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When was the last time you shopped in a physical store? Struggling to remember? It's not surprising, considering that an increasing number of consumers are opting to shop online instead of heading to the high street. With e-commerce growing 23% year over year, more businesses are focusing their efforts online, and many are duly reaping the rewards.

Content marketing is also on the rise, accompanying the growth of e-commerce. More cost-effective than traditional marketing methods, content marketing is uniquely suited to online businesses. Brands that create custom content have the power to establish a closer, more intimate relationship with their consumers, an invaluable stand-in for the traditional in-store model of face-to-face customer relations.

Effective content marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools for online businesses; it has the capability to generate brand value and open up channels of communication with customers, as well as the potential to establish and sustain brand loyalty.

Many content marketers, however, focus their efforts solely on external communication channels, such as social media pages, video channels, and blogs. Yet, it would be a mistake to neglect other important touchpoints of the customer's interactions with the brand.

Although e-commerce is inherently virtual, customers interact with an e-commerce store in other ways that extend beyond the digital realm. Read on for three effective tactics for extending your content marketing reach right now.

1. Brand Messaging via Packaging

Many e-commerce businesses give priority to the functionality of shipping—how to ensure the product gets to the customer as efficiently as possible and intact. That is undeniably important, but often it means the aesthetics of packaging can be overlooked, or conceived hurriedly as an afterthought.

Keep in mind that packaging may well be the first and only physical point of contact you have with your customer. It's also presented to customers at a time when they are feeling most receptive to your brand: They've ordered a product, it's arrived at the door, and it's exciting!

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Helen Scott is a creative writer at Packlane, an online printing company that makes the process of ordering custom boxes and packaging easy and affordable for brands of any size, in part by offering online proofs in 3D.