Every year, Americans spend $887 billion on outdoor recreation. How is your ecommerce business capitalizing on this trend?
For direct-to-consumer outdoor brands, content marketing will play a key role in getting a slice of that proverbial pie.
In this article, we’ll look at ten hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor brands that are winning with content marketing on their blogs.
Why Your Outdoor Brand Needs a Blog
Competition is fierce. In 2019, nearly 40% of outdoor retailers agree they’re facing tougher competition than ever before. For a lot of companies, that translates to stagnant (or even decreasing) sales, even though the industry itself is thriving.
Content marketing — and especially a high-performing blog — is the most effective and affordable way to cut through the noise.
Blogging is so much more than just window dressing. People are more than twice as likely to buy from a brand after reading a piece of educational content on their blog.
An advantage like that is just what a small ecommerce business needs to take on larger brands. Not to mention, blog content is a really good way to drive inexpensive traffic from social media and convert those visitors to email subscribers.
But here’s the thing: There are around 500 million blogs on the internet in 2019. (Compare that to just 23 in 1999!)
The bottom line is that blogs offer growing businesses in the outdoor industry a lever to grow brand awareness and win against larger competitors. But those blogs need to be good to cut through the clutter.
What Makes a Blog Good (Or, Even Better, Great)?
If there’s anything we know, it’s blogging. Hundreds of small businesses use the Matcha platform to increase traffic, leads, and sales with their blogs. In our experience working with these companies, we’ve found four onsite characteristics that can make or break a blog’s performance.
- Usability: Can readers find the blog on your website? Is it easy to navigate and find relevant content?
- Design: Is the layout attractive? Does the aesthetic match your brand? Does the design consider the user?
- Content: Is there fresh content added regularly? Are the posts helpful and written with empathy for the reader? Or are they salesy and too product-focused? Is there content for each phase of the buyer’s journey? For each persona?
- Conversion: Once a reader is in the blog, how will they be converted to a lead? Then converted to a customer?
Of course, showing is better than telling. We’ve gathered 10 blogs from outdoor brands that are crushing one, if not all, of these characteristics. Whether you’re launching a new blog or giving yours a tune-up, these ecommerce businesses’ blogs will surely spark some ideas.
So…scroll on, get inspired, and start blogging.
1. Pnuma Outdoors
Pnuma’s blog content runs the gamut from hunting tips to product features to…recipes?
That’s right: Recipes aren’t just for food bloggers and kitchenware brands. Everybody eats, after all. Recipes that are tailored to your audience are a great way to bring the right people to your website and get them thinking about your brand as a helpful resource that they can trust.
Pnuma publishes recipes for cooking wild game — perfect for their audience of hunters. When you pair these recipes with blog posts about hunting tips and Pnuma’s best-selling products, you’ve got a well-rounded blog that speaks to buyers at every stage of the customer journey.
2. Ogden Made
value offered in their popup
People visit your blog because you’ve offered something of value. Continue that good rapport by offering something even more valuable in exchange for their email address. That way, you can grow your email list while building trust with your audience.
Ogden Made does this really well. They publish blog content that speaks directly to their target audience of outdoor adventurers, and their content-powered popup offers gated content that dives even deeper into adventure travel.
irreverently relevant content.
Your blog is the most visible expression of your brand’s voice. Use it well and keep it consistent.
If you’ve ever visited or purchased from Moosejaw.com, you know their voice. They wrap important information in fun, irreverent copy.
A prime example: The article ‘Top Ten Ways to Pretend You’re Outdoorsy’ is actually a clever way to sell branded trucker hats (in a surprisingly non-salesy way). Bravo, Moosejaw.
4. Insect Shield
People are 131% more likely to buy from brands that offer helpful content in the early stage of their engagement.
Insect Shield’s blog is a library of helpful tips on travel and adventure. It answers the questions their audience is asking about activities to try and trips to take — exactly as a great blog should.
emphasis on their brand values
Patagonia is the quintessential example of an outdoor brand doing marketing right, and their blog is no exception. The Patagonia blog, which is branded as The Cleanest Line, is magazine-esque in that it tells interesting stories in an original way. What makes it stand out the most is that it serves to reinforce the company’s values. As Patagonia put it, “We seek not only to do less harm, but more good.” And their content reflects this.
They even have an entire section of their blog dedicated to activism. They’re not afraid to shy away from tough topics like climate change, offshore drilling, and other environmental issues that their audience is passionate about. The consistency in their point of view goes a long way toward building trust and proving that their mission goes beyond just selling products.
6. Zero Mile Mark
A blog is a great way to differentiate your business in a crowded market. Offering premium, high-value content reinforces a brand that can reduce price pressures.
Zero Mile Mark doesn’t make the cheapest outdoor gear on the market. So everything about their brand needs to exude quality, from their products to their marketing.
The ZMM Blog is beautiful and filled with top-quality adventure guides and stories. The bold, gorgeous photography that accompanies each article transports the reader to a faraway place and helps position Zero Mile Mark as the premium brand it is.
Building trust with an audience means placing their wants and needs over your brand’s. Then, publish content that speaks to them.
As an outdoor goods etailer, Campman could have stopped at trail and gear reviews. But they go way beyond that with stories on overcoming fear and teaching your dog to fetch a beer. This result is a brand that feels authentic to its audience.
“I wanted to create a community. Something beyond just a shopping experience for our customers. And content is how that happens.”Chris Holt, CEO, Campman
8. Lucky Tackle Box
LTB caters to fishing enthusiasts of all ability levels. Their blog — which includes both videos and written content — has something for everyone, from product reviews to tips for catching the elusive big one.
What stands out the most is their seasonal content. It helps them bring the right people to their website all year round, even when those people aren’t actively fishing for new products.
Publishing seasonal content is an excellent way to tap into the emotions of the first chill of fall or a summertime fishing trip with the family. And best of all, those posts can be easily updated and repurposed year after year.
9. Trew Gear
Website popups have become a popular way to convert blog readers to email subscribers. As we saw with Ogden Made, a good popup makes it very clear what you want your reader to do. Where Ogden Made uses content to influence their readers to convert, Trew Gear uses FOMO to do the same.
Trew Gear’s popup has a simple call-to-action, and it’s very clear what the subscriber will get in return. They also succeed at making the reader feel like they’re being let in on an exclusive secret, which is a smart way to make them feel valued and induce FOMO (fear of missing out).
variety of topics.
How often should you publish fresh content? It really depends. But generally speaking, publishing more frequently improves everything from your Google search rankings to your conversion rates to your ability to reach new niches.
Osprey’s product line serves a variety of adventurers and athletes, so their broad content mix allows them to engage each one more authentically.
As the outdoor industry continues to expand, direct-to-consumer brands have endless opportunities for growth. But as the market grows more and more competitive, you need more than just great products to stand out.
That’s where your blog comes in — but blogs are only as good as the results they give you. For small businesses, that means more website visitors and higher conversion rates.
Even the most beautiful blog with the best content will fall flat if you’re not using it strategically.
Yes, you need to publish high-quality content. But it doesn’t end there. You also need a plan for distributing that content to the right people and measuring your success so you can continue to improve.
This guide will walk you through everything direct-to-consumer brands need to know about winning with an ecommerce blog.
Feature image provided by Ryan Smith