When you run an e-commerce shop, your blog is one of your most important assets. It's a tool that helps you drive traffic in a way that your product listings and category pages alone can't do. In fact, here are just a couple of things you can do with your e-commerce blog that you can't do with other parts of your website:
- Create new content and share it with your email subscribers (so your emails aren't always about products, products, products)
- Post articles — not just product listings — to Facebook
- Rank for trending keywords and phrases even if you don't have products to match
- Host Pinterest-friendly images
Your blog isn't just there to update customers on recent happenings with your business. It exists to help you make more sales. But it can only help you make sales if you're thinking strategically about how each post will be positioned to drive traffic to your website and convert customers. This doesn't mean every post has to feature a product with a big "buy me" button, but for every post you write, ask yourself:
How is this post going to bring new people to the website?
I wrote recently about 5 mistakes e-commerce entrepreneurs make with their blogs. Check that post out to see if you're writing about any of the things that don't help drive traffic to your site.
Now you're ready to think strategically about how to use your blog to get more traffic to your online shop and ultimately make more sales.
Using your e-commerce blog to drive traffic to your website
Think of your blog as a magnet. Each post is designed to draw traffic from a specific place (eg. Pinterest, Facebook, Google search, etc.). If you're writing your posts correctly, the content and formatting will adhere to the blogging best practices for that particular magnet. For example, if you're optimizing a post to drive traffic from Pinterest, you'll include Pinterest-friendly images. If you're optimizing for Google search, you'll have done keyword research.
You're not going to build an e-commerce blog that attracts traffic from all of these sources. You're going to pick a few and stick with those. Remember, you're not just coming up with ideas for your blog randomly, you're strategically creating content that will perform well on a channel that can drive traffic to your blog. So let's dig into what those channels are.
Pinterest is a great way to promote your products, but think about content that goes beyond just pinning your product listings. Inspirational and how-to content does really well on Pinterest. Can you create branded content that instructs or inspires — and use a Pinterest-friendly image to go with it?
Example: natural cleaning products company The Optimist Co. writes blog posts containing seasonal cleaning checklists and information about essential oils and their uses, and includes Pinterest-friendly graphics on each post.
Search traffic (SEO)
To write blog posts designed to generate traffic from search, you need to understand what your target audience is searching for. There are two types of search queries you want to write for:
- Product research
- Lifestyle queries
Product research includes questions like, "What's the best magnetic spice rack for small kitchens?" A person who performs that search is probably looking to buy something, hence, product research.
Lifestyle queries aren't always about looking for the best product. Instead, lifestyle queries are searches your target audience is performing that support uses for your products.
Example: travel gear company Minaal blogs the answers to lifestyle questions their target audience (digital nomads) is likely to search for, stuff related to lifestyle travel and working remotely. In this blog post, Minaal answers the lifestyle inquiry, "How do I pack a suit into a carry-on bag?" When someone performs that search, they may not be looking to buy a carry-on right away, but Minaal wants to connect with them anyway because they're clearly in the company's target market.
Bonus: these types of articles can also be shared with your email list!
Of course you always want to post a steady stream of product links to your Facebook page, and if you're releasing new products and promotions fast enough, maybe that's all you want to use your Facebook page for. But some e-commerce companies struggle with constantly promoting their products on Facebook, especially if their inventory doesn't change frequently. If this is the case for you, you can use your blog as vehicle to drive traffic to your website from Facebook by sharing useful information your target audience will appreciate. You can even boost popular posts to get even more traffic from new audiences.
Example: Bike messenger bag company Po Campo writes helpful how-to articles on their blog that they can share on Facebook to drive traffic. Instead of only promoting products, Po Campo shares articles that are useful to their target audience of bicycle commuters.
Bonus: these types of articles can also be shared with your email list!
Crowdsourcing websites are online forums where users ask questions and other users answer. The two most popular crowdsourcing websites are Quora and Reddit. When I first starting working with e-commerce businesses on their marketing, I was surprised when I saw that nearly all of them had significant traffic coming from a crowdsourcing website — way more than I had seen with other industries, like local brick-and-mortar businesses or service-based companies. The reason is simple: people use crowdsourcing to ask for product recommendations, so if your products dominate a category, users might recommend yours in crowdsourced answers.
But how can you harness the power of crowdsourcing websites and direct traffic back to your e-commerce blog? The answer is tricky. Crowdsourcing users, especially Redditors, are notoriously wary of link promotion (that is, answering questions only to promote your own links). Instead of using crowdsourcing sites to promote your own work, try to be useful in a way that goes beyond product promotion.
The way I see it, you have two options here.
- Always be useful, and occasionally answer questions that warrant a link back to a blog post that further explains your answer to a crowdfunding question. An example of this might be a post that details your manufacturing process when someone asks, "How are __________ manufactured?"
- Use your crowdsourcing answers as a form of blogging in and of itself, branding yourself as a founder and lifestyle expert on all things related to your products and company.
Example: Davis Smith, founder of Cotopaxi, has an extremely active profile on Quora despite having only answered 20 questions. The answers he has provided, such as this answer to "What is it like to live in the middle of nowhere?" are long, detailed, and include photos from his own experiences ,which helps them get upvoted and seen by more people. This is no doubt a long-term branding project for Cotopaxi (and it looks like Davis Smith may no longer be keeping it up), but it certainly worked in positioning him as an expert on adventure travel. This approach is smart if you're an expert in a particular niche.
Your e-commerce blog is a tool
Remember, you don't need to constantly update your e-commerce blog with company news. It's not likely that your customers will care if you have a gap in publishing business updates. Your blog is only there to help you drive new traffic and cultivate relationships with customers, so use these tips to help you create a strategy that will help boost traffic to your website.