Should Your Ecommerce Website Have a Blog?
- February 26, 2016 | Lee Polevoi
Sooner or later, most online sellers ask themselves, "Should I have a blog on my website?" Maintaining a blog and generating new content on a regular basis requires a lot of time and energy -- which is only justified if the results are greater awareness of your brand and heightened customer interest.
A recent unscientific survey of ecommerce veterans turned up a resounding "Yes" to this question, with plenty of thought-provoking advice on how best to go about it. Here's what they had to say.
Build Trust and Credibility
Blogging plays a key role in building trust in your online business.
“Informative and valuable content not only improves trust among potential customers, it also goes a long way towards improving a brand's visibility in search results, which has a direct effect on the bottom line,” says Ken Wisnefski of WebiMax, a digital marketing company.
Blog posts also offer an opportunity to educate prospective customers, indirectly selling them on your product and business.
“Blog content can lead to interviews, working alongside well-known industry experts and brands, creating new products, and even authoring a book,” notes Steph Russell of the website and design company Vizually. “It's one of the best ways to show, and grow, your credibility."
However, cautions Jodie Shaw of The Alternative Board, a business coaching firm, credibility only comes with fresh, original content. "To get credibility, you need to have third-party guest bloggers review your product or services. That way, you may get a good review that's seen as more believable by prospects, together with an inbound link that helps with search engine optimization (SEO)."
Boost a Site's Ranking
Blogging further benefits your SEO strategy “by exploring long-form content opportunities which might not be appropriate for the main pages of your website,” says Tim Lavelle of US Interactive Media, an interactive advertising agency. “It’s the perfect venue for additional details, humorous anecdotes, case studies, or other long-form content that interfere with the conversion or purchasing process.”
Michael Stratta of Arcalea, a digital marketing agency, adds: “The more volume for that search, the more trust you have and the greater probability for capturing organic traffic."
Only Offer Content of Value
Any blog worth committing to is one that offers fresh, well-crafted content. Readers don’t want to feel conned or manipulated, and they don’t respond well to shoddy execution.
“An article that's littered with grammar, content, or spelling mistakes will ensure the loss of credibility for the entire business,” according to Ellie Shoja of Shoja Entertainment LCC. “Articles clearly meant as click bait will also lose customers.”
Leslie June at Bitcookie, a design and internet marketing agency, cautions against posting filler content: “If you write a helpful article that people search for, you have a better chance of converting readers who never sought your product in the first place.”
If you're wondering what kind of content to offer, ask your followers if a blog would interest them.
If the answer is “yes,” says Taylor Aldredge of Grasshopper, a virtual phone service, “then create a piece of content for the blog as an experiment. See if people like it or think it's useless. Business owners should constantly experiment until they find a product market fit for their blog that solves a customer problem."
Be Ready to Allocate Resources
Only commit to blogging if you’re prepared to allocate the necessary resources.
“This includes the time it takes to develop new posts, publish on a regular basis, and follow up on distributing and promoting those posts via email lists, Facebook ads, Reddit, etc.,” advises Digital marketing consultant Tami Brehse. "If you map out a plan for your blog and stick to it, you can absolutely see a positive return on investment."
"Your blog must look professional, and the content should deliver on the title and what consumers expect to get from the article," says Leeyen Rogers of JotForm, an online form builder. "If you don't have the resources to put into a sleek blog that can be updated at least on an occasional basis, don't bother."
Outsourcing content creation is always an option. If you don’t have the time to create content yourself, says Sharn Kandola of feeDuck, a real-time auction site for real estate agents, “consider outsourcing that role to a writer with experience in optimizing content for the best SEO value.”
A Good Fit?
Most importantly, be sure blogging is a good fit for your website.
According to Michelle Stinson Ross of Authority Labs, an SEO tracking service, “The blog must fit with the tone and style of the rest of your site and aid customers not only in education, but also in completing the tasks your products are intended for.”
For some online sellers, the time and budget needed to create content may be better invested in high-quality product pages. But other businesses will find a profitable ROI with blog posts that offer content of value and contain appropriate links to product pages.