5 Logical Steps To Help Your eCommerce Site Produce Content That Converts

Asante Jarvis
Jun 13, 2018 · 10 min read

“We’re going to sit at our desks and keep typing while the walls fall down around us because we’re creative — the least important, most important thing there is.” Don Draper

It’s hard to see the value of a content strategy. After finally launching your site, you need sales. The last thing you want to do is pay for something that maybe will convert into paying customers. A lot of eCommerce site owners don’t feel content is worth their time when they can simply invest in ads.

Content is a double-edged sword. It takes time to work which most of us don’t have. Not only do you have to produce the content, but you also have to get people to read, comment, share and engage with it.

However, there is a very real reason why marketers continue to put up with content despite all its flaws. It works.

Content is how you put your long-term vision for your company into action. It’s how you guide people through the sales process. The content you create builds a context around your product and your company. Giving value through videos, blog posts, graphics and guides (content) is how you build trust.

After reading this article, I want you to consider if it’s possible for your affiliate/eCommerce site to bring value to your customers through content. Challenge yourself to think about new ways you can demonstrate that your product/service is truly worth it.

In this post, we’ll look at five steps that will help you establish a content direction for your next eCommerce project. We’ll use the example of a job hunting website that is trying to promote a resume service.

Step #1 You Need To Find Your Audience

Knowing your audience is how you make efficient use of your resources. Playing guessing games wastes your time and drains your energy. Finding ways to be productive is especially crucial if you’re starting solo.

Looking at our job hunting site, it’s not enough to just target everyone looking for a job. You can’t offer the same type of resume service to a person in college and a person working at the c-suite level. In addition to finding the right segment to target, you need to ensure you can provide the right level of service for them.

When you target everyone, you expose yourself to entertaining unqualified leads. Dealing with unqualified leads makes the sales process longer and uses more resources (time, money, energy, etc.). Taking a broad approach might work if you have thousands of dollars just for running ads. However, if you want to be efficient, you need to target your ideal customers.

How Do I Get Started?

For our job hunting site, not many people are going to be actively posting on social media about their job-hunting woes. Not everyone feels comfortable tweeting about their employment situation. There are many niches where you won’t find your audience actively participating on social media.

However, what you can do is identify the key influencers in your niche.
No matter what niche you’ve picked, there’s always going to be somewhere or someone the community looks to for advice. Once you narrow down the gurus and experts in your niche, you’ll begin to have a better idea of what your audience looks like. Take the time to analyze popular content and especially what people are saying in the comments to learn more.

Once you begin to get an idea of what your audience looks like, start to narrow down. Targeting people re-entering the job market after an absence is a much more specific and defined audience than merely targeting job seekers in Boston. The more specific you can get, the easier it is to cater to the people who will eventually pay you.

Questions you need to ask yourself during audience research:

· What do these people look like? Can you tell where they’re from?

· What problems are these people facing?

· How would you describe this group of people in your own words?

· Are the influencers they follow failing to address a certain topic?

Step #2 Find Out What Their Problems Are

Your marketing efforts are going to fall short if you rely on your product features to help you stand out. This is especially true if you’re an affiliate or eCommerce site since you’re likely not the only one selling your product.

In our job website example, if we only promote the benefits of getting your resume edited (make it more professional, accurately depict your skills, professionally formatted), we’re not going to make any meaningful connections with our audience.

We already know the biggest problem for our job-hunting audience is that they obviously, can’t find a job. We’ve also gone a bit more specific by identifying that we want to target people re-entering the job market after an absence. Now we have to find out what problems this particular set of people face.

When hunting for problems to solve, the best place to start is with the list of popular sites and influencers you created in the last step. Looking at how your audience interacts with these experts will clue you into the type of challenges that they face. Remember to take notes on potential problems as you comb through content in your industry.

Identifying problems is easier if you can find your audience having an active discussion. Forum websites and places like Reddit are excellent for finding your audience discussing their issues in real time. You can flesh out their issues by analyzing their comments and the type of questions they’re asking.

After some quick research on people re-entering the workforce, it’s clear that:
· They struggle with overcoming age discrimination
· They’re not confident in their ability to work with technology
· They’re unsure how to handle taking orders from someone younger than them (bad at managing work relationships)
· They don’t know how to address their absence from the workforce

These are just four clear issues I found after a few minutes of browsing blog posts and social media. Once you do the same for your audience, we can move on to the next step.

Step #3 How Does Your Product Address Their Problems?

If your product isn’t a solution to the problems you identified in the last step, you need to make a change. Don’t be afraid to use step 3 to make changes to what you’re offering to make it more useful to your target audience.

Going back to our job website, we want to sell our resume editing service. We’re targeting people re-entering the job market. One of their most significant problems is combatting age discrimination.

The first step is to make a list of tangible things your product can do to help people overcome their issues. In our case, getting your resume professionally formatted helps recruiters take our audience seriously. A lot of people re-entering the workforce, unfortunately, include everything they’ve done on their resume. This is a turn off to recruiters that have hundreds of applications to review. Modern recruiters are looking for a streamlined summary of how a person can help the company.

In addition to streamlining their resume, our service will better prepare our audience to pitch their skills. Creating a new objective for their resume will help our audience confidently speak about the different ways they can bring value to a company. People re-entering the workforce have valuable real-life experience that often crosses over industries. Streamlining their resume and crafting a new “elevator pitch” are two ways our resume service can help our audience feel more confident about re-entering the job market.

Now, instead of promoting our job-hunting site as a generic way to improve your resume, we have specific issues we can use to attract people. Our ads, content and marketing efforts will now be based on the solutions we identified above. The solutions we pulled from customer problems are a much more attractive value proposition instead of simply saying “we can make your resume better.”

Take the time to align how your product solves each problem you discovered during your research. As mentioned before, don’t be afraid to make changes to what you’re offering to make it more useful to your audience.

Step #4 Start Brainstorming Topics

When brainstorming topic ideas for your site, you should have two goals: to create engagement (likes, shares, comments) and nurture sales (address concerns, demonstrate the value of your product, show your product in action).

Engagement on your content is what’s going to drive sales. The only way people are going to engage with your content is if they think what you’re saying is helpful. Start by taking the problems you identified in step 3 and build your content ideas from there. Feel free to pull ideas from your competition or discussion topics on social media. Make sure you give credit where credit is due, or you risk harming your brand.

Going back to our job-hunting site, we identified that people re-entering the job market struggle with:

· Overcoming age discrimination
· Developing the confidence to work with technology
· Knowing how to take orders from someone younger than them (bad at managing work relationships)
· Addressing their absence from the workforce

Thanks to our research, we can be confident that this audience wants content that focuses on being a successful modern employee. We can also start researching, and writing guides on technology people in our segment are likely to use on the job. There’s also the opportunity to produce content about maintaining healthy work relationships with an age gap. These are examples of topics that are much more useful than “4 tips to improve your resume”.

As you continue to brainstorm your topics, remember to leave room to tie in how your product can act as a solution. You don’t need to make hard sells in your content to get people interested. If you adequately researched your audience and their problems, your product will come across naturally as a solution in the content. These are principles you can use to build anticipation.

Step #5 Execute

Believe it or not, the best content will come from a person who is intimately familiar with your product and vision. Even if you don’t feel that you’re a good writer, it’s worth getting involved in the content process. The better you know your product, the easier it will be to create quality content that doesn’t miss the minute details of your product.

Of course, not everyone has the time or interest to take on writing, which makes hiring a writer important. The best advice I can give you when looking for a writer is to come prepared. You’ll find a writer performs at a much higher level if you come ready with notes and outlines for them to review. If you simply hire a writer and say you need content for your job-hunting site, you can’t be mad when they come back with “4 tips to improve your resume”.

One of the best ways to help your writer is to get involved in the outlining process. You can create an outline for the writer where you identify key points about your product that need to be covered in your content. You should also include specific information about how your product/service helps your customers. The ability to be specific about how you help your audience is what makes the research in steps 2 and 3 particularly important.

To sum up, creating content that converts requires:

Now that you know what it takes to produce content people find valuable, how will you serve your audience?

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 334,853+ people.

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