Many of the most successful online shops have blogs. Aside from the fact they help you rank better with the search engines, they allow you to develop and share content that shows your readers just how much you know about your products — and their needs.
If your online store is on a tight budget, a blog is a natural fit. You write the content once and it’s out there, attracting hundreds (or thousands) of new readers each week. And except for the initial design and your time writing the posts, it’s free.
But what about sales? Can your blog be a sales funnel that helps you bring in more customers? Yes, and here’s how.
A good sales funnel involves educating your readers.
Yes, the golden rule still applies: know your reader. But keep in mind, depending on where they are in the sales cycle, their needs will be different. Some might be hitting you for the first time after finding you in a Google search. These readers might be ready to buy the instant they land on your blog, but in most cases, they will be at the beginning of their purchase process — the research phase.
This might seem counter-intuitive to making more sales from your blog, but the more you answer your readers’ questions, the more they will trust you when it comes time to buy. All the better if you answer questions that they might be afraid to ask.
REI, the premier outdoor gear and adventure company, does a great job of this on their blog.
It’s a fear we all have. We’re in the great outdoors and not only will there not be a toilet around, but there is no toilet paper to be found, either.
REI solves this urgent problem with a single blog post. This level of credibility boosts their brand and helps with their overall sales funnel.
Get the mobile usability issues sorted out.
According to the Internet Retailer 2016 Mobile Guide, in the U.S. alone, mobile commerce sales were 29.7 percent of all commerce sales in 2015.
You have probably heard it before, but I’ll tell you again. Make sure your blog and website are maximized for tablet and smartphone users. Why not catch them as they are out and about with a few minutes on their hands? It might be just enough time to read your blog post. Or make a purchase.
Check things like how much scrolling your users have to do and how easy or hard it is to comment. If you see problems, get them fixed.
Blog about ways to use your products.
If you can make your products more useful and appealing to people, you’ll naturally increase your chances of bringing in more revenue.
This blog post focuses on chocolate-themed entertaining. It placed ideas in readers’ heads that they might not have considered to make a holiday event or dinner truly extraordinary. From chocolate tastings and pairings to preparing a special chocolate-infused dinner with chocolate-based cocktails, readers are are looking at Godiva chocolates in brand new ways.
How does this play into the sales funnel? When readers are given new ways to use your products, it’s likely that at least some of them — current customers or not — will be intrigued and motivated enough to make a purchase.
Engage your readers wherever and whenever you can.
Special offers exclusively for your blog readers, posts that inspire people to comment, and storytelling are all ways to keep your readers engaged.
Captivated readers are more likely to be engaged with you and your brand.
In fact, a recent study showed that close to 300 percent more people read a post to the end when it had a story in it, and the average time on page was more than five times higher.
Be selective with your calls-to-action and make them pop.
Don’t be afraid to link to a product in a blog post, so long as it’s relevant to the topic at hand or solves a problem or need described in the content.
Don’t promote in every post and don’t use annoying hard-sell tactics.
Some of the best calls-to-action I see don’t hit the reader over the head in the post. It is just as effective, probably more, to have a banner ad or other graphics above and/or below the post, leaving it to the reader to make the connection.
Your blog, first and foremost, should be a tool for getting your readers into the sales funnel and turning them into loyal customers. Keep their needs and wants front and center, and you’ll be able to craft compelling content that also results in conversions. If you can do that, all your time and effort will be worth it.