Many e-commerce merchants publish a blog. But they do not always evaluate its overall effectiveness. Has it boosted sales? Does this generate the reader's commitment?
In this article, I will review a strategy for successful blog content. I will also address seven key details to include in a blog to improve its appeal to readers.
Each message must be self-contained, providing an experience that does not require knowing your profile, your company or other publications. People who find a message from a search engine should be able to understand it from the get-go. For other readers, do not forget that the most recent message usually appears first. Many people will not have read older or even newer posts.
Do these publications show you at your best – do not whine, apologize, confess irrelevant sins or take it from others? It may be appropriate to share the bottom of your life or business on a personal blog or on a Facebook page. But something directly related to your business should contribute to a positive reputation.
Think of your ideal clients. Does your blog resonate with them? Many times, I've seen ecommerce blogs that are not synchronized with the company's product line. For example, a company selling fitness equipment to elite athletes should not indicate how to start doing exercise. Similarly, if your target client is running a small business, do not write about the problems faced by the Fortune 100.
Take the example of Freshbooks, an accounting platform for small businesses. The company's blog focuses on the small business niche, as with these titles:
- "Take Your Creative Business to the Next Level",
- "Contract 101 for freelancers who hire freelancers",
- "Continuous Billing and Accounting with Word and Excel? 5 Reasons to Stop,"
- "6 commercial milestones to be achieved in your first 5 years."
What about the personality of your blog posts? Does this correspond to what you are trying to project for the company? Ask a stranger to judge that. It might be difficult for an insider to objectively criticize the blog. If you're aiming for a friendly, good-neighborly atmosphere, rigid, formal blog posts will contradict this image.
Do the pictures and illustrations correspond to the image of the desired company? When selling snowboard equipment, the photos and graphics on the blog posts should confirm this attitude. Avoid unintentional patterns of sex, age, or ethnicity in the photos. I've often asked clients, "Are your clients all white?" Or "Do you realize that you disproportionately represent young people?"
What was your goal in launching the blog? Does this meet this objective? For example, if you hope to increase engagement, and readers respond with comments and social sharing, you are apparently doing something good.
This is also worth considering popular publications. The results might surprise you. Do not automatically take the popularity as a sign to amplify this trend, however. A business owner I know has discovered that college professors have assigned some of his blog posts as compulsory course readings. However, this did not benefit his business because these students had little or no interest in what he was selling.
7 Keys Details
Beyond a content strategy, address these seven details to help your blog appeal to readers.
Post dates. Do posts in your blog include release dates? This counts for two reasons. First, over time and technology or social trends, you will want readers to know when you wrote what you did. Second, research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, a usability company, shows that specialized audiences do not trust undated information.
Bylines. If an article uses the word "I", can a reader easily know the antecedent, the name of the person "I"? Maybe regular readers know who is writing the messages. But not the readers for the first time. Add a byline to your blog format to eliminate confusion.
Updates. Is it obvious to subscribe to the blog, to receive messages by email? An unlabeled icon or a vaguely worded invitation will not be clear enough for many readers.
Titles. Give your titles a severe review. Do they describe the content of each message? They should, to keep the readers coming back. Do they contain relevant keywords to help with search engine rankings?
Categories. Have you tagged every blog post with news categories? When you list these categories on each page of the blog, you allow visitors to find similar articles.
Appropriate images. Do the visuals that accompany your blog posts add value to readers or are they simply dividing the space? Some subjects do not easily suggest illustrations. If you're puzzled over how to add more jazz visuals, browse blogs on similar topics to find ideas.
Link to products. Do you make links between the blog and what you sell? You do not want to go too far on this – "Buy, buy, buy!" But if your blog is dealing, say, with new technical developments in your industry, by all means highlight some related products that you sell.