If a blog isn’t a core part of your ecommerce marketing strategy, you’re losing out on traffic, leads, and sales. As selling online becomes more and more competitive, having great products is no longer enough. Every day, over 500 new online stores are launched on Shopify alone.
Unlike the people already shopping in your store, readers of your blog may not be quite ready to buy from you. And while the primary goals of content marketing are not to produce a sale immediately, it’s great when it actually happens and it’s certainly worth trying. Since it’s unclear whether they’re ready to purchase or not, it’s going to be up to you to guide them towards a purchase with relevant and valuable content.
Blogs are a great way to bring in new customers. They host engaging content in the form of articles, which work as organic lead generators, and promote interaction between your customers. A blog functions as the top of your content marketing funnel by drawing website visitors in and eventually leading them toward buying your products.
The pros of blogging
Aside from the above, which are the biggest reasons, a blog is a way for your store to segue into more of a content-driven enterprise instead of being exclusively product-driven. Depending on the kind of content you post, you could wind up as an authority in whatever niche you chose.
For example, say your eCommerce store sells glassware with custom designs etched onto it. Now, if you start a blog dedicated to the industry and process of etching glassware, and post a few helpful articles about how others can do the same kind of thing themselves at home… you’re suddenly providing a valuable service in addition to selling your products. People will recommend your blog to others looking to etch their glassware at home.
A blog lets you publicly declare your brand’s authority in your niche
And those who aren’t quite as good at crafts as they thought they were will think of your store first and foremost when they realize they should probably just order the etching they want. You’ll be at the front of their mind because you’re the one that gave them such helpful directions!
As for the people that are that crafty…well, they have to buy their etching cream and sticker paper from somewhere. And if you just so happen to have affiliate links to brands you personally endorse, well…it’s not as good as selling your own product, but it’s something.
See now how your blog acts as a funnel to selling your products?
The cons of blogging
There’s always gotta be something, doesn’t there?
It’s a lot of work to keep a blog. You have to post content regularly, whether that’s every day or once a month. And you have to put in some effort to gracefully weave your products into your blog posts. You want your posts to be educational so that your readers find real value in them, and don’t just view them as a long-form sales pitch for your store’s products.
How do I choose topics that help my e-commerce customers?
First, you need to know what your customers care about and search for online. Then you can brainstorm topics that, while they may not directly relate to your business, will be interesting and helpful to your target audience.
If you sell women’s shoes, you could write about how to keep your feet comfortable while traveling. If you offer web design services, consider posts about digital marketing, since the same clients will benefit from both subjects.
To develop a list of topics:
- Pay attention to customer complaints and feedback.
- Keep tabs on reviews.
- Research commonly-searched keywords with tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest, and brainstorm topics that naturally relate to those terms.
- Analyze each of your products and outline every possible problem each one solves.
- Read what your competitors write.
Focus on covering one topic per post. It’s better to provide more details about one thing rather than a few details about many things. In an hour of focused brainstorming and research, you can come up with dozens of blog post topics.
How often should I post?
The more the better! If you can write a post every day, you should. But few businesses have the time or the money to post every single day, so here’s a more helpful strategy: Whatever you’re doing now, do it a little bit more often.
If you have no blog posts, or haven’t written one in months, commit to writing one per month. If you’re writing one post per month, commit to two. If you’re determined to get results as quickly as possible, a good minimum is four per month.
To keep blogging manageable, try writing posts in batches instead of spreading out the work. Don’t write one post per week. Instead, write four at the same time, while you’re in the writing zone, and then schedule them to publish over the course of a month. You can then spend the rest of your time on other tasks.
Three types of topics to write for, if you want to ranked in search engine.
If you want to use SEO to get more sales, you need to find article topics that:
- Will attract customers
- Are topics people are searching for
- Aren’t too hard to rank on
Let’s dig in a bit on what each of these means.
Topics that will attract customers
Cup & Leaf ranks No. 1 on Google for the query “how to make milk tea,” which brings in around 3,000 visitors per month.
But, in the months that this article has been at that ranking, it’s brought in zero sales. This is a topic that people are searching for, and it’s one that wasn’t too hard to rank on, but it’s not one that’s attracting customers.
Here’s why: Most people searching “how to make milk tea” aren’t actually going to buy any tea, so while this article is still somewhat useful for overall site strength and getting views on our Facebook pixel, it’s not directly driving many sales.
On the flipside, Cup & Leaf also has a top spot on Google for “best black tea.”
This article drives significantly more traffic back to the store, and more sales, primarily because people searching for “the best black tea” are actually looking to buy some black tea.
It’s a topic that attracts customers, not just readers, which is extremely important if you want your content to lead to more sales.
Topics that people are searching for
The second requirement you need your topic ideas to meet is that they must be topics people are actually looking for. You could write a great customer-focused post, but if no one is looking for it, no one will find it—even if you get the top spot on Google.
This is where tools come in. You can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefsto see exactly how many people are searching for a topic so you have an idea of whether or not it’s worth going after.
In this case, “best black tea” gets around 1,900 searches per month, which is more than enough to be considered interesting. There are no hard rules but we usually say that for B2B, anything above 100 searches per month is worth considering; for B2C, depending on your customer lifetime value (LTV), you might look at keywords with at least 500 monthly searches.
Now for the last piece of the puzzle.
Topics that aren’t too competitive
The last question you need to answer is, “how easily can I actually get ranked for this keyword?”
Your best bet for assessing this is to look at your keyword tool again for a “keyword difficulty score.” In the “best black tea” example, you can see it’s 0, which means it’s about as easy as it gets:
We typically say that for a new site, stick to keywords with a difficulty under 15. Once you have more than 100 domains linking to your site, you might bump that number up to 30. Anything above 30 will take a little while to rank on, unless your site has incredibly high authority.
One thing to keep in mind with the difficulty score is that seeing a “popular” site ranking for the keyword you want to go after is not necessarily a no-go sign. Even big sites can be beaten, assuming you follow the instructions in the next section about how to write your article to be competitive.
Creating your list
Before you think about writing anything, take some time to come up with at least 50 of these keywords.
Write down the kinds of questions your customers might be asking in Google that could lead to them buying from you. Benji Hyam has a great list of topics to help you brainstorm these in his “Pain Point SEO” article.
Hyam points to five types of posts that work really well for this:
- Comparison posts, where you look at your product or service versus another
- Best product or service lists, where you feature your product in a list with some competitors
- Alternatives to X, where you can rank against your competitors
- Articles that talk about pricing, where you show how much you cost versus the competitors
- Product or service use cases, where you show how your company has helped people
Once you’ve recorded at least 50 ideas in a spreadsheet or document, run those keywords through ahrefs or a similar tool to get their stats.
Then, see which ones have the best ratio of difficulty to volume—keeping in mind the rough guidelines I mentioned above—and you have your list of topics!
Now you’re ready to write the articles.
Which e-commerce blog post format should I use?
All your posts shouldn’t look the same; variety is more interesting and will keep readers reading. Here are some common format options:
List posts are made up of, well, lists. They’re easy to skim, make readers curious to find out more, and people love to share them. Examples include:
- “Six solutions for organizing your garage”
- “Ten ways to save money on your next car”
- “15 tips for traveling internationally”
A how-to post provides practical answers in the form of a guide. These usually walk readers through the steps necessary to achieve a goal, often in numerical order.
This article is a how-to post that promises to teach you how to write content. But we could have formatted this as a list post titled, “Four Secrets to Writing Blog Posts for Online Stores.” The rest of the information would have been similar but, for the reader, it would feel different.
These ask a question in the headline and imply you’ll answer it:
- “Are Too Many People Unsubscribing from Your Email List?” This implies a solution to reduce the number of unsubscribes.
- “Are You Worried About Overpaying for Life Insurance?” This promises to show you how to save money on insurance.
Question posts directly relate to your target audience’s problems and highlight their specific needs.
This sort of post directly promises a benefit for the reader. The previous three types indirectly make that promise. But promise posts present it directly: “Learn the Secret Muscle-Building Techniques of Elite Bodybuilders.”
Generally these posts use a verb like “learn” to make the promise
Writing Content that Ranks
With your topic list in hand, you’re ready to start creating the content that will bring you more customers.
There’s a lot of advice out there on how to do this, but based on our experience publishing more than 50 articles per week—bringing in millions of visitors a month—we’ve refined this to a fairly simple process.
- Get a good writer
- Research the competition
- Write something better
Obviously, there’s a bit to explain with each of these, so let’s dig into them some more.
Get a good writer
I know you think you’re the best writer to represent your brand, but you’re probably not.
The odds that you’re an amazing writer are low, and even if you are, you probably have more important things to be doing (like running your business) and could afford to hire a writer to help you.
Not only does hiring a good writer help make sure your content is well written, it also makes sure it gets written in the first place. Most blogs fail because you stop publishing, not because your title tags aren’t optimized; having a contractor whose job it is to keep publishing content will ensure that your content marketing work doesn’t fall by the wayside when other more urgent priorities pop up.
The last thing to keep in mind here is don’t look for cheap writers. A single article you pay $150-300 for will do more than 5 articles you paid $50 for.
How do I write a blog post?
Once you’ve determined the topic and format, creating a post is relatively straightforward, even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer. Remember, you’re writing about topics that you’re familiar with. You’re the expert. This is your business, and you understand how your products and services help people solve problems.
Just remember: Stick to one topic per article, and be helpful!
Here’s a quick six-step writing guide:
Even if you’re an expert, you should still search for additional information. Someone else might make a point or suggest an idea you haven’t thought of. Verify claims or confirm facts by linking to the sites where you found them. This isn’t just polite; it makes a difference for SEO.
2. Plan a quick outline
This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to produce — no one’s grading you on it!
Base your outline off of your post format. For a list post, your outline doesn’t need to be much more than a sentence per item. For other types of posts, jot down your main points and think about whether a reader would be able to follow your train of thought if all they had was the outline.
3. Write a draft — and include subheadings
Subheadings break up your text and summarize points so they’re easier to read. They also provide a place to insert keywords, which have more SEO value in headings than in paragraph text.
How long should your blog post be? There’s no “correct” length that applies to every post — it depends on your industry, audience, and topic. Cover the information thoroughly without going into every detail.
4. Write a headline
Your headline should include something enticing and be useful and actionable. The goal is to create a title that would be very hard not to click on.
Here are a few catchy examples:
- 7 Germ Hotspots that Require Regular Cleaning – This list post title tells readers exactly how many germ hotspots there are and creates curiosity.
- Are Naps Good for You? The Benefits of a Daytime Snooze– This headline directly asks a common question and states how they’ll answer it within the post.
- Guide to Bootstrap Columns: Examples, Tutorials, and Tricks – This title lets customers know what actionable items are included — examples, tutorials, and tricks.
- How Much Caffeine Is In Espresso And Coffee? (Hint: It’s Not What You Think) – Not only does this title ask a question, it also includes a little teaser to inspire people to click.
- Fact or myth: does music affect plant growth? – Asking whether something is a fact or a myth creates intrigue and makes readers want to find out the answer.
5. Add images
Images break up the text and help people visualize what they’re reading. They can also add humor or teach something in a different way.
You can design your own images, charts, or graphics, or purchase stock images or find a site that offers them for free. (Just make sure you have the legal rights to use them commercially!) Zapier provides a great list of 20 free stock image resources.
6. Finalize the post and publish
It’s important to take a break before editing your post. Write the first draft, then walk away for a few hours. When you return to edit the post, you’ll see your writing more objectively and catch more mistakes.
As you go through the article, insert your keywords a few more times as appropriate. But keep your primary focus on clarity, readability, and common spelling errors.
Moving your blog readers towards purchase
1. Get Them To Subscribe
Offering to subscribe website visitors to your email list after they read one of your blog posts. Then send them specific content, like shopping guides, comprised of products that are available in your online store.
2. Retarget Them Across The Web
Remarketing to them via Google ads to purchase a product they read about on your blog. For example, if they clicked on your shopping guide to shoes, you could then ensure that images of these shoes pop up in Google ads as they’re surfing the web.
3. Retarget Them on Facebook & Instagram
Retargeting your readers on Facebook with ads. Insert compelling images from your ecommerce store and blog posts into the ads.
4. Place Smart Internal Links Within Your Content
Placing links to products within each blog and calls-to-action on the bottom of every blog post. If readers enjoy your blog content, they may want to see what else you have to offer.