Let us say you own a website that sells products online in a particular niche. Now let us assume that you have competitive pricing within your niche and that you have decent conversion rates on the traffic you currently receive. That is great to hear, but the problem is your site is out-ranked by the big retailers and other competitors in your niche.
So what do you do to gain exposure? Invest more in pay-per-click campaigns? Test out the free and paid shopping channels? Did you ever stop for a second and consider launching a blog?
The immediate and long-term effects can be huge for the brand, and your SEO channel if done properly. I will review a few of the major reasons every e-commerce site should have a blog.
Becoming an Expert in Your Niche = Branding Karma
When you want to catch up on the sports scores for the day, which channel do you instinctively turn to, is it not ESPN? If you were interested in the latest celebrity gossip, which blog would you visit first?
Every niche has its own set of experts that followers turn to religiously for advice, news, best practices or simply their own enjoyment. There is no reason that your website could not be a top destination for your niche. You sell the products that its followers love, right?
If you are not a talented writer or have a writer on staff do not worry, there are plenty of hungry writers out there. Look for college journalism students, freelance writers and bloggers or those who are simply passionate about your niche (do not neglect your customers as a source!) are all potential targets.
You can pay them on a per contribution basis, with discounts for on your products, or for back links and the idea of personal exposure (if they have their own blog). However, just having a blog that you update on a regular basis, does not mean that your e-commerce site will automatically become an expert within the niche, the content is the key.
Produce Awesome Content
You need to create truly awesome content. “Awesome,” in this case we define loosely, as awesome could mean a number of things. It could be content that helps educate your customers, personal experiences or insights that provide a unique perspective upon the niche, statistics or whitepapers that you conduct, or perhaps a brilliant infographic.
No matter what the content is, the first step is determining what your customers and readers would define as awesome. How do you do that, you ask? Check popular blogs from experts within your niche or within a related niche. See which types of blog posts garnish a high volume of comments, re-tweets, shares, diggs, etc.
Come up with a list of topics that you feel would resonate with your audience. Now you have the writers and you have produced this awesome content but no one to read it!
Catch the Social Media Bug For Brand Exposure
How do you get people to read your awesome content? Well the first step is to open the curtains of your blog to the world. Start reading and participating in other relevant blogs within your niche by contributing comments on their blogs.
Do not, I repeat, Do not leave half-hearted or useless comments for sake of quantity. Comments need to be thoughtful and insightful. If you have not done so already, start acquiring social media handles and usernames related to your brand.
Blog promotion is a whole other science that we will not be able to get into within this post, but there are plenty of resources on this site and others to help you with promoting your blog on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg and others.
However, introduce yourself to your niche’s audience within these social media channels and slowly but surely over time you can start to develop a following (especially if your content is awesome). Use social media channels as a way to broadcast your tips and advice as well as to interact with those who care about the niche.
Not only will your brand start to become recognized but it also has the opportunity to acquire customers (at the end of the day, customers are the most important aspect of your business are they not?). New customers can come in the form of new visitors, e-mail subscribers, and social network followers or friends.
Awesome Content + Exposure = Visibility
Creating the content and obtaining exposure will certainly lead to improved visibility of your website. Visibility can be a direct result of your content development initiatives. An e-commerce blog is a great tool to supplement your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Your blog can help your site achieve higher search engine rankings on targeted keywords through inbound links (internal linking from the blog to your e-commerce site, links from blog rolls, guest blog posts you submit to other sites, references to popular blog posts, etc.), and the in-blog post targeting of certain keywords.
You could write a product review to target highly relevant, specific keywords or produce a how to guide focusing on popular, broad terms. Each strategy pays its own separate dividends.
The social media promotion as mentioned can lead to increased exposure for your brand and develop a consistent flow of referring traffic from the likes of Twitter, StumbleUpon, Facebook and Digg.
In addition, networking your way in with the so-called, “power users” of these social media channels and creating brand evangelists will only solidify your reputation as a niche expert. It is one thing for your own handle to promote your content, it is entirely different if respected, well known members of the niche.
Customer Engagement = Customer Loyalty
When reviewing the BrandKey 2010 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, you will see that brands such as Amazon / Zappos.com, Domino’s, JetBlue have the most loyal customers within their respected industries. In terms of marketing strategy, what do all of these brands have in kind? Customer Engagement and Transparency.
All of these brands focus on providing solutions to their customers above all else. Zappos and JetBlue are leaders in customer service; they engage with and listen to their customers in order to improve their services.
While you might not have the advertising budgets as these companies’, you certainly can budget for the development of a blog, your online window to your niche and its customers. Discover what your audience will consider “awesome” and then waste no time in fulfilling that demand!
Have any other tips for an e-commerce site considering launching their blog? Drop them in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
Jeff Herbst is a manager with The Supplies Guys.