Blogs are Important for Long-Term, Sustainable Success in eCommerce
Maintaining a blog might seem like the furthest thing from your mind when running an eCommerce business. Between operations, day-to-day management, and the myriad of other aspects that go into running an eCommerce business, a blog may not seem like an effective use of your time.
However, in a world where success is now largely driven by digital marketing, a blog is a necessary effort for a successful marketing strategy. Blogs are a way to differentiate yourself from the competition while providing a method of engagement for your users. There are several reasons to incorporate a blog into your marketing mix and here are three reasons specifically for eCommerce.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Content marketing via blogging is one of the best and most legitimate ways to rank well in search engines. Blogs are a prime method of website traffic, so it is imperative to have an SEO strategy in place that maintains your ranking. A recent Medium article stated that “More than half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, and 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase.”
Blogs signal that your website is active, which helps it rank higher in search engine rankings. As time goes on, certain keywords will become connected to your niche, driving further engagement. Moreover, if your keywords have a better chance of being highly ranked if they are inserted organically into blogs rather than being stuffed on each page of your site. Remember, SEO is dependent on quality, not quantity. A blog is a great way to bridge that gap and drive better SEO for your eCommerce website.
2. Effective Marketing
Blogs are a resource through which your business is able to display its legitimacy, authority, and credibility. Writing helpful, valuable content will not only drive your SEO but will be a great component of your marketing strategy. Balancing promotional content with evergreen, helpful topics in your blog is an effective way to market without being too aggressive. While many customers, both new and existing, may not be very receptive to overt marketing, blogs tend to be a good middle ground.
Merchants can use a blog to showcase new products, highlight existing products, and provide helpful tips and advice relating to your niche. It is a way to become a valuable, trusted source for information and this will help build relationships with your customers rather than aggressively pushing out campaigns that they are not interested in.
3. Steady Website Traffic
Think of blogs as part of a puzzle in maintaining a steady flow of website traffic. A blog will help you rank in search engines, which provides one flow of traffic. The other flow will come from your current customers who choose to come back for updates. In both cases, you will have tapped into customer audiences that are normally very hard to captivate but are loyal when they find something they enjoy.
Blogs are a great method to engage with your customers, learn more about what interests them and market accordingly. If you find that certain blogs seem to be more popular than others, analyze the content and means of dissemination to see what exactly is resonating with the audience. Blogs provide a way to understand customers like never before. Use that data to your advantage.
Ultimately, blogs are incredibly important for long-term, sustainable success of an eCommerce business. They provide a way to engage with a niche customer audience, as well as ways to learn more about what interests them and create a laser-focused marketing strategy going forward.
With some patience and dedication, blogs will become a valuable component of your eCommerce business. Contact us to learn more about the importance of blogs and how we can help incorporate them into your marketing mix and Magento site.
InteractOne Launches New Magento Site for Watson’s
Cincinnati, OH – InteractOne, Magento Solutions Partner, recently redesigned and launched www.watsons.com, a responsive-designed Magento website devoted to indoor & outdoor entertainment products for the home on February 16, 2016.
Watsons.com features all the products customers enjoy in the popular brick and mortar locations including pools, spas, furniture, fireplaces, pool tables and more. Now customers can research products with detailed descriptions and updated images before shopping in store.
The new site is built with a responsive Magento design, allowing full access from any device. The new site was created with a special focus on easy navigation. Specifically, a left column with attributes was added to make filtering easier. It was important to Watson’s to show customers they offer more than their well-known selection of pools and spas.
In addition, Watson’s needed a dependable and flexible content management system that was easier to manage in house. With quick product turnover and ever-changing seasonal promotions, it was critical that their in-house staff could make quick and easy updates to the website.
“Our experience with the team at InteractOne has been superior. They are extremely responsive to our needs and questions and expertly deploy solutions while relaying the information back to us in layman’s terms.” says Tracy Kuethe, Marketing Manager at Watson’s.
InteractOne has provided web development and Internet marketing services since 1998, becoming a Magento partner in 2009. We have helped many companies develop and establish very successful eCommerce sites and internet marketing strategies.
By Tom Deutsch, VP Creative Services at InteractOne
Visual Merchandising is not a new term among retailers. Have you seen an episode of PBS’s Mr. Selfridge? Based in the early 1900’s, the show spends a lot of air time showcasing Selfridge’s cutting edge merchandising innovations.
In today’s retail world, visual merchandising still plays a critical role in overall sales. Trained merchandisers (the folks “behind the curtain” strategically placing items and watching how customers shop) have product placement down to a science.
Retail merchandisers focus on store themes, overall coherence, interior design, lighting, store layout, displays, colors, and that’s just the physical part. There are scores of people also trained in the Psychology of retail shopping.
For example, watch this quick video interviewing Ken Nisch, a retail design expert on his store design with North Face.
The take-away here is that there are trained and experienced people designing and strategically planning the beautiful stimulating brick and mortar stores. Why are we not actively applying their methods to our eCommerce stores?
In the eCommerce world, merchandising has largely been ignored.
Lost somewhere between early innovators of the first decade out to reinvent the world of business and the initial reluctance of many old-school retailers to embrace online selling, merchandising fell to the wayside.
For a lot of online retailers the defacto merchandisers are marketers, designers, and product planners. This leads to haphazard product presentation and grouping for the simple elements of a promotion, not to mention an annoying chore arising out of Magento’s “related products” feature.
E-tailers who utilize merchandising professionals benefit from a shift away from the practical and toward the strategic.
With eMerchandising, merchants move beyond standard A/B testing and analytic research to increase conversion rate optimization. Not that there’s anything wrong with A/B testing and analytic research, but most retailers don’t have optimized processes in place, nor do they have the amount of traffic needed to take a purely data-driven approach to product planning and store design.
Site analytics can tell you a tremendous amount, but they can’t make decisions.
The “human” element, as applied by a merchandising professional, does not simply rely on intuition, opinion or habit. Instead of only relying on analytics, merchandisers will consider product mix, customer profiles, competitive pricing and customer behavior- on a strategic level – in making tactical decisions about design and user interface (UI). Those merchandising decisions can then be tested and optimized for a much higher conversion rate.
The Customer Connection
In the gradual process of business maturation and rediscovering merchandising, eCommerce has brought the practice closer to the customer. Forward thinking eCommerce merchandising includes creative, in-depth content, easy to navigate pages and inventive interactive customer interaction through videos and state of the art photography.
Consider the example below from hubba. Their graphic doesn’t just feature video and good images as examples but also shows what social, interactive color swatches and sizing can do for products.
Magento merchants especially have a strong merchandising advantage built in the platform’s uber-flexible product categories, attributes and configurable products. Time to put them to use!
Overall retail sales rose 0.4% last month, which only represents half of the increase that most analysts anticipated. An interesting item to note was a chart that gave side-by-side results of January consumer spending for “General-Merchandise Stores.” Overall sales for January 2012 compared to January 2011 showed an increase of 5.8%. Online sales for the same segment and period showed an increase of 12.7%.
Of the 15 sectors analyzed, only one showed a negative net growth in January 2012 over 2011 (in brick-and-mortar locations)- and that was Consumer Electronics and Appliances. However, when online sales were analyzed for the same sector, it showed an increase of 3.2%.
No one needs to further preach the importance of a retailer having an eCommerce presence; that sermon has been preached many times before. However, too many times the conversation stops there and once the site is developed- some assume a “sit-and-watch” approach. Getting an eCommerce platform up is, unfortunately, the easy part. Once the site is built and deployed- the hands on, dirty part of the job begins: marketing. Companies need to develop a sound plan for SEO to make sure when keywords are typed in to Google, their widget is found. Sound strategies for email marketing, PPC, retargeting, Performance reviews, and Social Marketing need to be created and deployed.
The last decade has seen a year-over-year decrease in the importance of a brick-and-mortar location in favor of being online. Though the need for a physical location will never completely go away, being online gives your store the ability to offer a 24/7 operation to all points on the map. That alone is elementary in thinking; the post-graduate course in that education is figuring out a strategy that lets people 1000 miles (or more) away from your nearest location that you exist.
InteractOne has been eCommerce Marketing Specialists for well over a decade with experience in getting our clients “front-page” results in search engine results. We are a turn-key operation that can not only get your Magento eCommerce project deployed, but also partner with you to get your company noticed from all corners.
For their March 2012 newsstand edition, Consumer Reports printed a story that took 10 of the largest retail giants in the US and rated customer experience both “in-store” and “online.” The ten retailers researched were:
Remove two of the above for “insufficient online data” and another for yielding a tie, and ALL of the seven remaining, respondents rated their online buying experience HIGHER than their in-store experience.
Costco was their number 1 rated retailer (for both online and in-store). Everything and more is able to be purchased online through their site, which received “superior” marks on 4 out of 6 of their criteria. After a quick venture through their site I agree with their assessment: the only thing not available online was the “long check-out lines.” For what it’s worth, the 10th place retailer on their list, Walmart, isn’t an afterthought on this as only 11 points separated 1st from 10th.
The march towards retailers establishing online stores continues and shows absolutely no signs of backing off. The tradition brick-and-mortar model will never completely go away, but what these retailers have found is that customers almost universally have a better customer experience making their purchases online than they do in-store. As time goes on, retailers who have not invested time and resources into developing eCommerce shopping cart systems, will begin to feel the effects of declining sales by a more tech-savvy population that may prefer to do their shopping at home during Football commercial breaks or over lunch at a restaurant, then have those purchases “magically” appear on their front step.
Developing an online store for a retail business isn’t just reserved for the big chains or the “Amazon’s” of the world with thousands of products, professional online-stores can be started with as few as even five products. Though we have had the opportunity to work with some large and well-known household names in the retail industry, InteractOne has been in the business of moving small and medium retailers online for almost 14 years.
The Consumer Reports article referenced above can be found in their March 2012 newsstand edition .