However, if you read this article, you won’t be struggling with such problems for long. Below, we will provide specific topic ideas after the trends and the most effective formats, which you can start elaborating even right now, and soon you will have so many topics that you can fill your content calendar for months ahead.
(If you don’t yet know exactly why you really need to blog in your online store, read our article about ecommerce blogging.)
This is what we’re going to talk about:
- Content trends in ecommerce
- What content formats should you work with?
- How to get a plentiful amount of topics
- Monitor opinion leaders
- Answer the questions
- How-to, in other words, how the customer should solve the problem?
- Publish personal stories!
- Tell your own story!
- Make your customers produce content
- Pay attention to topicalities!
- News-jacking: dive on sensation
- It’s never enough
Content trends in e-commerce
You cannot neglect regular content publication: beyond satisfying the audience, it also helps in community building, which plays an increasing role. You want to build a lovable, helpful and useful brand, and regular publication of content is indispensable for that.
Video content plays an even more important role, especially as it has found its home in social media as well: live coverage, 360-degree videos today are already common, which means you cannot neglect video marketing.
Some people think that machine-generated content may be a solution for the content deficit of the online merchants, at least in the field of product descriptions – on the other hand, we think you should never ever use automatically generated content.
This doesn’t only involve a quality problem, Google also penalizes it, and it won’t be attractive in the eyes of your customers either. You should rather read our earlier writing instead on how you can create texts for your product pages that will help you in search engine optimization and in the persuasion of hesitating customers as well.
Pay attention to mobile devices: many users search and consume content on mobiles today, and usually in a different way then on the desktop: they may choose different formats, they are more impatient and they search differently as well – so you should dig into the analytics and create pieces of content optimized for the mobile users.
You shouldn’t care about those who shout content shock. The last time we had an actually processable quantity of information at our disposal during the history of humanity was at the time of cave paintings: your goal is to emerge from the crowd, due to creating something so high quality, useful and relevant.
What content formats should you work with?
In order to reach the above mentioned audience, you can work with several tools.
Text blog posts still serve as a basis, especially because your page can be brilliantly search engine optimized with them – and because if you write well about a good topic, you can forget Jakob Nielsen’s almost twenty-year old warning about people not reading on the web.
You can write short, thought provoking, concise entries – even one of the fathers of content marketing, Seth Godin doesn’t bother, because he writes better in a couple hundreds of characters than almost everybody else using the complete set of blogging tools.
Other times of course you must make long formats: you have to produce listicles or skyscraper articles about solution of problems, about analysis of trends, and so on.
You will definitely need to make videos – they perform superbly in the searches, you can very well present your product, have your audience commit themselves with their help, and you may even be very successful with them on the social networking sites.
Use infographics as well, if you can: they are spectacular, they are easy to share and they are informative: in case they answer interesting questions or they offer an insight into relevant problems, you may have excellent reach with those – from Facebook to Pinterest, users love them.
You can make podcasts as well: about things you think could be better introduced in spoken word, about topics that are too loose for a blog, or in case you simply like talking better than writing, you should make your own show. Podcasts live their renaissance, you can easily test whether your audience is a fan of this format.
You can try a great deal of things in addition these as well – but these formats are those that you can really launch an ecommerce blog with.
And how should you add value to all of this?
How to get a plentiful amount of topics
Follow opinion leaders
One of the simplest ways of getting topic ideas is to follow the opinion leaders of your field. Influential opinion leaders, celebrated professionals, analysts, specialized journalists etc.
They usually have their own professional blogs and community channels, which you can easily analyse.
And in case you are selling mattresses, you should follow sleep experts, those who post about healthy lifestyle.
Analyse which topics are popular within the audience: what they share, what generates a discussion, what creates major activity within the professional and consumer groups. You can use these topics.
But you should never ever steal them: just use them. Say your own opinion about them, use them as a living basis for sharing new thoughts, develop their thoughts further – and first of all, refer to them, because this way there’s some chance that they will even share your pieces of content.
Answer the questions
You do have a customer service, right? So you definitely have to answer lots of questions.
Customers continuously ask questions from a company: on social channels, in emails, on delivery of the products and at events.
But they also ask each other questions: on forums, in consumer groups created on social networking sites, on Questions & Answers pages.
How-to, in other words, how the customer should solve the problem?
You could already read about this in our article on video content: if you analyse thoroughly how your potential customers should solve their problems, you’ve already helped them a lot – and beside building your brand, you can even show them your products as well.
Show them what exactly the problem, because of which they need your product or your service, requires from them in order to be solved. If it’s about complex things, they could be especially grateful to you for not simply handing them over the given tool, but for showing how to use it as well.
Publish personal stories!
- What kind of events the members of your target market attend?
- Where do they go that can be relevant for you?
- To expos, exhibitions, public get-togethers, fun runs?
The point is that you also need to be present. In this case, the reason for this is to be able to report on these events later. People read with pleasure personal stories of events they attended or they would have liked to attend – the opportunity is in your hands to take advantage of this, because in most fields, nobody provides similar content.
It’s not generally applicable, but even live coverage can be a great idea, in case you have an already established audience to whom you are able to spread content rapidly.
Tell your own story!
In content marketing you can hear this a lot: nobody cares about your company. This is still true: it doesn’t make a difference for how many years you’ve been in the business or how youthful and innovative the staff is.
What are your personal motivations?
Why do you do what you do?
What kind of challenges did you have to struggle with during the years?
Have you come across problems that your potential customers are having at the moment?
What sort of interesting things have happened to you since you started working in this field?
These are stories and topics of a more personal tone that cannot only make your brand more of human interest, but if you are capable of exciting storytelling, they may even be quite fascinating.
It’s always worth sharing stories with happy endings: the ones that have endings suggesting that the world is an unjust place, that the customer is stupid, that some problems are insurmountable, are not at all motivating, and thus people will be more reluctant to read them – at best you may have an effect on indignation, anger and similar feelings.
Then again, you want commitment, loyalty, you want to be loved: so you should stay positive. The problems you bring up should have solutions, the conflicts should be resolved.
Make your customers produce content
User generated content (UGC) can often be most valuable for you.
Customer opinions for example can become great content: search for those who have solved some kind of a problem with the help of your products and present these personal stories.
This way you can get closer to your audience, they can imagine themselves being in the position of the other, without feeling that you want to sell them something. They can get useful information and hints this way.
You can organize different competitions as well: encourage your customers and your followers to send you pieces of content, then select the best ones and publish them. It’s best if you do this by fully exploiting the social networking sites, so that your news spreads more easily.
Pay attention to topicalities!
There’s a great chance that you can create interesting content almost every week in connection with a relevant event or holiday. Here are some ideas:
- How to prepare for Christmas?
- New Year’s resolutions…
- How to beat the summer heat more easily?
- Snow shovelling in a simpler way
Do you have something relevant to say in connection with a national holiday? This may even be something practical: for example what kind of shoes is it worth wearing when walking around every holiday spot in town with your family? This is an ideal choice for ecommerce stores selling clothing products. How can you use fireworks legally? – pyrotechnic online shops can become really popular with that.
Always keep in mind what thoughts your target audience may have concerning each event, and play them up – but don’t start the thinking only a few days earlier. You can start writing down your ideas even months ahead, or at least you can plan what kind of content campaign you will build on that.
News-jacking: dive on sensation
The news that keep the general public excited is relevant for you as well? Then this is a perfect chance for you to join in and take advantage of the currency and popularity of the topic.
Find a field where you can enrich the already published pieces of content: with your own expert opinion, with research, with the addressing of experts, or even with public vote.
You have to bear two things in mind:
- Don’t dive on events of extremely negative tone – this can backfire on you in the end.
- You should deal with something only if it’s really relevant for you.
After you’ve filled up the content calendar for six months ahead, you still cannot lay back – and not only because you still have to write, but because you still need to do layouts and infographics, shoot videos, take or download images, record sound etc.
You have to conceive how you will spread the pieces of content, how you will address your audience, how you will connect the new pieces of content with the other, previous ones – in short, you will need a complex strategy.
And you still cannot lay back because you continuously have to fine-tune your content calendar. You have to react, reshape – parallel to new questions emerging, news coming in, new trends rising.
Keep paying attention to these, and you won’t have problems with what you should blog about – at most with choosing the best of the mountain of ideas.