The search engines are all about blogs, but turning that traffic into a selling vehicle is another story.
Not so for eHobbies.com, which says it has watched its conversion rate double from the normal 2 percent to 4 percent whenever site users visit one of its blogs. Since adding blogging to its site in May, 5 percent of the company's overall traffic comes from its main blog destination, www.ehobbies.blogs.com. In addition, 5 percent of all orders have recently tracked to a blog-based coupon.
Blogging also is paying off in the company's search engine strategy. As one example, the retailer has climbed from the 18th to the third position on Google when searching for Nomadio-branded digital radio control systems. The result occurred without paying for placement.
“One of the great side effects of blogs is that they are search engine friendly,” said Seth Greenberg, CEO of eHobbies.com, La Mirada, CA. “Once we realized this, we made a point to include better descriptions in blog posts. We look at blogs as an extension of our organic search engine marketing strategy. Paid keyword placements are costly and must be managed responsibly. We have thousands of products, so the more we show up organically in search, the less we need to rely on pay per click.”
Greenberg's site uses what can be described as playful text to help convert readers into customers. A recent blog headline announcing “DO NOT READ THIS POST” was used to lure visitors into learning that the site was running a no-minimum-order, limited-time free shipping offer.
The site has maintained a $75 average order even with the increase in traffic while using blogs to offer hobby news, radio-controlled toys, plastic models, kites and science kits. The company also uses photos of its everyday business processes and pictures and video from consumer hobby shows to pique viewer interest. Taking customers behind the scenes via the Internet builds loyalty, Greenberg said.
“We try to lift up the covers and show the customers what is behind our operations, what our warehouse looks like,” he said. “We want to show them the menu of our local sandwich shop and introduce our customers to our employees, who are also avid hobbyists. My view is that a blog is an ongoing diary. It's essential to keep it fresh with a voice of continuity.”
The blogging trend doesn't appear to be going away soon, and perhaps for good measure. A recent study by online market research firm comScore Networks, Reston, VA, found that shoppers who visit blogs spend 6 percent more than the average customer.
Like eHobbies.com, jewelry site Ice.com said its search performance has jumped since introducing blogs six months ago. The jeweler's keyword “diamond pendant” climbed from 31st to 16th in Google searches while “discount earrings” rose from 30th to sixth and “gold rings” ascended from double digits into the fourth spot. Page impressions at www.ice.com increased 30 percent in the period, said Pinny Gniwisch, vice president of marketing at Ice.com, Montreal.
“The page impressions tell us that people are spending more time at the site because of the blogs and are more likely to both purchase and come back,” Gniwisch said. “The investment to blogs has paid off in the sales coming from them. However, we are not necessarily looking at sales as the end-all barometer. We are also looking at the whole package: PR, site ranking, traffic and being in the forefront of online marketing.”
To make the effort click, Ice.com uses four freelance writers who invented characters like “Icegrrl” and “Rahulio” at the retailer's chief blog destination, www.sparklelikethestars.com. The fictitious entities hold court daily with a range of opinions on celebrity gossip and news, but the articles always end with a jewelry pitch.
In a recent column, Rahulio waxed on about Jennifer Garner kicking some “Alias” bad guys, then segued into a pair of long dangling earrings the actress was photographed wearing recently.
“If you young ladies are also wanting to be hypnotizing the boys with the dangly danglies, or perhaps like the Jennifer wanting to distract from your cheekbones that are being alarmingly manly (ooh! the Rahulio he is so bad!), maybe you should be wearing these long gold flower dangle earrings, for the price that is very very very low at only 50 of the dollars,” Rahulio wrote.
The blogs are about creating a following, Gniwisch said.
“The key to converting sales with blogs is relevant content,” he said. “You need to create blogs that you think your customers would find interesting, and then you need to find a unique voice that compels the customer to want to come back and read the content regularly.”
Christopher Heine covers CRM, analytics and production and printing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters