Business blogs serve many functions. They can inform consumers of news about your company, highlight upcoming events, promote products and services, or demonstrate expertise and thought-leadership. However, a successful blog requires careful planning.
These seven keys will help you become a more effective blogger for your ecommerce company.
1. Define Your Audience
Start by defining the audience you want to reach with your blog. That single factor affects everything you do in marketing and it’s no different for blogging.
It’s helpful to even go so far as creating a buyer persona, a hypothetical representative of the audience in question. In the event there is more than one type of audience you wish to reach, create multiple personas.
2. Write with the Audience in Mind
I try to blog with the specific interests of my target audience in mind and the personas I’ve created in particular. I work under the assumption that if the content is beneficial to them, it will also benefit others.
As you interact with your audience via blog comments and within social media, you’ll learn what its needs are and can address those more precisely over time.
3. Write with Search Engines in Mind
You actually have two audiences who read your blog: humans and search engines. While you want to emphasize writing for people, it’s a good idea to ensure your posts are keyword-optimized, both in the post title and body. It’s also helpful to post frequently — three to five times per week if possible — and maintain a single topical focus.
One blog that exemplifies these principles comes from pet food retailer Halo. Updated almost daily, it contains expert information about pet health and nutrition, pet food, and interesting stories about pets. Links to the company’s products are often inserted into posts in to encourage sales.
4. Find, Follow, and Communicate with Influential Bloggers in your Niche
This practice can garner a number of benefits. If you subscribe to feeds from influential bloggers, read and comment on their content and link to their posts in your own, they may return the favor. As a result, you’ll likely receive some of their readership and traffic.
5. Write ‘Top 10’ List-style Posts
List-style, “top 10” posts are popular with readers. They are easy to scan and tell the reader exactly what content the posts contain. People appreciate tips in an ordered list. As a result, such posts tend to get shared more often and encourage a larger number of interactions.
6. Write ‘Link Bait’ Posts on Occasion
Link bait is content — in this case blog posts — created to obtain incoming links.
Some link bait is purposely created to engender controversy or mentions high profile individuals in hopes they will provide a link back. Other link bait is simply well written, informative content that achieves the same goal.
Examples of link bait include top 10 lists, infographics, entertaining videos, interesting polls and surveys, guides and reports, interviews, giveaways and sweepstakes, breaking news, and free downloadable content such as ebooks or reports.
7. Curate Content from Other Blogs and Websites
EContent Magazine, which covers the digital marketing industry, defines content curation as the “act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter.”
It has become a widely adopted marketing strategy and is used to establish thought leadership, increase search engine rankings, educate prospects, fuel social media channels, and boost lead generation.
One popular form of curation are blog posts that consist of links to other sites combined with brief commentary that summarizes the gist of the referenced sources.
However, finding high quality content can be daunting. Two tools I recommend are Zemanta and Curationsoft.
Zemanta works in WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Tumblr. It looks at the text being written in a blog post, matches it with similar content found across the web, and displays it within the posting interface.
Curationsoft is downloadable software that sits on your desktop. It finds relevant content sources based on keywords that you input that can be dragged-and-dropped into your post.
These seven keys can make your blogging efforts more productive. When combined with sharing tactics in “10 Tips for Syndicating Blog Content,” my previous article, your posts can reach a larger audience, which can lead to increased traffic to your ecommerce site and the potential for more sales.