Authority, Access, Answers and How to Draw a Crowd: Blogging to Complement your Ecommerce Business
There are so many different facets of digital marketing, but in the Ecommerce world, by far the most significant is content. For Ecommerce vendors, blogging has the potential to increase buyer trust, establish brand recognition in a saturated market, and ultimately generate sales.
Small business owners recognize the importance of creating content, but are often unsure of exactly how to go about it. More often than not, they fall prey to the habit of simply setting up a blog and randomly posting content that “feels” right. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being experimental and creative with a blog. But every business, especially Ecommerce businesses, can and should use blogging to accomplish something more valuable than the sum of its parts.
The truth is that blogging is complicated. We might take it for granted, but just about every piece of content out there took at least a moderate amount of time and effort to create. If you want to start blogging as a complement to your Ecommerce business, you’re better off establishing a few key goals and outlining a blogging strategy rather than operating on a whim.
Generally speaking, there are two types of customer experiences to target with your blog: returning customers and people who are seeing your brand for the first time. A successful blog will speak to both of these audiences at once, with content that establishes the 3 A’s.
The word authority gets thrown around a lot in marketing, but that’s only because it’s truly important. Establishing authority is what can set you apart from the competition in your niche, even if those other brands have been in business longer.
So what do we mean when we say authority? It’s as simple as this: authority is your expertise in a specific area that relates to your product. Let’s say you’re an athletic wear company. You could write about a lot of healthy lifestyle stuff on your blog, but it’s also important to show a proven understanding of your actual product. What would that look like?
- A historical retrospective of workout gear from different decades
- An overview of how different fabrics can enhance or hinder athletic performance.
- Trend forecasting for different fashion and athletic wear in the upcoming months.
Now, of course, there’s a lot of other content you could pepper your blog with. But by actively choosing to incorporate relevant and informative content, you’re letting the reader know that you really understand what goes into a piece of good workout clothing. You’ve done your research, and now you’re sharing the knowledge. This is a great way to establish authority in your niche, especially if you can weave in references to your product offerings.
When you’re just starting out, the idea of access can be a bit confusing. We often associate access with celebrities and high profile bloggers, but the truth is that any Ecommerce business can use the concept of access as a valuable tool in their blogging strategy.
Generally speaking, the definition of access varies from brand to brand. If you’re strongly established as the figurehead and ultimate ambassador of your brand, access will mean something more personal. Let’s use the example of an athletic apparel Ecommerce business again. If you’re the face and voice of your brand, you might want to:
- Write a post about your thoughts and experience of a trendy new workout
- Preview some preliminary sketches for new designs you’re working on
- Choose a few colleagues to style and model your athletic apparel for work or play
Now, of course, not every brand has or needs a singular brand ambassador like that. Access doesn’t always need to be that personal. But showing sneak peeks of upcoming projects, whether they’re new designs or plans to add a new online store, your blog is a great way to give your readers a sense of exclusive access to your brand. Use the blog to showcase your team, your brand ambassadors, and the individuals who inspire your business. When you make access a goal for your blog, you can start to form a stronger connection between your brand and your customers.
Introducing members of your team is a great way to start giving your readers a feeling of exclusive access to your brand. If you’re working with affiliates or brand ambassadors, blogging is a great way to highlight their stories and give your readers insight into your brand’s core values.
Authority helps you connect with people who don’t know your brand yet, and reinforces trust for those who do. Access enables your content to form a personal connection between your brand and your audience. However, the ultimate goal of every business is the same: sales.
Expertise and insight might make for a great reading experience, but they don’t always move the needle when it comes to conversions. Your blog needs to provide answers to one big question: Why should customers buy your products?
Now, I can tell you right now that there are lots of terrible examples of this all over the Internet. A lot of businesses forget about authority and access and skip right to this step, turning their blog into a full blown sales pitch. There are times when you need blog posts dedicated to products – special upcoming retreats and workshops, new product line launches, etc. But most of the time, you’re better off channeling that energy into writing product descriptions that convert. So how can you drive sales on your blog?
The answer is simple. You can provide answers to questions that customers ask often, or even to questions that you would like your customers to ask.
But isn’t that what an FAQ is for?
An FAQ is a great way to answer frequently asked questions in a brief, informative manner. However, with content, we can provide a greater context for those questions by crafting answers into compelling content.
Let’s take our imaginary athletic apparel Ecommerce store. One frequent question is why one specific sweatshirt is so expensive, and the reason it has a higher price point than other products is the fabric. Let’s say it’s made of hemp fabric, and that makes it a little more pricey.
It’s easy to mess this one up. Chances are, a question like this is downright annoying to a business owner. But this question is actually an opportunity to shine new light on a great product in a piece of dedicated content.
Try the following:
- Talk about the durability of the fabric. It’s resistant to mold and mildew and all the other nasty stuff that can come from sweaty, post-workout grossness. Explain how its durability features will make this sweatshirt will outlast a regular cotton sweatshirt.
- Put a spin of luxury on it. Let customers know that with each wash, the sweatshirt will become softer, making it a great investment.
- Bring in some of that authority we talked about earlier. Talk about what a sustainable fabric choice hemp is, and explain the positive impact of buying hemp garments.
Not only have you answered a common question that some of your customers might have, but you’ve also provided a valuable argument for the product that would be out of place in a product description. You’ve redefined the product from “more expensive than other products,” to “luxurious,” “ethical,” and “a good investment.”
Posts that answer challenging questions like this are a great way to highlight your values and showcase what sets your brand apart. Do you use top quality raw materials? Blog about it. Have a dedicated team fabricating or shipping products? Showcase them.
The beauty of blogging to answer questions is that they don’t even need to be questions that your customers are actually asking. They can be questions that you anticipate, or they can be questions that you just wish a customer or even an investor would ask. It’s one thing to pop an FAQ section in your About Us page, but it’s another to dive in and provide a thoughtful, insightful comprehensive overview. If you really step up and answer this question in a way that’s not only informative, but descriptive and persuasive, you’ll develop content that can move potential buyers through your sales funnel.
Once you’ve established a roadmap for what you want your content to do, it’s time to get technical. SEO is a major factor in your blog’s visibility. What good is compelling content if no one sees it? Once you’ve got your content strategy down, start incorporating SEO best practices to ensure that your content is reaching new readers.
Everyone in Ecommerce knows the value of SEO. Chances are you’ve chosen an Ecommerce platform that optimizes for search, so you’re already familiar with some of the key principles. SEO is such a competitive field, that there are entire agencies dedicated to helping even big businesses rank in search. However, you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish by following a simple SEO strategy.
To start, you’ll want to identify keywords that you can rank for, and then weave them into your content. Many powerful SEO tools like Moz will give you free access to a certain number of queries, which is a great way to start doing keyword research. Not every post needs to be optimized for search, but by making keyword-oriented posts, you’ll start to drive more organic traffic to your site. Pay attention to using these keywords in power positions, like your meta description and post title. If you’re using WordPress, plugins like Yoast SEO and RankMath will not only grade the quality of your SEO efforts but offer helpful suggestions as well.
However, while search funnels a massive volume of readers and shoppers, it doesn’t account for traffic from specific sources. For reaching an audience through social, email, or SMS marketing, you’ll want to reinforce your brand as you direct traffic to your site. Custom link shorteners allow you to present links in a way that’s more engaging and on brand than a basic URL, and you can also use them to track traffic. A traditional UTM might do the same thing, but at the cost of a bulky, unappealing, long-winded link. Having more control over your links is key as Internet users increasingly shift over to mobile devices. Custom shortened links will make a better impression on your customers, clients and partners.
While your first goal in blogging to complement your Ecommerce development should be to create high-quality content, it’s essential to get readership. The more eyes you can get on your content and products, the better. SEO allows you to pull in a wide range of new readers and shoppers, while custom linking enables you to strategically direct traffic and track your audience’s behavior. As your brand grows, the variety of content you create will expand, from social to targeted marketing. Be ready to adapt and ensure that your content stays true to the principles of Authority, Access, and Answers.
Stay consistent in your blogging efforts. Generate content regularly and update older articles as needed. Stay true to your strategy and keep an open mind about what you can turn into engaging content. Think of blogging as a marathon, not a sprint. Your efforts will drive sales, but what’s more, they will help establish your brand as you grow your Ecommerce business.
Guest author: Tara Storozynsky
Tara is a content marketer for Selz living in Portland, OR. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, writing, the great outdoors, and spending time with her rescue pup.
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This Article is About:
- Blogging to complement your ecommerce business
- Custom short URLs for ecommerce
- Content marketing