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eCommerce Marketing

Boring Products? No Problem: How Content Can Help Sell Boring Industries

Boring Products? No Problem: How Content Can Help Sell Boring Industries

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

A year ago


Boring Products? No Problem: How Content Can Help Sell Boring Industries

It’s no secret that content marketing is effective and improves the ROI of marketing programs. By utilizing content marketing, eCommerce store owners are better able to increase leads, boost traffic, and engage with customers. In fact, according to statistics from Demand Metric, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less.

That all sounds good, but what about those in “boring” industries? Is it possible for brands in dull industries to produce interesting content that audiences can connect with?

Yes!

In fact, no industry should be considered “boring.” Someone in eCommerce that considers their industry to be boring will deliver a self-fulfilling content prophecy: stale, dry content assets that do nothing more than put the audience to sleep. Rather, store owners and teams should approach both their industry and content creation with an open mind. “Boring” does not exist. Instead, there are endless opportunities to tell meaningful stories from brands that are integral parts of consumers’ lives, either personally or in business.

Why should eCommerce professionals in “boring” industries make the effort to ditch their old marketing programs and start work on new, more exciting campaigns? The merits of content marketing are two-fold. In regards to “soft” benefits, it results in happier clients, more engaged prospects, and increased public trust, according to the “Content Marketing ROI” eBook from Kapost, Oracle, and Eloqua. “Harder” metrics like increased web traffic, higher quality leads, and conversions were also accomplished through content marketing. It also resulted in cost savings, as within the first five months costs per lead dropped by 80%. After an initial period content marketing delivers cost-effective business results.

So, what can merchants in “boring” industries do to jumpstart their content marketing strategies? Truthfully, there’s a lot that can be done and it can feel overwhelming. Merchants shouldn’t let the volume of tasks and program changes scare them away from developing a content marketing strategy.

Take a deep breath and consider the below tips for implementing a content marketing plan for a “boring” industry.

Create buyer personas

Buyer personas are semi-fictional, generalized profiles of a business’s potential customers. Buyer personas should detail the needs, wants, goals, and behaviors of a company’s real customers as well as prospects. These profiles allow eCommerce operators and businesses to segment their audiences and better tailor their campaigns to their prospects. Once a persona is created, a business can use it to plan the themes and goals of specific pieces of content.

Busy merchants may worry that creating these profiles may take up too much valuable time… and yes, they might, but the reward of accurate persona profiles is worth it. Time spent developing buyer personas is not time wasted. (And there are numerous free templates available online to help create buyer personas more quickly.)

Work to solve customer problems with content

eCommerce teams can leverage their own internal data to determine the most common problems that their customers are facing and address them with content. With blogs, infographics, short videos and other shareable assets brands can address customer pain points and establish the brand as a subject matter expert within the industry. By being consistently reliable and useful content marketers can position their brand as the go-to source for answering industry questions.


eCommerce Example: Brazos Walking Sticks

Brazos Walking Sticks have become market leaders in making custom walking sticks and canes that have a focus on craftsmanship and being handmade. They run an active blog that produces shareable content that talks about all aspects of their product making them a source to go to for hikers and fitness buffs. 

Their blog produces varying content from posts about how their products are made to hiking trails to how to use walking sticks properly. This content makes them a source of expertise in their subject area that enables customers to engage with the brand. 


Be relevant

Drill down into both internal and external data sources to learn more about a brand’s audience and find out their true interests. Create content that these people are truly interested in and deliver it on a consistent basis. By producing content that is relevant to the audience merchants are guaranteeing that customers will return to their website and will share the content with friends and colleagues. Having detailed buyer personas will make producing relevant content even easier.

Use in-house data to report on industry trends


Many companies have databases full of data reports that don’t do much more than degrade over time. Instead of letting this data go to waste, eCommerce professionals should mine it for trends and industry insights. Don’t just publish raw data – compile the reports and package them in user-friendly formats like infographics, eBooks, or in-depth blog posts. Customers will appreciate having access to this industry expertise and it’s likely they’ll share it with industry colleagues.


Publish on other content networks

To Increase exposure, amplify your content by guest posting on relevant blogs or publishing articles in any applicable trade publications, magazines, or websites. Sharing industry insights will further establish the brand as a leader in the industry. eCommerce marketers may also want to consider syndication arrangements with other websites, provided those websites use canonical tags to reference the brand’s original authorship and ownership.

Leverage idea-generating tools to find sources for content topics

It may be difficult for understaffed marketing departments at eCommerce companies to supply a steady stream of content ideas. Using idea-generating tools can take some of the work off the marketers’ plate. For example, a marketer or merchant can start an RSS feed to collect news stories, blog posts, and web articles that might spark ideas for content. Alternatively a marketer can follow industry-related hashtags on social media sites to follow conversations and generate ideas.

Interview subject matter experts

By interviewing industry leaders, a company gains access to both the influencer’s valuable insights into the industry as well as that person’s audience. These interviews can be packaged as an informational article or a Q&A piece (or both). These conversations can also be used to help eCommerce marketing teams generate new ideas for future content.

Don’t reinvent the wheel every time

Time-strapped eCommerce marketing teams don’t always have time to produce something entirely new. This shouldn’t deter them from pushing out fresh content, however. To save time while still putting out something new, merchants can repurpose old content that really resonated with the audience. Simply give the content a facelift, update any facts and figures, and republish.

Keep up with industry LinkedIn groups

B2B companies generate more leads from LinkedIn than Twitter, Facebook, and blogs individually, according to statistics from Inside View. Despite this promising fact, only 47% of B2B marketers report that they actively use LinkedIn versus 90% of them using Facebook. Merchants should monitor industry-related LinkedIn groups for news, trends, and other industry insights that may be making the rounds. Use this information to plan new content and address industry issues.

Tell the story behind the brand

Content is not all external. Merchants should look within the company for content pieces that demonstrate the brand’s mission and what it stands for. Through employee stories and customer success stories, eCommerce businesses can give readers an inside look into the company, thereby strengthening the relationship between brand and consumer. Neuroscience research has proven that people are attracted to stories and remember them better than facts or data points. The human brain is actually stimulated by stories, and according to OneSpot’s “The Science of Storytelling” infographic, 92% of customers want brands to produce content that feels more like a story, so merchants should remember to tell them.


eCommerce Example: UberPong 

Uberpong are an eCommerce store that sell designer table tennis paddles. Their designs are quirky, fun and definitely set themselves apart from the competitors. To make themselves more appealing and add some flare to the brand, their website includes an extensive story about the brand and its founder, David Lowe. 


Instead of it just being a generic history, its written as an engaging story that draws in the readers attention. It opens with the paragraph:
"It was the end of the workday on a cool Friday in October in London, England. David Lowe and his opponent were locked in an epic ping pong battle. The score was 20-20 in a best-of-21 game. The winner would have bragging rights and the loser would have to wait until Monday to attempt to redeem himself with a rematch."
The story immediately draws you in, adds a history and richness to the brand making them memorable for the customer. 
Embrace metrics

Some merchants may feel like running screaming away from data or passing data analytics off to another team, but they should resist this urge. eCommerce teams need to make analytics an integral part of any content marketing strategy. By measuring analytic data merchants will be better positioned to learn what types of content are working and what needs to be retooled. These measurements will allow merchants to plan future content and achieve a higher degree of success.

Think beyond the purchase part of the funnel

The buyer’s journey is not limited to simply purchasing. eCommerce companies need to develop various types of content that speak to customers that are in different parts of the buyer’s journey or the sales and marketing funnel.

Use content to become the expert

By creating a knowledgeable and useful content base a business can become a thought leader in the industry. Consumers will seek the business out for advice or expertise. To become an industry influencer, a company needs to create content with strategy, network with other industry experts, and promote content on all available, brand-relevant networks. Quality content and authentic relationships with customers and other industry leaders will help propel a brand to the top of an industry.

The key takeaway here is that content marketing is an essential part of any eCommerce marketing strategy, not just in "exciting" or "sexy" industries. In fact, 41% of marketers affirm the positive ROI of content marketing. Remember, there is no “boring” industry. There are only merchants who need to put a fresh spin on their marketing programs. Business goals can be met with stellar content that speaks to an audience.

There are many different tactics and approaches eCommerce teams can take with content marketing to make their company stand out above the rest. The tips offered in this article are just the start. All industries have the capacity for inspiring passionate advocates and sharing useful knowledge. A good measure of success in “boring” industries is the community that is built and the growth of a brand’s reputation.

It’s important to remember that content marketing is not a short-term solution. The true value of content marketing is about the long-term and the customer relationships that are built through strong content and thought leadership.

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