You’ve probably heard by now how important content creation is for a successful ecommerce business.
But how do you create content your community wants to consume? And how do you then turn that content into actual sales?
That’s what I want to show you in this blog post.
This two-step strategy is one of the major reasons my Shopify store grew so rapidly last year — from $3 million to $17 million. It’s because we found a way to create content that engaged a group of people and made them want to buy our products.
In this 10 minute article I’ll give you my easy-to-copy content strategy and then walk you through my most profitable email campaign so you can build it into your business today.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONTENT
Before we get into the conversation about how to create your successful content strategy, first we need to clarify what a business really is.
When you start a business, you are engaging with a group of people around a collective experience that they are having. So I believe your business can be understood as a series of communications on one side and a community of people on the other, and all your store is is a solution to a problem that this community of people is facing.
For Smart Marketer, we share in the collective experience of being entrepreneurs, of being interested in building businesses and managing teams. So what I do for our content strategy is to create content that relates to these topics that my people are interested in, and then I make offers that I think are genuinely relevant and beneficial to them, i.e., trainings and software they can use to grow their businesses.
Meanwhile for my ecommerce brand, BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, the content strategy is about the experience of being a woman over 40 in this society, and this is what guides every piece of content that we syndicate.
So what is a problem or collective experience that your customers are having right now? The answer to this question is your next blog post, your next video or the next piece of content you retweet to your fans.
Okay so now that you know how I choose the content for my stores, let’s get into the strategy for how I turn my content into sales.
LEVERAGE YOUR CONTENT FOR SALES
So once a week, you should be broadcasting or amplifying via advertising one piece of engaging content that is relevant to your brand.
This doesn’t have to be content you created yourself, because you can share curated content, too. For example, if your community is in the kitchen category, then you can send them a Youtube video about knife skills.
And then every 6 weeks you should be promoting a sale campaign.
It can be for any reason — National Dog Day, it doesn’t matter — but every 6 weeks you should be offering your community some kind of incentive to do business with you again. Even if you only have 50 people on your list, offering them the opportunity to buy one of your products at a discount will make you money.
It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this. This is the simple two-step process (weekly content followed by a sale) that helped scale my ecommerce brand by over 500% last year.
And this strategy is also a great way to increase the lifetime value of your customers, and get that one-time customer to buy again (and again). Because when your customers spend more with your brand, then a good thing happens: you have a greater capacity to add even more value to your community. It’s a win-win.
But this still doesn’t answer the question of, “How do I get anyone on my email list, fan page or audience to actually listen to what I have to say?”
And my answer lies in understanding that the way people consume content is always changing. I know people prefer to engage with content in many different ways, and it’s my goal to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
So whether they go to their inbox, to Facebook or to their cell phone, I need to make sure that my content is syndicated to that channel.
5 WAYS TO SYNDICATE YOUR CONTENT
1. Email – Once a week you should be emailing a relevant piece of content to your subscriber list. Email is such an effective marketing tool, and your goal should be to make at least 30% of your revenue from emailing your community.
2. Advertise to Your Pixeled Audiences – Everyone who has visited your website or is a Facebook fan of your brand can be retargeted with advertising. And there isn’t a blog post that goes out for any of my brands that doesn’t get advertised on Facebook.
3. Facebook Messenger – We are going to see the rise of Messenger as a major way we engage with businesses. Before long, you are going to book your travel, order an Uber, and (most importantly) sell your products inside of Messenger. This is still new technology, but you can stay ahead of the curve and start building your Messenger list today. The program we use to do this is called Manychat and it’s super easy to use.
4 & 5. Desktop and Mobile Push Notifications – We use PushCrew for these last two channels. It’s one tiny bit of code that you can add to your store’s backend, and it builds a list of people who opt in to receive notifications. Pushcrew notifies these fans directly on their desktop or cell phone whenever you post new content — and engagement is extremely high.
Whenever we have something new to communicate — a new piece of content or the start of a sale — we send it out on all 5 of these channels, and you should, too.
Now I’m going to break down the emails I use in my post-purchase flow that use this same strategy, but first I want to answer a common question I get about email: What’s the best CRM to use for ecommerce stores?
WHAT SYSTEM DO I RECOMMEND FOR EMAIL MARKETING?
The system we use that a lot of ecommerce stores are using is Klavyio. And what I like a lot about Klavyio is that it dynamically pulls in your store’s revenue and gives you a report on how much each email has made. So when we talk about content marketing, this reporting gives you insight into some unexpected ways this strategy benefits your business.
For example, even when I email a piece of content where the only goal I have is to engage them in a conversation about beauty or skin care, these emails still make money because they link back to the store. Remember, my only goal is engage them at least once a week and then run a sale every 6 weeks, but with Klavyio’s reporting I’m able to see how effective my email marketing is in dollars.
MY PROFITABLE POST-PURCHASE EMAIL FLOW (BREAKDOWN)
So let’s get into it: here’s one of my most profitable email flows in my $17 million ecommerce store.
I’m going to walk you through the main purpose of the email flow so that you can copy it in your own store. This is your opportunity to see how my content strategy works. Keep in mind, this is a little different than weekly blog posts leading to a sale, but the strategy is the same: engage with regular content and then make a valuable offer to benefit their life.
After a customer buys from BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, the first email they get is designed to do two things:
• The first is to thank them and reinforce that it was a goos decision to buy from us. These emails include what they can expect both from the brand (our philosophy and how often we will email them), and from their purchase (when it ships, what it looks like and maybe how to use it).
Our next stage of emails are called Pre-Arrival Excitement Emails.
• These few emails are designed to build excitement for the product before the customer receives it. This is a great time to show off some social proof and customer testimonials from other people who are happy with this product. (If you don’t have social proof, keep reading to see the emails I use to generate proof from my customers.)
Then we move into what’s called a Cross-Sell Sequence
• This series of emails is designed to sell the customer on a product they haven’t bought yet. If they bought our first most-popular product then we send them an email about our second most-popular product, and if they bought our second most-popular product we send them a cross-sell for our third most-popular product.
• And because these cross-sell emails are the only ones designed specifically to sell a product, the revenue they generate is much higher than any other email in the post-purchase sequence. All the emails we send out are still profitable and make us money (even the one that doesn’t link anywhere brings in almost $1k a month), but these cross-sell emails are unique because they are all built around a long-form video sales message about our brand and one of our products.
• A lot of people focus only on short-form content (30 second Facebook videos and 2 minute product videos), and they forget that in a lot of cases long-form content is better at building a relationship. So if you can, I suggest you also add long-form content to your sales funnels with 15-20 minute videos where you tell stories, talk about who you are and what your viewpoint is.
On day 12 of this post-purchase sequence they get a Selfie Request Email.
• Here we stop sending them content and instead ask them to take a selfie with our product. People love to take selfies, and we get great results when we send them an email asking for one. In exchange for their photo, we enter them into a contest to win some free products or a gift card. This is how we end up with some very effective conversion assets that we can then use in our advertising, emails, or on our website for greater social proof.
After the selfie email comes the very important Customer Survey Email.
• This is where we give our customers the chance to tell us what they liked and didn’t like about their experience, so we can find out how to serve them better. (If their experience wasn’t great, this is a good opportunity to turn a negative review into a rave review by correcting what went wrong.)
• We also ask them what products they want us to make next, which has been incredibly rewarding for our business. By asking the customer what your next product should be you eliminate all the trial and error of discovering it for yourself.
Finally, I send out an Incentivized Video Review Email.
• This is a lot like the selfie request email only I ask them to record a 30-50 second face-to-camera video where they review our product and say why they love it. In exchange, we give them a $10 gift card. This may be the best $10 your business ever spends, because once you have this video you can use it at almost any stage of your funnel. We use them for Facebook video ads, as social proof on our sales pages, in our welcome and post-purchase sequences. And the only difference I’ve found between the performance of the customer video and a video I paid a couple thousand bucks to produce is the price. Really, these assets are incredible.
This post-purchase flow is part of the reason 30% of my ecommerce store’s revenue comes from email. It’s a really great way to start building up your lifetime customer value while providing better service to your customers.
And this is the same content strategy that I use to engage my community across all of my businesses, because nothing about this is industry-specific. Whether your store is ecommerce, information publishing or SaaS, this simple strategy of offering relevant content about the experience your community is having and then making offers to benefit their lives is a really effective model for profitable content marketing.
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