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eTailers Jump on Blog Bandwagon

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A recent NY Times article reports that online retailers are beginning to drink the Kool-aid and jump on the blogging bandwagon. They cite specifically Ice.com, eHobbies.com, and Bluefly.com.

Two of the retailers expressed some concern over the effect their blogs will have on the bottom-line. Since the blogs include links to other sites, their marketing gurus feel it will lead readers away rather than drive traffic to their e-commerce sites. That’s a valid point, since the primary purpose of their blogs is to market and drive sales.

One retailer questioned the appropriateness of putting product links inside the blog posts. A quick review of all three blogs showed they each did, with Ice primarily using hyperlinked images of its products to draw visitors in.

Another retailer not mentioned in the article, Stone Creek Coffee, has also just added a blog. From what I can tell, the blog is part of their home page.

Bluefly asserts that their blog has had a positive effect on sales, even stating that visitors who click to the blog “have been more likely to make a purchase than those who visit Bluefly directly.” I think they call that “qualified traffic,” which is certainly one thing a blog can do for you.

Here are some random thoughts…

  • Blogging, as a marketing channel, will vastly increase in popularity over the next few months. I congratulate retailers such as these who are willing to lead the way.
  • Yes, definately include links to products in the blog posts. That’s why you have the darn thing anyway!
  • Rather than giving readers a sales pitch, tell a story. Talk about the experience of using the product. Refer to other related articles found on the web and work in a product link. Do what eHobbies does and show photos of employees having fun playing with products.
  • If blogs are going to prove themselves as viable marketing tools, then it’s imperative there be some system in place to track their effectiveness. That should be a given and not something that difficult to do. After all, blogs are just a website and you can track statistics about site visits, referers and page views, have unique URLs for each product which can be tracked through to the ecommerce site and on through to purchase, and track movement from the blog to the main site as well.

I contend that, though blogs are not for the faint of heart, they will prove themselves to have viability for retail marketing. In an ideal scenario the benefits they provide will occur in sequence:

  1. They’re niche-driven, attracting readers who are interested in the topic at hand. That’s qualified traffic. It makes sense that those will be some of the best customers.
  2. If the blogs are routinely updated, visitors will come back again and again, many of those being existing customers.
  3. Trust and brand loyalty will result.
  4. Many of these customers will become evangelists for you and talk about you via their own consumer-generated media outlets (blogs, IM, chat rooms, email, etc.).
  5. Your blog will become a center of influence around which a community of interested customers/shoppers develop.

What’s not to like about that?!

Here are links to each of the blogs mentioned: Ice.com, eHobbies.com, Bluefly.com, and Stone Creek Coffee.

[Special thanks to Rich Ottum for stimulating my thinking about this issue in two blog posts he did.]

Edited: LH
TAS: fx headline

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About Paul Chaney