It’s a well-known thing that blogging offers a bunch of perks: an increase in web traffic and conversions, fresh and updated website content and customer loyalty for your retail business (to name just a few). Nowadays blogging isn’t just for startups, SaaS companies or influencers. Corporate blogs can become valuable assets for retailers as well. The truth is that all your prospective customers are online, and you should be there, too.
Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that effectively implementing a blogging strategy isn’t easy. Today more than 90 percent of companies blog one or more times per day. As a result, the blogging sphere is becoming more and more overcrowded: there are 31 percent more bloggers out there than there were just three years ago.
For you, more bloggers might mean more competition. The rate at which blogging increases the number of new shoppers to your brand depends heavily on how well you develop and implement your blogging strategy.
Now let’s move forward to the steps you should take to start a retail blog.
Develop a content strategy
Effectively implementing a blog strategy isn’t as easy as it sounds. Remember any blog you may visit regularly – what keeps you coming back? I bet it’s super relevant and useful, maybe sometimes funny, but always very interesting content. Let’s draw up a plan of creating a blog that is worth the attention of your target audience.
Storytelling matters for merchants because we all are becoming increasingly skeptical of brand advertising. What’s more, the cost of driving shoppers to commercial sites through advertising is increasing continuously. At the same time, buying is always an emotional decision, and storytelling can involve shoppers in your story, making them want to be associated with your brand and even influence their buying decisions.
Storytelling content strategy is both an art and a science. You should mix up different types of content: images, video, audio, GIF files, etc.
Also, you need to understand your target audience before creating your story. Who are they? What are their challenges? More importantly, how can you help them? Talk to existing customers. Conduct quantitative customer surveys, qualitative focus groups and online reviews. And only after that, start telling your inspiring and meaningful stories that consumers want to be associated with.
Choose the right topics
So, what should your company be blogging about? A few best business blogging practices are:
- Share your passion. Write about why you started and how you did it.
- Put a new twist on your products. For instance, tell the stories behind your products, how they were made and what makes them special. Also, within these type of articles, you can also announce new or improved products.
- Assist your readers. Think about what can you do to assist or educate your target audience. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about what challenges you might face. Then, proactively help them solve their issues.
- Go behind the scenes of your company. Here you can show the human side of your retail business: post pictures of your workroom, introduce your dedicated employees.
- Demonstrate your products in use. And don’t forget to include links to the descriptions of products in your blog post.
- Have certified experts and celebrities contribute to your blog.
As you’ve probably realized, starting a blog is no easy feat. There are many steps involved, especially when you’re going retail. Bottomline it’s a full-fledged project. And for this reason, I recommend breaking down your project with well-structured goals and objectives to inform effective and efficient action.
Turn your blog into a conversion machine
Okay, now you have a crisp and clean blog and are acquiring relevant traffic. But blog traffic along won’t generate more sales. I’ve put together a few important stages of turning your blog into a conversion machine.
Optimize your mobile performance
A mobile strategy has never been more critical. Mobile-first experiences and online shopping trends will only continue to grow. Even if you don’t feature your products online, your site speed should be lightning fast. The truth is, the number one issue mobile users complain about is slow pages. This technical problem ranks even higher than site crashes.
Track online conversions, offline store visits and everything in between with Google Analytics
I suppose you are already tracking various events on your website: monthly visits, bounce rate, the number of pages viewed during sessions, etc. But there is one more interesting question: how do on-site activities and your content efforts influence visits to your offline stores? Which of your online marketing strategies and blog posts are driving more store visits? This information alone can help your ads, spends and advertising campaigns in optimizing this metric.
First, Google will be able to estimate store visits if users keep their Location History turned on. This data is anonymous and shows the number of store visits from users who visit your website and then visit your offline shop within 30 days. To track store visit conversions, you have to meet the following requirements:
- Access to Google Analytics, Google Ads and Google My Business accounts
- Physical store locations in eligible countries and high volumes of store visits data to associate it with website traffic
- Have activated Google signals
- Have activated location extensions in your Google Ads account
Then, in the reports, you will learn:
- The number of visits to stores from users who initiated sessions on the website
- How many store visits are coming from your blog, your advertising, etc.
- The level of store-visit rates after certain marketing promotions
Insert conversion elements
There are a few powerful conversion elements to add to your blog pages: optimizing them for rich snippets, adding social proof elements and sign-up forms, etc. Let’s dive deeper into each of them.
Let’s start with rich snippets. A rich snippet is a specific box used to display additional data in Google search results. It helps get immediate answers to questions on a search page without visiting a website. However, in fact, rich snippets can increase the click-through rate (CTR) and, as a result, boost organic traffic to your blog. If you mark up your blog posts, their content is more likely to be pulled in featured snippets, enabling you to rank higher, attracting more visitors and increasing your revenue.
Other powerful conversion elements are called ‘social proof.’ They include testimonials and reviews which are great in terms of building trust around your company. However, another social proof method, a real-time overview of website activity, is even more powerful. This builds trust and increases conversions by letting you know others are using the site and booking your specific products or services. What’s more, with the help of social proof & notification tools, you can display recent conversions like opt-ins or sales to establish social proof and raise your conversion rates.
Lead generation forms and pop-up tools can also increase your revenue by gathering shoppers’ emails. For instance, Growth Funnel can help you build your email list, social followers, shares and customer base without annoying your visitors. Here you can build pop-up forms, slide-ins, floating bars, inlines, growth links and even full-screen overlays.
Blogging is the easiest way to connect your retail business with the world. Done right, having high-quality content is a major advantage over your competition because your prospective shoppers and customers will be much more likely to find you in search engines. What’s more, with the help of your blog, you’ll not only help them solve their challenges but also show them that you really do care. That increases the chances that they will come back for more.
About the writer: Julia Samoilenko is a marketing specialist who writes about digital marketing strategies and trends for Chanty — a simple AI-powered team chat. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Feel free to connect with Julia on LinkedIn.