Blogging is a powerful way to attract people to your site and convert them into buyers. By producing high-quality content, you can show your expertise, distribute valuable information, and “advertise” without really advertising.
Blogging has a number of clear benefits for eCommerce stores, including:
- Better search engine performance. Google likes brands who continually post high-quality content. Each piece of content you create increases the odds that someone will link to you or share your pages on social media, which are both factors Google’s algorithm. According to HubSpot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month get 3.5X more traffic than companies that only publish a few times per month.
- More visibility on social media and email. Your customers are interested in your products, but if that’s all you share, they’ll tire of you quickly. Most people don’t like being sold to constantly. By creating a wider array of blog content, you’ll have something to share with your email list and social media followers that isn’t just about you products. Blog posts also create opportunities for other people to share and extend your brand reach.
- More value to your customers. Content is a great way to extend the value of your product line without giving discounts or adding more features. It’s an inexpensive way to make your customers feel like they’re getting more out of their relationship with you.
But while blogging is smart and inexpensive relative to other forms of lead generation, it’s not free. Publishing 16 times per month takes a lot of time and generating ideas for all those posts can be a struggle, especially for busy shop owners who aren’t trained writers.
Alright, so you know why you should blog, but what do you write about? Here are some of the post types common on eCommerce store blogs.
1. Updates about your product line or company
People love to peek behind the scenes. They want to know what you’re working on, who you’re partnering with, and what’s going on with the people in your company.
Use your blog to…
- Announce product updates or improvements
- Welcome new people to your team
- Discuss your company culture, mission, and values
- Brag about company milestones
- Explain new website features or policies
- Tease upcoming sales, promotions, and partnerships
- Invite customers to live events
- Announce or update your rewards program
- Announce new service features or add-ons
Companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month get 3.5X more traffic than companies that only publish a few times per month.
2. Recommendations and staff picks
Online shoppers are savvy enough know that the recommended products they see on your product pages aren’t true recommendations. They’re chosen by software based on their preferences and purchase history.
So a great way to humanize your brand is to create content around products your team enjoys.
You see this a lot in brick-and-mortar bookstores. There will be a table near the front with a sign that says “Staff Picks.” This informs customers, “Here’s what people who know books like.” You can do the same thing on your eCommerce store using your blog.
This is usually done in one of three ways:
- Publish a post full of small blurbs from multiple members of your team about products they like and why.
- One author writes a post recommending multiple favorite products, often from a single category.
- Publish deep dives into one product at a time, giving each a thorough review.
That said, don’t be afraid to come up with a unique format for your staff picks!
3. Gift guides
Gift guides are curated selections of products designed to give your customers ideas about what to buy for their friends and family. They’re usually published around specific holidays (like Mother’s Day or Christmas), but they can be useful any time of the year.
They’re also useful for gift-givers outside of your typical audience. If grandpa doesn’t know what to buy for his 15-year-old granddaughter, he may search “birthday gifts for teen girls” and end up on your store.
4. Answer common questions
You probably get a lot of questions from your customers, and over time, you’ll notice yourself answering some of the same ones over and over. Your blog is a terrific platform to answer these questions. Not only can it pre-empt some of those frequent questions from being asked, which reduces support load, but it can also pull in new customers via search.
For instance, let’s say your customers keep asking about the expiration dates on your makeup products. You could create a resource that explains how and when makeup expires and how tell if yours has gone bad. You could then share that resource with anybody who asks that kind of question. And people who are searching for that question are now more likely to stumble upon your brand. They’ll start off with a positive impression of your brand if you do a good job answering their question.
Outdoor goods retailer REI likes to answer common questions to help people find the right products and get the most value out of them.
5. User generated content
User generated content comes in many forms, but your goal is always to showcase your customers on your blog in a positive way. That could be posts about how customers are using your products, it could be highlighting amazing things your customers are doing, or it could be allowing your customers to teach each other with informational content.
Sometimes your fans will be happy to contribute without compensation. In other cases, you may have to give them something for their contribution.
An easy way to collect fan-made content is to watch Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Search for your product names and scroll through related hashtags to find posts where customers mention your products. Then use the embed feature on each of those platforms to display those posts on your website.
Alternatively, you can ask fans to create content exclusively for your site. Post it under their name so your readers know it didn’t come from you.
6. Industry Trends
Every industry changes over time. Some change due to economics or politics. Others change due to preferences and styles. They change at different rates, too. Pet toys, for instance, don’t change often, but women’s fashion can change multiple times each year.
Use your blog to let readers know what’s changing in your industry. Show them what’s new, what’s popular, and what you expect to happen in the future.
If you attend trade shows, take notes and photos of what other vendors show off. This is a great way to deliver cutting-edge information to your fans. And remember: the customers who are most interested in the changing trends in your industry are probably your most engaged. They’ll be among the most likely to talk about your store or products with friends or on social media.
7. Product tutorials and how-to posts
How-to articles are great ways to help your customers get the most value out of their products. By teaching your readers how to use your products well, you ensure that they receive maximum value from their purchase. That will increase customer happiness and decrease support load and returns.
This kind of content also helps soon-to-be customers feel comfortable about their purchases. Imagine you’re thinking of purchasing something complex like a home theater system. You’ll feel much better about your purchase if the seller offers detailed installation instructions on their website.
Clothing retailer Zappos creates exceptional how-to content. Here’s just one example of how they offer dressing tips.
This content doesn’t only have to be about the specific products you sell. If you sell photography equipment, your customers will find posts about how to take great photos just as useful as posts about how to use specific features of the camera models you sell.
As long as the content ties-in to your product line at least a little, your customers will react positively. For instance, if you sell pots and pans, you could publish recipes. If you sell dog treats, you could teach about dog health and training.
Juice brand Press offers a great example of this kinda of educational content. Instead of just talking about their products, they create content around healthy living, traveling, and mindfulness.
8. Seasonal content
Each season is an opportunity to create new content for your fans and customers. That true even if you created content around the same holiday or season in previous years.
For instance, Halloween 2019 deserves its own blog post. You could show off styles, trends, and how to use the products you sell to celebrate the holiday. 2020 will need its own post—trends change, product lines are updated, and there are always new things you can talk about. So will 2021. Extrapolate that across all of the holidays and seasons your brand could reasonably connect to and you’ll see that there are plenty of opportunities for content.
Makeup brand Urban Decay, for example, creates makeup style content around seasonal themes.
9. Content from experts
Your customers know you’re an expert in your niche, but you can strengthen that trust by publishing the thoughts, experiences, and opinions of other experts and influential people. This kind of content will make your readers feel better about their purchasing decisions, and it will reflect well on you.
You can either invite the expert to an interview, ask them for a quote or opinion for another piece of content you’re publishing, or have them submit their own blog post.
Ideally, the expert should be someone your customers know well—someone they value and recognize right away. If the expert isn’t well known, make sure they have the credentials to back up the claims they make
Once you decide on the type of posts you want to include on your blog, you’ll still need to figure out what to write about. Here are some places you can turn to find inspiration.
- Your buyer personas. Your buyer personas should give you a comprehensive understanding of your customer. Review each note, fact, and data point. Look for ways to turn them into content. For instance, if you know you have a customer segment that struggles with time management, maybe you should write articles about how to take control of your schedule.
- Keyword research. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Serpstat to identify words your audience uses to find information related to your products. Also look at the keywords your competitors rank for and think of blog posts you can write about those same topics and concepts. Using the right keywords can be the difference between massive traffic and none.
- Interactions with your audience. Engage with your fans on social media, read their replies to your emails, and interact with their comments on your blog posts. Take note of their problems, concerns, and interests. What are they signaling they want to learn more about?
- Follow opinion leaders. Influencers, like celebrities and industry experts, experts usually discuss interesting topics. By following what they’re talking about, you’ll get ideas for things you can write about on your blog. (By the way, have you followed our list of the top eCommerce influencers yet?)
- Your support tickets. Browse your inbox to learn what your customers ask often. These are great opportunities for content because people obviously care about these topics. If 10 people send an email to ask, it’s probable that 100 others care too but stayed quiet.
- Forums and Facebook groups. These are great places to lurk and discover what your audience cares about. Look for recurring topics and posts that get a lot of engagement.
- Your office, warehouse, or facility. Look around your workspace. Is there anything your fans and customers would like to see or know? Fans love to see behind the scenes, especially learning about the people that run your brand. Show them how you make and ship the products they love.
- Follow the news. Spend a few minutes monitoring your industry’s news each morning to find out what’s popular and trending. If something interesting happens in the news, you could be one of the first to comment on it.
- Your competitors. While you should never outright copy your competitors, it helps to know what they’re writing about. For instance, if they keep posting expert roundups that get hundreds of comments, maybe that’s a format you want to try out.
Some of the biggest eCommerce brands in the world published daily, but you shouldn’t try to match their quantity. Focus instead on putting out quality content.
Invest the time and resources to make your blog posts highly valuable, entertaining, and shareable. Even if that means you can only publish a couple of times per month right now, that’s fine. You have to start somewhere! It’s better to publish useful content your customers will love than to try to pump our sub-par posts to meet some unrealistic quota.