How are ecommerce brands using content marketing? 

In this post, I'll look at some examples from retailers which show how it can be done. 

Ecommerce and content marketing

The content used here has a number of purposes: 

  • Raising brand awareness. 
  • SEO. Effective content can help sites to rank for certain products or services. 
  • Audience-building. A good content operation can build and retain an audience for a retailer. 
  • Help and advice. How-to guides and other advisory can help to show how products can work and push customers further down the purchase funnel. 
  • Improving social reach. Rather than just posting products and offers, content gives brands something else to post on social channels. 
  • Selling. It's not all about the hard sell, but content can help to feature and raise awareness of products. 

Here are some examples of retailers useing content well, for some or all of the purposes mentioned above. 

I should note that I don't have stats showing just how effective these content uses are, with the exception of the Asda example, though I think we can safely conclude that it has worked for Net-A-Porter. 

Lowes 

I've included Lowes for its inventive use of Vine.  

The retailer's Vines include product promotions, but mainly consist of useful tips. 

Scotts Menswear

Scotts has taken content seriously, and invested to ensure the job is done well. In fact, the blog is run by ex-Loaded editor James Brown. 

Content is around sports, films. fashion etc and targeted at a demographic which should include the Scott's customer:

It doesn't try the hard sell too much, just the occasional link where products are mentioned in the post, as below: 

Mr Porter

Mr Porter has a content section called 'The Journal' which has some very sleek and well presented articles, like this interview with Jose Mourinho: 

No hard sell here, though it does post links to the clothes the Chelsea manager is pictured wearing: 

ASDA

Asda knew that people wouldn’t actually want to subscribe to an ‘Asda channel’ on YouTube, why would a consumer care about following a supermarket. Instead it developed a channel that’s ‘brought to you by Asda’. 

The content is driven by the content producers Asda has partnered with. The branding is unimportant to the viewer, in fact it doesn’t even matter.

On the channel page itself you can see how small the Asda logo is…

This worked for Asda too. The supermarket set itself a target of 750,000 views in the first year. It achieved that after eight weeks.

The channel also has nearly 87,000 subscribers. The links to Asda have a 1% click-through-rate. More than 1,100 have clicked through on a ‘bunny lamp’ link and made a purchase. 

Net-A-Porter

Net-a- Porter has long integrated content into its marketing strategy and product offering in an entirely seamless manner, with editorial a focus of the homepage.

Edit itself is a weekly ‘magazine’ with about 30 pages, and it includes brand advertising. 

Net-A-Porter subtly links to products shown in features: 

Grazia

Hannah Stacey (@hanstacey) from Ometria recommends Grazia, thanks to its easy transition from content to commerce, as well as the style of the content. 

It's more magazine style content, rather than an obvious attempt to sell. 

AO.com

AO uses content like videos which demonstrate products expertly on its pages, but also has AO life, a content section within the main site. 

It has a wide range of contributors, including one Econsultancy guest writer. 

Again, no hard sell here, just links to products where they are mentioned in articles: 

Bonobos

This site uses quizzes to engage customers and subtly point them to their own products: 

Coggles

The Life section on Coggles contains lots of editorial, not all of which is directly related to the brand's products. 

For example, this article on luxury destinations in Europe matches the brand values, but doesn't attempt to sell. It's more about relationship building. 

Patagonia

This retailer sells clothing and equipment for the outdoors and this naturally lends itself to some great topics for content which fits very nicely with the products on offer. 

Like Net-A-Porter, it places its content prominently on the site. The homepage is taken over by promotions for three videos: 

The pages mix video content (relatively long at 15 minutes+) as well as great use of instagram from users:

It also has blogs covering climbing, skiing, trail running and more. None opt for the hard sell, but products are displayed in context along the way: 

Made.com

Made.com uses instagram to show how its customers use their furniture: 

It's great use of social proof which provides potential customers with ideas, and suggests to them how many happy customers the site has had.  

It also provides a great opportunity to promote the products shown: 

 Which ecommerce sites do you think are using content effectively? Let me know in the comments...  

Our new Implementing Content Strategy: Digital Best Practice report, written by experienced consultant Dr Mike Baxter, provides a framework for evaluating your current content strategy and content planning processes, helping you make the most of your content in the future.

Graham Charlton

Published 12 May, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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