EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 270 - September 12, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 8

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

By Lisa Suttora

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In Part 1 of our series, we introduced you to the powerful strategy of marketing your ecommerce site with a WordPress blog. Part 2 continues with simple steps for creating great content (even if you hate to write), and you'll learn about some top plug-ins for WordPress optimization in today's sidebar.

When I work with clients on setting up their blog strategy, the number one objection I hear from people is, "I don't like to write," usually followed by a school essay horror story or two. But if you can write an email to a friend or answer a customer service email, you can write a great blog post. The more frequently you blog, the more comfortable you'll get with it.

Worried about what to write? No need to worry. I've included ten creative ideas for ecommerce blog content that will give your blog the "secret sauce" to attract customers and the search engines.

But first, let's get you writing with 5 easy writing tips:

1) Keep it short! 250-300 word posts are all you need. Most people write emails longer than that several times a day. Short blog posts will cover one topic or get one point across. Then incorporate a link to a product you sell that fits with your blog post content and, voila! Your post is done for the day.

2) Write first, then edit. One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is to write and edit their posts at same time. Worrying about grammar and spelling kills the flow of your creativity. WordPress makes it easy to write a draft of your post, save it and then come back and edit it.

3) Keep a file of blogging ideas. Jot down blogging ideas as they come to you and you'll be set! Whether you're driving, walking, working at your desk or in the shower (a place where many people get their best ideas), as soon as an idea for a post comes into your mind, write it down.

4) Create a video post instead. YouTube has proven that many people who don't like to write come alive in front of the video camera. Video blog posts are a great way to do product reviews, demonstrations or even product showcases put to music. When Bill and Maida Webster, owners of Connectibles, shot this short video of a vintage army toy set and added some music, they never expected to get 44,000+ views on the video. Using the Smart YouTube plug-in, they can now easily add this video post to their collectibles blog.

5) Enlist the help of the "5 Ws (and one H)" - who, what, when, where, why and how. We all learned this useful writing tip in school, and it will help you with your blog posts! When writing a short blog post, pick one "W" and write your short post. "When is the best time to can peaches?" "How to improve your golf swing." "Why you should choose organic cotton t-shirts over regular cotton." "Where are the sunniest vacation spots in the world?" You'll be writing short, valuable posts in no time!

Don't worry about "keyword density." In the old days of content marketing, writers had to concern themselves with keyword density - making sure enough (but not too many) of the right words were on the page. Fortunately those days are gone. As long as your blog posts are of interest to your audience, WordPress will take care of the search engine optimization for you!

Remember to blog 3 times a week. Any less and the search engines won't visit your blog frequently enough. If you fall in love with blogging, as many people do, feel free to blog as many times a week as you'd like!

What to Write: Adding the "Secret Sauce" to Your Blog
You're primed to write, excited to get started, and now it's time to write your first post! The list below will ensure you don't fall into common trap for many ecommerce blogs. They're either advertisements disguised as blogs (each post is an ad), or they're simply very boring.

Here are 10 techniques for publishing creative, engaging content that will help connect you with your readers while marketing your business:

1) Identify your "voice." What impression do you want your customers to have of you on the Internet? Whether you realize it or not, your business already has a voice online. Your blog should reflect that as well. Organize.com sells more than 23,000 organizational products. The site has a very home centric, welcoming feel. Their blog Mrs Organized, although written by the VP of Merchandising and Marketing, is very down to earth and friendly. When you read Mrs. O's posts, you feel like you could be discussing organizational tips with your neighbor over lunch.

2) Don't treat your blog post as an advertisement. Don't make each blog post a heavy promotion. While it's okay to talk about your products in an informational way and then link to the product page from within the blog post, the purpose of your post is to engage and offer value to your readers.

3) Be personal, but professional. "Corporate speak" blog posts will bore your readers. Treating your business blog like a personal blog and revealing all will turn customers off and compromise your credibility. Kassie Rempel, founder of Simply Soles, an etailer of high-end shoes, shares outfits from her closet on her blog. Her customers love to see the shoes she sells paired with outfits from her very own closet. But even though Kassie "lets people into her closet," she does so in a professional manner. In fact, as an entrepreneurial mom, Kassie does have a family category on her blog, with the occasional personal, but always professional update.

4) Attract readers like crazy with helpful "how to" information. Two of the top searched words on the Internet are "how to." The possibilities for blogging how-to information are endless. Ice.com's blog helps their customers with all types of jewelry questions: How to Match Your Necklace to Your Neckline, Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Watch, How to Pick the Perfect Necklace for a friend. To get your mind racing with all the "how-to's that people want to know about, take a look at eHow.com.

To find out exactly what "how to's" your customers are looking for on the Internet, use the Google Keywords tool and search using the keywords "how to + your niche keywords here" (without the quotes). Your how-to information only need be simple and step-by-step to be in high demand.

5) Harness curiosity. The words "Did you know?" will grab people's attention! Use your blog posts to share interesting facts, features or benefits about the products you sell and about the niche you sell in. You have limited room on the product pages in your ecommerce site, a blog post is a perfect place to expand on the information you share about your products. American Muscle sells late model mustang parts and car accessories, and their blog is a virtual treasure trove of information for Mustang lovers.

6) Share your passion for your niche. Wanda Fitzgerald has a passion for selling charms, and there's no mistaking this fact in each and every blog post she writes on her blog. Multi-channel seller Sally K loves and sells vintage dishware and she attracts customers who feel exactly the same way at her blog.

NOTE: A blog is one of those places where you can't fake it. If you're selling a product just to "sell something," and blogging because you want to drive traffic, but have no passion for your niche, your product line or your customers -it will become quickly apparent. Either find someone to represent your company who does have a passion for your business, or rethink your niche. If you're bored by what you sell and blogging it, your customers will be bored too.

7) Guest blogging. Guest blogging is hot, hot, hot. Asking other bloggers to write a blog post or two for your blog is a great way to bring in a fresh voice to your blog. Invite a guest blogger from within your niche market to write for you. This not only builds relationships with potentially influential bloggers in your niche, it also gives them the opportunity to get more visibility and possibly do a product review for you. You can also invite employees, experts in your niche, even colleagues to contribute a blog post.

Crutchfield, an electronics retailer since 1974, gives their well traveled staff the opportunity to do product reviews on their blog. In this post, you can see how a compelling use of written content and travel photos posted by a Crutchfield employee takes what could be a corporate-speak blog and makes it engaging and real.

8) Create Events. A recent Discovery Store blog post encouraged readers to "Live Every Week Like Shark Week," and then proceeded to give them five steps on how to do exactly that. Each step included a link to a Discovery Store product. And while the post is light on content, it's sure to capture the imagination of shark lovers everywhere. Create your own events by running contests, inviting your readers to comment, or running special blog promotions!

9) Leverage customer questions. All day long you receive and answer questions from your customers. Customer questions and answers can make great content for blog posts. Your content is already written. Add a bit more to it to round it out, and you've got a post that can engage more customers and generate conversation about your product.

10) Piggyback on current news being reported in the media. A great way to get your blog indexed and keep it relevant and timely is to piggyback your posts on current events being reported in the media. Tie those in with your content and link to a relevant product, and watch your traffic skyrocket.

Finally, keep your blog's presentation in line with the branding of your company. Urban Outfitters is a hip, trendy retailer with an equally hip and trendy blog. Images more than words populate the blog, with most posts forgoing a link to even an Urban Outfitters product. But the shop tab is just a click away at the top of the blog, and their trendy customers know how to use it.

When creating your blog posts don't be afraid to try different things to find out what resonates with your readers. Their responses may surprise you!

To find out what they're thinking, leave the "comments" feature turned on in your blog so that people can comment on your posts. Be sure to dedicate some time each week to answer the questions, comments and feedback on your blog. This will build invaluable communication and community with your readers. A blog should be a conversation with your customers, not a monologue.

Most importantly, be consistent! Your readers and the search engines will come to expect a certain frequency of updates. If you blog faithfully each week for a month and then don't blog for another two months, your readers and the search engines will visit and leave empty handed. Not a good thing. That's why writing short, easy posts will ensure that nothing stops you from blogging three times a week!

Congratulations! You are ready to write your first post and implement your WordPress blog marketing strategy. And remember, it doesn't have to be perfect to succeed, you just need to get it going.

Read Part 1 of "How to Market Your Ecommerce Site with WordPress Blogs" on this page, and information on how to use plug-ins designed to make your life a lot easier when administering your WordPress blog in 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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