Online content is a powerful tool for the modern business owner. Whether you operate a brick and mortar or an e-commerce business, such as a subscription business, a thoughtful and well-developed content strategy can attract new customers and add value to your existing customer experience.
But, if you’re totally new to the practice, it may seem like a leap to begin devoting time, effort, and possible dollars toward building out a content-driven side of your business. Where do you start? And should you?
First, know that a strong content strategy doesn’t need to be difficult. At its most basic level, successfully developing content comes down to four big areas:
- Understanding Content
- Choosing the right platform
- Understanding how search engines, like Google, “see” your website
- Actually enriching customer experience by developing niche-oriented content
Understanding Content: What do we mean?
While there are many forms of content you can create – videos, images, and blogging/articles, just to name a few – let’s focus on the last in the list, and arguably the least intensive: blogging and written content.
This isn’t to say other forms of content are less important – think of video tutorials for beauty related businesses or recipe meme’s for a food delivery.
However, I’ve noticed that self-publishing written content can be one of the easiest and fastest ways to grow your content base and enrich yourself and your customers in niche-oriented content (and keep many principles we’ll discuss applies to other categories of content as well). Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, when you’re truly passionate about your business, you’ll be able to create and/or manage compelling, rich content that will benefit your brand. Believe in yourself!
Choosing the Right Platform: Beginning Your Blog, Subdomains, and Themes
The first step is to choose a blogging platform or Content Management System (CMS) for written content. Different platforms exist, a few examples are as Blogger, Blog.com, or WordPress. Personally, I suggest using WordPress, as the simple backend (or control panel) and powerful plugins make content easy to master. Whatever your choice, it’s vital to keep the same style as your main site. For example, if you’re using a theme through Cratejoy, use those same colors/elements in your blog.
Because you cannot blog directly through your Cratejoy account, you’ll need to create a subdomain where your blog is hosted. For example, blog.subscriptionbusiness.com. The important thing to keep in mind is that search engines like Google are smart enough to recognize that blog.subscriptionbusiness.com and subscriptionbusiness.com are the same sites. Even though you’ll be working from two areas – Cratejoy and WordPress – they’ll still benefit the same business. (For more about this, I recommend Spinweb’s post on the topic.)
For your theme, it’s recommended you choose something simple and easily configurable. WordPress makes it easy to preview and install themes, and you can easily customize them through the Appearance section in your WordPress Menu. Remember to borrow colors, logos, and recognizable elements from your existing site to ensure a clear and cohesive customer experience. Also, remember to add call’s to action to subscribe to your service!
Understanding Search Engines: SEO & Best Practices
Once you’ve got your blog set up, you’re ready to start publishing. Importantly, you’ll need to position yourself from the beginning to do “good” by search engines – that is, follow a specific set of rules/suggestions to score high in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Truthfully, there’s a lot that goes into SEO, and you should brush up on the basics. Understanding the elements of good SEO will go a long way in improving your ability to attract traffic.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Keyword(s): What keyword do you want the search engine to focus on? Do they appear early in the page? In the title? How frequently? Do you use this keyword on many posts?
- Quality: Are your pieces over 300 words, well-written, and contain original content? Are your pieces easy to read? Are you using header tags? Are you linking to trustworthy sites?
- Housekeeping: Are your URLS short and meaningful? Are you providing an XML sitemap? Are you conscientiously using categorization and tagging?
While there are certainly more things to keep in mind, I recommend finding a plugin that can help do most of the thinking for you. WordPress SEO by Yoast, for example, provides a really helpful Page Analysis as part of the plugin. That means when you’re in the post, you’ll be able to see how the page is ranking, and you can make adjustments right there (ie. adding words, fixing headlines, improving links).
Customer Experience: Truly Adding to Your Business
Just as crucial as SEO is actually making your content useful. When thinking about customer experience, think about your niche and value proposition to customers (for more on these, check out the guide on 5 Concepts Every Subscription Business Owner Needs to Know). In other words, think of what it is you’re offering your customers. What experience are you providing them with? How can you enrich it? Clearly drawing a connection between your service and your content is the best way to ensure it’s adding to the customer experience.
For example, if your subscription business is related to health and fitness, considering blogging about new exercise routines, equipment, foods, or philosophies. Take ideas that would appeal to the type of customer who receives your box, and organize posts around them. This can apply to almost any category! As an exercise, try listing out your main value propositions and types of content that would relate to those offerings. Here’s an example I’ve used before:
- In the case of the gourmet food box, let’s say you deliver 4-6 gourmet food items, 1-2 pieces of kitchenware, and always source local foods. Your list would look something like:
- Gourmet Food –> Articles on baking, ingredients, professional chefs
- 1-2 Pieces of Kitchenware –> Articles on how to care for cutlery, design and purposes of difference kitchenware
- Local Food –> Articles on local business, interviews with local business owners/artisans
Equally vital is making sure your audience knows about this source of content. Direct people to your content through your box (perhaps on your packing list/brochure), and push people to it via social media and sharing. If you’ve ever found yourself sharing another blog’s content, this is a great example of when your business instead could be benefiting from the traffic.
A Review: Content and Your Subscription Business
Though content can seem like a long-term investment, it is one of best ways to add value to your business and ultimately reach new people, and you can start as early as tomorrow. Regardless of the traffic it draws, a well-developed content strategy adds to customer experience, improving your existing customers’ perception of your brand and potentially leading to more loyal, longer-lived customer relationships. Just remember to start small, keep SEO and search engine rules in mind, and demonstrate a clear connection between your blog and business. You’ll be published in no time!