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November 29, 2017

10 Useful Content Marketing Examples from eCommerce Brands

A well thought out, strong marketing plan allows companies, regardless of size or industry, to reach customers around the world. Most of these businesses establish a specific identity and connect with consumers. Once a connection is formed, the customers are brought into the eCommerce site featuring the products and services established within the advertising material. The most successful businesses understand the importance of creating a strong brand through marketing, yet far too many companies simply go through the marketing motions that, in turn, brings in less than desirable results. Taking pointers from these successful marketing approaches can help other businesses improve their current advertising material. Here are 10 useful content marketing examples to learn from eCommerce brands.

1. Casper

Most people would go the extra mile to improve their quality of sleep. However, there’s nothing sexy about selling mattresses, nor is a giant piece of foam very exciting. To sell mattresses, it takes a very specific marketing approach. Therefore Casper, the eCommerce mattress store, created “Van Winkle.” Named after the literary character Rip Van Winkle, the Van Winkle website is dedicated specifically to publishing trending stories based on search term research.

The marketing department at Van Winkle (via Casper) research the most popular Internet searches and create editorial content based on it. As an example, during the 2016 Summer Olympics, Olympian Michael Phelps underwent a procedure known as “cupping.” With the large red circles left on his back (similar to giant hickeys), the Internet world went abuzz on the topic. So, Van Winkle created an article connecting cupping with sleep improvement. This illustrates the importance of not only connecting with a target audience but also creating timely material that maximizes current search trends.

2. REI

An old sales adage says, “you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.” There are varying other ways to put this, but essentially a great company doesn’t sell the product, it sells the experience. As an outdoor and adventure gear outfitter, REI doesn’t focus specifically on selling products but instead selling the experience that comes with owning the product. Instead of highlighting a particular mountain bike with dozens of gears, a lightweight, titanium body and tires capable of taking extreme beatings, the company shows what a customer can do with such a bike. Biking through the great outdoors, experiencing new sights and going to extremes on rock cliffs are all visuals designed to pique the interest of a consumer. In terms of content marketing, REI “sells the sizzle” far better than most other companies out there.

REI doesn’t just show what a customer can do with a product though. It creates checklists and “must-see” adventures that accompany owning the equipment. From top biking destinations to the best ways to transport a kayak to the lake, REI doesn’t focus on what a specific product can do, but instead what a customer can do with the equipment. This helps customers visualize themselves with the product.

3. Nordstrom

Most guys own at least one suit. Whether for business purposes or for special occasions, they know having at least one suit in the closet is a must. However, most guys also don’t know how to pick out the right suit for their particular style needs and body type. That is one-way Nordstrom stands out from the pack. It doesn’t just list suits for sale. It shows customers how to pick one out.

Some forms of useful content marketing provide helpful information for a customer. It doesn’t just sell a product. It shows the customers how to select a product. This way, a customer isn’t going into an often-confusing process blind.

Nordstrom is not the only retailer on the Internet providing guides for selecting suits. However, the company does push itself to the top by providing product recommendations for each style and type. This way, customers can visually see examples of the styles. It also helps promote buying certain products with the visual guide and product recommendations, which is great for customers and the eCommerce page itself.

4. Lowes

Most people have seen the Lowes advertisements on television. The company is a marketing staple, especially during sporting events where a large percentage of viewers are men. However, Lowes doesn’t only market on TV. In fact, some of the best content marketing it carries out occurs through social media.

The company started out providing short promotional clips on the social media service Vine. With clips consisting of only a few seconds, Lowes would demonstrate how to use products and provide quick-hit tips. While Vine no longer offers much in way of social media marketing, other services with video features, such as Instagram and Twitter, make it possible for Lowes to continue with this approach. By offering these useful tips, Lowes not only helps customers out, but it sells products to consumers who didn’t even know they wanted the item until they saw the short, 10-second clip on social media.

5. Grazia

Grazia is an online clothing and accessories shop for women. With hefty competition from other service providers, content marketing is one of the very best ways Grazia can – and does – stand out. Most clothing shops online provide marketing to sell the clothing and merchandise. That is not the approach Grazia takes. Instead, it takes a more magazine-specific angle to it. Every blog, post, social media update and shared bit of content focuses on style trends, creating custom outfits, what to wear in varying situations and so on. Basically, it outlines common issues most women face at some point and highlights what clothing works best. Within the context of the material the company does point to specific brands and products, but it does so in a non-selling way. There are links to the items mentioned in the blogs, but like many of the other eCommerce sites mentioned, it is not necessarily selling the product itself. Instead, it’s selling the experience. The product just happens to improve the experience.

6. Bonobos

Quizzes and surveys seem to have taken over social media. There’s always a new quiz posted, indicating someone is only a true fan of a movie franchise if they ace the quiz, or testing someone’s knowledge on beers around the world. Quizzes are popular because people like to discover what they know and see how they compare with others. The clothing outfitter Bonobos uses the popularity of quizzes to sell products.

The beauty of the quiz is it stands out from other marketing practices. If everyone did this, the luster would dull and people would begin avoiding these customer quizzes. However, Bonobos markets it as a way to help discover the best clothing for someone’s needs. After all, there are times where a consumer may visit a website and know what they want, but with so many available options, actually picking out the best item becomes extremely difficult to do. After filling out the brief quiz, a customer is subtly directed to products that fit their answers. It’s just another interesting sales tactic that may prove beneficial to some eCommerce sites when executed properly.

7. Made.com

Connecting with customers over social media is one of the best ways to establish a personal relationship with the consumer. Once this bond is forged, the chances of a shopper returning to the eCommerce site increase dramatically. Made.com has found an excellent way to not only connect with customers but also showcase what their customers are doing.

The front page at Made.com features nothing but the latest connected social media posts from customers showcasing how they use the products purchased through Made. This works in a few different ways. First, customers like having their social media posts shared by larger accounts. It gains them more exposure and may build their own social following. Due to this, they become more likely to share social media posts and tag a company.

The second benefit is, by tagging and connecting a company to a social media post, all of the consumer’s followers see what they are doing with a particular product and the company behind it. This ultimately works out as free advertising for Made.com. Taking advantage of this kind of content marketing approach does take some time, but once it goes into effect it can prove especially beneficial.

8. Jean Paul Gaultier

In the world of high-end fashion, it is all about standing out. While the clothing may speak for itself on the runway, many of the websites do anything but. When scrolling between top-tier designer sites, most of these bleed together with very little separation. That is why Jean Paul Gaultier (JPG) decided to bring some interesting features to the site.

Google routinely spices up its “Google” logo with different interactive designs. Whether a miniature keyboard or animations that move to how a user adjusts their cursor or phone, these little interactive designs make for a more user-engrossing experience. This is the same concept used with the JPG website.

When visiting the JPG website, there are small, colorful cartoons that move about, allowing a visitor to interact with them. Realistically the small animation doesn’t sell clothing or provide any kind of sells approach at all. However, that is what sets the website apart. It doesn’t bombard a visitor instantly with sales material or the latest trends. It gives customers something they might enjoy, without forcing it down their throat. By taking this approach, a customer’s mood improves, which in turn can help increase sales. It also sets the website apart.

9. J. Peterman Company

J. Peterman is more than a character from Seinfeld. The character on the TV show is actually based on the head of the J. Peterman clothing company. On the show, Elaine works for the company writing whimsical copy for products. While there may or may not be an Elaine working for the company, whimsical copy is truthfully used to describe the products. Every item for sale on the website comes with a story.

Great advertisements should tell a story. This is a trend that has fallen a bit by the wayside in recent years. Marketers have less and less time to grab the attention of a consumer, so stories goes right out the window in exchange for flash (although the same could be said for most of what the entertainment industry produces as well). Like a classical movie though, J. Peterman sticks to creating unique stories for every item for sale.

The stories are designed to engross the imagination of the buyer. To take them to a place far away without actually showing them a photograph. There is a reason why most people say, “the book was better than the movie.” This is because the storyline has more key points to it and because the reader can imagine exactly what they want when it’s in text form.

This kind of content marketing approach likely would not work for all demographics, but for its target audience, it does exceptionally well. It also is one of the few companies out there that relies on its mailed out catalog (or as the company refers to it as its “Owner’s Manual).

10. Best Buy

Buying electronics is tricky. It is a major investment, yet most consumers don’t really know what they want, need or are looking for. Much like the Nordstrom suit finding service, Best Buy offers an in-depth buying guide. This is especially the case with purchasing a new computer.

The service breaks down what a consumer is looking for, what they intend to use it for and what kind of features are important to them. In a sense, it uses the quiz tactic (without calling it a quiz). The service then connects the consumer with viable computer options.

No two eCommerce marketing plans are the same, yet the most successful approaches utilize the ability to directly connect with a key demographic while showing off exactly how the product or service can improve lives and businesses. Each of these 10 examples showcases something a little bit different from the next, yet each offer’s learning points and suggestions for how a successful advertising approach can and should be created. By taking into consideration these 10 useful content marketing examples from other eCommerce brands, a business, regardless of size or industry can begin developing its own successful advertising approach.

Tell us, what content marketing method appeals to you the most? Which one(s) would you use to grow your brand?


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Teo Vee has built and optimized hundreds of successful eCommerce stores for his clients and he teaches others exactly how to do it step-by-step at MyEcomClub.

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