This article is part of our series about tailoring your content strategy for the ecommerce sales funnel. Check back for an in-depth look at how to cater your content for each individual stage of the funnel.
Getting customers to remember your name is an accomplishment in itself… but it’s not going to put money in your pocket. The next step in the ecommerce sales funnel after Brand Awareness is the Interest stage, where your strategy pivots from pushing your name out there to getting customers to consider buying from you.
The Interest stage is where traditional marketing and advertising tactics begin to emerge as your goals shift to proving your business as a viable option for shopping online. You step up your sales techniques ever so slightly — at least in comparison to the scarce self-promotion from the previous stage.
Let’s talk about a content strategy to get prospective customers interested in buying from your ecommerce store.
The Interest phase is a transition phase. The previous stage (Brand Awareness) was about introducing yourself and the next phase is about selling your products; but switching directly from one to the other is abrasive, especially for first-time shoppers.
Content strategy is about developing long-lasting relationships more than landing one or two sales, so the Interest phase leaves enough time to build trust with the customer before going full throttle on the sales tactics.
Specifically, your goals during the interest phase are:
Developing personal relationships with potential customers.
Digital channels such as social media and blogs make it easy for retailers to get personal with their customers. By delivering some kind of value to a customer — whether through your content, store policies, prices, or exclusive products — you play up your business to them so they think favorably about your brand. That positive image comes in handy down the line when it’s time to close, so opting for a more personal relationship in this stage pays off later.
Stand out from competitors.
Just like before, you want to flaunt the reasons customers should shop with you instead of your competitors. These reasons are your “value propositions,” and this stage is the perfect time to communicate them to customers.
Although concrete reasons like cheaper prices or better shipping work best, a value proposition can also be something more trivial like branding, where your brand image just seems more attractive than your rivals.
Promote specific campaigns.
To demonstrate your value, broadcast your promotional campaigns so new customers know what kind of benefits you offer. If you’ve accumulated enough email signups in the previous stage, now you can put them to good use with newsletters and promotional emails about upcoming campaigns or new products.
What’s going through your customer’s head at this stage is hard to pinpoint exactly, but we can break it down into two broad categories:
- Comparison shopping.
- Evaluating potential solutions to their problems.
The first category is self-explanatory. These are people who already know what kind of product they want to buy and are researching the best options for buying them. Winning over this group is just a matter of offering a better deal than other sellers, so showcasing your value propositions is key.
Targeting the second group is a bit more roundabout. These are people who have some kind of problem, but don’t necessarily know there’s a product online that can help solve it.
This could be people who don’t know your products exist, particularly if your items are rare or niche. It could also be people who are dissatisfied with their current product brand, but don’t know of any better alternatives.
Moreover, this category also includes people who aren’t experienced with ecommerce, such as those who don’t buy clothes online, so they wouldn’t naturally look to online shopping to help them. If you want to market to this type of person, you have to convince them that their fears of ecommerce are misguided.
For all people looking for solutions to a problem, your strategy, like in the last stage, is about publicity. However, this time you’re publicizing your products and brand value propositions, whereas last time you were publicizing your overall brand.
Best Types of Content
The best content for the Interest stage comprises whatever is useful to the customer. This phase is about building trust and demonstrating value — not making a sale — so create content that benefits your visitors more than your bottom line.
- How-to guides
- Email campaigns
- Website copy (especially the home page)
- Video tutorials
- Lookbooks (for visual industries like fashion)
Content for the Interest phase should be more promotional than the previous phase, but still not explicitly sales-y. Tailor content to what your customers want to read, not what you want them to read. Remember this is a transitory phase, so try to find a middle ground for displaying your value propositions without overtly selling.
Make Value Propositions Digestible
Value propositions are tricky; first you have to determine what yours are, and then you have to choose how to communicate them. You don’t have a lot of time or space to communicate your best features — and the more words you use, the more it dilutes your message. When communicating your value proposition, it’s best to be succinct and memorable with a digestible slogan or elevator pitch.
Successful value propositions usually define your customer’s pain points outright and then explain how your brand solves them. This can be through your product — “warts are bad; our product gets rid of warts” — or your service — “other wart removers cost too much and take weeks to delivers; we offer same-day delivery at a cheaper price.”
After building your followers and email list in the last stage, it’s time to start putting them to good use. Building relationships with your customers also requires a consistent presence in addition to a practical value, so at this stage regular newsletters, blogs, and social media posts go a long way.
Even if your brand offers the best deals on the planet, customers will still forget about you over time unless you maintain an online presence. Send out emails or publish new posts on a fixed and consistent schedule; enough to stay relevant, but not too much that you annoy people.
Establish Yourself as an Authority
People are more comfortable shopping from brands that are an expert in their field. By producing content that teaches or resolves issues, you not only demonstrate value to your shoppers, you also come across as an expert. The goal is to become the go-to source any time someone has a question about your area of expertise — that means more visits to your channels, which leads to more sales down the road.
Blogs are most common for this, as long as you write longer and more descriptive articles than your competitors. Videos are also effective, especially DIY tutorials.
When all else fails, you can always “bribe” customers to like you. Offering discounts, free gifts, or exclusive promotions is a clear-cut way to show your value by undercutting your competitors’ prices.
To synchronize all your goals, tack these extra deals to email signups or social media follows. For example, send someone an exclusive coupon code when they join your newsletter or follow you on Twitter.
Structuring your customer outreach like this helps both parties: your followers save money, and you earn a conversion, make a good impression, and get a little closer to the shopper. Everyone wins… except your competition!
Ready for the next stage of the ecommerce sales funnel? Check out how to create a content strategy to increase a customer’s desire to buy your products.