All studies agree, however, that blogs are a global phenomenon that has hit the mainstream. According to the same report, over one million blog posts are created every day, and over 1.2 million bloggers.
Bloggers are a powerful group: they shape public opinion (consider the bloggers involved in the recent presidential election), provide current and relevant information (like this blog), and can effect change (think of the Linda Ikeji).
Blogs are–or should be–a key component of your eCommerce company’s social media marketing plan. Why? Simple. Content is still king, and its reign won’t be ending any time soon. As the search engines mimic human behavior more and more, it’s going to come down to the content that’s on the site and the number of other sites (including blogs) that are pointing to it. The better the content and the more inbound links you have, the more relevant your site will be in the search engine’s eyes. This is good news: good, relevant content can’t be faked. While the inbound link angle might smell of a popularity contest, it isn’t. For once, the “pretty” kid (e.g. website) isn’t getting the vote; it’s the kid (website) with the most substance.
The fastest and easiest way to get new, interesting, and relevant content in readers’ hands is through blogs. Note: you MUST integrate your blog with your eCommerce site in order for your site to benefit from the inbound links.
No doubt, you know most of this already. What you may be wondering is this: “What sort of blog can I possibly have about the product I sell online?”
Your blog isn’t about the product you sell per se, because, let’s face it: that would probably be pretty limiting. But no doubt there’s a whole industry your product is related to…that’s the niche you need to focus on.
Let’s say you sell herbal supplements online. A blog on natural healthcare alternatives would make sense. Blogs are not merely promotional vehicles for your products. Blogs should provide useful information for readers. Someone interested in herbal supplements is likely interested in natural healthcare or complementary medicine. In other words, they’re likely to care about the articles a natural healthcare blog would post.
Here are a few more examples. Maybe you sell apparel and items with beer and spirit logos. A blog on alcohol would work well. Maybe you sell specialty beds for dogs and cats. A blog about “best care” for dogs and cats would attract a lot of interest.
Think about what you sell, and then think of everything related to it. The key is to recognize the larger umbrella category that your particular product falls under.
Blogs require a time investment. The thing you need to determine is whether you–or someone in your company–can handle all the blog responsibilities or whether you should contract a blog manager.
If you have the budget, it makes sense to outsource at least some, if not all, of this. There are many website copywriters and freelance writers who would welcome the regular gig–and the freedom that comes with blogging (along with the satisfaction of seeing their pieces in print).
I recommend transparency. If you can’t write the posts yourself, don’t have someone ghostwrite them for you (unless you carefully proof it and can stand by everything that’s said). But it’s certainly okay to have several people from your company contribute and publish under their own names. In fact, that’s a good way of spreading around the writing responsibilities. The Touchcore blog is a good example; there are at least 8 of us blogging, and we blog under our real names.
When you think blogging, thinking branding. You’re not necessarily going to increase sales through your blog (you might, indirectly, through links and improving the ranking of pages on your eCommerce site in the search engines). But you will brand yourself and your company as an “expert” or “go-to” resource on the industry your products are related to.
Blog success won’t happen overnight. It takes time–and dedication (regular, consistent blogging)–to attract an audience.
Also, it’s called social media for a reason. You or your blog manager needs to “socialize” on other blogs. This does NOT involve hawking your wares; it means taking part in the conversation in a genuine, relevant way.
Do you have a successful eCommerce blog? We’d love to see it. Leave the address in the comments section. Do you have other tips for creating a kick-butt blog? Leave those in the comments thread as well.
Happy blogging From Touchcore!