Did you know that over 255 million Americans shopped online in 2020? As an e-commerce business owner, you're in the right industry at the right time. However, if you don't capitalize on your marketing plan correctly then you risk missing out on a large share of the millions of people shopping online every day.
Are you an eCommerce seller trying to improve your business and increase your online sales? If so, then you're in the right place.
We've got everything you need to know about the differences between inbound marketing and content marketing. In addition, we have the step-by-step process for how you can create amazing content that converts your readers to new buyers.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Before we dive right in, let's start at the beginning. Marketing is the action of promoting and selling your product or service. As an e-commerce seller, you want to grow and scale your business through your marketing efforts.
Those efforts can be online or off, depending on what you're selling and who your audience is. For this article, we're going to focus on digital marketing and how it can help you build your brand and sell your products.
Overall, your marketing strategy could include both inbound and outbound marketing tactics. But what does that mean? Outbound marketing refers to traditional strategies that push your consumers to buy your product. This includes advertisements such as TV ads, billboards, and even telemarketing.
The opposite end of the spectrum is inbound marketing. This form of marketing pulls your ideal buyer to you by attracting them with valuable content. The main goal of inbound marketing is to build relationships with your customers by giving them value that makes them want to come back to your website.
Inbound marketing has a long-term approach and can take time to implement, and even longer to see results. However, once you build your framework, the content you create can bring your new leads organically day in and day out.
So, if you want to get off the advertising treadmill that can continually eat up your budget, then you need to master inbound marketing.
What Is the Difference Between Inbound and Content Marketing?
Many people use the terms content marketing and inbound marketing interchangeably. However, we respectfully disagree that they are one and the same. To be fair, both of them focus on drawing in your target audience with valuable content for the goal of converting them to sales.
However, content marketing is more of a subset of inbound marketing than its equivalent. Inbound marketing encompasses every aspect of digital marketing that brings in new customers. This includes more than creating great content.
Inbound marketing is the umbrella that encompasses every aspect of your digital marketing plan that draws in new customers. It includes ensuring your website loads quickly. And, that your sales page converts new buyers.
Content marketing, however, focuses strictly on creating content that is valuable to your clients or customers. While the goal is still to convert those readers into buying customers, it does that through images, written, audio, and video content. Content marketing focuses on the individual and building relationships with your viewers.
Both are similar, and both focus on drawing in readers rather than pushing out your message. Both focus on the long-term view of building relationships with their readers and both focus on the same goal of increasing sales. However, they have different strategies to accomplish and we'll show you that later in the article.
Top Examples of Inbound Marketing
It can be hard to differentiate between inbound marketing and content marketing. Both have the same goals of building awareness for your brand and converting casual readers and visitors to your site into loyal customers. One of the best ways to see the difference is to look at examples.
Some of the most popular and most successful examples of inbound marketing include:
- Blog posts
- Social media campaigns
- Search engine optimization
- Video content
- Web-based seminars
- White papers
As you can see the content you can create in your overall inbound marketing strategy varies widely. And various forms of content marketing are sprinkled throughout the list of inbound marketing. Traditionally, content marketing consists of blog posts, infographics, podcasts, and vlogs.
You can use graphics, create written content, audio, video, or a combination of all of them. How you choose what type of content to create is based upon your strategy, as we'll map out in the next section.
How to Create Your Content in Inbound Marketing Strategy
Now that you know the subtle differences between inbound marketing and content marketing, it's time to build your strategy. There are six simple steps you can take to build a comprehensive strategy that will attract new prospective customers to your e-commerce business. We walk you through each of them below and show you how to grow your business online by drawing your buyers to you organically.
Where Do You Want to Go?
The first step in your strategy must be to determine where do you want to go with your marketing plan. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish through your strategy for your business?
Too many business owners jump straight into writing blog posts and posting on social media. But without an end goal, you run the risk of attracting the wrong audience or not converting the right audience into buying customers. When you start your plan with the end in mind, everything you create will focus on accomplishing that objective.
So, don't jump too far ahead and take the time to map out your end goals. This will enable you, and everyone on your team, to create content that naturally leads your readers to your desired end goals.
Who Is Your Ideal Audience?
As we laid out at the beginning of this article, the entire focus of inbound marketing is to attract readers to your site. But you aren't targeting every single person online. You want to draw in a specific persona, and we call this your ideal audience.
Who will you sell to? Who are you targeting as your ideal customers? You must answer these questions before you start creating your content.
To complete this step adequately you need to spend the time getting detailed on your ideal buyer persona. And this goes beyond basic demographics, although that is an important start or foundation. Additionally, you will need to map out the detailed psychographic information for your target audience.
This detailed description will help you target your content to speak directly to the people you want to sell to. When you speak directly to your audience in this manner you will see your sales increase dramatically.
Do a Competition Analysis
The next step is to look at your market or industry as a whole. Who are your top competitors? Who else is succeeding in your space and already targeting your ideal audience?
Once you've identified your competition, you need to look closely at their marketing and business plan. What are they doing well? And more importantly, can you pinpoint what they're not doing well, or where the gaps are in the market?
When you know this information you can fill those gaps for your target audience. What questions does your audience ask? What are they looking for that isn't being offered by others in your industry? This is how you can set yourself apart in the crowded online space.
Map Out the Customer Journey
In the retail world, the customer journey is fairly straightforward. The customer has a need, they go to the store and find the product they need. Then they purchase the product and go home.
In the e-commerce world, some of these steps are similar, however, they are all completed online. This is why digital marketing is so vital to growing your eCommerce store. And by using inbound marketing strategies you can automate and scale your digital marketing efforts.
Throughout the customer journey, there are five basic touchpoints at which your prospects and customers interact with your company. These five steps in the customer journey include:
These steps are the cornerstone upon which all of your inbound marketing and your content marketing will be based. You must keep these touchpoints in mind as you create your strategy as well as each piece of content.
Create Valuable Content
This is the step every business owner wants to skip straight to and start publishing on social media. However, when you build a solid foundation by completing the previous steps, you will find that not only is it easier to create valuable content, but you will also have improved conversion rates.
This is also the step in which you'll execute your content marketing strategy. As you can see, creating content is a piece of the entire puzzle that is your inbound marketing strategy. Creating valuable content is based on similar steps you've already completed in your inbound marketing planning.
Your content will target your ideal audience with content that answers their questions and solves their problems. Your goal is to create valuable content that will rank in the SERPs and bring you organic traffic every day. Again, you can do this through more than blog posts, you can also create podcasts and video content.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine behind Google. So, if video content makes sense for your e-commerce store, then video content can be a great way to bring in new visitors that you can eventually convert to new buyers.
Additionally, your content doesn't have to solely focus on selling your product. You should also create videos that assist new customers in how to use their new purchases. These types of onboarding, instructional videos can create happy customers who will return again to purchase from you and tell their friends about your great customer service after the sale.
When you focus on the entire customer journey as outlined in the previous step, your content will naturally improve your customer experience. And that will lead to improved sales and return customers.
Track, Test, and Tweak
As you implement your strategy, you must track what is work and what isn't working. For every landing page, headline, and email subject line you must test various options. And you need to know what your analytics are telling you about what content your readers are viewing.
Then as you see what is working you can do more of that. And the flip side to that is when you see what isn't working you can steer away from that.
Take the time to track metrics that matter, such as email open rates, ranking blog posts, and sales page conversion rates. Don't waste your time on metrics that don't matter, such as followers and likes. Unless you're an influencer you don't make money by getting more likes on your posts, so stick to tracking what matters to your bottom line.
Then as you track the metrics, make small changes and test each change to see what optimizes your content and improves your sales. By testing and tweaking your content you will improve your overall digital marketing ROI and grow your business to the level you've always wanted.
Digital Marketing Can Benefit Your E-Commerce Business When Done Right
These six simple steps show you that you can improve your inbound marketing strategy to grow your audience and build your business to the next level. However, as a busy business owner, you'll likely find that you don't have time to execute each of these steps in a consistent and quality manner.
If you find yourself in this situation then you should consider working with an expert in inbound marketing. And here at BlueTuskr, that is what we do for our clients every day.