EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 269 - August 22, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

How to Market Your Ecommerce Site with WordPress Blogs - Part One

By Lisa Suttora

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Imagine if you could implement a marketing strategy for your online business that would attract new customers and foster buyer loyalty, build credibility and trust in your niche, and enable you to give your business a strong Unique Selling Position (USP). What if this powerful marketing strategy were free or low cost, and you that you could begin implementing this strategy today with no prior experience?

Well, you're about to learn how you can implement this exact strategy by using the winning combination of a WordPress blog and content marketing for your ecommerce business.

What is Content Marketing?
While you've likely heard of a WordPress blog, you may not know about the process of content marketing. Content marketing is the technique of using relevant, valuable content to attract and connect with your target customer base.

The goal of content marketing is to produce a favorable and beneficial customer experience, with the goal of using your content to directly or indirectly generate sales.

Until recently, it's been expensive and difficult for online merchants to integrate content marketing into a standard ecommerce website. All that's changed, though, with the development and popularity of software called WordPress, a platform that sets the stage for online content marketing and can revolutionize the way that you'll market your ecommerce business.

What is "Content"?
Content is any kind of information that your target audience will find useful and relevant to the products you sell or the niche you sell in. For example, if you sell fly-fishing products, your content could cover fishing techniques, tips on using fishing gear, product reviews, articles on the best places to fish, etc.

If you sell wedding supplies, your content might contain information on wedding trends, checklists for the busy bride, how to create a beautiful wedding on a budget, famous brides, etc.

Content can be delivered on the web in written, video, even audio format. (There are specific benefits to each which we'll cover in-depth in Part 2 of this article.) Content marketing can cover any topic that your customers would be interested in and is limited only by your imagination.

Google Rewards Content Marketing
Google recently reaffirmed the importance of content marketing with the release of its new Caffeine search index. Promoted as the largest index of web content Google has ever offered, the purpose of Caffeine is to help Internet searchers (i.e., your prospective customers) find newer content, faster.

The more content you publish on your website and blog, the more valuable Google will find your pages, leading to better search engine results for your business.

The "Secret Sauce" for Your Business
Content also provides the secret sauce for your business by giving you many ways to communicate your Unique Selling Position (USP) to your customers. While you and a competitor may sell the same product at the same prices, you can use your unique content to differentiate your business, services and the quality of what you offer.

Sneakerhead is an online retailer specializing in urban style, hard-to-find, and limited edition sneakers. They sell retro styles as well as the hottest new styles. But so do other several other online retailers. So how does Sneakerhead stand out from the crowd and attract new customers? Through the use of content marketing. By sharing interesting tips and trivia about the hot shoes they sell on their blog, they keep customers coming back for more.

Their secret sauce is the content published at Sneakerhead Academy. Aimed at people who want to become a "certified Sneakerhead" or "sneaker hunter," Sneakerhead Academy elevates Sneakerhead.com out of the ranks of "just another sneaker seller" to attract a loyal customer base of rabid fans.

Pairing a Business Blog with Content Marketing
Pet products etailer Doctors Foster and Smith use their Pet Blog for content marketing by sharing their expertise and passion for pets. Readers can post comments and tell their own stories on the blog. The blog's welcome post encourages pet owners to "share your enthusiasm for all things pet related."

With both written content and video, as well as links directly to their products from within blog posts, this successful merchant provides a valuable content marketing experience to all who read their blog.

A blog used in tandem with good content marketing will nurture prospective customers and engender loyalty and word of mouth referrals from existing ones.

Your Customers Are Reading Blogs
A 2008 BuzzLogic-sponsored research study of more than 2,000 online consumers in the US conducted by JupiterResearch, a Forrester research company, revealed how blogs factor into consumer purchase decisions:

  • Blogs influence purchases: One half (50%) of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information.

  • Blogs go beyond tech: Outside of technology-related purchases, for which 31% of readers say blogs are useful, other key categories include media and entertainment (15%); games/toys and/or sporting goods (14%); travel (12%); automotive (11%); and health (10%).

  • Niche focus increases the influence factor: For those who have found blog content useful for product decisions, more than half (56%) say blogs with a niche focus and topical expertise were key sources.

Niche etailer, ToolKing uses its blog to provide tremendous value to their customers in the form of how-to information, videos, buying guides, reader's choice product features, even a "tool heroes" section where customers can submit stories and photos about unusual projects they've completed using a ToolKing tool. All this content marketing serves to make ToolKing a leader in a very competitive niche.

Having a blog can help to build your brand, drive traffic to your website and increase your sales. But most importantly, blogs create a personal connection with your readers, which lays the underlying foundation for the next step in the relationship - becoming a customer.

Why WordPress?
While there are other blog platforms, WordPress has become the standard in the industry for blogging. Search-engine friendly and easy to use, a working knowledge of WordPress is becoming as important to the success of your business as knowing how to use email.

1) WordPress is free, open source software that you download from the web. The dedicated WordPress development community is continually adding more and more functionality to WordPress both for blogging and as a multi-functional software platform. These days there's almost nothing WordPress can't do, and it's rapidly replacing the standard HTML website.

2) Plugins extend the functionality of the core WordPress platform and enable WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine. WordPress offers thousands of free plugins that have been tested and rated by users. There are even ecommerce plugins such as ShopperPress that turn WordPress into a fully functioning ecommerce site.

3) Themes let you brand your blog easily. Although you can have a custom theme designed to match your business branding, many people won't need this because WordPress offers thousands of free themes in every color and design.

4) WordPress can easily showcase any kind of content - written, video, audio. It's easy to load, and you don't have to pay a webmaster to do it!

5) Integration with social media sites. Through the use of widgets like Facebook Share or Tweetmeme, WordPress integrates seamlessly with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Upload a video to YouTube and you'll be provided with the code to embed that video right into your WordPress blog.

In addition to their successful blog, online merchants Doctors Foster and Smith also invite readers to "join the conversation" on Facebook and Twitter by adding social media icons to their WordPress blog.

6) WordPress is search engine friendly. Google search bots love WordPress. In this video, Matt Cutts, head of the anti-spam blog team at Google, explains why WordPress is the right choice for your blog.

He emphasizes that WordPress makes your site easily crawlable by the search engines and says that WordPress takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of SEO. Matt also says that WordPress is the first big step anyone can take towards creating a popular online business! (The video is a must watch for all online business owners. It's both educational and entertaining.)

7) WordPress is scalable. WordPress is scalable software - as your business grows, your WordPress blog can grow with you.

8) WordPress is easy to work with. Once you learn the basics of installing and working with WordPress, you'll find it's very easy to maintain. With the release of the new WordPress 3.0, setting up your blog is easier than ever.

Getting Started with WordPress
To get started today on your WordPress blog/content marketing strategy, you'll first need to set up a WordPress blog. But don't worry - you needn't be to be a tech guru to do this. These seven steps will help get you started.

1) Purchase a domain name for your WordPress blog. You can purchase your domain name from a domain registrar like GoDaddy.

2) Purchase hosting for your blog. You can do for less than $10 a month at a hosting company like Hostgator.

(See the sidebar, "Where to Host Your WordPress Blog," for more information about hosting your blog.)

3) Using Cpanel (which comes with your Hostgator account), install your WordPress blog. Hostgator even provides a step-by-step tutorial here. This will take about 5 minutes.

4) Once installed, you'll receive an email with your admin login and password.

5) Login to your admin panel.

6) Next, choose a theme and install it using the "Add New Themes" option found in the "Appearance" sub-menu in your WordPress blog admin panel.

7) Create your first post and get some practice (posts can always be edited or deleted after the fact).

Congratulations! Your basic blog is set up and you have the beginnings of your WordPress blog and content marketing strategy in place!

In Part Two, you'll learn about the top plug-ins for WordPress optimization, super simple steps to creating great content (even if you don't like to write!), and the ingredients to add more secret sauce to your content marketing strategy - look for Part Two in the next issue of AuctionBytes Update in September. For information about where to host your WordPress blog, see today's sidebar.


About the author:

Lisa Suttora is an ecommerce expert and founder of WhatDoISell.com. Since 2004, Lisa has specialized in helping online entrepreneurs master the marketing and product sourcing skills they need to build unique, thriving businesses in today's top online marketplaces. WhatDoISell is one of 34 eBay Certified Providers worldwide. An author and nationally known speaker with more than 15 years of online and offline retail merchandising experience, Lisa brings a fresh approach to the topic of what to sell and how to sell it. Enjoy more business building tips and strategies for marketing your online business at http://whatdoisell.com/tips, keep your finger on the pulse of today's hot trends with the free Hot Trend Alerts newsletter, and visit Lisa's blog at lisasuttora.com.


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