Sell Without Selling: Content-Driven Approaches for Retail Campaigns

By Alison Pfaff Oct 5, 2022

Along with our purchasing habits, advertising itself has significantly evolved. Gone are the days of the hard sell and ads full of direct language and assertive messaging. In fact, the soft sell is in, as advertisers have discovered that getting consumers to open their wallets often requires marketing that doesn’t even come across as marketing at all.  

Enter native ads, paid digital advertising where the marketing naturally integrates into the content of the website. Here, the intention is not to insistently sell a product but rather to add value to an audience or help improve a facet of their lives. This boosts brand awareness, loyalty, and of course, sales. Here are four ways to do it for your retail or e-commerce campaign.


Entertaining your audience with content that is visually inspiring, interactive, or funny allows you to connect on the most basic human level. For e-commerce campaigns, this may look like a captivating quiz that matches consumers with their best-suited items or look books that take readers on a journey of color and glamor. When it comes to entertaining your readers, creativity is the name of the game.

Educate or inform

Provide value by offering information that will improve your readers’ lives. If you’re an expert in your category and your products solve an important problem, share that knowledge with your audience. Are you a food or beverage product with a bank of great recipes to share? Or do the experts behind your health or fitness product have tips for improving well-being? Begin with the goal of creating content that fulfills consumers’ needs and interests first. Connection and loyalty to your brand will be the cherry on top.

Lead with brand purpose

Does your company have a brand purpose or set of values it operates under? Our society is in the midst of a culture shift where consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, favor products and companies whose values align with their own. A whopping 83 percent of Millennials want brands to align with them on values, according to a recent study released on Sustainable and value-driven marketing is one of the most successful ways to gain customer loyalty. Focusing on the messaging rather than pushing the product attracts value-driven conscious consumers who want to contribute to a better world.

Relate with testimonials

Native ads have the distinct advantage of targeting a specific audience in ways that other ads can’t. Testimonials are an important way to foster human connection. What value has your product brought to a customer’s life? What were their struggles or wants, and how do those align with the struggles or needs of potential new shoppers? If your business can find a few customers who love your product, ask them why they love it, what drew them to the product, and why they would recommend it to someone else. If you have these three answers, engaging content is nearly ensured.

The retail and e-commerce spaces are crowded and teeming with competition. While the overtly direct style of traditional advertising may no longer see the same success it once had, using engaging content—content that entertains, educates, or conveys brand purpose and testimonials—will build trust and loyalty.

You might also like