Is content marketing critical for retailers? If you're a consumer goods brand like Red Bull or Wheat Thins, creating content makes sense. It is even more critical in the long sales cycle world of B2B marketing. But is it really worth doing for retailers? The short answer is yes. This is especially true if you are an eCommerce retailer or you have an eCommerce component to your retail operation. In those instances, using content to help people find you and drive them to your website can be a very valuable tool in your marketing toolkit. But, even if you're solely a brick and mortar retailer, using content to attract new customers and create loyalty and return customers can be very important.
First of all, according to Google, 97% of customers search for local businesses online. Which means, if they're looking for a place to shop and they're not just going to their "normal" place – they're going to do an online search. Furthermore, Google recently revealed that fresh content is one of the top two factors in determining your Google ranking. Today, your website's SEO is more about the content on your site than a proliferation of the right keywords. So, if you want your store to come up high in your potential customers' searches, you need to create quality content and post it to your site regularly.
As consumers find more ways to avoid commercials – DVR, Netflix, satellite radio, streaming music, etc. – they spend more time searching out information they want or need online rather than just absorbing it through advertised messages. Consumers expect you to have information on your site that will help them make purchase decisions. If you're not providing them with the information and answers they're seeking on your site, they will go somewhere else. And not just for answers, but to make a purchase.
Creating content that connects with your customer base and helps them in their everyday lives will bring more people to your site and eventually to your store. If they are searching for answers to how to do something or different ways to solve a problem they have and you are able tp provide the solutions, you will gain trust, loyalty and future shopping consideration – even if they're not in the market for what you sell right now. Create content that solves problems your specific set of customers have and they will find you online. This brings you new prospects and happy customers, before they are even customers.
Content creates an ongoing relationship with your customer that moves them through the sales funnel. According to the TopRank Marketing blog, "content fuels customer engagement at all stages of the customer life cycle from top of funnel to ongoing relationship. Content can educate customers about your products and services. It can help educate about the buying process and how to get the most out of the purchase. It can continue to reinforce the relationship and inspire renewals, upgrades and referrals."
Retail marketing is all about driving sales on a week to week basis. Content marketing is the long game to your promotional short game. It will pay dividends in terms of more customers, more sales and longer customer life cycles. It offers you real business advantages. It's not as easy to measure as the 10-day or weekend sales report, but it is measurable. You just have to have the right plan with goals and metrics in place. So, now you know why your should do content marketing. But what kind of content should you create? I'll cover that in next week's #RetailerTuesday blog post.