Create targeted, valuable content to educate and engage with your users and your commerce will inevitably benefit.

By Candace Dannenbaum (Co-founder & CEO, Barker Kitsen)

In the old-school world, mixing editorial content with business platforms was understood to be a no-no. When commerce was involved, content was not to be trusted and the interest in keeping these spheres separate was generally honored, much like the separation of church and state. When it wasn’t, such content was considered “advertorial” – inferior ad-like journalism that was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to sell products.

Today all that has changed, as a growing number of organizations figure out content marketing – how to integrate content and commerce in a way that truly serves the customer., Gilt Groupe, Birchbox and Thrillist are just a few examples of companies doing it right.

This new wave of commerce sites is embedding commerce so far into the actual content that users experience the commerce as content – and valuable content at that.

Here are five benefits we’ve found at Barker Kitsen by engaging our consumers through the successful merging of content and commerce.

Content plus Commerce…

1. Builds Customer Trust and Loyalty

When you can provide content that really helps your target market solve problems they’re experiencing or live their lives better, they learn to trust your company as a valuable resource. The key is to think beyond simply selling your product and instead strive to understand what types of information can improve the lives of your potential customers.

2. Adds Value to the Consumer’s Life for Free

If the content you provide on your e-commerce site hits the mark with your audience, your potential customers will seek your company simply to access that free information. Along the way, they might also find interest in your revenue-generating products. It’s a win-win.

3. Provides a Non-Intrusive Form of Marketing

Consumers can recognize marketing ploys quite easily and will usually be turned off by them – and by sites that use them. But when you provide your target market with useful content online, you’re executing a type of marketing campaign that’s more interesting than intrusive to your existing customers and potential leads.

Excellent editorial content pulls readers in out of their own curiosity about the topics, which is a much less annoying approach than pushing products at them.

4. Helps You to Speak to a Specific Consumer

Today’s most successful e-commerce sites are narrowly targeted, rather than trying to be all things to all people. The best strategy is to hone in on a limited demographic – for example, young urban women, Gen Y, or tech-savvy seniors – and then really try to speak to that slice of the market in a voice that resonates strongly with them.

That’s where curated content comes in, allowing you the chance to provide the exact information that’s of special interest to a particular group.

5. Provides Relevant, Personalized Content

The best e-commerce sites offer fewer products that are extremely curated to their target demographic, rather than offering a wide range of products that slightly miss the mark. Once you’ve created a site that contains specific products that are appropriately selected for this group of people, you can then focus on providing relevant content to this same audience.

The goal of providing curated content is to make it feel personalized to the individual who is reading it. Your customer should sense that everything they read on your site has been perfectly selected to match their unique needs and interests. In short, they should feel that both the products and the content on your site are all about them.

Perfecting the Balance

When done right, the content you provide will be so compelling that it either directly or indirectly ends up leading to commerce –- without annoying your customers. On the contrary, a successful integration of content on your e-commerce site will have your targeted audience seeking your site for information they can’t find elsewhere and turning to your company as an indisputable resource, not just a vendor.

How are you creating great content to help promote your startup?

Photo credit: Rafal Olechowski via Shutterstock.