Unlike our other points, branding is not a problem created by Q1, it can however be an opportunity afforded to you by this natural seasonal lull. There are many best practice branding activities that slip to the bottom of the priority list during the crazier ecommerce seasons, content marketing being one of them. But in a socially engaged world, where brands are expected to be thought leaders and not just purveyors of goods, this can be a real blow to your brand.
One way to increase traffic to your website when people aren’t necessarily seeking out shopping outlets, is to create valuable and shareable content. Once you have done your best to beat the Q1 dip, spend some of this downtime to create content that will engage customers and prospects, helping to boost your sales all year round.
Create a blog
Blogging drives customers to your store, improves your website’s SEO, and allows you to craft stories around your products, brand and industry that will help you to convert visitors. They key to content of this style is that it should be relevant and not boastful.. This is a blog, not an in-site advertising platform. For example, if you store sells gardening equipment then why not write a post on potted plant projects to keep gardeners busy in the winter months- recommending some of your indoor items in the process.
- Behind the scenes – Your chance to give real insight into your company, this shows a level of transparency that many shoppers find reassuring. It is also a chance to tell your story and highlighting your core values. Consider showing how your products are made, or where your materials are sourced - If you are a company that supports small business and local suppliers then this your chance to shout about it. Whole Foods do a great job of this, including blogs from their CEO’s- where they talk on issues such as fair pay (Whole Foods are transparent in the fact that they cap the amount their executives, including the CEO’s, are paid at up to 19x higher than the average Whole Foods wage).
John Mackey, Co-CEO of Whole Foods, hosts his blog directly on the Whole Foods website and uses it to discuss the issues that matter to him and his company.
The Cambridge Satchel Company was started by mum Julie. Her very sweet story is one that makes the company likeable and is shared in this video.
- Tell your story. The blog is also a good place to talk about the vision that brought your company into being. Google did a really good job of this type of storytelling in their advert series that showed small businesses such as the Cambridge Satchel Company setting up shop, going from small home-based businesses to international best-sellers. But why wait for Google to shine the spotlight on your company when you can do it yourself?
- Commentary pieces – Every industry has hot topics, trends and industry news. Become a thought leader by reporting and commenting on these. You want to appear not only to have the inside-knowledge whenever possible but also to have opinions on the issues that matter to your customers. M&S is a good example, discussing issues such as the UK bag plastic bag tax and fair prices for milk farmers - all issues that have been in the news.
M&S gives their take on the issues affecting their industry and that of their suppliers in an insightful and current blog.
- PRODUCT LEAD / INSTRUCTIONAL PIECES – While you don’t want your blog to be just another shop front but there are ways to include your products in interesting and innovative ways. Maybelline do a good job of this, highlighting their products in trend-based tutorials. This is also a form particularly suited to food merchants, with recipe based pieces and the fashion vertical with “What to wear it with” style blogs.
Topshop interview social media star Anais Gallagher about her Christmas wish-list, which, of course, includes a number of Topshop items.
Remember to include your products in interesting and innovative ways.
For more tips to help you prepare for Q1 come back next week when I will be giving tips on how to convert sale customers into long-term shoppers (or in case you missed it, check out my last piece which looked at driving traffic to your store using social)!
Alternatively, you can download our handy Q1 checklist for all the tips in one go...