Here at Seeker, we’re big blogging aficionados. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to describe our content calendar as chock-a-block with lots o’ blogs. It’s a tremendously versatile and creatively engaging practice, and it has the potential for incredible ROI — particularly for ecommerce brands. That’s right: blogs mean sales.
If you want to maximise your sales, then, you must first optimise your blogging. That means no more occasional blogging, half-hearted content production, or aimless activity. You must blog with purpose, structure, and determination. But how do you do that, exactly?
Well, since we’ve been there, done that, designed the t-shirt, and sold it online, we’re in possession of various tip-top top tips for ecommerce blogging. Here are 7 of our best suggestions for using blogging as a powerful ecommerce tool:
Produce product roundups (including yours)
It’s extremely common for a shopper to know the type of product they want but not the specific iteration of it. When this happens, they’re likely to do two things: browse product categories on their preferred stores, and look for relevant product roundups.
A product roundup is simply a broad overview of products of a particular kind, assembled around a set theme (e.g. the most popular, or the most highly-reviewed): for instance, if you are in the business of selling shoes, you could write a roundup of the best running trainers in 2019; or if you’re a bookseller, you could write a roundup of the best science fiction novels written in the last five years.
Here’s an example (courtesy of t3.com)
What’s so useful about a product roundup is that it has creative scope — since it has to be digestible, it can’t include everything relevant, so you can include or exclude whatever you feel like. There’s your chance to steer it in any direction you like.
To start producing a product roundup, decide the product, or products, that you’d like to promote. Let’s say you’re trying to get some attention for a new pair of sunglasses. You’d just need to come up with a suitable category for it (for instance, perfect summer clothing), and position it alongside some other products. If you use products from other stores, you can further benefit through adding affiliate marketing links to profit from those sales as well.
In posting suitable product roundups on your blog, you also have golden opportunities to improve your internal linking structure. On your homepage, and in your navigation, you need your product links to be straightforward, but roundup content allows for natural long-tail alternatives — the category with the link of just “Sunglasses” on your homepage can be given the anchor text of “great sunglasses for under £5” provided it has suitable items.
Write attention-grabbing seasonal content
In spite of its name, seasonal content doesn’t need to involve the changing seasons. In essence, seasonal content is something created specifically to cater to a limited-time opportunity — that opportunity may be the year entering a new season, or a fresh public holiday, or even an event in the news that’s getting a lot of attention.
These opportunities are so valuable because they invariably drive a lot of traffic around predictable themes, and you can take advantage with catered content to reliably generate interest and views. It demands a combination of careful planning (prepping your holiday-themed content months ahead of time, for instance) and flexibility (reacting quickly to relevant developments and other content being distributed).
To determine what product-relevant content you can write, look through all the occasions you can anticipate, and decide where there’s a clear angle. In Winter, you can write about products that keep people warm, cheer them up, bring them together — and, of course, pertain to Christmas (even if only loosely). Olympics coming up? Think about competition, victory, athletic performance, international connections, and making history.
Always keep in mind that seasonal content should be structured for social media channels, with the ultimate goal being to achieve virality — since it only has a short lifespan, you need to pick up as many views as possible while the topic is fresh on people’s minds. This means ticking all the boxes for social distribution: using Open Graph tags, featuring high-quality imagery, and even running targeted PPC campaigns.
Create high-quality evergreen content
Seasonal content alone isn’t enough to sustain a blog, because it leaves you with highly inconsistent traffic. To keep your brand name in everyday retail discussions, you need a solid backbone of evergreen content — that being the variety of content that doesn’t gain or lose value with the passage of time, instead retaining a consistent value throughout the year.
For an ecommerce brand, this typically calls for informational pieces. And because you’re not riding trends, you must build your content not around themes but around keywords that attract a lot of relevant organic traffic (factoring in how much interest a given keyword receives, as well as how strong the content you’re competing against happens to be — Ahrefs is our primary pick for discovering these things).
Let’s say your brand primary sells office equipment: staplers, pens, stress relievers, display stands, and other items along those lines. What would good evergreen content be? Well, you’d need to think about what questions your average buyer might have: perhaps questions like “What do I need to get for a new office?” or “Should I rent or buy office equipment?”.
AnswerThePublic is a great tool for finding suitable questions.
For the former, you could write a guide called “How to Equip Your New Office”, and talk about what new businesses need to know about filling office space (while mentioning your products wherever appropriate). For the latter, you could write “Renting or Buying: Which is Better for Office Equipment?”, and argue that buying is better.
Remember: while it’s sometimes better to get seasonal content out as quickly as possible, even if that means sacrificing some polish, it’s always better to prioritize quality for evergreen content. When a piece you produce today might still be getting clicks in five years, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t worth putting in plenty of time to optimize its impact.
Showcase your company’s personality
Great brands today are unafraid to show some personality or tell a story, regardless of the industry, because they know that it’s a necessity if you want to engender brand loyalty. It’s particularly big for ecommerce, though, because ecommerce demands a fair amount of trust at its core.
Look at it this way: when someone shops online, they can only trust that the seller is presenting its wares accurately and can be relied upon to provide a good customer experience. And when they’re not in the mood for scouring the internet for the cheapest possible deals, they must trust that their retailer of choice isn’t going to overcharge them.
If you want people to trust that you’re both determined and equipped to outperform other ecommerce brands, then you need to open up to them about what’s happening with your company. What do you aim to achieve? What have you learned in the last year? What vital pieces of feedback have you collected, and how are you going to act upon them?
Through your blog, you should find ways to share all of these things and more. You can certainly benefit from discussing your inspirations, because it provides a convenient way to better showcase your products without the promotion being too brazen. For instance, you can write a piece about the development and production of a new product range, with an informal and honest approach to keep the readers’ guards down.
Seek and curate expert opinions
Think about how casually superlatives like “strongest”, “lightest” or “longest-lasting” are used by product sellers, yet typically without any compelling evidence behind them — are they convincing? Probably not, because shoppers have learned to look past the bluster, and (quite simply) because they’re so generic.
What people want is meaningful information: details that help them to make informed decisions about what to buy (and from which brands). Social proof helps massively with this, but something that can have even more sway is the testimony of an industry authority. Who counts as an industry authority? Well, anyone widely accepted to have compelling expertise.
This is valuable for your blogging schedule because you can make a habit of pursuing and collecting that type of testimony. It can be directly relevant to what you’re selling (sending an expert a product and asking them to comment on the quality), or indirectly relevant through commenting on broader developments in your niche (presenting varied expert opinions through high-profile interviews).
The more heavily you feature expert perspectives on your blog, the more closely people will associate them with you (raising your profile and improving your reputation), and the more regularly people will visit you for general updates. Over time, you can work in more of your own thoughts, making it a smart route to being viewed as a thought leader.
Run UGC-centric competitions
UGC, or user-generated content, is enormously valuable to any brand that aspires to optimise its content marketing. The core concept is simple: instead of producing content internally, you pass the buck to your customers, visitors, and followers, ideally resulting in the rapid production of a lot of relevant content you can use in various creative ways.
Some types of UGC are easy to gather, but don’t have much potential for blogging: for instance, social proof is something buyers provide for you, but it’s tough to get attention by talking about product reviews. The most well-rounded UGC blogging tactic is to create some type of competition, inviting readers to participate for a shot at a provided incentive (or simply offering an incentive for taking part). The type of incentive is up to you, but discounts and other rewards tend to go down well.
This approach is so effective because it generates at least three stages of content: your introductory post (or series of posts) establishing the premise and the rules, followed by a curated selection of user submissions, followed by a wrap-up post announcing the winner and reviewing how the competition went.
To get started on the practicalities, check out these useful UGC tools, including competition software and UGC display tools to help you showcase a stream of UGC on your homepage (though be careful about the latter unless you’re absolutely confident that you no one taking part will submit anything inappropriate).
As for what type of competition you can run, why not get inventive? Suppose that you wanted to boost sales of a particular model of luxury toaster. You could start a competition called “Fantasy Toast” (#FantasyToast) and invite your readers to post on social media about their perfect type of toast.
It could be a certain level of crispiness, or a particular topping, or even a specific scenario (such as enjoying strawberry jam on crispy buttered toast at the top of the Eiffel Tower). You could offer extra credit for posts with illustrations, or even videos of real-world attempts. In the end, you could pick the best entries and arrange for them to actually happen — or at least for every one of the winners to receive one of your toasters.
Unlike a lot of marketing, UGC competitions can feel very loose and informal, and if you happen upon a premise that really resonates with people, you can win a lot of relevant interest and brand recognition. Not bad for a tactic that can be done very cheaply.
Partner with influencers for feature collaborations
Influencer marketing has become a core part of the ecommerce game, but it’s quite delicate to get right, and it can be very expensive. It isn’t the only way you can benefit from the reach of influencers, though — you can also try working them directly into your content strategy through feature collaborations.
Let’s say that you sell shoes, and you’re looking to gain some credibility with your target audience. If you find an influencer with a lot of weight behind their shoe-related opinions, you can invite them to feature on your blog, giving them the platform to talk about why they care about shoes so much and what they look for in a pair of shoes.
Usefully, there’s no shortage of tools out there for finding influencers — Buzzsumo is a great choice for finding the most viral content and tracking down those responsible for it. Even if your brand isn’t very prominent yet, this can be a viable strategy, because engaging in cross-promotion is almost always of mutual benefit.
Be mindful that you don’t encourage the influencer to endorse your product, though: even if they didn’t want payment for it, it would likely come across as insincere, damaging both the perception of your product and the credibility of the influencer. That type of direct recommendation is best kept to clearly-marked Instagram ads.
Instead, you can either focus on discussing the industry with them, making it more about showing the knowledge and skills your business brings to the table, or give them a free platform to talk about your product however they want — the latter is dangerous because they might not like it, though their negative comments could open up a clear redemption arc of addressing their complaints and ending up with a better product.
As an outreach agency, we’ve had great success using each of these methods to help our ecommerce clients take their products and services to new heights, and we’re entirely confident that they can prove just as useful for you. Don’t settle for mediocre bogging that doesn’t move the needle. Put in the time and effort, and it’ll pay off.