You own or work in marketing at a small-to-medium sized e-commerce company, and you know all too well the challenges that business realities pose for you. You can’t solely compete on price, because a larger company could swoop in and take the advantage away overnight. Good luck competing with Amazon on shipping deals.
The best weapon against the death spiral of selling solely on price is increased customer loyalty. But how do you make that happen?
“The best weapon against the death spiral of selling solely on price is increased customer loyalty.”
If you were a standard brick-and-mortar business, the challenges would be no different, but the answers would be easier. You and your staff would meet customers right at the point of purchase. It becomes much easier for clients and potential clients to connect your great customer service to a living, breathing human being. You can develop relationships.
A clinic on using the human connection to create loyalty—and sell it to future clients—was demonstrated in this scene from The Office. It just as well as it could be demonstrated in any business seminar.
But if e-commerce constitutes most, if not all of your business, then important marketing activity isn’t happening in the physical world. How do you create that same sense of brand loyalty?
The answer is content marketing.
Success Thrives on Metrics Based Content Strategy
Think about the phrase “content marketing” for a moment. It does not mean you create a single blog post. Or throw up a Facebook page. Or do any other random content-related activity that might be good in of itself, but meaningless apart from an overall plan. Content marketing implies a cohesive, developed strategy that has loyalty metrics (return website visitors, repeat customers, email signups) as a key component.
“Content marketing implies a cohesive, developed strategy that has loyalty metrics (return website visitors, repeat customers, email signups) as a key component.”
This in turn requires that you think about your website in the right way. You can’t see it as just a mechanism for exchanging credit card numbers and shipping addresses. Or for conveying information in blog posts. Content marketing means giving your website a personality of its own.
Give It a Personality
Let’s say your website was a hired sales representative (which it is) and was going to be at a convention with a number of good sales prospects. How would you want your company represented? Would you want your rep to come off as warm and personal, the kind you’d like to hang out with? Or do you like someone more serious, but exceptionally knowledgeable and trustworthy—the kind you can count on in a pinch?
Either type of rep can attract customers. It’s just a matter of finding the ones who are attracted by the rep’s unique personality. But would you want a rep to be an automated drone, who conveyed accurate information, but lacked a personality? When you don’t use a developed content strategy aimed at building loyalty, that’s essentially what you are turning your website into, that is, the kind of sales person you would fire.
The Dating Game
I once worked at an online dating site, and after leaving the home office to become a freelancer, I was asked to contribute to the site’s content marketing efforts. A new editor wanted to know what the internal atmosphere of the office was like, and I recalled the numerous games of Foosball that happened on extended lunch hours… and the pranks played with rotten bananas.
“I recalled the numerous games of Foosball that happened on extended lunch hours… and the pranks played with rotten bananas.”
The editor insisted I write a blog post about it—not because it had the remotest thing to do with online dating, but because it gave the site’s members of the feeling of connecting with the office in a real-world way. We couldn’t make that kind of connection face-to-face.
As a niche site, we were always vulnerable to price cuts by E-Harmony or another major site. But we could use content to show we were real—that we were like our customers and potential customers. That niche site is still thriving today in its 20th year in business.
Long Term Commitment
Of course there was more than a single blog post that went into the marketing plan and it included videos and other content, all consistently shared through social media. It required long-range planning with editorial calendars, understanding of metrics and daily commitment—just like any other marketing activity.
An e-commerce business with a cohesive content marketing strategy builds brand loyalty and competes on something besides price. Here, any brand has a shot at being a winner.
Get customers to fall in love with your brand. We can help. Call us at (443) 475-0787 or Contact Us online.