The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. What e-commerce blogs need to learn.

June 7, 20087 Comments
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Many online retailers know that one of the hardest thing to do with a newly launched e-commerce website is to get more traffic.

As blogging provides regular content to the search engines, not to mention the benefits that backlinks provide many e-commerce sites have jumped on the blogging bandwagon to try and obtain more traffic.

Some do it successfully, some don’t.

Here are some tips the larger e-commerce sites need to learn about blogging as a means of gaining traffic.

The Good

Urban Outfitters

http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/

It’s fresh, its funky, its well designed and it connects with its target audiences interests. Urban Outfitters have realised that weaving products with web news is one of the best ways to launch an e-commerce blog. The key is not to shove products down people’s throats, but instead give them a reason to return and read. Urban Outfitters have also begun to move into the social networking space, with Myspace pages setup already. If that wasn’t enough – they are text message marketing (really effective to a young audience) and offering newsletter signups. Their marketing team clearly know what direction the web is moving in.

What we can learn:

Blog with passion.
Don’t be scared of offsite linking.
Align your site with your potential readers

Firebox

http://blog.firebox.com

Firebox again mixes its marketing message in with a relaxed and funky writing style that appeals to the trendy twenty something audience that they justifiably have obtained over the past couple of years trading. The blog keeps you up to speed with how the business is thinking not just what it is doing. Its critical to connect with your audience in this way if you are going to keep them both entertained and interested. Firebox manage to do this also to great effect also with Humour, giving the entire brand a certain swagger. They are also not scared to link to interesting events etc going on around the web. This is the attitude that retailers need to take.

What we can learn:

Let your audience learn about the workings of your business
Mix your marketing message with your products
Use humour if it suits your products

The Bad

http://www.topshop.com/blog/2008/06/index.html

Topshop

Bland boring and no real substance, topshop have taken the concept of micro-blogging, and applied it to their site. The just dont get it, blogging is not *just* about regular content for search engine benefits, its about connecting frequently with your audience, and giving them content they are going to either link to, or read in depth. If blogging was just about announcing new products when they arrive on your site, then they should be twittering instead.

Take this small sample below (150 characters)

“Sharp winter sun means that having that chic pair of shades in your handbag is compulsory. We’ve had a new selection just in, so make sure you check them out.”

Im sorry but no that’s not going to attract an audience. Ok so its 10 characters more than a tweet, but still you get the picture.

Topshop do however get traffic via social media and as we’ve already seen with Urban Outfitters – aren’t the only retailers to do so. Heather Hopkins has a great post on how many e-commerce retailers including Topshop and Asos are now targetting Bebo and Myspace amongst others.

What we can learn
Blogging can work, but only if you put the effort in.
Long term trust cannot be built with short posts all the time
Even posting regular content can’t compete with flagship content.

Asos

http://blog.asos.com/

Asos, at the other end of the scale employ a writing team, and talk on their blog of recent fashion developments, celebrities, and all the sorts of things that young (women) are interested in. Its an interesting tactic, but men read blogs too, and right now – this is far too gender specific. Men want fashion tips too, and both the above two sites are guilty of exclusion. There also was no RSS feed link to be found, (unless you click directly from your browser) and as people become more technically savvy this is a major error on their part. Yes women use RSS readers as well. Another major turn off was that at time of writing, an obnoxious video from their Asos Ltd 100 party started playing WITH MUSIC ON BY DEFAULT. A major web design faux pas.

What we can learn

Don’t make your site gender specific
Make finding your RSS feed easily
If you must use sound – make sure its optional.

The Ugly

John Lewis

http://www.johnlewis.com/Shops/DSTemplate.aspx?Id=334

Again, another retailer that hasn’t caught on to what blogging around their business is all about. What they term as a blog is actually more of a news site. It has all the traits of an idea that someone suggested that might generate further web traffic, but having no conviction – actually leaves a bitter taste in readers mouths. Last updated in November the blog is dry and commercial – serving only to announce recent store openings. No subscribers, and no audience this can’t even really be called a blog. Moral of the story? If you are going to blog for traffic, put your heart and soul into it, and don’t just do it because its the latest buzzword in the marketing world.

What we can learn

You need conviction to make it
You need passion to create a worthy e-commerce blog
You can’t be too strong with your marketing message. It wont work.

Overall, the build it and they will come strategy doesn’t exist. Blogs are about building trust and community, and providing more than just products for your audience to digest. Justin Gaspard also has a great post over at Search engine World on why you need to be creating great content and engaging with your audience for your e-commerce store to succeed.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

Comments (7)

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  1. Orovo Tim says:

    The urbanoutfitter blog looks terrible in the latest version of FireFox.

  2. Paul Anthony says:

    Hi Tim,
    Seems to be sound as a pound for me. What version are you using?

  3. Ecommerce says:

    Today, internet has so much power that you can start your business in it or just get some information about new investigations in the business field. Our life is too short you haven’t spend your free tame in vain.

  4. Ben says:

    I love how powerful the internet has become as a tool for business, as said above anyone can now start a successful business without a huge start up cost. Perfect for this time of economic climate.

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