Wouldn’t it be nice to have new customers come to you, instead of going out to hunt for them? Or to have them find you without going through the lengthy, expensive process of running advertisements?
It’s not only a nice idea, but one that you can make a reality for your business when you use content marketing.
Retailers can create content to publish and distribute on websites, blogs, emails, social media, and other platforms in order to expand their reach and raise brand awareness. Content like blog posts can also attract new customers who are searching for solutions that your products can provide.
But consistently creating unique content comes with its challenges — generating a wealth of topics being at the top of the list. But it’s possible to keep a constant stream of fresh ideas flowing, and we’ve got a few ways to jumpstart your creativity.
How Blogging Benefits Your Business
Publishing a business blog on your retail website is a great way to:
- Increase website traffic
- Showcase your products and what you sell
- Add value for customers who may need help making selections and purchases
- Develop relationships with customers, prospective buyers, and visitors and remain top-of-mind
- Help capture leads and nurture them over time, to turn a visitor into a paying customer
- Establish your brand as a leader or expert in your industry
- Give others a chance to share your brand with their networks, social circles, or audiences
- Perform one action (writing the post) that you can use as a marketing effort over time with no additional investment of resources (linking back to the post, promoting it on social media, landing in search results, and so on)
And the really nice thing about blogging for retailers is that it’s something you can do for free. You simply need to add a blog to your existing site and start publishing posts.
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It’s a simple, effective way to market your business and get more eyeballs on your ecommerce store without spending big bucks on advertisements or agencies.
Sounds good, right? Ready to start your own blog?
You may be ready to reap the blogging benefits, but there’s still a big, important question to answer: how do you know what to blog about?
Turn to Your Customers to Find Ideas for Your Business Blog
If you’re drawing a blank on what to write about, there’s good news: you don’t have to come up with the ideas yourself. Instead, pull content from your customers.
Start by thinking of your ideal customer, then ask yourself the following questions:
- What are their pain points or problems?
- What obstacles do they need to overcome in order to make purchases?
- How do my store’s products fill a need or provide delight?
- What questions do they have about my products or brand?
- What questions do they have that relate to my industry in general?
- Beyond selling my product, what information could I offer to customers just to provide them with additional value?
The answers to these questions can provide you with a jumping-off point for a list of blog post topics.
You can also ask your customers directly. Send out a survey or interview them individually. (You may want to offer a very small incentive for doing so, like a coupon or a discount code.)
Asking for feedback from customers is another way to gather thoughts, phrases, and keywords you could develop into blog post content. Invite them to share via customer reviews directly on product pages or by including the invitation in an order summary email.
If you uncover a great story from a customer this way, you could even highlight their experience on the blog — if they’re willing to share and work with you. Case studies and success stories serve as social proof, too, which can also boost your sales.
Don’t forget that you can listen in on conversations via social media platforms, too. Take to Twitter and Facebook and look for people who represent your ideal customer. Search for relevant conversations using hashtags and looking up similar brands or companies to your own.
What are they talking about? What questions are they asking? Are they looking for specific products, and if so, how are they framing their search inquiries?
If you came across this post from a mom looking for a birthday gift for her six-year-old daughter, for example, that might spark ideas like:
- What to Buy the Kid Who Has Everything
- 5 of the Best Birthday Gifts for Girls Under 8
- 7 Birthday Gift Ideas for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of
You can also tailor this to be more specific to your brand and products. Try fun and different ideas that you don’t see everyday — but remember, it’s always better to be clear rather than clever.
In addition to tapping into your target market, you can try these strategies to generate business blog topic ideas to publish on your site.
Read Broadly and Take Notes as You Go
One of the best ways to generate ideas for your own writing is to read what others write. Read often and as much as you can.
Don’t just focus on your industry or companies that produce similar products. Expand your horizons and look for new perspectives and check out writing from professionals who work in completely different fields.
This feeds your ability to think creatively. We often generate fresh ideas by first collecting lots of diverse information from various sources — and then letting our subconscious pull bits and pieces of the sum of the content we consume together to form something new and unique.
EXTRA READING: Looking to brush up the retail industry? Check out our list of 24 retail blogs every entrepreneur should read.
Take notes as you go, too. Having a notepad at the ready makes it easy to capture any flashes of insight that may occur as you read.
Give Sneak Peeks and Behind-the-Scenes Access via Your Blog
Connection is critical in an increasingly online world. Allow people to feel like they know you and your business personally by sharing what’s going on behind the scenes.
“BTS” content makes a brand feel more human and approachable. You can speak directly to a reader — your customer — and make them feel like they’re part of your shop.
You could try blogging about:
- Stories from your team
- Sneak previews of upcoming products
- “Unboxing” videos
- Humorous experiences (just keep them appropriate for your target market, and make sure there’s some relevance to your business)
The goal here is to connect with readers and start building a relationship with them by sharing something that’s real and authentic.
Look for Prompts
Don’t reinvent the wheel with your blog post ideation. Use a prompt to get you started, like one from this list:
- Review a product (and don’t hide the downsides — be honest and transparent!)
- Talk about a news item or trend, as long as it relates to your brand
- Pose questions and invite your audience to answer
- Explain how something works or what your own store’s process is in a particular area
- Profile your team or showcase something positive about your business as a whole, like community involvement or charity work
- Open up about experiences, successes, and mistakes — along with the lessons learned from any screw-ups
- Use an interesting statistic or data point and discuss your thoughts on its impact
- Run a giveaway or contest
- Share your mission, vision, or your “why”
- Give tips and tricks on getting the most out of a product you sell
- Disagree with a popular thought or conception (and explain why you do)
Get a Bot to Do It for You
There are countless online tools you can use to generate business blog post topics for you. Here are a couple to check out and try if you get stuck:
If you’re completely lost, try Build Your Own Blog’s topic generator. It doesn’t require a keyword or any kind of phrase to get started. It just spits out something random, but that could spark a new (and relevant) idea for your own post.
It can also help to take a random idea and do some freewriting. When I tried Build Your Own Blog’s tool, it gave me this: “Stuff my parents told me that were true include...”
That’s actually an interesting prompt that I could take and freewrite on for 15 to 30 minutes. I could write what comes to mind or I could push myself to find ways to tie it back to my business.
Don’t be afraid to get outside the box. You could come up with creative material to turn into a compelling blog post for your brand.
Or, if you know the general subject you want to write on — but aren’t sure how to translate that into a blog post headline that captures attention — try one of these:
These tools use algorithms to generate potential ideas, topics, and titles for your content. That means there’s no human running these things, so expect a few bizarre results.
And again, whatever strange, outlandish, or downright funny ideas these generators give you can serve as a starting point for a blog post that’s attention-grabbing and unique. Even if you can’t use a headline like “Why Money is Lamer than James Franco” — an actual suggestion Portent’s tool gave me — it could serve as inspiration for your own, human-driven brainstorming session.
Be Prepared When Inspiration Strikes
You don’t want to rely on flashes of insight or inspiration — but they do happen. Capture blog post topic ideas when they come to you unexpectedly or randomly. If you don’t record them, you’re likely to forget!
You can keep a notes app on your smartphone or use a system that syncs across multiple devices, like Evernote. Or go old fashioned and keep a pen and notebook on you for impromptu brainstorming and freewriting sessions.
It may feel difficult to start generating your own business blog ideas. But just like anything else, it gets easier with practice. The more you work to develop unique and interesting post topics, the quicker ideas will flow.