that these two sites do so well or excel from with that setup.

Leverage Visual Content

Another thing with e-commerce as compared to other markets like finance, is that e-commerce is way more visual on average than finance. We do a lot of photoshoots for e-commerce clients, we do a lot of video for e-commerce clients, we do more visually impressive things because e-commerce is very often about inspiring and entertaining. And because of that drawing a quick action to make a $10 to $50 purchase as compared to finance, which is often your money or your life decisions at $1000+ purchases.

That can be done with visually engaging content that draws the eye and creates a positive experience. To have that kind of content, you sometimes have to invest in some cost differentiators as a company. Maybe photography is right for you if your product lineup is visually heavy, maybe video makes sense because that’s how people are solving questions around that topic area. That’s just something generally to consider.

One thing we do for our clients is to build multiple points of ROI from that singular experience. So, an example for ProFlowers is we made this balloon arch and we created a video for it. It solved “how to make a balloon arch” for that client and it intelligently incorporates flowers.

But we also created original photography off that video asset for each step that allows it to rank for that topic. Then, at the end, we build a more comprehensive infographic that we can use for pitching and give people three modes of actually pitching that content in order to get it to rank and be relevant for the client by incorporating their flowers that can also be leveraged on Facebook.

So, you can see we just did a video that was on YouTube and it wasn’t tied into SEO, it wasn’t tied into link building, and it wasn’t tied into social. This seems like a pretty expensive endeavor, but for high-quality original content, you really have to think about it intelligently, and one thing I suggest checking out is the GaryVee model where he gets sometimes 200 pieces of content off of one kind of hub asset.

Maybe it’s a keynote and he’ll take tons of quotes, he’ll make a podcast, he’ll do social images, he’ll do a blog post. All of that kind of key concept. And I think that’s especially relevant in e-commerce because of the need to create this high-quality inspirational content to match that framework. So, think about repurposing to get more value and visual differentiators in doing that.

Leverage Outside Bloggers

Another thing we do a lot for clients when we’re not doing original content is roundups. Again, on the visual inspiration side, often bringing together ideas for, say, a home decor set up or a kitchen cabinet set up. All of these ideas tie into visual inspiration and rarely does it make sense to photograph 30 different options to actually rank for that. It’s really impossible.

So, to do it, you actually have to get permission from bloggers who have created something around that. We do a few things there, but we generally suggest to make sure you first reach out for permission from all those bloggers before you include them on your posts or you can get some very angry bloggers who think you’re basically out to make money off of them, which is probably true if you’re doing that. So, give them value as they’ve given to you. In requesting for permission, make sure it’s a yes.

But as a next step, even if they say yes to you, I think the long-term thing to do if you want to keep doing these roundup type setups going is to make sure you’re ethically pushing traffic to these sites. I think a lot of people will set up these roundup posts and actually not push to those bloggers. That is not providing any value for them, and you are instead stealing that value for your site.

Create the ethical one-two setup in order to give them more value, and create a scenario where the ecosystem allows you to be sustained and create a nice setup. We do that with roundups. You can add value and bring it back to your brand instead of just having a crappy set of lists or photos.

Create a layout and styled post with a few different images or surrounded by something that’s custom-designed for that brand. It also gives people things to share. Rarely is someone going to share a singular idea from another blogger. They shouldn’t, they should link to that other blogger. But if you make these photo collages, you’ve now made something linkable off these roundups that often make sense for e-commerce sites.

CTAs Should Be Centered on Shopping

So, another thing that’s relevant for e-commerce, in particular, is that you don’t want e-book calls to action, a webinar, etc. You actually want a shopping call to action. So, if you check out REI, they incorporate shop called action buttons on their site. These will push you to buy a tent or a yoga mat in a way that is not in your face or obtrusive.

It’s natural, it’s at the right stage in the funnel. So, if it’s top funnel, there won’t be as many. If it’s middle funnel, they might be a little more included but it’s not like punching you in the face with a popup or having something follow you or having something sloppy at the end. This is classy.

And because of that, that is who REI is. It’s someone people hold in high regard. I actually asked our team, “Who do you like for the e-commerce standpoint?” and several people pointed us to REI despite the fact that they are littered with these calls to action because it’s classically done.

I think it’s a great way for e-commerce sites to think about making sure they mix value for the user and also get their outcome in terms of the shopping experience by these classy, not too large buttons for the site.

We can look at another example here on Gaiam that is actually messier. The navigation follows you, it’s obtrusive, the design doesn’t look great. And at the end, they have this shopping carousel which isn’t very custom feeling. It’s actually all these elements that are disconnected from the body and are less relevant because of that.

It’s going to convert worse and create a worse user experience for the person. And that’s why REI consistently outranks a site like this with their setup. So, I would suggest taking from REI’s inspiration and using that kind of experience to build off how you should push to your end-user.

You can also build social retargeting off of those same funnels. So, if someone lands on a beginner’s guide to camping, you might not want to send them something on tents, but if there’s a tent buying guide, you want to pixel them specifically and then retarget them to your tent’s page in order to close the funnel and make sure you’re maximizing value from the overall funnel you’re building with content marketing. I see far too many sites that aren’t even pixeling their users and using retarding funnels intelligently to lead them down to the purchase experience and only hoping that it happens with their content marketing setup.

Expect a Lower DA

On the link building side, generally, a lot of these lifestyle markets which often tie to Pinterest and the like, the average DA you’re going to generate will be lower. It’s going to be 30-ish on average with cold pitching. But that’s an okay outcome because that’s just the nature of this market.

Finance, insurance, tech, are going to have a higher DA on average because they’re more tech-savvy. They don’t link out more, but be okay with being where your audience is. That doesn’t mean get crappy guest posts or forum links just because I said the number is going to be lower. Still, look for quality but understand that the average number might be lower simply by the nature of the market. So, you don’t just go searching for high-end press just to get it.

Those are the main tips that we have from an e-commerce standpoint today. These are things that I’m excited about, things I’m thinking about with our own sites. We love to hear how you’re thinking about e-commerce content marketing. If you have any ideas, tips, or suggestions for us, let us know. And thanks for watching.

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