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The Shopify Blog – The biggest missed opportunity for small merchants

Shopify has written that not having an ecommerce blog is a huge missed opportunity for online merchants. And yet, blogging is the most underleveraged ecommerce marketing activity for Shopify stores. The Shopify CMS, which powers the blogs of the majority of Shopify stores, fails to provide the functionality ecommerce merchants need in a CMS if blogging really is to live up to its potential. 

If small ecommerce brands do not blog, they cut out arguably the most important marketing strategy for increasing organic traffic, repeat traffic, and brand differentiation that occurs when products and storytelling are woven together with artful copy. But blogging for ecommerce, even on the Shopify CMS, is not always easy or intuitive.

The Power of Shopify Blogs

We’ve worked with hundreds of Shopify stores over the last few years, and only a handful of them were actively blogging prior to using our tools. The reasons for this are clear:

  • Blogging is not easy. It takes time, energy, and money to blog effectively. 
  • Facebook has made it easier for brands to acquire customers through paid social, which has conditioned ecommerce marketers to optimize for direct response advertising, rather than thoughtful inbound marketing and brand marketing. 

More and more stores though are beginning to recognize the importance of blogging for brand building, email marketing, and SEO fortunately. This evolution seems driven by the increase in advertising costs as more and more brands advertise on the same platforms. Mary Meeker’s simple but poignant reminders (below) from her state of the internet report articulate the challenges that have faced many direct to consumer ecommerce merchants. Her two equations summarize this well:

Shopify Blog - Reality of publishing
Shopify Blog - ideas

But there’s more to the story than the gold rush caused by cheap advertising. Beyond the fact that blogging requires work, skill, and commitment, blogging is also enabled or impeded by content management technology, and in the case of Shopify’s CMS, ecommerce merchants have access to a surprisingly low-functionality CMS. 

The three essential marketing platforms for most ecommerce stores are: ESP/CRM + Shopping Cart + CMS. Leading ESPs (e.g. Klaviyo, Mailchimp, etc) are exceptionally high functioning tools. Shopify as a store builder is a phenomenal product. A product designer I respect highly recently described Shopify’s store building experience as “elegant and intuitive in the extreme.” But the Shopify blog, which serves as the third system of record for nearly 1 million ecommerce stores, is little more than a basic WYSIWIG editor. As my designer friend remarked, “but when you try to create a blog, the experience devolves dramatically.”

Shopify blog post reference image

What the Shopify Blog is Missing

No templates, or data-driven recommendations, no content libraries to accelerate creation. Shopify’s CMS doesn’t help marketers achieve content marketing best practices and more specifically does not:

  • Provide templates for producing better content faster
  • Identify what content is winning with various audiences and why 
  • Recommend content to create based on audience interests 
  • Easily embed products and forms into content to convert readers
  • Quickly/easily allow marketers to optimize content for SEO
  • Integrate seamlessly with Social platforms and ESPs to fuel content campaigns and segmented email journeys

If content is the fuel of the modern marketing engine, then a low functionality CMS is is like a leak in the gas tank and is highly problematic for small businesses trying to compete with Amazon for a couple of reasons:

  • Intelligent creativity is impeded — Without the tools to give their products and their brands a robust sense of story and thoughtful copy, it’s difficult for merchants to create performant content at the pace, and with the intelligence, necessary to compete. 
  • There’s no way to leverage the blog to send better email – Once readers become subscribers, it’s important to keep them engaged with relevant content when they’re not ready to buy. But without content segmentation and insights, it’s really difficult to understand what topics resonate with your audience and segment email according to content preference.

The future of ecommerce success depends on great products and good branding. Blogging is the most important bridge ecommerce marketers have between their products and their brands, between performance advertising and brand advertising. 

In order for the blog to realize its potential, ecommerce marketers will need to reacclimate to the necessity of inbound marketing, and technology vendors will need to drastically improve the content management functionality of the CMS so that it makes the job of creation faster, easier, and smarter. And so that it more deeply integrates content and customer data to realize the possibilities of 1 to 1 personalization.

Optimize your Shopify Blog with the Matcha Blog Creator

With Matcha, you can make your Shopify blog the biggest asset for your ecommerce business. Easily bridge content and commerce with dynamic in-line product lists and convert readers to subscribers with locked content. Finally, measure your blog’s impact on the bottom line to inform a data-driven content strategy across all stages of the marketing funnel.

Try the Matcha Blog Creator with a 7-day free trial. No credit card required.

Feature image provided by Roberto Cortese.

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