Ashlee Sierra

I didn’t always know I would be a content creation expert for a digital marketing company. Actually, I dreamed of owning a bookshop on the Pacific Coast Highway. The problem is that the coastal tourist town I chose at the incredibly business-savvy age of 11 already has a bookshop.

How did I intend to carve out a unique niche and coexist with my competition? At the time, my plan rested entirely on having a golden retriever in my shop. These days, I’d probably put more weight on a retail services content marketing strategy. (Of course, the dog is still non-negotiable.)

The thing about retail marketing is that it moves quickly. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of trends that will keep your content strategy fresh — no matter what you’re selling.

Here’s a look at the latest trends and how to put them to work in the retail industry.

A Crash Course in Retail Content Marketing

Because “content marketing” is a wide net to cast, it’s often helpful to know what we’re talking about before we dive into trends. (That’s 2 water puns in a single sentence. I would have done great in a coastal town.)

First, remember that “content” can include just about anything, from a blog or social media post to an email marketing campaign. This often goes hand-in-hand with E-commerce because both exist in the digital realm — but even if your retail business is entirely brick-and-mortar, you can benefit from an excellent content strategy.

And what are these benefits, you ask? Here are just a few examples:

Building Brand Awareness

Retail customers can’t visit your beach bookshop or other business unless they know about it. Content marketing puts you, your company and your products in front of the right people at the right times.

Increasing Digital Traffic

Increased site traffic means more people are engaging with your brand. This is great for all kinds of metrics, including brand awareness and visibility, conversion rates, sales and more. 

Boosting Trust and Loyalty

The idea behind content marketing is to create value for your customers before they’ve even reached for their wallets. When you address industry topics and answer big questions, you become a go-to source for information — and, eventually, for purchases. 

Putting Marketing Money To Work

Digital content takes advantage of something your customers are already doing: searching the web. You spend less money finding them and can put your resources toward wowing them.

5 Content Marketing Trends (and How To Use Them)

Marketing trends go in and out with the tide, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Instead, get comfortable analyzing what’s working and why so you know when to jump ship.

Here are a few trends every retail marketer can try, plus a few examples to get you started:

#1: Experiential Marketing

Valuable content is one thing. But valuable content that immerses your customers and puts them in the middle of a unique experience — that’s something bigger.

This is the idea behind experiential marketing, which is all about interactivity. In a world where idle content consumption quickly loses an audience’s attention, an unforgettable event, activity or adventure can make your retail brand stand out. 

Like many good marketing strategies, this one is based on the science of the mind. It’s similar to “experiential learning” — the idea that your brain engages differently when doing something vs. just watching or reading. It also plays into trends from other industries, like immersive virtual reality (VR) in entertainment.

Using Experiential Marketing

Let’s say I wanted to put this content marketing strategy to work for my bookshop. There are a few ways to go with this:

  • Opening a pop-up shop to sell “beach reads” to customers right on the beach.
  • Inviting authors to do readings and signings at my store.
  • Hosting virtual book club meetings.
  • Planning a literary scavenger hunt that leads visitors through local hotspots and ends with a prize at my shop.

In all of these cases, the “content” is the customer experience I’m creating, which means this is a bit different from standard content marketing. However, it’s valuable for a small business in a coastal tourist town where nearly every potential customer wants unforgettable vacation experiences.

A Stylish Example

While not exactly retail marketing, this Barbie Selfie Generator is an excellent example of using experiences to elevate your product — in this case, a highly anticipated movie.

#2: Artificial Intelligence in Content Marketing

It’s no surprise that AI has found its way into everything from streamlining your website design to planning a blog post. This can be a huge benefit for retail services businesses, enabling you to cut out the time-consuming elements of content marketing and focus on quality, creativity and value. 

But AI doesn’t just help marketers create content. It can also help customers find content. AI tools are a great way to recommend related posts when a user asks a particular question, searches for something specific or otherwise engages with your website.

Using AI in Content Marketing

You might think that a bookshop owner, whose entire livelihood depends on real human creativity and imagination, would avoid AI. But that’s not the case. Instead, I’d want AI to finish the repetitive work so I can spend more time doing what I love.

For example, I’d use this tool to help enhance my content marketing efforts by:

  • Brainstorming topics for social media posts based on a particular book or author.
  • Generating outlines that unite my scattered ideas into a single blog post.
  • Running automated marketing analytics checks to ensure my content is performing well.
  • Gathering data on my competitors’ websites and social media marketing efforts.

Remember, AI doesn’t replace humans — it helps us do more of what we’re good at.

#3: Omnichannel Experiences

Do you know anyone who uses a single digital channel? Probably not. Even pets are on more than one social media platform these days.

That means your retail brand should do the same thing. 

A single customer can use email, social and a search engine in just a few seconds, accessing websites and interacting with Google Ads as they go. To keep up, you should be active on as many of these digital channels as possible. Ideally, a potential customer should be able to start a task on one device or channel and then move to another to finish it. 

Using Omnichannel Experiences

At my bookshop, I’d use omnichannel marketing as an opportunity to play with different media types. 

For example, let’s say I’m celebrating a local author’s first published book. I would:

  • Write a blog post about how bookshops support authors.
  • Post an author interview on video marketing channels like YouTube.
  • Build a “which character are you” quiz for my website.
  • Create social posts promoting each of these assets.

In this case, I’m technically bringing attention to the writer — but to buy their book, you’d have to come to my store. It’s a win-win, and it occurs across almost every channel.

#4: Influencer Marketing

When you team up with a popular social media personality or product reviewer, you’re leveraging influencer marketing. This is a great way to tap into existing fanbases and expand your reach even beyond search engine optimization (SEO). Plus, you won’t have to work as hard to win customer trust if a reliable influencer has already given you their seal of approval.

Using Influencer Marketing

My bookshop would likely forge partnerships through Bookstagrammers and BookTok, which would help me reach customers looking for the books everyone’s talking about. I might also team up with travel bloggers to reach vacationers and local businesses to reach shoppers closer to home.

An Energetic Example

Fitness apparel manufacturer and retailer Gymshark has what it calls “Gymshark Athletes.” The company’s Partnerships Team looks for influencers whose content and values appeal to the target audience; this helps create valuable alliances across social media platforms and fitness niches.

#5: Customer Content

Your customers are already creating content. They’re doing the work for you. All you have to do is get their permission and amplify them on your own platforms. That’s usually not too difficult, because everyone loves a moment in the spotlight; just remember to include the appropriate credits so your fans get fans of their own.

Photos, videos, social posts, reviews — if it’s about your retail brand or offerings, it can become your content. 

Using Customer Content

There are all kinds of ways to share customer content at my bookshop. I might:

  • Encourage followers to share their favorite literary quotes.
  • Share photos and videos taken at my shop.
  • Publish reviews on my website.
  • Drive traffic to my customers’ social posts talking about my shop or books they bought from me.

A Melodious Example

Spotify Wrapped is one of the most popular examples of customer content marketing, using listening trends to highlight how people use the platform and encourage others to do the same.

Bring Retail Marketing To Life

If I ever open that beach bookshop, you can bet I’ll use content marketing trends like these. But until then, I’m here to help real retailers tell their own stories. So, here’s my advice: Trends are fickle like the tide, but marketing itself is as vast, powerful and promising as the ocean. You just have to know how to use it.