Every day, new competitors rise up as weaker companies run out of steam and fall off the map. Industries, especially e-commerce, are constantly churning, with new businesses opening up shop, and older, failed businesses disappearing into obscurity. Despite the volatility of the industry, e-commerce continues to grow.

More consumers are shopping online than ever before, and online sales are beginning to outpace sales figures from brick-and-mortar stores. According to a survey by comScore, consumers make 51% of their purchases online, up from 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.

Content marketing in e-commerce has the potential to rake in a huge chunk of that online audience, when executed properly. In a post on A Better Lemonade Stand, founder Richard Lazazzera and VP Ross Paul highlighted a study from Demand Metric, which showed that content marketing:

The benefits of content marketing are plentiful: it builds brand visibility in searches, it elevates brand awareness among consumers, and it reduces your customer acquisition costs. While it's best to grow your business with a diverse marketing strategy, many brands have achieved tremendous growth and success by leaning on their content marketing. Here are 7 to take a look at.

1. Envelopes.com

Usually when you hear about content marketing, it's often referring to blogs, videos, or other visual content. Content is very inclusive though, and it can come in many different forms. There are nearly infinite variations in how it can be used to ramp up your e-commerce business.

Take Envelopes.com, for example. Rather than focusing on content that would only bring in leads at the top of the funnel, it instead targeted content for leads currently in the funnel.

In other words, it went after the leads it was losing in the middle of the sales process.

Envelopes.com improved its cart abandonment emails, going from a single reminder to a series of engaging emails that were divided into audience segments, based on user behavior leading up to abandonment.

As a result of this new strategy, Envelopes.com reduced cart abandonment and achieved a cart recovery rate of 40%.

Sometimes, even the simplest approach to content can have an enormous impact.

2. EasyDNS

While on the subject of content marketing via email, I have to mention EasyDNS. EasyDNS is a domain name and DNS provider that competes with companies like GoDaddy. By setting up a series of triggered emails, the company was able to improve revenue by 10%.

While 10% might not seem like a significant figure, it was certainly a significant bump for a company bringing in millions of dollars in sales each year.

The company achieved those results with several highly-targeted email series, including:

These emails targeted different audience segments at various stages of the funnel, which ultimately improved acquisition and delighted existing customers.

3. SKLZ

Content isn't only used to promote products and services; it's also useful for selling products in e-commerce markets. Traditionally, brands entice customers with written product descriptions. You can take your sales to the next level with more engaging visual content, like SKLZ did.

To give prospective customers a better understanding of how its products are used, SKLZ includes videos on its product pages.

Videos breathe life into products and allow customers to fill in experience gaps during the online shopping process. Videos are designed to inform and train customers. For example, SKLZ uses videos to show athletes how to use their sports gear and training accessories. Not only does the distribution of this content help sell products, it also has transformed SKLZ into a legitimate source for athletes who want to step up their game.

4. Diamond Candles

When your company has virtually no budget for advertising, content marketing is the way to go. This was a major challenge Diamond Candles initially faced. Built on the Shopify platform and lacking any budget even for sponsored Facebook posts, the company leveraged user-generated content as the focus of its bare-budget content marketing strategy.

Needless to say, it worked. Customers' product photos boosted conversions on the website, and the user-centric strategy attracted over 290,000 new Facebook fans for Diamond Candles.

Any product-driven e-commerce business can leverage user-generated content, and there are few downsides to this approach because content created by your customers is 100% free.

5. Beardbrand

Instead of relying on traditional content marketing approaches like blogging or providing general insightful tips on social media, Beardbrand focused on storytelling to form close emotional and psychological connections with its audience. The brand's unique storytelling encouraged customers to identify as "urban beardsmen" and come together as a community.

The emphasis on storytelling, which Beardbrand maintained consistently throughout its branding and promotional efforts, helped the company reach $120,000 in sales per month within the first year.

"With Beardbrand we developed the term 'urban beardsman,' which describes a man with a beard who cares about their style, their grooming habits, and who has a plan and a vision with their personal life," writes Eric Bandholz, founder of Beardbrand. "Traditionally, beardsmen were thought of as hippies, bikers, outdoorsmen, or homeless folks. We wanted to unite people who didn't feel like they fit those labels."

6. Zappos

Zappos' approach to content marketing and social media has led to great success for the shoe website. The company has its own blog and the Twitter accounts of over 400 employees to promote the company culture. It doesn't measure the ROI on these, because it simply doesn't treat content like traditional marketing. It's more about communicating passions and reinforcing the company values to the public.

7. Wet Seal

Rather than promote its own content, Wet Seal instead put its energy into developing and nurturing a growing community of teens and young adults in its audience. The community brings together the creativity and unique perspectives of its consumer base, and from there, it provides social validation for young consumers who try out different styles. As Jeff Bullas writes, "It is user-generated merchandising." It's also a clever way to incorporate user-generated content in promotions.

After the community was established, revenue went up by 21% for Wet Seal.

How have you grown your e-commerce business through content marketing? Share your successes and tips with me in the comments below:

Published on: Nov 19, 2016