The best way to get a leg up on your competitors is to have a solid content marketing strategy and great content. Yes, retail businesses are doing it too!
If you’ve never done content marketing before, you may feel daunted by the prospect. Don’t be. This article will outline step by step what you, as a retailer, should be doing to create an engaging content experience for your customers, boost brand awareness and, ultimately, drive sales.
First of all, to clarify our definition, content marketing isn’t necessarily limited to written content like blog articles, emails and guidebooks. The possibilities are truly endless, and content can be anything that builds your brand and contributes to a community: interactive events like contests and giveaways, fun videos, podcasts, interviews and much more! Now, on we go ...
1. Know Your Audience
You can’t know what content to create if you don’t know your audience. Determine who they are, what content would draw their attention and on which platform(s) they would consume it (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and so on). To figure this out, you’ll need to do some research. If you have a customer database, mine your data to find out if they’re of a certain age range, geographic location, lifestyle and anything else you can glean.
If you don't have a customer database, conduct surveys and ask for feedback. You could also use social media listening, which involves monitoring your channels for “social media sentiment,” messages or mentions and taking action in some way, whether that’s replying to customer queries or running test campaigns. What kind of products do you sell? Are you limited to a certain price range, demographic, or country or city? This will give you a good idea of the limits—and focus—of your content marketing and how to best target your audience.
2. Identify Your Ideal Audience
In addition to knowing your current customer base, you should know who your ideal audience is so that you can target that group as well. Your ideal audience, or the group of customers you’d like to have, will be in constant flux, so continue to review this part of your strategy accordingly. You can attract your ideal audience by creating content specifically for them, using a different marketing strategy or even changing certain aspects of your product. Your ideal audience can change for a number of reasons, depending on what they need or want at any given time. If your audience isn’t engaging with the content you’re producing, figure out why (again, surveys and social media listening are useful), and keep your marketing strategy flexible so you can pivot as necessary.
3. Determine Your Budget
Once you know who your target audience is, figure out how much money you can allocate to content marketing. To give you some idea, according to the Content Marketing Institute, B2C marketers who have successful marketing strategies spend, on average, 38% of their marketing budget on content marketing alone, whereas less successful companies allocate only 21%. When structuring your budget, consider how content marketing fits into your overall marketing strategy and how much money you’re willing to throw at it and for how long.
4. Resource or Outsource
According to Lucy Higgins, a marketer at Big Assignments and Elite Assignment Help, “Another key consideration here is the resources that you want to allocate to content creation, whether you’ll be doing it yourself or you have a marketing team or you’ll be outsourcing the work to an external agency.”
Bigger companies may opt for a dedicated in-house department while small to medium companies may choose to go with an agency, simply because their lower output may not justify the cost. Companies of this size don’t typically have the space, and hiring an entire team can take a huge bite out of their budget. Consider whether you can afford a dedicated team or if you can make do with an agency for the time being as you feel out your strategy.
5. Produce Solid, Clean Content
Next, decide on the type of content you want to create, then create it! Make sure you produce content that your audience wants to see or listen to, or else you’ve wasted time and money for no gain whatsoever. You don’t have to go big right away; you can start with weekly content on one channel and then expand from there.
The first thing to do is to figure out which medium is best for your business. Retail businesses tend to do well on Instagram because photos and videos allow them to showcase their products and the lifestyle that goes with them. Then you can begin creating a content calendar listing what you’ll create and when and where you plan to publish it. Note: This can be tentative for now and locked down later. The important thing is to start thinking about it and setting expectations, whether that’s within your team or with external resources.
Obviously, it’s extremely important that your content is well-written and free of any mistakes that make your brand look sloppy or unprofessional. If you’re creating it yourself, many online tools can help even a novice produce clear, error-free content:
6. Formulate a Distribution Plan
Now, decide how you’ll share it with your audience and when. This includes what time, which will depend on where most of your customers live, as well as how often. This is where your research comes in. By now, you should have a good idea of what type of content will be best received—whether it’s videos, written pieces, podcasts or other forms—and which platforms and channels are most appropriate for each piece of content.
As much as possible, this content should be something your viewers will want to share: Going viral, the dream result, will showcase your brand to a bigger audience. Also be aware of the appetite for your content. “Spamming” your customers, especially with content that’s not relevant to them, can undermine your marketing efforts and lead to a flurry of unsubs. Consider segmentation where possible to avoid this pitfall.
Anything that’s worth doing is never easy, but lose your nerve and you risk getting left behind. Continually revisit and refine your marketing strategy, and don’t forget to analyze the results so you can adapt as required!
About the Author
Nora Mork is a business and marketing journalist at UK Writings and Australian Help. She enjoys sharing the business lessons she’s learned with her many readers and writing articles about different marketing strategies and thinking outside the box.
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