What if I told you that content marketing is one of the most sustainable ways to grow your ecommerce store? In fact: we use content marketing to grow targeted search and social traffic for all our clients.

Most marketers prefer to integrate content marketing into their overall marketing strategies because of the ROI it brings.

However, you have to understand the interests of your target audience.

Then, you have to create content that resonates with them. And finally, you have to work hard to promote that content.

It takes a lot of effort.

But here’s what you need to know:

The greatest advantage of having a well-rounded content marketing plan is the sustainability. You can create a content marketing machine that will drive consistent traffic using content for months and years.

In this post, I’ll outline a step by step strategy that you can use to set up a well-rounded content marketing plan, and then I’ll show you how to execute it with the help of a team.

The Ideation

The first step in any good content marketing plan is identifying great topics that:

  1. Your target audience is interested in
  2. Has low competition in search
  3. Returns good ROI

Identifying topics that your target audience is interested in takes a bit of effort. First, you need to identify what your ideal customer or buyer persona would read.

And then, you need to research for topics that they might be interested in using tools like Buzzsumo or Ahrefs to see popular topics in the niche.

But there is a simple hack around this process.

In fact, you can use the same hack to solve the other 2 requirements that I listed above too:

Low competition, and good ROI.

Say hi to Semrush.

SEMrush is a great competitor and organic search research tool that you can use to uncover keyword data. You can test it out for free, but to use it’s full capabilities, you’ll need to sign up to a paid subscription.

Instead of reinventing the wheel and doing keyword analysis from scratch, why don’t you just dig out keywords that your competitors are trying to rank for?

Semrush hands you this data on a silver platter. All you need to do is take a look at the domain overview for your website URL.

I’m going to walk you through the process using Ecommerce-Platforms.com as an example. The process is exactly the same for your eCommerce website.

SEMRush Overview

Below the Organic keywords section, you can see the Main Organic Competitors:

SEMRush organic competitors

This will give you a clear idea of who your main competitors are, based on Semrush’s keyword ranking data.

You can also click on ‘View Full Report’ to see all your organic competitors:

SEMRush all organic competitors

Now let’s steal their keywords 🙂

First, click on the competitors that you think are valid (Semrush may show some websites that may not be direct competitors, like websitetooltester.com in the image above) to see their domain overview.

SEMRush domain overview

Then click on “View Full Report” in the Top Organic Keywords section:

Now you should be able to see the entire keyword data for ecommercefuel.com:

Now, let’s do some filtering to remove low-quality keywords:

First, click on Advanced filters, exclude positions greater than 20, and click ‘Apply’.

Now go ahead and export this data into a CSV file.

Now repeat this process for all your competitors to get all their keyword data.

You can also get a lot more data with a variety of other tools.

Now import them all into a google sheet, and remove all unnecessary columns like Number of results, Timestamp, Trends, and Traffic(%).

Now that you have all the data in a single doc, freeze the first row, and sort by URL in google sheets.

Then remove all the rows where the URL is the homepage of the blog. We’re looking for content keyword data:

This groups all the keywords for each piece of content together, and now you’ll have a clear idea of which content drives traffic for your competitors, how much traffic they drive for your competitors, and the potential revenue from all this traffic (from traffic cost).

Nifty, huh?

The Plan

The next step is to put together a clear-cut content plan by identifying the best topics for your eCommerce store’s blog.

This is how we do it:

We create a Content Plan doc.

The content plan doc will list the article topics that we’ll target and also detail other metrics like the keyword and the traffic volume. And it will list the publishing dates and other data points that will help us keep track of the content automation and promotion parts.

First, make a copy of this template doc.

Then fill out all the columns:

Image here

  1. Status: The current status of the content piece in the content creation and promotion cycle.
  2. Draft Due: The date by which a draft of the content is due.
  3. Go Live Date: The date by which the content should be made live.
  4. Stage: The stage in the customer lifecycle at which the content is targeted (Discover, Consider, Customer)
  5. Audience: The customer persona that you are targeting with the content piece.
  6. Topic: The topic of the content.
  7. Keywords: The keywords that you’re targeting with the content (from the above step)
  8. Competition: The Semrush competition index for the keyword
  9. Traffic: The traffic volume of the target keyword
  10. Content Framework: The type of content (video, infographic, blog post, etc)
  11. Medium: Where you plan to publish the content or the medium on which the content will be native to.
  12. Title: The title of the content piece.
  13. Word count: The word count of the article
  14. Author: Which writer you plan to assign the content creation work to.
  15. Outline: A brief outline of what you want the article/content to include (for the writer)
  16. Draft: The doc/link to the content after creation
  17. Promotional Plan: The doc/link to the promotion plan for the content.

Once you have the Content Calendar/Plan doc filled out, you will have a clear idea on topics that are a goldmine in terms of traffic volume and competition.

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Wondering how all this content will deliver ROI?

Take a look at the screenshot above in the topic ideation step.

Notice the column titled “CPC”?

That column lists the cost-per-click values for their respective keywords.

And that means your competitors are willing to pay that amount per click for that keyword. If you manage to rank for that keyword in organic search results, you’re essentially getting that same traffic without paying.

Besides:

There is a way you can guarantee ROI.

Lead Magnets.

We use lead magnets extensively for our posts- PDF guides, tools or checklists or even webinars that visitors can download for free by giving us their email address.

We then setup a drip email campaign to nurture users and get them to buy the products we sell.

You can easily setup a drip email campaign to users who sign up to download your lead magnet using email marketing platforms MailChimp or Constant Contact.

After filling out your Content Calendar, you can begin assigning the creation and promotion work to your team and automate the content marketing process for your store.

Wondering about how to do the automation?

The Execution

As a content marketer who regularly consults with clients, I can tell you this:

Finding good content creators is the most difficult part of executing your content marketing strategy.

The good writers out there charge behemoth prices for good content, and the content quality may suffer when you try to hire from freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.

But there’s one hack you can use to save a lot of time and scale the prospecting process.

You need to set up automated interviews.

Why do I say this?

Think about it: What takes up most of your time?

It’s vetting content writing applicants one by one.

And it’s tedious.

By automating the entire interview process, you can focus just on getting people to apply by posting on the free job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, Facebook groups, and other forums where good writers hang out.

We do this with Vervoe. But it’s easy to set up a few questions in a google sheet or a free Typeform form and send it to applicants.

Getting back to our plan:

For executing on your content marketing plan, there are just two roles that you need to fill:

  1. A Content Marketer who can take care of all the Semrush analysis, topic ideation, content calendar setup, and content reviewing. An experienced content marketer can also help you with outreach to promote your content with link building or influencer marketing.
  2. A Content Writer who can produce great content on the topics you’ve planned out.

The Content Manager plans and assigns the topics, and the Content Writer creates the content and publishes it. The Content Manager then analyzes the results and uses the insights they gain to refine future content plans.

Conclusion

We talked about how to identify niche topics from competitor keyword data to create content on with Semrush, talked about how to prepare a content calendar with all this data, and detailed how to hire content writers and marketers to take care of the content creation and promotion.

With enough iteration and effort, you should be able to gear up an efficient content marketing machine for your eCommerce store that drives consistent traffic with stellar content.