Why Blog? The Retailer’s Edition

The ease and accessibility of online shopping is a double edged sword for retailers. On one hand, it makes it easy for consumers to access product and pricing information anytime and from nearly anywhere. (The 24/7 nature of the Internet is at the heart of what drove so many brands to go online in the first place). But as ecommerce has matured, continued success now requires more from brands than easy access and a good price.  To grow sales in a hyper-competitive environment, successful brands must guide and nurture consumers through awareness and consideration to purchase and loyalty. While it was relatively easy for many retailers to take their catalogs online, it is not nearly as easy for those retailers to see how the creation of consumer relationships is now required to flourish.  Let’s discuss some ways that blogs are helping retailers guide consumers deeper into the sales funnel.

Blogging Increases Search Engine Traffic & Visibility

Companies that maintain an active blog presence have 55% more website visitors & approximately 68% more leads per month than those that do not. How?  Blog posts and categories become additional ranking opportunities – or entry points – through which potential customers discover the brand, explore the site and learn about products.   A single ecommerce retail catalog page can rank for only so many relevant terms, so additional opportunities lie in creating blog categories and posts based around topics (like “tips”) or unique aggregations of products (like “animal print shoes”), which can rank for a net-new set of terms not supported by the ecomm platform.  Traditional keyword research is one way to learn these new phrases, but also consider analyzing your on-site search utility’s data to learn what your consumers want to see.

Blogging Generates Referral Traffic

One of the often-hidden benefits of blogging is that it’s a great way to generate social media referral traffic and revenue.  Rather than posting product information, entertaining and educational blog content posted to social media can draw users from that environment into one your brand controls rather than trying to track and monetize social media investment solely through in-network KPIs.

Blogging Influences Purchases

Blogs influence consumer behavior, and many times, consumer purchase decisions.  In a survey done by Hubspot, 71% of respondents reported that blogs affect their purchase decisions either somewhat or very much.  As previously mentioned, potential customers don’t turn to blogs solely as a source of product information; rather they expect to gain unique expertise from the brand that they couldn’t get elsewhere. We found a strong example of this strategy in Kirkland’s Home Décor blog, particularly in the below post that leverages a style blogger’s unique take on one of the brand’s product lines: Farmhouse Collections. Here, Kirkland’s blog audience gets unique “insider” access to the way a successful style guru weaves their products into her own home. Readers are getting style guide information and advice from an external expert, but they’re given a view of Kirkland’s products in a more authentic setting. This kind of blogging likely leads to increased trust, brand affinity, and later, more loyal customers.

Kirklands Blog

Blogging Turns Retailers into Lifestyle Brands

Generally speaking, the most “progressive” thing retailers learn about blogs is that they can create brand awareness by making their products useful as a part of the life – the lifestyle – of their consumers. A good blog is seldom focused on self-promotion, rather brands utilize blogs to inform customers about the benefit of their products to offer viable solutions and appeal to situations in their consumers’ everyday lives. Take, for example, Kirkland’s Secrets the Being the Perfect Holiday Hostess. Here, the brand offers useful tips for holiday party hosting plans, and even gives an extensive visual guide for blog readers – a great way to offer recommendations around their own products without appearing too salesy.

The really savvy companies, like Kirkland’s, are the ones that are able to authentically weave in a little product promotion with all the aforementioned types of content. Among the list of marketing tactics, if done right, a blog can serve as a solid foundation for a long-term, loyal customer relationships and great ROI if attributed correctly.

Blogging Generates Revenue

Recently, an outdoor sporting goods client implemented a complete redesign of their blog to enhance the user experience and shift from primarily product-focused content to content that was focused on the role of their products in their customers’ lives. As a result of the re-focus, the brand saw a 32% YoY increase in the number of orders placed, and a 44% YoY increase in annual blog-initiated revenue.

Blog Redesign

In addition to order increases, there was also a direct impact on the brand’s social media performance. The interesting news and solution-focused articles posted to the new blog resonated extremely well on social, leading to an increase of nearly 2,000% in social referral traffic. The brand also saw a 35% lift in social referral revenue as a result of the blog content distribution strategy.

Running a great blog does take time and patience, and like anything else, a little bit of trial and error to learn what works. Taking the time to do it right (i.e. considering everything I’ve mentioned here) will offer a higher chance of generating quality traffic, incremental leads and build trust and brand awareness with new customers.

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