This is a guest post by Shawn Graham.
Blogging. When it comes to ecommerce, it’s one inbound marketing strategy you can't afford to ignore.
It’s the primary place on your website where you can share fresh content, initiate conversations, and connect with current and prospective customers.
Smart online retailers also understand that a blog can be a powerful attraction strategy for any website. Not only will creating high quality blog content help you rank for important keywords in search, it will also give you something valuable to share on social media.
But to get the most bang for your ecommerce blogging buck, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible for people to find exactly what they’re looking for (and hopefully even more). And for that to actually happen, you’ve got to have the right mix of navigation, calls to action, and social sharing.
Let’s take a look at the 5 features your ecommerce blog just can’t live without:
Calls to Action
You can write the best blog post in the history of blog posts, but if you don’t entice your visitors to actually do something while they’re on your site—you’re missing a huge opportunity. Whether it’s an email sign up, rss feed, or link to a featured product or upcoming sale, you’ve got to incorporate targeted calls to action that are tied directly to your content marketing goals.
Where should they go? Start with the top of your sidebar.That’s prime real estate and the perfect spot for an email signup. By building your list, you’ll have a way to follow up with current and prospective customers over time and that’s totally invaluable. Shopify pulled together a great post on why ecommerce sites need to build a mailing list. You also want to take full advantage of the space at the bottom of each post. If they’ve made it all the way through your content, there’s a pretty good chance they enjoyed what you had to say and are ready to take action.
Clearpath Robotics does a great job of defining what you can expect when you sign up for their e-newsletter (ex. robotics news, ideas, and more) and managing expectations on the frequency of their outreach (ex. sent quarterly).
Having clearly defined content categories not only increases the likelihood that your blog posts will stay on message, if you include them in your blog navigation it will also make your posts a whole lot easier to navigate for your audience. And that means they’re more likely to spend more time on your site, read more of your posts, and make a purchase.
Typically, they’ll be 5-7 broad buckets within which all of your content will fall. Pure Fix comes in just under the wire at 6 total.Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t go over the top. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with too many categories and a cluttered mess.
Recent and/or Popular Posts
One of the best ways to pull folks in and get them to check out some of your other blog posts is by including a “Recent Articles” or “Recent Posts” section in your secondary blog navigation. There’s just something about “new” that has a way of piquing our interest.
Isn’t your eye just automatically drawn to that area on the Moorea Seal site?
And while recent posts are great for showing what’s fresh - they don’t necessarily display your best content. An alternative to displaying your recent blog posts is to showcase your most popular posts. Popular posts can be effective because you already know these posts resonate with your target audience and you get to take advantage of the power of social proof.
In other words, people will place a higher value on content they believe to be popular among their peers and will be more likely to click on it. Copyblogger does this well:
Whether you want to grow your social media following for your ecommerce site, share your posts with their friends, or both—always be sure to include social sharing buttons on your blog. Just make sure any and all social sites make sense for your specific business and your target audience.
In most cases, you’re probably looking at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and possibly Instagram. Below, DENY Designs also decided to incorporate their Twitter feed into their right sidebar.
Often overlooked, incorporating something as simple as a search box (yes, a search box!) can give visitors to your blog a way to look for a specific word or phrase without having to waste time or get frustrated skimming through dozens of posts.
Here, Rare Device includes a search box at the top of their blog so people won’t have to scroll to find it.
Building a successful ecommerce blog requires more than just having the right content. Once someone clicks on one of your posts, you want to keep them there so they start to form a connection and affinity towards your business.
As you think about your audience and your blog, what features might you add to your sidebar to help make your content easier to navigate or encourage prospective customers to engage?
About the Author: Shawn Graham helps small businesses create and implement performance-driven marketing strategies. Learn more about how to improve your ecommerce blog by checking out Shawn's new ebook Blogging for Badass Small Businesses.