Many eCommerce site or online store owners tend to shy away from creating content in order to market their website online. After all, the accepted wisdom for converting customers as efficiently as possible is to show products clearly and attractively as possible and make it as easy as possible for customers make a purchase.
That’s all good and well but this method focuses on converting traffic, not driving traffic. There’s not much use in having the world’s greatest salesperson if you keep him (her) locked in a basement. In the same way, putting all your energy into creating a slick, high converting eCommerce site (or online store) is not much use if you can’t bring potential customers to it in sufficient numbers.
Advertising is often the marketer’s quick fix
Internet marketing is a cyclic process that involves as much (if not more) energy focused on drawing people in than it does on closing sales or converting in some other way. Understanding this, many online store owners tend to opt for advertising in order to quickly draw in potential customers. After all, online advertising can have fantastically quick results and is relatively easy to do – in the sense that it doesn’t take too much effort to create an effective Google ad, for example.
The problem with marketing using advertising alone is that ads have no long term benefits. A paid advertisement has no SEO half-life. As soon as you stop paying for the ad, it is removed and no one else will ever see it again. In addition, most websites offering ads add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the target link. This prevents you, as the advertiser, from gaining any PageRank, SEO and reputation benefits from the advertiser’s site.
Alternatives to advertising
So marketing with ads saves on labour but costs more financially. This leaves eCommerce site owners with two options:
- Market traditionally and offline
- Perform inbound marketing
Both of these options are useful – although the first often requires financial input and suffers from the same lack of endurance as online ads. In other words, once your ad in the weekly newspaper gets turned into cat litter lining, it is no longer effective.
The second option is different entirely. It costs nothing (or very little) in financial terms if you do it yourself, but is labour and skills intensive. Inbound marketing refers to the set of techniques marketers use to draw in traffic without being disruptive to the browsing experience. Instead of trying to get your ads in front of people who are trying to read an article or do something else, inbound marketing offers people content they want.
Content and inbound marketing
By offering great content you earn the trust of the reader, you build up a network of followers who help to spread your content. This in turn adds to your online visibility and reputation. The content you create is permanent. Over time, Google will send more and more traffic to each bit of content you create and publish to your store.
Social media can pick up on your content and spread it like wildfire. Referencing your content from other sites creates backlinks. Backlinks are the most important thing you can gather for your store’s SEO. All of which helps to drive more and more qualified traffic to your eCommerce site. Qualified traffic is anyone who visits your site because they are interested in information that you provide that is directly related to what your business objectives (in the case of an eCommerce store, this would be making sales).
So why doesn’t everyone do this?
The answer is that it takes time, effort and perseverance. You have to invest time into gaining good writing and SEO skills. You have to plan the content so that it is interesting and engaging and relates directly to your ultimate goals and aims.
Inbound marketing and eCommerce
In addition, most store owners find it hard to reconcile the urge to have their products front and centre with the marketing imperative to create content and have it available on their store. The solution is to create content that:
- is highly relevant to your products and services
- provides useful information for potential customers
- has value for potential customers
- helps to educate potential customers
How you do this is up to you. It takes some imagination. For example, if you are selling household appliances, you might consider writing content that helps save potential customers time around the house. An article entitled “Nail guns can save time, effort and money“, that provides compelling evidence that purchasing a nail gun instead of using a hammer is easier, faster, whatever… may well lead to a purchase of a nail gun on your store.
It may not, but that reader now knows who you are. They have been given information that is valuable to them. The next time they need to find out something similar, they may return. The more visitors return to your online store, the more likely they are to convert into customers at some point.
The benefits of creating your own SEO enhanced content accrue and compound over time. Stick with it, get some advice and pointers along the way and eventually you will start to unlock the enormous financial potential of the Internet.
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