Content marketing can be huge for your Shopify or eCommerce store. It includes all kinds of content like podcasts and videos, social media, and, of course, blogs. In this post, we explore one of the simplest—and most popular—forms of content, blog posts.
What are blogs?
The word “blog” is a contraction of the words, web log. This makes sense when you consider that a blog is an online collection (or log) of articles, called “blog posts,” that talk about one topic or cater to a certain community.
There are different kinds of blogs for readers with varying interests. For example, there are food blogs, travel blogs, fashion blogs, or like ours, a blog for eeCommerce store owners.
Blog posts can be long or short
Don’t think you have to invest in writing 3,000-word articles for every post in your blog. Blog posts can be long, but they can also be quite brief.
- Short-form blog posts - These are quick, easy to read posts. They can be quotes, tips, or announcements. Since they are short, they are often accompanied with other media such as links, gifs, pictures, memes, or audio/video clips. Social media posts are sometimes considered short-form blogs or microblogs.
- Long-form blog posts - These are in-depth, information-heavy blog posts, more like articles. They usually focus on one general topic and may include a process breakdown, a series of tips, tutorials, etc. They could also be accompanied with other media like infographics.
Sometimes, blogs are watched or listened to instead of read
Technically, vlogs and podcasts are alternative formats of blogs. Vlogs are blogs in video format and podcasts are blogs in audio format.
Both types of media are known for having a specific style. Usually, vlogs are personality-driven videos by an individual, and podcasts are usually like talk shows.
While we’ll be discussing the traditional blog format here—written—all the information about blogs could be applied to vlogs and podcasts as well.
Should I start a blog for my Shopify store? The pros and cons of blogs as content marketing
Like all types of content marketing, blogs are tools to market your online store. As you’ll see, there are some serious advantages to investing in a blog for your business. But, like any marketing tool, there are some cons that go along with them.
The pros of blogs as content marketing
You get to provide additional information about your products.
You can’t fit everything that’s amazing about your product or company in a product description. A blog can be a great opportunity to answer common questions about your products, explain how to use them, or to dive deeper into the benefits they provide.
Information-packed blogs can be genuinely valuable to your customers. After all, we live in the information age. Your customers look for information before, during and after purchase. Why not give them what they want?
Giving value to your audience makes them more likely to become new or repeat customers. Using your blog to give value to your customers helps build trust between you, creates a positive association with your company, and lastly, keeps you on top of their mind.
An active blog on your eCommerce website helps with SEO.
Did you know that blogs can make a website perform up to 4 times better on search engines? That’s because blogs start natural conversation about your store.
But wait, what’s SEO again? To explain what we mean, let’s explore how SEO works in real-life terms. Let’s say you take a trip to Koyoto, Japan, and you want to try their local delicacy. So, you ask locals where can you find the best ramen. Several people point you to a store they know that tourists always enjoy and has seriously tasty ramen. Even though some of the locals have yet to eat there, they feel comfortable recommending it because they’ve heard so many positive things about it from reputable sources. It’s safe to say that that restaurant is what you are looking for. That’s basically how SEO works.
It always starts about talking about something. The more you talk about your products and services, the more people will hear and talk about it. Eventually, other people will start directing their readers, customers, or friends to read something you’ve written—or they’ll feel comfortable recommending your product because they trust that what people are talking about must be good. Ultimately, this makes it easier for your store to be found.
Blogging can give a personality to your store.
If you’ve ever wanted to become more like those recognizable brands everyone talks about—the ones that are funny, or girly, or serious, or sarcastic—then a blog can be a way to build more personality into your eCommerce store.
Portraying the personality of an online store through a blog can be done in many ways, for example, in behind-the-scenes videos of your production, or maybe a short, funny anecdote about a trip or an experience.
Regular posting promotes loyalty and engagement and breeds community.
Loyalty and engagement are gained through constant communication and transparency. You can initiate and strengthen both through a blog.
How? Well, a community starts with a common interest. Blogs address that interest, and a community can naturally spring up around it.
Anything that is backed by a community is a formidable force. If a store has customers, it’s good. If a store has patrons, it’s better. But if a store has a community, that store is very successful.
Blogs establish your authority in your industry.
This also goes back to trust. A well-written and well-maintained blog shows your customers that your company is an expert in your industry, and therefore, they will trust your products more. To illustrate how this works, imagine the following scenario:
Let’s say that your online store sells a software that enhances a smartphone’s performance. Then you start a blog for troubleshooting phones. Now, people turn to your blog once their phone malfunctions. Soon, many people think of you as the authority on broken phones.
People will then transfer that trust to your products. They will think, “This company knows so much about phones, I’ll definitely buy their software to make my phone better.”
Blogs are recyclable and transformable.
As a busy business owner, you want to make the most out of every marketing effort. Each blog post can be used again and again, giving you back way more than you put in.
Here are some ways that a blog post can be recycled or transformed into a new piece of marketing:
- Snippets of blog posts could be posted to social media as quotes or quick tips.
Example: Your store made a blog post about 10 natural ways to keep hair smelling good. You can take number seven and post it into social.
The post goes like, “Tip of the day: Lemon can be used to keep your hair smelling good.”
- The blog post could be turned into a script for a short animation or video. Or, the blog post itself could be made into a video.
- If the blog post is full of information, it could be made into an infographic.
- The blog post could be used as talking points on a podcast.
Those are only some of the possible content that your blog post could become. The more your blog post gets transformed, the more the topic is being talked about. That’s not only good for SEO but also saves you time and effort.
Your blog has the potential to boost sales.
This is the Big Pro. Readers of your blog who got value from your articles will not think twice about giving value back—in the form of buying your product! How this works will be further explained at the end of this post.
But first, let’s consider the cons of starting a blog for your eCommerce store.
The cons of blogs as content marketing
You need a sizable amount of content first to get any benefit.
Blogs, like most content marketing, don’t pay off immediately. The benefits that we talked about in the “Pros” above will only be felt after you’ve written and promoted a significant amount of blog posts. You need patience and consistency to strengthen your store through your blog.
Not everyone can write. (And not everyone has the time to write.)
Writing original content on a regular basis is challenging, especially if you’re not already a strong (and relatively fast) writer. Plus, running an online store doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to churn out blog posts.
However, there is a simple fix: You don’t have to write your blog yourself. You can outsource the writing by hiring a content writer.
You also may be more comfortable being in front of a camera than writing. If that’s the case, you can explore other types of blog-like content for your store—like vlogs or podcasts.
The market is saturated.
Content commerce has been around for years. These techniques aren’t much of a secret anymore, so more digital stores have blogs than ever before. That means there is a big possibility of online stores having similar content to what you will create, making it harder for your posts to get attention.
It may be challenging to stand out at first, but it’s definitely worth jumping that hurdle. It’s just going to take research and some experimentation to figure out how you can rise above the noise and be a unique voice.
Specificity of your niche can work against you.
Sometimes exclusivity of a community alienates new aspiring members. Also, it could limit your expansion capabilities.
On the other hand, diverting or modifying your content to make it open for more people could make your core fanbase lose trust. It’s a delicate balance to make your blog welcome to new people while not hurting your community.
Tips to use your blog for marketing your eCommerce store
As you’ve read, the main use of blogs for your online store is marketing. Still, it can be hard to know where or how to start when you don’t have the basics down. We recommend you start by reading this step-by-step guide from the inbound marketing experts at Hubspot. If you want information specific to Shopify, check out this great article about blogging using Shopify’s platform.
Ready to launch your blog? Here are our tips for using your blog for marketing your eCommerce store:
Involve your community heavily
Blogs are both the podium to talk to your community and the event center to make them stay. Addressing and engaging with your community generates goodwill and brings more people to your store.
Here’s how you can make sure your blog encourages community engagement:
Keep your audience in the loop.
Use your blog for announcements about the blog itself, your store, or your products. That way, your customers know where to go to look for announcements about new products, they can respond to a change they’ve experienced with your store, and they feel like they’re being kept in the loop—in a professional way.
Make and strengthen connections.
Whether you post on your blog or social media, involve other people through guest posts on your blog or by sharing relevant posts from other pages, featuring a comment of a community member, having polls, etc. Turn your blog or social media page into a resource to entice your community to follow you.
Invite your audience behind the scenes
Sharing what goes on inside your business or personal life means a lot to community members. It strengthens the authenticity and humanity of your brand.
You can use your blog to share some of your plans or goals for the company, manufacturing processes, problems you might have as the business owner, etc. People may not get tangible value, but they do get something deeper: emotional involvement.
Facilitate interactions between your company and your customers
Blogs are vessels of engagement, but you have to actively facilitate interactions. You can do this by having giveaways, contests, AMAs (ask me anything) and much more—anything that invites your customers to participate.
Keeping engagement up makes an audience member or a customer feel like they aren’t just going to your store or blog to transact with an anonymous company. Instead, they’re a little personally invested in the company. t
For blogs to improve SEO, consider SEO when writing
Having quality blog posts that provide value to your customers is good, and may help with SEO. But it’s not enough to really make a difference in your ranking.
To use blogging to improve your SEO, blog posts should not only be written for people but also be optimized for search engines. The more visitors there are for your blog, the more SEO benefits your store will get.
You can see how to kick-ass at SEO on our blog post, here.
Always have a call to action
CTAs indicate what action a visitor must do next. It’s a good idea to keep a reader on your website longer by including a CTA at the end of your blog post.
You can use a CTA to direct readers to your product page—where they might just buy your product. Examples of great CTAs: Sign up for free, buy now, register now, get started.
Promote your blog posts
To boost the number of readers you get to your blog (and likely increasing awareness and SEO) share your blog posts on social media. Blogs and social media boost the reach of each other, so it’s an easy, win-win situation.
Analyze and measure data
All of the hard work we have done so far in creating a blog will be in vain if we don’t know if our content marketing strategy is bringing more customers to our store. Here are some things you need to track on your blog:
- Organic traffic
- Average visiting time
- Traffic increase rate
You can also track how many blog posts a typical visitor reads before purchasing something and which blogs have the best transfer rate to push them to purchase.
Having an online store gives you access to lots of customer data. The above metrics are very useful to measure a blog’s success and help you determine what specific changes on the blog can make it produce more sales.
Improve sales using your blog
The ultimate goal of launching a blog for your eCommerce store is to increase sales. However, just having a blog isn’t enough, you have to be strategic.
In our experience, there are two “musts” for your blog when it comes to improving sales:
Blogs should lead readers into your store
Use your blog as a gateway to your store.
A potential customer who’s read to the end of your blog post will be happy with the help they received from your blog. But as positive as that is, don’t let that initial touch-point be the last. Retarget them after leaving your blog post and website, or . have calls to action and links at the end of the post which lead to your store. Satisfied readers have the highest chance of purchasing products or services.
Give value, receive profit
Above all, make sure your blog provides immense value to your readers. That way, people will want to read your blog posts. And a loyal reader of your blog, because of all your help to them, will naturally want to give back by supporting you, buying from your store, or at the very least, sharing your blog posts with other potential customers.
So, are blogs for your online store?
You’ll have to answer that for yourself. But considering all the benefits of blogging for your eCommerce store, we’d have to say:, yes.
Starting a blog for your online store is the best first step to start content marketing, provide additional information about your products, establish connections with potential customers, and give real value to your readers—who will be likely to reciprocate by buying your products.
Millions of people visit the internet everyday because there is something that they want to learn about or be a part of. And since putting something out there for information and community seekers to find is totally free, what do you have to lose?