There was a time when having a blog on an eCommerce site was considered ‘nice to have’. Not anymore, online stores without an active blog are likely to miss out on a lot of immediate business opportunities. According to Hubspot, marketers who incorporate blogging to their marketing strategy are 13 times more likely to receive positive returns on their investment meaning a direct impact on revenue. This can be ‘the’ reason for companies to adopt blogging as a viable channel for customer acquisition.
There is more to e-commerce blogging than just writing content and mailing it to your subscribers and hoping for the best results. The onus should be about creating a strategic blog, whose purpose should be on driving high-quality traffic, increasing engagement and turning mere visitors into qualified leads. The crux here is to drive your ecommerce blogging in the right way to reap positive results. Else, there is a good likelihood that you would spend time and energy behind it, without any tangible results in the long–term.
Benefits of Ecommerce Blogging
One thing common about all e-commerce brands is that they all are navigating in a highly competitive environment and standing out from the rest, making a world of difference to the brand per se. Blogging is a strategy that allows an ecommerce brand to differentiate itself from others. Now it is time to look at the main benefits of hosting a blog on an ecommerce website:
• Allows Showcase of a Humane Brand: For most customers who shop online, an ecommerce brand is not more than the web interface they engage with. As a brand, you can break this mindset by having a blog that will serve as a direct voice to the outside world through a glimpse of your employees and behind-the-scenes action.
Apart from sharing other aspects of the brand, you can seek to become an authority in your industry through an informative and articulate blog. Your content has to address customer sensitivities and their concerns and provide relevant information on common queries in the simplest of language making the content more relatable.
• More traffic to the website: There are many strategies to generate traffic to a website and blogging is one of the options among them. When done purposefully and with the right technique, a blog can function as your major source of traffic which could make the difference between achieving average results and outperforming your revenue goals.
Every keyword-optimized l blog is regularly updated with relevant content, which gives clear signals to the Google algorithm about fresh content on the site. This is a vital factor with regard to SEO because Google gives more weightage to sites that are updated regularly as search engines are keen on displaying updated rather than outdated information.
A regularly updated website blog is a clear signal that the business is alive and functional. Moreover, regular visits from Google spiders means more pages getting indexed and more possibilities of getting ranked on search display results. Frequent visits from Google crawlers are good for the website from the SEO point of view.
• Smoothens the Process of Purchase: Every customer today is keen on knowing information about the product before making the purchase In other words unless they educate themselves about the product, they do not arrive at a purchase decision which is closely aligned to how the product fits into their overall lifestyle.
By being proactive about the blogging strategy, you could ensure the customer relies on your company blog to gather product information. This will ensure that when the time for the next purchase comes, the customer organically will gravitate towards your blog to know more about the product which helps in cementing the relationship further.
• Improves Internal and External Linking: This benefit is closely related to SEO and having a blog is an open opportunity to cultivate external links and earn backlinks. While there may be enough written about backlinks being a factor enhancing the SEO of a website. External links are equally supportive in improving the SEO of a website.
A blog per se is designed to provide information about products, hence it makes sense to have hyperlinks within the content, allowing readers access to more knowledge and information. Coming back to backlinks, this is the main ranking factor for search engines and earning them through blogger outreach and guest blogging will serve the blog and the website well. Eventually, it helps build the domain authority of the website.
• Cost-Effective Marketing: Regardless of the size of the eCommerce brand, every business outfit is looking to save costs by all possible means. Having a blog is one such solution that helps in reducing the marketing spend. A blog becomes the means for sharing new and engaging content through email, and social media to attract consistent traffic to the website.
Plus it eases off the pressure on the social media team to come up with new and engaging content. Promoting the link of a new blog can be the ideal form of content marketing across all social media channels. That said, initially, there might be the need to spend on paid advertising to bring awareness to the blog.
• Platform for Product Promotion: Every eCommerce brand comes with a sizeable product catalogue and they are always looking for real-estate for promoting their products. A blog may not be the ideal medium for sales pitches and overt promotions. Seasoned content marketers can devise strategies to stylishly place the product within informative and useful articles. This approach is one of the nuanced ways of promoting a product and the writer engaged in creating the content must know how to pull-it-off seamlessly.
• Allows Display of Uniqueness of Brand: Every e-commerce brand seeks to stand out from the rest and a blog allows a brand to showcase values and personality associated with the brand through the copy of the blog. This uniqueness will allow the brand to establish a connection with the audience by positioning the brand as the right choice which is uniquely efficient at fulfilling their needs and remedying their concerns. For instance, the international Swedish brand Ikea is known for using its company blog as the extension of its brand voice and is pitched as a solution to all furnishing problems.
Approach to Creating a High-Performing Blog
One of the foremost things to be done for the creation of an eCommerce blog is by identifying business challenges and goals, followed by finding the brand’s unique voice and personality. This leads us to the creation of a buyer persona (age, location, gender, income etc) whom we are likely to target with the contents of the blog. These consist of the preliminary steps that are essential to the creation of an ecommerce blog.
There are four more stages that are integral to the e-commerce blogging process, let’s look at each one of them one-by-one:
I Publication of an Ecommerce Blog
1.1 Creating & Sourcing Content:
When it comes to the writing of the content, there are options other than getting it done in-house. A brand need not spend the time and effort rather it must partner with a digital agency with access to good writers or should curate high performing licensed content from available sources.
1.2 Writing Content for the Sales Funnel
There are different types of content with different purposes. An eCommerce blog can attract customers and move them through the sales funnel from awareness to purchase to retention. But no single blog post is capable of bringing a visitor to a blog and making them a customer. Hence it becomes vital for blogs to create content for each stage of the sales funnel. There are three steps to the process:
• Awareness Content: This type of content is meant for educating the audience without any effort at promoting the product. It can help build brand awareness and improve trust quotient with potential customers. Awareness content comes with the advantage that it drives traffic to your website. Once the visitor engages with the blog content, they have entered your sales funnel.
• Branded Content: It bridges the gap between the product and the audience. This is the type of content where prospects start considering the product as purchasable and engage with more product information. A blog needs to cater to their requirements, thereby improving the chances of purchase. However, there are no hard sell tactics used here as well.
• Product Content: This is in-line with getting the product acquainted up close to the customer through photos, videos and reviews. However, a blog is not the ideal platform for doing so. Hence the effort should be as subtle as possible in creating content and including production information into it with finesse. One of the tactics is to include relevant links in each blog post that redirects the user to specific product pages.
Overall, the blog has to be more like a magazine than a product catalogue and must cater to the needs of the customer at every stage of the sales funnel.
1.3 Creating a Content Calendar
The next question that immediately comes to the mind is how often one should update the blog. To keep a blog relevant to the audience, it is best to remain consistent. Research shows the businesses that have a regular blog are 126% more likely to receive leads. Your eventual goal should be creating an engaged audience through good storytelling. This can be made possible by incorporating a content calendar that can dictate the frequency of blog posts in three stages:
• Getting Started: Start small, if you have recently started with the blog, it could be about 14 blog posts a quarter.
• Ramping Up: This is for brands that have been blogging for some time, you could increase your count to 26 blog posts per quarter.
• Established: This is when you have witnessed the results and want to keep the momentum going, the count could go up to 38 blog posts per quarter.
II Distribution of an Ecommerce Blog
Now you have published an E-commerce blog, but if no one sees or reads it makes the whole effort become futile. This makes the content distribution part so important. Here is a look at the tactics for ensuring the blog reaches the right audience:
• Paid Social Advertising: You may be running direct response advertising or product ads on Facebook & Instagram, but these are meant for individuals who come with a shopping mindset. For people who have never heard about your brand, they must be enticed through content, in this case – blog content. And, ad campaigns must be run targeting each stage of the sales funnel.
Compared to driving traffic to a landing page, the cost of leading a customer to a piece of content works out cheaper. But brands must also be mindful that content on most occasions does not translate to a sale but can sell an opportunity to better an aspect of life. The main thrust of paid advertising must be to bring more awareness and increase opportunities to engage with potential customers.
Further, every brand must make use of targeting capabilities of social media platforms to get across to a targeted segment of the audience than going for everyone on the platform. This will ensure the content is able to generate qualified leads that have a high probability for conversion.
• Email Marketing: This remains a tried tested medium that can bring the audience back to your website without spending on ads. It remains the top driver of customer acquisition and retention. All you would require is an email list that allows you to reach the subscribers’ inbox directly. This makes it a reliable channel for distributing content by putting informative blog content along with your product promotion in the email, you stand a better chance to engage with the audience.
III Conversion from an Ecommerce Blog
92% of website visitors are not looking at making a purchase. It is the duty of the brand to convert these first-time visitors into subscribers. So that you can continue to market to them until they make up their mind for purchase.
• Create an Email List through Forms: Insert a subscription form on the blog or website in a visible location encouraging people to opt-in for the blog updates or allow them sign-up for a periodic newsletter.
• Leads through Pop-Ups: One of the best ways to generate leads from a blog is through unobtrusive pop-ups that provide value for the visitors and the brand. Visitors must be provided with an opportunity to receive something in exchange for their consent for becoming subscribers through pop-ups. It could be exclusive discounts or high-value content.
IV Measurement of Success of the Blog
There are various metrics that you can track for the blog using analytics tools from Google. But it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of metrics available. Let’s look at metrics that really allow you to gauge your success:
4.1 Marketing Efficiency Metrics:
When distributing a blog, it is not about reaching most people at the lowest cost, it is more about reaching the right people inexpensively and leading them to your website. For most businesses, it would be through Google and Facebook Ads. Here is a look at prominent efficiency metrics:
• CPM (Cost per thousand impressions): Cost of reaching the audience.
• CTR (Click through Rate): Rate of engagement with the promoted content.
• CPC (Cost per Click): Average cost of bringing one visitor to the blog with ads.
• CPE (Cost per Engagement): Average cost of getting an interaction – like or a click.
4.2 Engagement Metrics:
Once people are there on your blog, you need to ascertain whether the content is doing its job. It can be measured through engagement metrics, which are:
• Average Time on Page: This measures the average time spent by each visitor on the page sometimes known as ‘dwell time’. This can signal if visitors are actually reading the blog posts.
• Average Pages Per Session: This tells the number of blog posts the visitor viewed during the span of one session. For a blog, a brand must pay special attention to the number of additional pages the visitor viewed during one session.
• Returning Visitors: It measures the number of visitors who came back to the site to read a particular blog post. It is great if people are spending a lot of time, but it becomes more important when referencing your blog multiple times, this metric can give that data.
• Goal Conversion Rate: Goals happen to be actions, you want visitors to take after reading the posts. It could be signing up for a newsletter, opting for a demo, opting for a freemium version, filling out a form or making a purchase. This metric can tell the percentage of visitors who took action after viewing the first page of the blog post. A conversion here is defined by the marketer.
After you have read through the content, you must have a fair idea of what it takes to run a high performing blog. There is a fair amount of planning and strategy that is involved in creating a purposeful blog that would give results. Else, you could be going through the motions without making any impact whatsoever. Having started with a blog, it is a long-time commitment with time and effort and visible results are mostly seen in the long-term, there are no overnight results here. The crucial thing is not to give up and believe that each blog post is adding to the already existing content and is going to have an impact on SEO. Ultimately, the brand with the most persistence is likely to win the online marketing game.