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Go Blogging For Customers

door Marco Derksen op

Go Blogging For Customers

Whole Foods, the mammoth high-end grocer, doesn't sell its artisanal cheeses and California artichokes online. But Chief Executive John Mackey does riff about the company and its industry on his blog at Wholefoods.com. There's a good reason why more retailers are firing up their own blogs. "When you shop in a store, you're used to getting human interaction," says Paul Shrater, co-founder of Minimus.biz, a Newbury Park, Calif., seller of trial- and travel-size portions of everything from soy sauce to shampoo. "A blog is a way to humanize the retailing experience online a little bit, provide a friendlier voice and present more of a personality in dealing with customers." How do you turn a blog into an effective e-tailing tool? Follow these five guidelines:

[b]Stick To The Basics[/b]
Relevant, straight-forward commentary on your merchandise–without overdoing it–is always useful. Last year, Lauri Harrison tried to stir up some buzz for PeakUniques.com with a blog that championed her woman-owned vendors. She soon found out that what customers really wanted was the skinny on her company’s fashion accessories. “Now, the day after a blog entry about a product, we get a spurt of orders,” says Harrison, who expects to top $100,000 in sales this year.

[b]Set A Schedule[/b]
Newspaper subscribers expect the paper to show up on their doorsteps every morning. The same goes for blog readers. To get them to bookmark your blog, be sure to publish new entries at defined times. Let readers know how often to expect a new post, then deliver on that schedule without fail.

[b]Be Natural[/b]
Can’t write like Hemingway? Relax. As long as you communicate in your own natural, enthusiastic voice, customers will happily settle for insights about your company and its merchandise. “The most important thing is personality, not canned marketing-speak,” says Jason Toon, blog writer for Woot.com, an online store that sells one item per day (from coffee-makers to head phones) until it either sells out or the day ends, whichever comes first.

Then again, if you do know how to write creatively, by all means do it. Chris Linland, founder of Cordarounds–a maker of corduroy pants with horizontal whales that go “around” the leg–uses his blog to inform and entertain. The Cordarounds blog is loaded with wry humor and mythical exploits, such as the construction of a blimp to house the company’s headquarters.

[b]Appeal To The Search Engines[/b]
Creating a blog is no great technical feat. What is tricky–and really important–is boosting your blog’s rankings in the eyes of big search engines like Google and Yahoo!

One way to do that is by using “blog optimization” software. These programs are akin to search-engine optimization software, which drives eyeballs to publishers’ content. Omniture’s Blog Value Optimization program is one option. Or, if you’re an eBay merchant, check out a new program from Myst Technology Partners that displays your eBay listings right on your blog. The advantage: Blogging retailers can display individual listings without losing consumers to another link.

[b]Establish Editorial Controls[/b]
The more people who blog or leave comments on your site, the greater the chances that someone will post something unflattering, or even truly offensive. Policing a blog manually takes time, and urging your “community” to beat up on violators only works so well.

Another solution: content-monitoring software from a company like iUpload. “You can set it at whatever level you want,” says Robin Hopper, the Toronto firm’s chief executive. “It might be the George Carlin list [of expletives] or [a set of] manual controls where someone’s content has to be approved every time before it goes up.”

Bron:
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/2006/10/31/google-wholefoods-blog-ent-sales-cx_db_1031blogs.html

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