Getting traffic and attention to your store is one of the first steps a store before you can do much conversion optimization. This applies to Shopify or as well as any other ecommerce system.
Without traffic, you won't have anyone you could convert to leads or even customers. It's one of the primarily constraints of ecommerce.
To make matters worse, traffic alone won't solve the problem.
Anyone with a few bucks can get traffic. Traffic that converts? That's harder.
Every Visitor Comes for a Reason
Each person who comes to your store is coming for a reason.
Maybe they were searching for a problem they have (SEO). Maybe they had a friend recommend you (social). Or maybe they were bored and saw an ad (PPC).
Whatever the case, they need a reason to stick around. You have seconds to give them that reason before they click back and abandon your site.
Having a unique, one of a kind, world-class product can be that reason but even then that's going to be a difficult leap to go from "I've never seen this before" to "Take my money".
An easier way is to give those people something valuable right away.
The two primary ways to give a visitor value online is to:
1. Entertain them
2. Teach them something
Entertainment feels easy and fun but it's also ultra competitive and the results will vary widely. For every viral video, there are thousands of failed campaigns and who knows how many millions wasted.
Teaching feels more difficult to do but the results can be very predictable. An article and a video explaining different ways to solve the customer's problem, one of which is using your product, will consistently produce measurable results.
It's possible to do this on social media but you run the risk of these assets disappearing. It's fairly common for the rules in social media to change which can upend the entire system. Or for social networks to collapse as a whole.
Build Marketing Funnel Assets on A Platform You Control
That's why it's important to build these top of the funnel assets someplace you control.
On Shopify, the best system is with their blogging system.
Shopify's Built-in Blogging System
All Shopify stores have blogging capabilities built-in. In fact, new stores have a blog created by default with an example post. This means there is very little setup needed before you can start using them. All you need to do is to give your blog a name, decide if you want to allow comments, and then optionally set up a Feedburner account.
Once created, Shopify blogs are integrated directly into the storefront. This means they can appear in the menus, footers, or even along with your products. This also means it's easy to have your blog posts reference your products, collections and ecommerce promotions directly.
What to Blog About?
When you start your blog you need to think of it as a place your customers would want to visit and come back to.
Earlier I mentioned creating things that will teach and educate your customers. That's one of the easiest ways to get started but don't feel like it needs to be boring.
Sure do basic things like how your product works, what it looks like, how it makes your customers life better, etc.
Don't just limit yourself to that though.
Your product lives in an ecosystem for your customers. They are using it for a bunch of different purposes. Each of those purposes can also be written about.
Let's take an example. I have a tea cup here. Nothing fancy, just a basic tea cup. Let's say you sell it.
You can write about the tea cup as a product. Its product attributes (size, material, colors available). Useful, but maybe a bit boring.
You can write about what it does for the customer. It holds a beverage, maybe some Earl Gary tea (hot). Still a bit boring for a tea cup.
Or you can look at the ecosystem.
What kinds of beverages? Tea, coffee, water. Still boring.
What types of tea? Where can someone get good tea? How do you make the tea?
Now we're getting into something interesting. From personal experience, getting into tea and coffee could easily be thousands of different articles.
Share the Spotlight
You could even create articles that share the spotlight with other companies.
Following the teacup example, maybe you could order various teas from other stores, have a taste test, and compare all of the teas in a blog post. Then there would be about a dozen product photos of your teacups but in a subtle way. Some of those tea vendors might even return favor and help you market that post.
Your customer will benefit from these articles immensely. If they cared about or were curious about tea, now your blog post has helped them understand more about and seen a variety of options. They'll be more likely to be interested in more of your articles, your email list, and ideally even your products. Really good articles would even be shared, all without you bribing them.
Using Shopify's Blogs
Now that you've thought about what to write, you can get down to the mechanics.
Shopify's blogging system is more limited than a dedicated blog system like WordPress but it's more than capable for stores.
It has the basic data you need for a blog post:
- images and videos
- visual editor
It even has some useful features like comments with moderation and scheduling posts to be published at a future date.
What's really useful is that you can run multiple blogs in your store. This can let you split up and organize your content to suit your customers.
For example, you can have a blog about how to use your products, about customer stories, about sales and deals, or anything else.
Integrate the blog into your brand
One piece of advice about using Shopify blogs is to consider calling them something different than just Blog. For many brands that's too generic of a description. Generic means boring and customers don't want to be bored.
So instead call it Makeup Makeovers, Cathy's Corner, or even something funny like The Armchair Beard Lounge.
The point is to name it something fun, memorable, and unique.
Remember how having something unique is important to attract and keep your visitors attention?
Your blog can take that place, even if your product can't.
Blogs can boost your SEO traffic
One major advantage of using Shopify's built-in blogging system is that since it's on the same domain as your store, you'll have an easier time with SEO and search engine traffic.
Search engines use a site's domain name as its bucket of trust. Every page on that domain shares in that trust and are impacted similarly when there are changes.
Get a link from a popular site in your industry? Your trust bucket fills up.
Get caught buying links to your site? Your trust bucket drains.
This shared bucket concept is important with blogging because your blog posts are more likely to attract attention and links. These are signals Google uses to give you more trust.
In other words, as your blog posts become popular and shared, your store will gain more trust in-general.
This doesn't happen if you host your blog on a different platform, a social network, or even a subdomain (blog.example.com). In those cases the majority of your blog's trust stays on your blog and isn't transferred to your store.
Customizing the Shopify blog
Every theme in the Theme Store is required to have the blog templates so you could already have a nicely designed one you can use. Some themes might need some tweaking to get the blog to look right for your brand, but the level of effort is very low.
A designer who specializes in Shopify should be able to help you change the design easily. Even designers without Shopify experience can, they just might need a bit more time to understand Shopify's Liquid language (it's easy).
For heavier customizations there are various Shopify apps that can be used to further tweak the blog. Apps that focus on the Shopify blogging system aren't as popular as more general marketing apps like Justuno but that makes it easier to compare and contrast them.
Example Shopify Blogs
To get a better idea of what you can do to customize your Shopify blog, here are a few examples.
A Book Apart publishes technical books on design and web. As you might expect from a company of web designers, they are using a custom designed Shopify blog that integrates seamlessly into their main storefront.
Instead of just one blog, Poo-Pourii has split their content into five different Shopify blogs based on the subject.
Use Shopify's blog platform!
If you're wanting to attract more visitors to your store and are considering blogging or content marketing, you should consider Shopify's blog first. It's powerful enough to get started, it has a ton of benefits because it's fully integrated into your store already, and you can get it running in under a day.
Overall it's a great way to start.
Eric Davis is founder of Little Stream Software, which builds apps to help Shopify stores improve their sales funnels.
He invites you to receive his daily tips for Shopify over at http://www.littlestreamsoftware.com/shopify-tips/.