There’s a certain thrill and excitement in starting a new ecommerce site. From product creation to defining your target market and managing various outsourcing parties, we understand the craziness of being a first time entrepreneur in the online world. Then you hear the buzzword of the hour: ‘content marketing‘. Every brand, from global to small local businesses, seems to be jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. We can almost hear you now – ‘but what is content marketing and where do I start?’. Do not panic my friends, you’re not alone. I’ve worked with a number of clients to help them plan their content marketing strategies and have recently started a new company project to build our online digital marketing learning brand Digi.training. I thought I’d shed some light  on the subject here and share our checklist with those who are new to the e-commerce arena. Here’s our checklist for you e-commerce warriors to help kick start your content marketing strategy:

 

 1. Establish your persona

The core of content marketing is telling stories that resonate with your readers and have a ripple effect to get them amplify your voice. The starting point is to identify who your ideal readers are. For e-commerce sites, your ideal readers are your potential customers. To help create your persona for your brand ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your ideal customers?
  • What are their needs?
  • What are their problems and challenges?

We can see that they’re not entirely different from defining your marketing segments. In fact, you should have clearly identified your target segments in your marketing plan already. All you need to do is to create a few characters that would fit perfectly to the segments you identified. By saying ‘characters’, I really do mean naming them and treating them as your virtual potential customers. An example of a persona for our new brand Digi.training could be the following:

Bec is a 23-year-old marketing coordinator for a large corporation selling travel tours. It is Bec’s first job in marketing after graduation and she’s had just over 2 years of experience. Her career goal is to be a Marketing Manager in 3 years specialising in digital marketing. With a major focus in her team to shift to e-commerce, Bec wants to upskill herself to learn all aspects of digital marketing including SEO, Google Adwords, content marketing and social media marketing to perform in her role and bring new ideas to her manager. She is very self-motivated, career-minded, tech savvy and is a visual learner. She is willing pay for courses if that means she can access a comprehensive course library and learn at her own pace. Her challenge is to find quality course providers online that offer an actionable and innovative approach to learning. She also finds most other digital marketing learning courses are not being written by current industry professionals thus the advice they give is not practical.

One best tip is to think like you’re a novelist when trying to figure out what their needs and challenges are. For some businesses, you might need multiple personas for your brand as long as they align with each of your marketing segments.

 

2. List places online where your audiences hang out

LinkedIn, Medium and Snapchat – you name it. With so many new publishing outlets and social platforms these days, how can you tell which one to focus your content marketing effort on? That’s when your brand persona come in handy. Taking Bec as an example, here are her interests that are relevant to her profession:

 

– Digital Marketing

– Technology (mobile app and content management system etc.)

– Online Learning

– Career Advice

 

Then we asked ourselves where Bec would usually go for reading and sharing information online while keeping her interests in mind. Here are some places where we think Bec would hang out:

 

– LinkedIn

– Reddit

– Twitter

– Google Plus communities

– Medium

– Inbound.org

– Moz

– Mashable

 

List these places in terms of priority and opportunity for your brand and there you have it, a shortlist of platforms where you should start building a community and establising your authorship. This is also a good exercise to answer questions like, ‘Should I jump on to marketing on Snapchat when everyone else seems to be doing so?’. If we can’t see Bec using the medium a lot, it most likely won’t be our priority.

These of course are based on our best guess. However, you can make this list more precise by researching your competitors who are established in the field, and look at where they publish content regularly. They’ve probably done the hard work for you.

Another idea down the track is to carry out a customer survey to find out precisely where they consume content online. This is most likely a second phase project once you have a customer database of decent size.

 

Have you done a similar exercise for your business? Do you have any tips to share when it comes to writing personas and finding where your audiences play online? I’ll follow up with part 2 of this checklist next month on making connections with influencers in your niche, researching content types and setting content marketing goals. Be sure to follow us to catch our part 2!