The Blogging Bandwagon

Everyone seems to have a blog these days—from outspoken politicians to grandmothers who write about their tulip gardens. But adding a blog just for the sake of having one is unfortunate because so much good can come from one executed properly. That said, if your aspiration is to boost sales and click-through rates, put in the time to make your blog count.

Clearly, one of the critical parts of having a blog is that retailers need to feature viable content that can truly target their customers’ lifestyles.

It is just as important for retailers to allocate the time and resources to produce content on a timely basis, according to Tiffany Riley, senior VP of marketing at San Mateo, Calif.-based MarketLive, an e-commerce solutions provider.

“Retailers miss out on driving the brand and participating in the dialogue with their customers when they only update content once in awhile,” Riley said.

Old blogs become stale fast, and it doesn’t take long for consumers to lose interest and stop checking for fresh content. Retailers can remedy the situation by appointing internal management to oversee its blog. And Web analytic software can gauge what’s working on the site and monitor how traffic is being brought in.

After the foundation is laid, it’s easy for a retailer to achieve the blogging trifecta: achieving acquisition, conversion and overall customer loyalty.

For example, a multichannel retailer such as Peruvian Connection, a company known for its handcrafted and knitted sweaters, features “Common Threads”—a blog that lures readers back to the site with suggestions, shopping tips and updates on the latest artisan textiles in the fashion industry. By providing meaningful information to the reader in bite-size chunks, consumers are eager to return to learn more. The experience, therefore, sets them up to make better, more informed purchasing decisions.

To further engage readers, retailers can experiment with two-way blogs that invite readers to post their comments and feedback. But some companies fear that these blogs run the risk of inviting negative feedback.

“Merchants can’t control what consumers are saying about them, but they can control who they are, the service they deliver and their role in the business world,” Riley said. “As long as they are living up to their brand’s promise, the market won’t likely have anything negative to say about them.”

And for retailers that are wary of negative feedback, they need to realize that these comments can serve as a heads-up to opinions that may be surfacing throughout a consumer base. “Savvy retailers can see trends early by watching the blog, and then they can take actions to address the issues,” Riley noted.

 

Some innovative retailers are unleashing the value in consumers’ candid opinions by coupling their blogs with customer reviews. Reviews can be honest and all-telling, so consumers come to trust and rely on them when making shopping decisions. And the combination fully embraces the idea of user-recommended content.

The ideal approach is certainly up to you, but the message is clear: the more current and content-rich a blog is, the more consumers will care, and ultimately, the more time they will spend online with your brand.