“I just don’t see the value in it.”
“I don’t have time for that with everything on my plate.”
“I’m not a writer… what am I supposed to do with a blog?”
If you’ve said these things or thought about starting a blog on your eCommerce website, you’re not alone. As a business owner, to say you’re busy would be a gross understatement.
You’ve got multiple plates spinning just to keep the business running. You’re likely the CEO as well as the CFO, CTO, and sales and marketing director.
Understandably, the idea of starting a blog would be pretty low on your priority list, especially if you’re unclear on its value.
But consider this: what would it mean if you could establish yourself as the leading authority in your niche or your community?
Or, what if you could create a high-value asset that drives passive traffic to your site month after month?
These are the rewards of starting a blog. But we know the path there is overwhelming. In this post, we’ll cover:
- Why it’s so important for eCommerce sites to have a blog
- Best practices for content writing
- Common obstacles and how to overcome them
- How to automate your blog writing without blowing up your schedule
Why Does an eCommerce Site Need a Blog?
eCommerce sites need a blog for multiple reasons, all of which ultimately serve your bottom line and relationship with your customers.
Blogs help you stay top-of-mind with your audience
Your audience will only tolerate you promoting discount codes, coupons, and sales for so long. These efforts may spike sales for a short period but won’t drive engagement with your brand.
The most successful brands use their blogs to create great content that’s engaging and share-worthy. Otherwise, your audience will start to see your posts as white noise.
Blogs can help you keep your audience informed about trends in your industry
81% of online shoppers do research before making a purchase. Think of how much trust you could build for your brand if they did that research on your site.
You’re likely already keeping up with trends in your vertical out of pure necessity. Why not crystallize your thoughts and share them with the world in the form of a blog post?
This strategy has the added benefit of establishing you as a trustworthy authority in your space.
Blogs are a powerful marketing tool
How do prospects find you online and purchase your products in today’s economy? Amazing content. And where does this amazing content live? On your blog.
Blogs are indeed the “home base” of your content. It’s here that you’ll write your content, promote your content, and even convert visitors into customers or followers.
For example, let’s say you’re an eCommerce bike shop. While web visitors may not be ready to buy, they may be interested in your brand. How do you capture them for future marketing efforts? The most effective way is to grab their email, usually in exchange for a lead magnet or a free resource of exceptional value.
Here’s the rub: most folks aren’t just going to give away their email address within seconds of visiting a site. However, if you’re writing high-value content that’s driving traffic from Google and other social channels, they’re much more likely to see you as an authority and give their email in exchange for a resource.
From there, you can remarket, nurture, and eventually sell a prospect that would’ve otherwise bounced off your site and never returned. All this is thanks to your blog content.
Build and develop automated sales funnels
This strategy is a bit more complex, but if you master it, you’ll experience substantial revenue growth. Sales funnels are systems and processes that drive qualified leads from interested prospects to happy customers.
One of the best ways to build funnels is on your blog where you can map your content to one of three categories:
- Top-of-funnel (ToFu)
- Middle-of-funnel (MoFu)
- Bottom-of-funnel (BoFu)
Your ToFu content is all about adding value and asking for nothing in return. Examples of ToFu content include:
- Statistics or data on your industry
- Listicle or “best of” posts
- Ultimate guides
- Well-researched informational posts
Repeat after me — do not overly promote or sell your products on ToFu posts! This is about building trust and adding value. When you make a new friend, you don’t ask them to buy you a beer. You buy them a beer as an act of good faith.
From there, you can include a lead capture form to capture your readers’ information in exchange for a lead magnet (like we discussed above).
After that, you can promote your MoFu blog content to drive them further down the funnel. People in the middle of the funnel are aware of their problem but are still weighing possible solutions. At this point, you can be a bit more explicit about how your brand can help them.
Examples of MoFu content include:
- Case studies
- Your solution vs. competitor posts
- Explicit feature/benefit posts of your product or service
Once you see some engagement with your MoFu content, you can be confident you’ve got some warm leads. From there, you can add a call-to-action to purchase or nurture them with BoFu content.
At the bottom of the funnel, prospects are right on the cusp of purchasing and are trying to sort out details like pricing, shipping costs, and other logistical concerns.
Examples of BoFu content include:
- Sales pages
- Optimized product pages
- Webinars that end in a sale (more common with high-ticket items)
- Free trials or samples
Tips for a Successful eCommerce Blog
There is so much competing advice on the internet about blogging. I don’t want to add to the noise, so I will keep it insanely simple.
This advice is rooted in industry data, web best practices, or my own experience as a professional copywriter.
Have your blog link in a prominent place
Users on your site shouldn’t have to dig around to find your blog. Make it a prominent link on your navigation menu, and consider featuring your best articles on your homepage.
This is important not only for users but for search engines as well. If your blog is buried deep in your site architecture, it will hurt your rankings in Google.
Use tags and categories consistently
Most CMS (content management systems) platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify support blog tags and categories.
Categories are hierarchical with support for sub-categories. They’re best for broad topics, while tags are suitable for hyper-specific topics.
For example, let’s continue our example of the bike shop. Say you were working on a post on the best mountain biking trails in Boulder, CO.
You might categorize the post as “trail riding” because you know you’re going to write multiple posts on the topic of trail riding (how to trail ride, what to bring to a trail ride, etc.).
However, you can tag the post with “Boulder” and “mountain biking” because those are unique aspects of this post.
This is especially helpful when readers enjoy your post and want to read all the posts related to trail riding.
If you tag and categorize your posts correctly, most CMS platforms will serve up similar content to keep the reader engaged.
Optimize for search engines
Many believe that search engine optimization (SEO) is a big secret that Google keeps under lock and key. Nope. Google wants your website to rank — so long as you’re providing value to searchers.
They practically give you the roadmap to ranking for free in their Google Webmaster Guidelines. While many of the specifics are subject to debate, here are some best practices we can all agree on:
- Your site should be mobile-friendly and easy for users to navigate.
- Your content should not be “thin” — repurposed or copied from other websites.
- Your content should have focused user intent. For example, “best dog collars to buy in 2021” and “what does a bark collar do?” have drastically different intentions behind them. Each of these would require a separate post.
- Your title and header tags should clearly state what the post is about and (most often) feature your target keyword.
- Your website should have an SSL certificate installed. You can usually acquire this through your hosting provider. (You’ll know you have it if you see a small padlock icon to the left of your URL in a browser.)
Share blog posts on your social media
While social media’s ruthless “pay-to-play” algorithms can often feel like a losing battle, they remain a powerful traffic driver. Today’s social networks primarily favor visual content like infographics, short videos, or visual case studies.
If you can include visual content within your blog posts, that will only increase your engagement and virality.
Consistency and quality always trumps frequency
Back in the early 2010s, the trend seemed to be internet marketers posting multiple blogs per week no matter what.
But think about this for a second. What are your customers more apt to read — five mediocre posts that don’t add value or one insanely deep and valuable post? Obviously, the latter!
Any seasoned blogger will tell you consistency and quality is far more effective than frequency.
We get it. You’re busy (we’ll get to some automation techniques in the next section). But if you spend a month building out a deep, authoritative resource in your vertical, you can see incredible explosions in traffic and growth.
For example, this post on how to determine your face shape for men drives over 30,000 organic visitors to the popular eCommerce site Birchbox.com.
Since men will likely always need to figure out their face shape, this article is what marketers call “evergreen” — it’ll always be relevant. The content creators at Birchbox did the work upfront and are now reaping the passive benefits of organic traffic.
eCommerce Blog FAQs
What if I don’t have time?
The good news is that you can outsource every aspect of blog strategy and writing. Thanks to sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru.com, finding reliable writing help has never been easier.
Some freelancers can help you develop a strategy, set up your blog, and even write your blog topics with guidance and a plan.
From there, you may need to edit the posts to give them your unique voice and expertise. But how long will that take? Maybe 2-4 hours a week?
That means if you hire and train your copywriters effectively, you can have a rockstar blogging presence for only a couple hundred dollars and some time on nights or weekends.
If this feels overwhelming, just keep the end goal in mind and remember the benefits — content drives traffic and helps you establish your expertise. All this leads to more visibility, more traffic, and more sales.
Where do I find blog topics?
I remember back when blogs were more like journals — authors would wax poetic about their feelings and insulated thoughts without much thought to how they could add value to readers.
Well, those days are long over. People expect quick, high value. And to echo the title of a famous 1980s rock album, “give the people want they want.”
The best way to find what people want is to go straight to the source: Google.com. From there, type in a general keyword related to your business.
Let’s stick with the bike shop example. I’ll type in the keyword “bike boulder CO” and hit search.
Scroll down a bit until you hit the “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections. These are things actual people are typing into Google; it’s a goldmine of opportunity.
Here’s what I see:
- Where can I ride my bike in Boulder?
- Is there good mountain biking in Boulder?
- Easy bike trails Boulder, CO
- Paved trails boulder
After some digging around, I found an even more specific question:
- How to fix a broken bike chain on a trail
These hyper-specific terms are great to go after because they’ll likely have low competition. If you write a killer post (or even make a YouTube video) on how to replace a bike chain on the trail, this could be a powerful traffic driver to your eCommerce site.
How long should my blog posts be?
Many SEOs or marketers will tell you a “golden word count.” This doesn’t exist. My standard answer to this question (which has served me well in my copywriting career) is “as long as it needs to be, and not a word longer.”
Search your target topic on Google and study the word count of the top 5 pages. Are they 750-1,000 words on average? Or more like 2,000-5,000?
Hitting these numbers won’t magically make you rank, but it will give you a clear picture of the word count you need to be thorough enough to rank highly on the topic.
However, if you can deliver the same value and depth in a shorter word count, I say go for it. It’s better to have dense value in fewer words than a long post padded with fluff.
If you can offer the same amount of value in a 750-word post as in a 2500-word post, readers will opt for the 750-word post any day of the week. Wouldn’t you?
We’ve covered important ground, and all this may seem impossible to manage. But it’s possible to start and maintain a blog without needing to be a professional writer, professional marketer, or be taken away from your mission-critical tasks.
What if I’m not a good writer?
The truth is, most business owners aren’t good writers, but they don’t let that stop them from blogging. Why? Because people care more about your authenticity and expertise than college-level writing quality.
Most people read at an 8th-grade level. Nobody likes the person that’s constantly trying to prove how smart they are. So just be real! Your voice and your brand are what’s drawn your customers so far. So why pretend to be someone or something else?
And if you’re still self-conscious about your writing, there are plenty of editors for hire on the sites mentioned above who can revise and mold your raw thoughts into a coherent blog post.
The bottom line is that there’s no excuse not to start.
There are incredible benefits to starting a blog, not the least of which include:
- Authoritative brand building
- Lucrative marketing opportunities
- Passive traffic generation
It can seem overwhelming, but with some creativity and some outside help, any eCommerce business can — and should — have a blogging strategy.