Ecommerce managers must decide what content and messaging should live on their website on a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal basis. Add to this the pressure that every page in their site taxonomy is an opportunity (and a risk) to showcase a product, brand message, or combination of both, and it is no small task.
This makes developing a seasonal online content calendar critical. While it isn’t brain surgery it does requires much more than plugging brand assets online.
Identifying the right mix of content and products to feature takes continual data mining, testing, and tweaking of content in order to be successful. The result is content and messaging that helps customers purchase from you.
Here’s how to do it:
Align Messaging with Customer Facing Content
Each season, brands are faced with the same set of tasks:
- Develop a seasonal product mix
- Determine what the seasonal brand stories are (product focus and messaging)
- Identify and build a strategy for selling into key sales channels
- Develop a marketing strategy to drive sell-through of product in sales channels
Most site managers are tasked with taking the key seasonal brand stories and weaving them throughout the website in a logical manner. To help organize this process, following a broader brand story calendar is great place to start planning your online content calendar to align your website messaging with content customers will see in the rest of the market (Print, TV, retail, etc).
While this is a great start, don’t fall into the trap of oversimplifying the content calendar creation process. Developing effective content that resonates with your online customers requires looking beyond an internal seasonal brand guide by analyzing the broader online macro environment as well as unique user data.
The Online Macro Environment
Every industry faces seasonal trends that generally steer the overall messaging of your brand. These trends need to be baked into the key seasonal brand stories, but let’s take it a few steps further.
Look at the specific revenue driving categories and products in each season to focus your content strategy. There are a number of tools at your disposal, such as Google Trends, that can provide data around what types of products and categories are in most demand online throughout the year. This data can help you identify what categories should receive more exposure on your site via main navigation listings, banners, and product placement.
In addition to focused product promotion, don’t ignore any major holidays or events that may influence the overall landscape of your industry.
Changing your site’s messaging to reflect current events demonstrates to customers you are in tune with the broader market rather than solely concerned about yourself.
Beyond leveraging internal brand campaigns and the broader industry trends to build your online content calendar, your most helpful toolset is the data previous customers and users provide in your site analytics.
Web analytics data is a wealth of easily accessible information that is a critical guide for your online content and marketing strategy. This is the real gold at your disposal that should be used to customize your online content calendar.
Look at data from the previous year(s) to get a good idea of what types of content customers view (and buy from) the most, what types of content works best at different levels of your site taxonomy, what marketing campaigns and messaging perform the best, and where you have opportunities to increase site revenue by serving up relevant content.
A good place to start is to look at data from each month during the previous year and answer the following questions:
- What were the top entry pages for your website?
- What categories received the most traffic?
- What products within each category were viewed the most?
- What products had the highest/lowest conversion rate?
- What internal pages/banners/content were most often viewed?
- What internal pages participated the most in driving revenue?
- Which PPC campaigns were the most efficient/inefficient?
- What email campaigns performed the best/worst?
Using this data allows you to make small tweaks to your site throughout the year that will match the anticipated content and product demand from customers. Changes as simple as moving around what product is showing up first in category listings can be the difference between users converting or bouncing.
In Game Adjustments
Good coaches create a solid game plan full of X’s and O’s based on the information they have access to, but it is the great coaches that are able to make in-game adjustments to their game plan in order to win. Insert inspirational halftime speech here.
Just having a solid online content calendar is great for starting the game, but being able to quickly tweak the plan by tracking and monitoring site data will win the game. By testing all of your efforts, you can quickly identify what works and what doesn’t in real time and make adjustments on the fly to win the day.