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11 Retail Content Marketing Trends To Inspire Your Next Campaign

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11 Retail Content Marketing Trends To Inspire Your Next Campaign

No matter what digital platform you use to promote your business, continually coming up with fresh content ideas to capture your audience’s attention can be a real challenge.

Popular content comes and goes before you’ve even hit “publish” on your latest post, so how do you plan effectively for your next big marketing campaign?

If you’re feeling stuck and looking for some ideas, take a look at these 11 trends that you can adapt for your retail brand.

1. Provide Value To Stay Relevant

With every piece of content you create, you should always be thinking, “what will a viewer get out of this?”

Fitbit does a great job here, posting tips and advice for their followers to improve their mental and physical health.

Cocokind balances its aesthetic content in the beauty space with informational posts on building a skincare routine and walkthroughs of how to incorporate their products into your existing regime.

There are plenty of other brands to distract your audience with their own content, so focusing on the value you provide will help keep your brand top-of-mind and relevant to your customers.

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2. Get Your Customers Involved

No one wants to see a constant barrage of sales content from any brand. But when you have a product you need to push, how do you keep people interested and engaged?

You tap into your existing customer base to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

And that’s exactly what Vacation Inc. did.

In April 2021, Vacation Inc. launched their now Nordstrom and Ulta-partnered screen with an 80s beach vibe campaign.

Customers could generate honorary job titles and share their new business cards on their own social channels.

Within days of launching the presale, over 10,000 people had “changed careers,” with roles like “Emergency Tequila Shot Salt Secretary” and “Catamaran Fly Fishing Specialist” (my personal role).

Vacation Inc.’s success came from capitalizing on an already-growing fanbase across social media.

The fun, interactive content quickly spread with little effort on the brand’s part post-launch, leaving their customers to do the work and brand evangelizing for them.

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3. Double-Down On Short-Form Video

It’s no secret that video content is becoming a major component of any good content marketing campaign.

As of 2021, Wyzowl reports that users spend an average of 18 hours a week watching video content across different platforms and, specifically, shorter videos.

This is hardly surprising given the rapid rise of TikTok.

But if you’re not using this kind of content, now is the time to start thinking about it.

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Luxury Italian fashion house Gucci is an excellent example of making video content work as a retail brand.

Balancing behind-the-scenes content for new collections with famous faces wearing their pieces, Gucci has continued to adapt its marketing strategy to fit the needs of a more video-focused audience.

4. Make Content That’s Actually Entertaining

We all know that the purpose of marketing is to sell more products and win more customers.

But nothing is stopping you from having fun while you’re doing that!

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With so much competition and audiences looking for instant gratification, entertaining content should be a top priority for any retail brand.

No one does this better than Aviation Gin.

Leaning heavily on the wit of its owner, actor Ryan Reynolds, the company continually uses humor and satire to entertain their audience.

Their “alternative” to the Peloton Girl ad instantly built connections with viewers, thanks to its cheeky overtones and reminders of why the original went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Creating funny marketing content is one of the most difficult approaches to get right.

When you do, it can really pay off.

5. Highlight What Matters Most To Your Brand

In a consumer environment now highly concerned with environmental and social issues, relatability when it comes to brand values has never been more important.

One of the best performers in this space is DTC beauty brand, Jones Road.

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Founded by makeup veteran Bobbi Brown, Jones Road has quickly developed a fan base thanks to its cruelty-free products and body-positive content.

The brand’s TikTok account is a good place to look for inspiration if you’re hoping to promote your company values more clearly.

How-to and tutorial videos serve an educational and informative purpose while weaving narratives around self-empowerment to create emotional connections to their audience.

The brand has also grabbed the attention of non-traditional audiences on its social platforms, thanks to videos aimed at customers over 50 on Instagram and TikTok.

By embracing who they are and what they believe in, Jones Road has quickly become a standout brand for successful video content.

6. Use Influencer Partnerships To Educate Your Audience

Partnering with influencers isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Strategically working with people your customers already follow is a good way to get your brand in front of new audiences and remind existing customers about what you offer.

Wine expert and sommelier Amanda McCrossin’s educational TikTok content has quickly seen her become a go-to resource for wine drinkers around the world.

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From her product recommendations for different occasions to winery tours to interest vacationers, this channel is a good example of how to partner with influencers to create interesting, educational content that viewers want to see.

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7. Hop On The Audio Bandwagon

For video-first channels like TikTok, or even Instagram Reels, finding the right audio to set the tone for your content is essential.

It doesn’t take much for a soundbite to go viral these days.

Having a catalog of video ideas that you can quickly film and publish is a great way to jump on these trends as soon as they appear.

Trending sounds can come up out of nowhere, so you need to be prepared if you want to use these audio clips in your own videos.

Wine bottle brand Partner in Wine does a great job with this, staying up-to-date with all the popular TikTok and Instagram sounds and posting their own content using these.

This makes them searchable within the apps via these sound clips, opening up a whole new potential audience.

8. Build Trust With Subject Matter Experts

It’s one thing to create educational and informative content for your audience.

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But if they’re new to your brand, how do they know they can trust what you’re saying?

One of the best ways to build your credibility here is through partnering with subject matter experts.

This is a tactic commonly used in B2B marketing, but retail B2C brands are also starting to see success here.

Interior design brand Studio McGee uses their frequently-updated blog to provide lifestyle and design tips from both their in-house experts and guests.

Whether it’s organizational tips and tricks or design inspiration, the company clearly shows why they’re the people to trust when it comes to home decor.

9. Jump On Pop Culture Moments

Just like trending sounds, you never know when a moment will arrive in the cultural consciousness, you can use to promote your products.

Take beauty company Lemonhead LA.

Already a hit with notable celebrities like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, the brand cemented its place as the go-to glitter makeup company thanks to its products appearing in season one of the HBO show “Euphoria.”

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The brand went on to release a limited-edition collection inspired by the show, which quickly became a hit with their customers.

Bloomingdale’s has also been successful with this approach, creating a pop-up collection of Regency-inspired products following the success of Netflix’s Bridgerton.

There’s no telling what pop culture can inspire, so stay on top of what’s happening.

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10. Branch Out Of Your Comfort Zone

When you’re working with a limited marketing budget, trying out new platforms or channels is a risky move.

For the most successful brands, though, it can really be worth it.

Whether starting a new social media account or embracing an entirely different content format, experimenting with something a little different can quickly put you ahead of your competitors.

Trader Joe’s gave podcasting a go in 2018, expecting to run a five-part series to give customers a behind-the-scenes look at the brand and its story.

You may not think many people would be interested in an audio deep-dive into a grocery store.

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But the podcast became so successful that they’re continuing to put out new episodes to this day.

Thinking outside the box is the tell-tale sign of a great marketer.

But don’t forget to do your research before you pitch any big strategy shifts like this.

11. Think Beyond Single-Platform Silos

With technology so firmly integrated into our daily lives, retail experiences are no longer strictly online or offline experiences.

Customers want and need an omnichannel experience, taking them from their phones to the store and back again.

Plenty of studies have shown the benefits of omnichannel marketing, from greater customer reach and satisfaction to higher profits across all company sectors.

Target is one of the best for this type of marketing, foregoing their individual channel focus and thinking across multiple platforms.

One of their most successful partnerships recently has been with Pinterest, specifically the Pinterest Lens feature.

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Within the Pinterest app, users can take a photo on their smartphone of products they like and the Target app will show them similar products in their own collections.

While your retail brand may not have the budget and customer reach of a multi-billion dollar company like Target, the same idea still applies.

Instead of creating content strategies solely around one marketing platform, think about how you can integrate all of your efforts to provide a memorable and unique experience for your customers.

In Conclusion

There are hundreds of possible options for creating engaging marketing content.

(And we’re certainly not advocating that you try all these at once!)

But with some strategic thinking, your brand can make any of these trends a success.

Promoting your retail brand effectively through content marketing is possible, so if you feel inspired, it’s time to start working on your new content marketing plan.

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Featured Image: BublikHaus/Shutterstock



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SEO

How Should You Optimize Your Content?

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How Should You Optimize Your Content?

People turn to Google for just about everything these days.

Whether it’s to buy something, learn about something in-depth, get a quick answer, or simply pass the time, Google is the primary stream of information for the vast majority of people living with an internet connection.

To be precise, Google makes up 92.19% of the search engine market share.

The constant quest of SEO professionals is to get their content matched up with the search queries it answers.

But how has this task changed over time?

While there can be books written on this subject, the general consensus is that search queries are becoming longer, more specific, and conversational.

In many cases, a portion of this shift can likely be attributed to the rise of voice search.

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A lot of what we are seeing is a growing importance on optimizing for questions and semantically related keywords.

So what exactly does this all mean?

And what are the best strategies when you’re down in the trenches of SEO?

Let’s discuss.

Questions & Semantic Search

Since the Google Hummingbird Update in 2013, Google has been on a steady path toward providing more personalized and useful search results.

You know when you enter a super vague query into Google and it somehow understands exactly what you’re getting at? Like when you are speaking to a close friend or family member?

This is semantic search.

A big aspect of Google’s semantic search capability is to pinpoint concepts and entities presented in question-based queries.

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When someone enters a question into Google – whether it be by text or voice – the semantic search capabilities work to understand the user’s intent with four key factors:

  • The user context.
  • Natural language processing (NLP).
  • Query stream context.
  • Entity identification.

What Types of Questions Does Google Answer?

Thanks to semantic search, Google has taken many steps toward a near-flawless ability to answer a plethora of questions. This is largely due to the developments in artificial intelligence, voice search, schema, NLP, etc.

Google generally answers three types of questions – as opposed to just providing links to the sites with the answers.

  • Direct answers
  • Short answers
  • Long answers

These answers are commonly placed in the Featured Snippet – also known as the “Google Answer Box” or “Position Zero.”

Let’s breakdown the specifics of each.

Direct Answer

Direct answer questions typically start with Who, What, Where, When, Best, Top, and sometimes Why.

These types of questions normally result in quick answers and are oftentimes linked to voice queries.

For example, if you enter a query like [When was Apple founded?], Google will use Hummingbird and semantic search to recognize the user intent to provide a direct answer. This answer would be April 1, 1976.

When was Apple Founded

Based on what Google’s algorithms decide is the most reliable source of information, the search engine will pull the answer from the content and display it in the Featured Snippet.

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Short Answer

Short answer questions generally start with words like Why and Can. But, given the context, they can also apply to What, Where, Who, etc.

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These types of questions can generally be answered in a paragraph, of which is shown on the Featured Snippet.

Let’s ask Google [Why does the sun follow a circular path?]

Why does the sun follow a circular path?

Again, Google’s algorithms will decide which content has the most credible answer here (based on numerous factors), and provide the answer in the Featured Snippet accordingly.

Let’s do another one.

Here’s a query for “Can fish feel pain?”

Can fish feel pain?

As you can see, Google has provided a 4-5-line answer – drawing from the content it sees as the most credible.

Long Answer

The long answer queries typically get more into the weeds of procedures and processes.

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Most commonly, these long answers are matched up with How and Why queries.

Google only has so much space to work with in the Featured Snippet; it can’t list out an entire procedure from A to Z. Instead, it has to abbreviate with an outline.

For example, let’s search for [How to build a treehouse].

How to build a treehouse?

The intent of this question is to get a better understanding of what all factors into the process of building a treehouse. The intent is more or less surface level.

As a result, Google’s algorithms serve up the step-by-step process involved in this project. To get more in-depth, the user needs to click on the link.

Other common examples of long answer snippets relate to how-to guides, recipes, workout routines, etc.

Which Types of Answers Do You Provide?

Everyone wants to get their content proudly placed in the Featured Snippet (or somewhere prominent on Page 1).

Given how much real estate this answer box takes up on Google searches, the potential benefits of taking the spotlight here are huge!

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In order to get placed in the Google Answer Box, you first need to have a strong idea of which type of answer your particular piece of content provides, and which keywords attribute to it.

For instance, this online tire store recently published an article around the keyword “best tire brands” – optimized for the question, “what are the best tire brands?”

Best tire brands

If we look at the Featured Snippet for this query, we see a list of tire brands outlined in the content under H2 tags.

In addition to drawing traffic, the content provides avenues for the user to actually purchase the products.

With each piece of content you create, you should be asking, “what types of questions does this content answer?”

This should be an integral part of how you formulate the outline, as well as how it will funnel into the bigger picture (like generating conversions).

How to Pinpoint Trending Questions & Keywords

In the process of figuring out which type of answer(s) is ideal for your content, you need to identify the trending questions being asked and the search volumes behind them.

One tool you could use is the Ahrefs Questions feature in the keyword explorer.

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By entering in your focus keyword, you can get a big list of related questions to be factored into how you create the content.

In this hypothetical scenario, let’s say you are creating a piece of content for a CRM software.

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Let’s look at the questions related to the keyword “CRM Software.”

CRM Software

Given what we found here, there are all kinds of questions to frame a piece of content around.

Now, a long, comprehensive piece of content could potentially work to answer all three major question types. However, for our purposes, we are going to focus on one.

Let’s say we want to create a piece of content that answers the short answer question [What does CRM software do].

What does CRM software do?

Now that we have the question, let’s look into the keywords that funnel into this answer.

What does CRM software do?

Think about it from a user’s standpoint who is at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

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If someone wants to simply learn more about CRM software and what it does, what informational keywords and phrases would factor into the search?

Based on the keyword research above, this would likely involve terms and phrases like:

  • What is CRM
  • Customer relationship management
  • CRM meaning
  • CRM definition
  • CRM examples
  • Customer relationship
  • Relationship management

These are just a handful of the informational keywords and phrases that would ideally work to answer the overarching question.

Now, if there is transactional intent within this content, you are wise to include the following terms/phrases:

  • Best CRM
  • Best CRM tools
  • Best CRM for small business
  • CRM solutions
  • CRM pricing

When it comes to optimizing for questions and keywords, you need to have an idea of the users’ knowledge prior to looking at the content, what answers they want, and what they should do after consuming the content.

Ultimately, this forms the basis for how you conduct SEO research.

Ranking for Direct Answer Questions

Getting ranked for direct answer questions can be tough.

As with most SEO tactics, there are no laws, just theories.

Based on what we’ve found, getting ranked highly for direct answer questions involves the following common threads:

Get to the Point

Answer the question as early as possible within the content. If you can, try to do this in the first paragraph.

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List the Question Right out of the Gate

This helps Google tag your content appropriately.

Elaborate

After you answer the question bluntly, elaborate on it in the subsequent paragraphs. This helps to show Google that you are answering the question comprehensively.

Go the Extra Mile

This would commonly involve answering typical follow-up questions.

For instance, if you answered the question, “What is a lunar eclipse?” you could also include answers to questions like, “How often do lunar eclipses happen?” or “What is the difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse?”

You want to show Google that you know the answer in as much detail as possible so you are seen as an expert source of information.

Ranking for Short Answer Questions

Getting ranked for short answer questions has a lot of similarities to the process of getting ranked for direct answer questions.

Much of what we’ve observed comes down to the formatting of the content.

Here are a couple of the biggest patterns we’ve noticed:

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Make the Language Super Easy to Read

Don’t produce a wall of text; break it up into paragraphs no more than 3-4 lines long. Also, try not to use an extensive amount of business jargon.

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Keep in mind, a lot of short answer questions are from people at the beginning of the customer journey – they are simply looking for more information, not to be overwhelmed.

Integrate Questions into Your Header Tags

This should ideally look like a Q&A format.

For instance, the question, “What does a CRM software do?” could be an H2 tag near the beginning of the post which the subsequent content would then answer.

Ranking for Long Answer Questions

Ranking for long answer questions normally requires quite a few factors based on the depth of the content.

On a side note: If a topic could be better answered with a more visual piece of content, Google will probably serve a video. For example, if you search Google for [How to wash pillows] you are going to be met with a video.

How to wash pillows?

So, if you answer these types of long answer questions, you are smart to focus on a video strategy.

Back to getting ranked highly on long answer queries, we have found several patterns in how content ranks.

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Keep the Main Title Focused on the Question

You want your content to appear to be the most relevant to Google.

If you are working to answer the question of “how to create a content plan,” your content should (in some capacity) reflect this in the title.

How to create a content plan?

Provide a Step-By-Step Format

Headings in content created for these types of queries often times have certain steps outlined.

Here’s what comes up for the question, [how to do SEO audit].

How to do SEO audit?

If you look at the content written by Ahrefs, you’ll notice the header tags in the piece correspond directly with the steps listed in the Featured Snippet.

Use Images

Images make your content more user-friendly and engaging – two things that Google loves!

We’ve found that the best-performing content uses imagery to supplement the points being made and provide a more complete answer.

Link out to Reputable Sites

Google wants to reward sites that provide the most credible information, based on the search query.

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What makes credible information?

Credible sources.

For example, if you are writing a post on “how to buy a used car,” linking out to reputable auto websites like Consumer Reports, Edmonds, Cars.com, etc. would (ideally) add credibility to your piece.

Wrapping Up

It’s important to note that every situation is a little bit different and the process of optimizing content is not always apples-to-apples.

However, it’s clear that the SEO landscape has been shifting towards long-tail keywords and questions for some time now.

If you want to get your content ranked well (and stand a chance at getting placed in the featured snippet), you need to factor these into your content strategy.

Hopefully, this post has given you a good idea of where to start.

More Resources:

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Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, August 2019
In-Post Image: SEMrush

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