Content, Commerce and Community are the keys to sustainable growth for online businesses, especially startups. And getting these things right could be worth billions of dollars for your Shopify store. The great thing is you already have one key in place: Commerce. Now you just need Content and Community.
How do you define a successful online store?
Profit is often seen as the main indicator of a successful Shopify store, and rightly so. A Shopify store is a business after all. Its primary goal is to earn money. However, having profit is just one aspect of success. Your store should also have stability and growth.
A successful Shopify store earns money (Profitability), will earn money next month (Stability) and has earned more money than last month (Growth).
But don’t remember that profitability and growth don’t have to be massive. Some of us don’t consider our store successful because it doesn’t grow as fast as we expect it to. Yet, any growth is growth, no matter how small.
Once your store has achieved all three of the above, you can definitely say that you have a successful online store.
How do the 3 C’s contribute to your online store’s success?
Content, commerce and community bolster each stage of your online store’s success.
In engineering, the strongest shape is a triangle. If you look around, large and small structures, from bridges to foot stools, all have triangular supports.
It’s the same with the three C’s. If we place them on your foundations and prioritize them during each stage of your success (Profitability, Stability and Growth), your online store will be stronger than ever.
Take note, we won’t be giving much attention to commerce as it’s already part of your store. Shopify gives you a solid platform for commerce, and if you’re reading this, everything’s probably already in place.
So, we’re going to focus more on content and community.
Stage One of Success: Profitability
To have profits, you gotta have sales. One way for you to have guaranteed sales is to have a niche.
As we’ve said in our previous article, There Is No Excuse To Not Start Your Store Right Now, “The more specific your product or service is, the better. You will find a group of people that will love your niche product because it solves their unique pain points—and they won’t be able to find it anywhere else.”
Think of putting together a content marketing strategy as investing in your customers. But instead of giving them monetary benefits, you give them valuable content.
Here’s an example of how your content interacts with your potential customers:
Your target customer, a teenage girl, needs to know: “What makeup is best for meeting my boyfriend’s parents?”
Of course, she Googled her query. And then she found your Youtube video on the topic! Since she really liked the look from the video, she decided that she would like the same makeup from the video. You’ve included all the products in the video descriptions, including links to your store for easy purchase.
She bought them all and followed the video tutorial. Cha-ching.
This is just one of the multiple possibilities for how content can draw customers into your store. That video could have easily been a blog post, or a podcast or a free guide.
Content works really well as the main jumpoff point for your store. That’s because, as the first contact with a potential customer, you’ve already established a helpful interaction, so they’re more likely to buy from you.
They might not buy immediately, like in our example, but at the very least, your content has introduced your store to them in a favorable light.
To have true profit, you need more than one customer. While content focuses on individuals, community focuses on groups of individuals.
A community is a group of people united by a commonality. When it comes to online stores, a community usually bonds over a common interest. Having a common interest makes it easier for you to guide multiple people to your store.
The most important thing when handling communities is to keep feeding their common interest through valuable content. Different types of people will want different types of content. Get to know your community so you give them what they like. We’re going to explore the different types of valuable content in the next section on stability.
Whether you are just starting out or have been running your Shopify store for a while, always think of your community. If you don’t have a community yet, now is the time for you to start building one. Your community will likely be the lifeblood of your store.
Stage Two of Success: Stability
The next thing in the process for success is to turn your paying customers into regular customers. That is, the ones who will keep coming back to your store. You can do this through smart navigation and great design that appeals to your target customers, as well as offering loyalty rewards.
We already established that giving people relevant content will make it easier for you to convert them into paying customers. Once they become your customers, you can then continue to use content to encourage them to keep buying from you. Here are some examples of common types of content:
In our previous example about makeup, the value that the potential customer got was information.The primary reason that a person would click on a Google link is to get information. Whether it’s articles, tutorials, tips or news, a modern consumer wants to be informed.
If you keep your customers informed, they will show their appreciation by buying from your store regularly.
This content feeds the awareness and decision stages of the buyer’s journey, when they’re looking for information about what they need, and later when they’re deciding what to buy.
Entertaining or Emotional Content
This is the content your customers end up sharing with their friends and family. Funny memes and videos. Tearjerker moments of reunion or success. Content that tugs emotions, whether it’s happiness, amusement or sadness.
This type of content can go viral. Or at least get a lot of shares. When that happens, the amazing result for your store is that more and more people become aware of your store.
Consistently providing valuable content to your customers will upgrade your relationship with your customer from affinity and preference to true loyalty.
Building a community for your returning customers is easier when you have a robust content strategy in place. That’s because the first reason that many communities unite is that they share common interests--which are related to the topics in your content. Now that your customers receive content consistently, it’s likely they’ll start to feel a sense of brand loyalty.
And customers who are loyal to your brand will regularly buy from your store. Modern consumers don’t want transactions, they want relationships. These relationships are created through being in a community.
And it isn’t one-sided either.
You give your consumers valuable content, and they reciprocate by purchasing your products and services.
Stage Three of Success: Growth
Now that we have a regular amount of returning consumers, our next aim is to have more customers.
Good stores expect growth; great stores anticipate growth. What’s the difference between expectation and anticipation? Action.
You should always be prepared for growth. It starts with changing your mindset from “I’ll prepare for growth IF it happens,” to “I’ll prepare for growth NOW.”
There is a sense of urgency to prepare for growth when you know it is inevitable. And preparation is very important.
Unprepared growth is painful and destructive to your Shopify store. One way to be prepared is to have the manpower or robopower to handle a large demand.
Or you could go robopower. Get some of your process automated. You can automate store-related tasks from marketing to loyalty programs.
Automating tasks will help you retain the number of your current staff, while accomplishing more goals for your store. Check out our article, Automation and Your Shopify Store, to see more of the possibilities and benefits of automation.
During the Growth stage of your success, your content should be focused on two aspects: your loyal customers and your new customers. Appealing to both with the same piece of content is doable but challenging. Content strategy at this stage will be more effective if you have different topics for each type of customer.
For example, imagine you sell carpentry tools online. Let’s say that your loyal customers subscribe to your content because of the advanced carpentry tutorials you make. After getting their scheduled content, they also buy from you.
One day, you have a bunch of people that visited your store. They are potential customers. They just finished their carpentry course. If you give them the regular content that you are known for, it might be too advanced for them and you might lose these potential customers.
Conversely, if you’re going to change your content into basic carpentry tutorials to get new customers, it might then disappoint your loyal customer base who are advanced carpenters.
It’s better for you to have separate content for each different customer than to try to find the sweet spot in the middle. You could lose them both by pursuing them both with the same types of content. Here are some tips for how to create different content for loyal customers and new customers:
Content for loyal customers
Content for loyal customers is the most important focus your content strategy should have. Your loyal customers are those that buy from you (and often don’t buy from your competitors) month after month. You have to focus on them first as they are the pillars that support your store. Aside from content that they expect, your regularly scheduled content, you should also aim to delight them with extra-special content.
First, acknowledge their ongoing support. Start with a simple thank you email. It feels good to be appreciated from time to time.
Then, you can reward them by giving freebies through a loyalty program. The more that they buy or the longer they stay, the more benefits they get. Make it a worthwhile experience for them to be a loyal customer.
Now here’s the best part. If your current customers have a great experience, they will provide the strongest of all marketing strategies: Word-of-mouth.
These delighted customers will then share their experiences with their friends and family. New customers that are brought in by existing customers have a higher chance of being a repeat customer.
You could also encourage sharing good experiences by flipping the script. Instead of having content for loyal patrons, you can use the content OF your loyal patrons. In other words, ask your loyal customers for user-generated content, like social media posts or reviews.
Highlighting their content, may it be videos, pictures or just plain words, will make them feel proud that your brand recognizes them. If it’s on social media, their friends and followers will immediately see that, and it can be shared again and again.
Lastly, have a referral program. This will incentivize your loyal customers to invite more customers instead of only sharing their good experiences from your store.
Content for new customers
The content strategy for new customers is a little different.
But, it doesn’t have to be drastically different.
Think of content marketing to new customers like dating. Your content style for new customers should be loosely based on dating stages. For example...
The first meetup. You’ve got to make a good impression, but you don’t want to overwhelm customers who don’t know the brand very well. The best content for the first time you meet a new customer is just a greeting and gratitude. Hey Cindy, nice to meet you. Thank you for visiting our store!
Getting to know each other. Once you’ve been introduced, you can then open up to them, make them feel comfortable and let them share their thoughts. For instance, you could email them a video of the behind the scenes of your store. Or, you could ask for their review about your product and customer service.
Defining the relationship. Once they have bought from you more than once, regularly view your content and perhaps left you a review, you can then establish where your relationship is heading. Invite them to be a community member where they can meet other customers and share interests with like-minded people.
Commitment. This is where your new customer is now a loyal customer. Change the tactic and use content for loyal customers instead.
Even though you might already have evangelists (customers who sing praises to your brand) because of your content for loyal patrons, you must still proactively provide useful content for new customers.
Delighted loyal customers will become evangelists for your brand, using word-of-mouth to promote your store. If your community is sizeable, people will take notice.
A crowd attracts other crowds. Have you ever seen a long line to get into a store or restaurant and thought to yourself, “Wow. This is a long line. Must be something good in there?” The existence of your community and their delight is naturally contagious. It’s going to draw more and more people to your store.
Give your community exclusive stuff: exclusive discounts, freebies, and first looks or sneak peeks at your products and promos. Make them feel good at being part of your community, and they’ll invite their friends to join them. More customers for you!
Lead your Shopify Store to Success
Content, Commerce and Community each work together to strengthen your store at every stage of success.
We’ll leave you with these pointers:
Content is the main way you should interact with your customers. Be creative. Explore different types of content and always observe if they are well received by your community.
- Instead of thinking, “the customer is always right,” think, “the community loves communication.” It’s better if you address their concerns through communicating with them instead of just following their demands.
Push out content, sell your stuff and take care of your community. Rinse and repeat. It can take some time, but once you do it regularly and consistently, your Shopify store will speed through the stages of success!