How To Grow Your Ecommerce Blog


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During the early days of MyNappies (our online baby retail store) we had a blog attached to our site but were unsure what approach to take with it. We Initially arrived on the idea to use it as SEO-based posts to drive visitors for keywords. This resulted in consistence traffic being driven to our site from these posts, however there was little user engagement (comments, signups, shares).

After many discussions between the team, we knew we wanted to create a community on our blog. Our customers (mums of young children 0-3 years) love to talk, in particular love to talk with other mums. We knew our job was to foster this interest and make it easy and worthwhile for mums to talk on our blog.

We had just one issue – at the time our team consisted of four males aged between 18 to 30, none of whom had kids. So we had two options:

  1. Spend hours researching into the habits of mums online when it comes to communication i.e. study forums that mums hang out to find relevant topics. We would then need to write these posts ourselves, or more likely pay a mum to write the posts for us.

  2. Partner with influential audience members and get them to produce content for our blog – at no charge.

Clearly option number 2 is the more appetising for a young, cash-strapped startup.


Step I: Find The Influential Audience Members

We asked ourselves: Outside of social media where does your audience talk online?

The answer will likely include one or more of the following categories; forums, news sites, blogs.

In the past we had spent sometime on ‘mummy forums’ but struggled to become a respected part of the group as many had been there for 6+ months. News site will always be an option, however the ones that catered towards our audience were not a plenty at the time. This left us with blogs. After looking into Australian mum bloggers, we saw the opportunity to connect with them was huge.

After getting our V.A. to gather the contact information for 115 Mum Blogs, we split the blogs into three categories:

  1. 6 had 10,000+ subscribers/followers

  2. 72 had 1,000+ subscribers/followers

  3. 37 had <1,000 subscribers/followers

Our plan was to targeted categories 1 and 2 first, and only if we did not get a positive response would we look into connecting with category 3.


Step II: The Approach

We asked ourselves: What do bloggers want?

New subscribers and audience engagement (comments, shares etc.)

We wanted to get exposure to the bloggers audience as they were our customer demographic.

+

The blogger wanted to be exposed to our customer base as it’s their audience demographic.

= Win / Win Scenario


Step III: Initial Contact

Ordinary we would never open the script by talking about ourselves, however in this case using our business validated us and put us in a position of power. Despite being a startup we had designed our site to look like it was run by a large ecommerce business to convey trust.

In the first paragraph we indirectly flattered the blogger by implying they are knowledgeable and display passion for their work. This puts them in a more open mind set as they read our email. We then present the benefit to them of being exposed to our audience. We then finished with an open ended offer, saying ‘we can discuss the fit further’, implying we are not 100% sure if they are right for this, and that they will need to qualify themselves still.

Subject: Following up

Hi {FNAME}

My name is Toby Schulz and I am from MyNappies.com.au.

We are looking to work with a handful of knowledgeable blog writers from different backgrounds who are passionate about helping out busy mum’s by providing information across a number of topics. I believe we might be able to add value to mother’s together.

If you would like to increase your exposure to a new audience and this sounds like something you are interested in please drop me an email and we can discuss the fit further.

Warm Regards,

Toby

Results: We emailed 78 blogs, of which 54 responded. 40 of these responses were open to finding out more while the remaining 14 were too busy or not interested at this point in time.


Step IV: The Interview

The bloggers wanted exposure to our audience, and we wanted exposure to theirs. Instead of having them write a guest post on our blog, we thought our audience would enjoy an interview with the mum bloggers. From our research mum bloggers rarely interviewed one another, rather relying on guest posts. This enabled us to approach the community from a fresh and interesting angle.

Below is the script we sent to the 40 bloggers who responded positively to our initial email. We kept this email short and to the point. We flattered them once again, then straight up asked for the interview and indicated it would be on our blog. This would be a relief to the bloggers as it means no editing is involved on their end, and all they are required to do is answer some questions not write an entire post.

Performing an interview also enabled us to move quickly, as the bloggers did not require a large block of their time to answer the questions.

Hi {FNAME},

Great to hear back from you.

After reading through some more posts on your site, I think our community at MyNappies would love to get to know someone as interesting as yourself better! Would you be open to interview on our blog?

Look forward to hearing from you {FNAME}!

Warm Regards,

Toby

Results: Of the 40 emails we sent, we received a Yes from 34 (85% conversion).


Step V: The Interview

There is little point providing you with the questions we asked the mum bloggers, however it is important to note that besides from a few plain questions (what’s your background, family etc.) we made the questions unique and interesting.

In the few interviews we found where a mum blogger was the subject, the questions were what you would expect from the typical blogger interview:

  • Tell us more about your blog?

  • How did you build your blog audience?

  • What social media do you use?

  • How do you come up with topics?

This is crap. The questions are vague, there is no personalisation and no blogger would get excited answering these questions. Here are how we would rephrase these questions after spending five minutes looking at their blog:

  • What motivated you to start your blog and what keeps you going?

  • What campaign have you relied upon to grow your subscriber base to the impressive number it sits at currently?

  • I see your Twitter has the largest following of any of your social media accounts, was this a conscious choice? What has worked for you in growing your followers?

  • Aside from your always amusing ‘mummy rant’ posts, how do you decide what to post about? Do you limit yourself to certain topics – if so why?

5 minutes… That is all it takes to turn plain, run of the mill interview questions into personalised and thought provoking questions. Your audience is make more likely to comment and share the material they read if it’s unique and informative.


Step VI: Spread Like Jam

Once we had received the interview responses from the bloggers we would provide them with a window of when it would go live on our blog. After posting the interview we would email the blogger with the following script:

Hi {FNAME},

Your interview is now live: url here

We will be sharing this with our blog subscribers, and will make a post on Facebook and Twitter linking to the interview. This Friday we will also put a link to the interview in our sales newsletter.

Please feel free to share the post with your community.

Speak soon,

Toby

With this script we do not specifically ask the bloggers to spread the post, however by showing them how we are sharing with our community, it encourages them to repeat the process with their community.


Our Results

Once this campaign was finished the number :

  • 26 interviews posted to our blog

  • 10,300 unique visitors to the posts

  • 1638 signups from those visitors

  • 274 total comments on the interviews


Key Lessons

  • Know your goal and make all your decisions with this in mind.

  • Creating trust with your customers can be a long process – shortcut this by partnering with people they already trust and are relevant to your business.

  • Before making contact with potential partners make sure you know what their ‘wants’ are. Cater your approach to this and create win-win situations.

  • Copy is a game-changer. If your script is not working, revise it!

  • Be unique in everything you do (approach, content)
  • Jay

    I love this strategy. So many sites put blogs up for the sake of it and have the usual posts about new products and sales. This is an easy way to get valuable and interesting content without having to produce it yourself.

    • Toby Schulz

      That’s it exactly Jay. We couldn’t produce high quality or relative content for our customer, so we got them to do it for us. Thanks for reading Jay.

  • Tim Davies

    Impressive results Toby. From reading a few of your posts it seems like you guys put considerable effort into the copy side of things and also link alot of your results to these efforts. I have limited experience with copy, is there any particular resources you suggest as a basis for my learning?

    • Toby Schulz

      http://www.nevblog.com/

      He was my go to resource. I actually bought both of his courses from Appsumo.com. Just search for ‘Kopywriting Kourse’.

      He is also has this small book out that works as a go to guide for when you are writing sales copy: http://kopywritingkourse.com/book/ It is $5

      This would be a solid starting point Tim.

  • Zoe

    Love that you share the exact scripts :-) I am going to make use of the introduction script, it is perfect!

    • Toby Schulz

      Happy you got something from the post Zoe!

  • Brian Mo

    Impressive results from the campaign. You set the campaign up well for your audience/customer base – moms. I assume getting them to engage with comments, shares was quite easy. Your job was to provide the context and platform for them to do so?