Over the past couple of years, the retail sector has switched on to the benefits of content marketing.
Retail brands have realised that they are perfectly placed to take advantage of content marketing, with most retailers having a steady stream of tangible products around which interesting content can be created. Great content builds customer engagement, brand loyalty, social sharing and search engine ranking, so it's no wonder that marketers are now spending, on average, 28% of their budget on content marketing.
So how are retailers winning at the content marketing game? What tactics are they employing to make their brand stand out in the crowded world of content? Here are 7 ways retailers can win at content marketing.
1. Create 'how to' videos
Almost any product can have a 'how to' video created around it, but this is especially true if your product fits a specific niche. Beauty brands have cottoned on to this in a big way, with videos around applying make up, creating hair styles and applying fake tan. And while the videos can feature specific products, it's also a great idea to make videos around the wider subject matter too, ensuring you're creating content which is actually useful and valuable for potential customers. Give away something interesting for free and then nudge towards a sale.
Example: Boots beauty videos
2. Creatively answer FAQs
Most retail brands have FAQs on their website, and for many they're a necessary piece of content, both for customer relations and for search rankings. So why not make them as interesting and as engaging as possible? FAQs can frequently throw up great ideas for creative content, from simple video answers to providing a virtual assistant to provide live human answers.
Example: ASOS video FAQs
3. Use photo-heavy content
If you sell a product, you should be using photos. It's not expensive to get striking, beautiful imagery for your products, so make sure you fill your website, blog and social profiles with great photos. Make your blog posts and website visually striking to grab attention, and post on Pinterest and Instagram as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Just remember to use photos tastefully. They should be aspirational, lifestyle magazine-style pics and not gawdy adverts!
4. Become a media outlet
Creating content hubs around subjects that you can 'own' as a brand brings two major benefits. Not only can you start to build authority on those subjects through posting expert content, but you'll also attract a load of traffic by increasing your search rankings. Become your own mini media outlet of blog posts, photos and video content, as well as pulling in user-generated content from social feeds.
Example: Whole Foods Healthy Eating
5. Have an opinion and stay in the know
If you're an expert in your field, don't be afraid to show it. Create content around the subject which will get people talking and have a view and a positive opinion on things. Don't be scared to reference world events and involve yourself in issues and debates around your products. It will make your brand seem human and in touch with what's happening in the wider world, helping to engage your audience.
Example: The Dove Self-Esteem Project
6. Open forums to connect people to expertise
Use content hubs on your website as open forums for people to find information and expertise that they may need and which is related to your product areas. Use live chat, industry contributors, research statistics and user-generated content to create a thriving community for expert knowledge on your website. Consider letting users leave their own tips and advice on your website to create a wealth of unique content.
Example: American Express Open Forum
7. Carry out research to generate PR stories
An excellent way of sourcing PR-worth and shareable content is to carry out insightful research on your subject area. Survey your customers, contacts and industry experts to discover compelling facts and statistics that will get consumer press, trade journalists and your social audience excited. At the very minimum you will have crated interesting content to use on your website, blog and social profiles, and in the best case scenario you will generate excellent PR and word of mouth, building your brand's authority in your industry.
Example: Dunelm 'dirty houses' survey
So there are our 7 ways to win at retail content marketing. The key thing with any content strategy is to ensure you're adding value to your audience, provoking a response or engaging them with something they can't readily get from elsewhere. Consider who your audience is and what type of content would help or entertain them and then start planning a simple content strategy, using the tips above as inspiration.