Practical Ecommerce

Use a Blog to Build Loyalty, Increase Conversions

If you’re relying solely on category and product pages to convert visitors into customers, you’re missing a good opportunity to build a loyal following. Today, more than ever, consumers rely on more than just sales hype and pricing.

Blogging is a prime way to not only sell products shoppers are researching, but also to promote additional or alternative goods. Many ecommerce sites, big and small, provide useful information in this form of creative content. Tea retailer Adagio.com, for example, runs the site TeaMuse to discuss the benefits of drinking tea, as well as how select the right kind of leaves and how to use tea as a baking ingredient.

Run by Adagio, the TeaMuse blog is all about tea; many posts encourage the use of tea in various ways.

Run by Adagio, the TeaMuse blog is all about tea; many posts encourage the use of tea in various ways.

How to Blog for Sales

Blog articles should not be lengthy sales pitches. Instead, they should educate and inspire, and reference products only where appropriate. That’s not to say some posts can’t be specifically about products. For example, RetroPlanet.com, a retailer of vintage decor, provides how-to posts for some of the products it sells. Home decor sites can benefit, too, from showcasing new items in fantastic settings.

Niche.com sells contemporary home furnishings. In this blog post, it shows us how to hang a modern chandelier.

Niche.com sells contemporary home furnishings. In this blog post, it shows us how to hang a modern chandelier.

Here are some tips on selling yourself, your company, and your products via a blog.

  • Get personal. Use bylines and author photos to instill confidence and trust. When appropriate, use experiences that relate to the topic at hand.
  • Identify and solve pain points. The main reasons people read articles are to be entertained or solve a problem. When integrating products in posts, be sure to convey the pain point(s) that are solved. Consider, for example, HelloHealthy. It is a blog section of MyFitnessPal’s site, which is part of Under Armour, the athletic apparel company. Via posts that discuss the pain points of many kinds of workout gear, the company is able to recommend Under Armour products without screaming from the rooftops.
myfitnesspal blog post on choosing workout gear

Via MyFitnessPal.com, Under Armour products are referenced in a post designed to help people find the right workout gear.

  • Use great photos and video. The right media reinforces the message and also makes the content much more likely to be shared or bookmarked.
Niche.com uses stellar, whole-room photos to address specific lighting installations.

Niche.com uses stellar, whole-room photos to address specific lighting installations.

  • Allow for comments, questions. Just as customer reviews help sell products, comments help create a community. Use this feature to gain support from readers. Be sure to respond to people’s questions.
  • Spotlight customers. A blog is a good way to take a customer review above and beyond. User generated content is the driving force behind the success of many big retailers. Reach out to customers who send photos or post positive reviews and ask them to share in a bigger way. This further personalizes the overall experience and relies on real-life stories to help sell.
RetroPlanet.com published a post that features a customer's basement makeover. Many of the products used in this home diner were purchased from the Retro Planet store.

RetroPlanet.com published a post that features a customer’s basement makeover. Many of the products used in this home diner were purchased from the Retro Planet store.

  • Use catchy, yet accurate headlines. A blog isn’t the place to bait someone into reading something. Instead, find the right words to tell visitors exactly what the post is about.
  • Write like you speak, but also write well. Forget being overly technical, unless that reflects your target audience. Tell the story. And, by all means, use the proper tools to check grammar and spelling. Grammarly is a helpful resource.

What to Expect From Readers and Analytics

Many merchants expect to see a great deal of action from their blogs. When that doesn’t occur, merchants sometimes become disappointed. Here’s what the average site can expect after launching a blog.

  • A higher bounce rate on blog posts than on buying pages. Unless it covers a trending topic, most blog posts result in a one-page read. You’ll likely see the highest conversions from returning customers and people they refer.
  • Not a slew of comments. Social media makes it easier to talk about things via sharing rather than typing comments directly on the published page. You can encourage discussion by asking questions of the readers.
  • Decreased use of navigation. Since most readers are focused on the content right in front of them, the site’s navigation is often ignored. This is why it’s important to link to key categories and landing pages when referencing a line of products.

This post isn’t a complete list of everything you can do to create a blog that helps sell products and brand the company. Let it serve as a starting point, though, and you’ll be on your way to providing the kind of experience your target audience really wants.

Does your ecommerce site publish a blog that’s designed to convert? We want to hear about it. Chime in below.

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

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  1. Eric April 25, 2016 Reply

    Hi Pamela, thanks for this very good article ! I have 1 question : is it better to use a different domain name for a blog ? or use the main domain name followed by /blog/ ?

    • Pamela Hazelton May 2, 2016 Reply

      This depends on your market. Under Armour, for example, runs the My Fitness Pal app, which is tied to a different domain. However, they don’t hide the fact that it’s run by the same company. Fitbit, on the other hand, uses a subdomain – blog.fitbit.com. And many others just use a subdirectory.

      A subdirectory will typically get new posts crawled and indexed more quickly, while a subdomain has to “build” its identity, and a new domain requires all the implementations of any other new site.

  2. Birch Bark furnishings Traverse City November 3, 2016 Reply

    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    https://woodlandcreekfurniture.com