Content marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool for generating brand recognition and long-term customer loyalty. This is particularly true for ecommerce businesses, where brand building takes place in the digital realm, regardless of geographical restrictions.
Curious how you can learn from the best as you grow your own campaigns? Here some excellent examples of brands that have leveraged content marketing to boost ecommerce growth.
1. Luxy Hair
At a time when everyone in the industry was paying for traffic in order to make sales, Luxy Hair began operating with a dramatically different business model.
In order to attract new customers, Luxy Hair started a YouTube channel featuring informative videos on how to style your hair. Hair extensions (the company’s main product) are featured in some of their videos, but others simply provide useful styling tips without any product pitching.
Key Takeaway: Providing high quality, actionable advice without asking for anything in return is an excellent way to build long-term trust in your brand.
2. Whole Foods
The marketing experts at Whole Foods know their customers are interested in cooking delicious, healthy meals.
In order to facilitate this desire, Whole Foods regularly publishes healthy recipes on their website, featuring clear instructions and colorful images. You can even search for recipes which fit your particular diet, such as wheat-free and vegetarian.
Whole Foods Director of Social Media, CRM and Customer Service Natanya Anderson describes what’s made the company’s content marketing approach so successful in an interview with Convince and Convert:
“All other things being equal, if you make someone smarter, they will have a preference for your brand. They will most likely buy more often, more quickly, and typically with a larger ticket price.”
Key Takeaway: Instead of pushing customers towards buying products, Whole Foods utilizes content marketing to create long-term customer loyalty. The more value you can deliver without asking for anything directly, the more your customers will trust you and become advocates for your brand.
While many of the other brands in this article use Shopify as their platform for selling products online, Shopify itself provides a fantastic example of content marketing in an ecommerce context.
The Shopify blog is an extraordinary resource for ecommerce information, featuring lengthy case studies, how-to guides, entrepreneur interviews and more. Shopify benefits enormously if everyone using their platform gets better at marketing, so it’s in their interest to produce exceptionally useful content.
Key Takeaway: Create content that is so astonishingly useful, people won’t have a choice but to share it.
4. 5 Percent Nutrition
5 Percent Nutrition is a bodybuilding supplement and apparel company headed by professional bodybuilder and YouTube celebrity, Rich Piana.
In an industry that’s often regarded as outrageous by the general public, Rich Piana produces the most outrageous content out of everyone. Rich, heavily tattooed and weighing nearly 300 pounds, talks candidly on his YouTube channel about controversial subjects such as steroid usage and muscle injections. He also posts training videos with other professional athletes, such as 6’9 powerlifter and Game of Thrones star, Hafþór Björnsson.
Although this kind of content isn’t appealing to everyone, those who enjoy seeing gigantic men lifting gigantic weights find it truly mesmerizing.
Key Takeaway: Posting extreme, outrageous and controversial content is an effective way to draw attention to your brand. Proceed with caution however, as this tactic can backfire when used in an inappropriate niche.
5. Think Geek
April Fool’s Day presents a unique opportunity for brands to deliver some laughter to their customers and, hopefully, encourage them to purchase products.
Think Geek, an online emporium that supplies everything from Star Trek apparel to Tetris-themed LED lamps, received great publicity when they published a selection of fake products on their store. These products were simultaneously hilarious and appealing to the self-identified geek community, which led to immediate virality.
One of Think Geek’s fake products, a Game of Thrones edition of the legendary board game, Clue, has now been actualized due to popular demand.
Key Takeaway: Know your audience’s interests and desires in order to create content that they’ll resonate with. This will lead to high engagement and brand loyalty.
Blendtec, a supplier of high-end household blenders, is a case study in creating exciting content in a mundane niche.
The company’s YouTube Series, Will it Blend?, has generated millions of views. In each episode, a highly inappropriate item is dropped into a Blendec blender and people can watch the (often ridiculous) results. These kinds of videos showcase the sheer power of the Blendec product, but more importantly, they make people laugh. A video of someone throwing an iPhone, glow sticks or a human skeleton in a blender is exactly the type of compelling content that people love to share.
Neil Patel describes exactly why Blendtec’s strategy works:
“[S]top pushing your products to the target audience. Instead, push high-value content. Answer questions and show the results of your services or products.”
Key Takeaway: Even if you’re in an industry that isn’t considered exciting, there’s always an angle you can take with your content marketing to connect with people and elicit emotions. Trigger people’s feelings in a positive way and they’ll quickly become brand advocates.
7. Campus Protein
Campus Protein supplies fitness supplements to college students. The brand has been able to boost customer loyalty by encouraging user generated content in the form of reviews.
Many fitness supplements are notoriously bad tasting, so Campus Protein encourages customers to discuss the flavor of each products in their reviews. Customers are also encouraged to post fitness selfies on social media using the #TeamCP hashtag. These photos are curated by the Campus Protein team and added to product pages to build a sense of community around the brand.
Key Takeaway: Authentic, honest user generated content can be extremely powerful in building a great brand reputation.
Lifx has a truly amazing product; a light bulb that lasts over 20 years and can illuminate in a wide variety of colors that can be controlled using a smartphone.
While it’d be easy to discuss the features of this product in-depth, Lifx’s content marketing strategy is effective because it connects with people rather than pitches its product. Lifx regularly posts competitions and mention the winners on their social media channels, and they actively solicit customer feedback. Remember, people will advocate for brands if they feel a sense of camaraderie.
Key Takeaway: Stand out in a world of faceless corporations by injecting some humanity into your content marketing endeavors.
Reebok’s recent campaign, Be More Human, has been a gigantic success in humanizing the sportswear brand. President Matt O’Toole describes the decision to shift Reebok’s focus with the new campaign as being driven by the roughly 35 million people worldwide using combat sports to stay fit.
“Everything we are building now is built with the purpose of these individual activities. We are delivering the right products for these activities that quite frankly our competitors haven’t taken the time to understand and build the right products for.”
The campaign’s microsite features an abundance of interactive content, such as a Badge of Honor page where curated photos of bruises and cuts incurred in workouts are posted. The site also has a compelling quiz which shows people how their personality type relates with their fitness goals. Of course, the results of this test can be shared on social media with the click of a button.
Key Takeaway: Create high quality, interactive content that people can’t help but share.
10. Grazia Shop
Many online retailers start focusing on content generation as a means to sell their products, but for Grazia Shop, the opposite is true.
Lifestyle and fashion magazine Grazia opened its ecommerce store, Grazia Shop, to leverage its brand recognition and drop ship physical products from leading manufacturers. The magazine features an abundance of helpful content, with Q&A articles and celebrity fashion critiques – all of which have driven positive brand sentiment and advocacy.
Key Takeaway: Generating a receptive audience with content marketing and then moving into ecommerce can be a viable business strategy for motivated sellers.
Got another example you’d like to see added to this list? Leave me a note in the comments below with your suggestions:
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.