Many business owners and e-commerce site operators overlook the power of blogging, mostly because the traffic isn’t directed to their product or services pages, so they wonder “why bother?”
Yet, have you ever tried to promote or build links to your product pages? It’s not easy. How many Twitter or Facebook users do you imagine want to click-through to a page selling webinars or cloud accounting services? And how many reputable publications will let you insert a promotional pitch and link back to your product pages? Unless you have a beautiful, unique and creative product, getting exposure can sometimes be difficult.
Blogging can help you overcome those challenges. Consider these statistics:
57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer through their blog
61% of US consumers have made a purchase based on a blog’s recommendation
81% of US customers trust information from blogs
82% of customers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
70% of customers learn about a company through articles versus ads
Companies that blog have 80% more new visits, and thus more exposure to their products and services
52% of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook in 2013.
43% of all marketers found a customer via LinkedIn.
With research like this, which business or e-commerce site doesn’t want to set up a blog?
Some e-commerce platforms already have built-in blogs, but what if you list your products on Etsy, eBay, or Amazon? You can’t just install WordPress in your /blog directory. Instead, a self-hosted blog might be the easiest way to indirectly market your company and send traffic to your listings.
While the recipe for a successful blog strategy can be a mix of ingredients, great content is definitely the foundation. You have to be able to write successful blog posts – content that people want to read, share, and link to. You may even build a following large enough to justify selling on your own site.
Here are tips to developing great blog posts that will grow your blog’s online presence and traffic.
Focus on your niche.
Don’t be a generalist. Your goal as a blogger is to write about topics relating to your products. By writing about topics and content adjacent to your product categories, you have a higher chance of intriguing your readers about your product lines and converting them into paying customers.
Build a relationship with your reader.
Customers tend to buy things from people or organizations they trust. You can find a way to relate to your potential customers by thinking about their passions, hobbies, career goals, experiences (good or bad), etc., and then blogging about their needs and wants. If you can provide them expert advice, solve their problems, or connect with them on an emotional level, they will become loyal fans. In short, offer something valuable before asking for something in return.
While not every fan will immediately buy your product, in the meantime, they will share and introduce your brand to others, and eventually, when the time comes for them to purchase something you offer, who do you think they will buy from without hesitation?
Learn from the best.
Whether you are a new blogger or have a bit of experience, there is always something new to learn. That is why I recommend identifying the “best bloggers” in your chosen niche as well as ones outside of it. Read their blogs regularly and learn from their social media strategies. When you check out their work, keep an eye out for:
Topics closely related to your niche and interest. This is a great way to find new ideas for blog posts, especially if you think you can do a better job on a specific one.
Their writing style. While every blogger has her own unique style, observe how others create content, interact with their audience, and the brand/persona they’ve built for themselves.
The formatting of their posts. Online readers have short attention spans. Successful bloggers effectively use subheadings to break up thoughts and make an article easy to skim, bullet points to make information easily absorbed, block quotes to accentuate sentences, bold fonts to highlight phrases, and images to lure readers.
Resources that are cited in their posts. Use their recommendations to further educate yourself.
Graphics and images. Sometimes, an image can do what text can’t. Plus, images and graphics are more shareable.
Also, identifying great strategies from other industries that are applicable to yours can give you a competitive edge when marketing your e-commerce business.
Optimize your writing process.
Another aspect of writing great blog posts is the ability to produce content consistently. In order to do this, you have to optimize your writing process. You can always choose to write whenever or whatever, but that will be detrimental to your productivity and organization, which in turn can be stressful for your e-commerce business.
What can you do to optimize your writing process?
Make an outline when you begin to write. Everyone has his own writing process, but I find that writing an outline makes it faster to get a blog post published. Outlines give you the general direction of your post, and then you simply have to fill in the blanks. This certainly saves you a lot of time, and the resulting article is more coherent.
While not everyone is a grammar whiz, there is no excuse for sloppy writing and typos just because you didn’t make an effort to proofread your work. If you consistently hammer out posts with typos and sloppy writing, be ready for readers to question the quality of your products, even if the two have no correlation.
Wait a day or two before publishing. It’s important to give your post a cool-off period. If you still love it after a couple days and believe it will augment your brand, publish it.
Promote your blog. It’s one thing to tell people “Buy my products here”, and it’s another to ask them to check out your useful guide on “how to fold dinner napkins” when you sell linens on your e-commerce site. After publication, outreach and promotion are incredibly crucial.
If you need to, hire a freelance blogger. Some business owners have a tendency to do everything themselves, but when your business grows to the point that you need help, don’t sacrifice your growth to keep it manageable to one person. Hire help, such as a freelance blogger, to help you create content, grow your blog, and promote your product line. Removing one responsibility from your shoulders may just give you the time to make more strategic decisions about your business.
If you sell on a third-party site like Etsy or Amazon, you might not have access to a ton of analytics and performance information. In your case, you need to rely on customer comments, product reviews and satisfaction surveys.
However, if you sell through your own self-hosted e-commerce site, you can use your Google Analytics information to check bounce rates, time on page, exit pages, and conversion ratios. This is one of the benefits of controlling your own site – you have a ton of information that can make each reader or customer visit more profitable.
Nevertheless, whatever feedback you do get, don’t be defensive about it. Some business-owners tend to be very protective of their brand, sometimes neglecting valuable feedback that can help them grow. A simple complaint such as “why doesn’t your product do this” can open your eyes to an untapped market and offer an opportunity to expand.
A blog won’t solve all your business problems, but it can certainly improve your online presence by giving potential customers more reasons to interact with your brand and products. In fact, blogging and content marketing are the number one channels I use to grow my businesses.
If you have a business blog, how has your blogging efforts affected your e-commerce business?