Create content strategy for retail
1. Define the target audience for your content strategy, and target the subsection of your overall audience most likely to buy your products after reading your content.
After defining your overall target audience, create retail buyer personas using: Demographics. Geographical area, defined by your brick and mortar location or shipping limitations. Challenges and pain points that your products, or a product in your industry, can help them overcome. Purchasing behaviors, especially revolving around audience segments who use online research as part of their buying process. Digital channels most frequently used in the buyer’s journey. Devices and channels used to consume content. Preferred content types.
2. Identify specific, time-based goals for your content strategy.
While your overarching goal will likely be increased sales, more specific objectives can focus your individual content. For example: Increase online awareness of a new product by 30% through the end of this year. Increase traffic to product pages by 20% in six months. Increase online customer conversions by 25% in six months. Decrease cost of acquisition by 15% in six months using organic content efforts. Increase average order value or customer lifetime value by 10% over the next three quarters Increase visits to retail stores 5% month over month, if applicable Specific, time-based goals build accountability into your content strategy, increasing the likelihood of a tangible revenue impact, and allow you to course-correct if you are not pacing well towards achieving your goals.
3. Set a content marketing budget based on revenue and content marketing goals and timelines.
Your content marketing budget should account for any costs related to creating and publishing content. For example: Hiring freelancers, agencies, or employees to ideate, write, and optimize content. Subscribing to content marketing, research, and distribution tools like HubSpot, Moz, or HootSuite. Paid social media or search engine content promotion. Use a simple two-step process to set a realistic, ROI-optimized budget: If you haven’t set a total marketing budget, define it as a portion of your current revenue. In CPG, for example, average marketing budgets account for 24% of total revenue. Assign between 25% and 30% of your total marketing budget to content marketing.
4. Research commercial intent and transactional keywords to anchor your content strategy.
SEO is especially important in retail, where 87% of customers research a product online before buying it. Focus your content on keywords that indicate commercial intent, for example: Buy. Get. Subscribe. Reviews. Keyword research around these transactional terms helps you create content that matches your audience’s pain points and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
5. Outline 3-5 pieces of pillar content to solve key audience pain points.
In a hub and spoke strategy, comprehensive educational pillar content explains a topic in-depth, while shorter content draws from each pillar to more specifically promote your products across multiple channels. That framework starts with 3-5 pieces of pillar content, which are individual web pages focused around the most high-value keywords you’ve found. For example, the buying guides from home improvement chain Lowes act as comprehensive pillar pages for common customer pain points.
6. Define your channel mix based on audience preferences, content marketing budget, and competitive presence in each channel.
Content channels fall into one of three categories: Owned channels, including your website, blog, email, and business pages on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Paid channels, including social media and search engine ad campaigns. Earned channels, including third-party content shared about your brand by influencers and other accounts. Choose a mix that includes each category based on audience preferences, your content marketing budget, and your competitors’ presence in each channel. For example, Pinterest is especially relevant for home decor retailers. In a hub and spoke content strategy, each channel drives traffic to your pillars and product pages: Explainer videos, published on social media, that visualize the topic in question. Social media posts that link educational pillar content with your products. Blog posts that cover relevant subsections of the pillar. Emails to subscribers that provide added value and push towards product pages. For example, Lowes regularly pushes pieces from each buying guide on social media and to its email subscribers, linking back to the buying guide for more comprehensive information.
7. Evaluate opportunities to incorporate influencer and user-generated content in your content creation mix.
For example, Lowes has created an affiliate program in which credible websites can receive sales commissions for linking to its products. Lowes also works with social media influencers to spread its pillar content. Influencer marketing makes sense for retailers that can offer tangible incentives for influencers to promote their product. It requires a longer lead time than owned or paid content, but can increase your credibility and reach.
8. Create a measurement strategy using Cost per Conversion or Cost per Acquisition as your key metric to track content marketing performance.
Cost per conversion, if your marketing strategy relies on lead generation prior to purchase or your products are not available online. Cost per acquisition, especially for ecommerce retailers who can draw a direct analytics link from awareness to purchase. Cost per acquisition allows you to calculate your overall content marketing success. Calculate it by dividing purchases attributed directly to your content marketing by your total content marketing budget. For channel-specific analysis, use secondary metrics like web traffic and engagement. Neither is directly attributable to revenue, but can determine how much each piece of content contributes to general awareness and familiarity of your brand and products. Use the goals you’ve established to guide your measurement strategy. Check your metrics at least monthly to make adjustments to your strategy and content creation.