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Case Study: How a Little Sweet Talkin' on a Company Blog Led to Increased Search Engine Rankings, Sales

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Company: Fairytale Brownies
Contact: Hilary Lee, Web designer
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Industry: Gourmet food gifts
Annual revenue: $9,400,000
Number of employees: 35

Quick Read

Does a name like Fairytale Brownies guarantee a happy ending? Hardly. But that hasn't stopped the Phoenix-based gourmet gift company from cooking up win-win solutions that continue to feed its bottom line and satisfy consumer preferences.

Recently, for example, the company launched a company blog with content that speaks directly to the brownie-related topics that users are most actively searching for on the Web.

That approach is working to build more personal connections with consumers while also improving the company's rankings on search engines, introducing new customers to its business and increasing sales.


Challenge

Fairytale Brownies sells gourmet brownie gifts primarily via catalog and e-commerce. In 2008, it endeavored to improve its natural search engine rankings in order to draw in new customers and, at the same time, reduce its paid-search advertising costs.

Campaign

The company's strategy for improving its rankings and connecting with customers involved launching a company blog, which went live on September 5, 2008.

"We have a pay-per-click program, which has been successful in identifying keywords, and we figured if we could better incorporate those into our site to win natural search, it would be less expensive for us," said Hilary Lee, Web designer at Fairytale Brownies. "We heard a blog is a strategic way to do that."

In partnership with Compendium Blogware, a software as a service (SaaS) blogging platform built for businesses, Fairytale Brownies took the following steps to ensure its new blog's success:

  1. Identifying demand: Integrating its pay-per-click knowledge with Compendium market research, Fairytale Brownies pinpointed which of the most popular keyword searches performed by users could relate to its business. Those searched terms included "gourmet brownie," "best brownie," "brownie gifts," "corporate food gifts," "kosher gifts," "ship brownies," "brownie recipes," among others.
  2. Writing to demand: The company then created blog categories based on those keywords, and various people in the company were enlisted to write blog content on those topics, making sure to use those specific words and phrases in their posts. 

    Each time a new post was created, the blog software would automatically link it to the appropriate categories, so that each category became what Compendium refers to as a "narrowly focused silo of information that ranks well in organic search and provides relevant, timely content to the searcher."
  3. Prompting reader action: Calls to action—whether to "shop now," visit the sale page, request a catalog, attend a sponsored event, comment on the blog, participate in contests, or follow the company on Twitter—were regularly incorporated into the posts to increase reader engagement and help drive sales.
  4. Ensuring quality and control: As Web designer, Lee took ownership of the blog and served as the centralized control custodian, delegating who would blog about which topics and approving all posts for publication by checking for quality, relevance, and effective use of keywords.
  5. Generating additional traffic and link love: Direct links to the blog were posted on the company's homepage, included in all transactional emails and order delivery confirmations, added to all staff email signatures, and promoted on the company's Twitter and Facebook profiles in order to supplement the traffic coming through the search engines.

Results

Some seven months in, Fairytale Brownies now ranks within the top 5—and in some cases at No. 1—for popular keywords such as "gourmet brownie," "brownie gifts," "brownies online," and "delivery brownies." As a result, Lee said, the company has been able to "cut back dramatically" on its paid sponsorship listings.

The blog has also helped to generate new traffic and sales. In the six months after its launch (through March 2009), the Fairytale Brownies blog had received over 11,000 visits, more than 85% of them unique. And those visits have already resulted in $6,500 worth of directly attributable sales on the company Web site as well as 150 catalog requests, according to Lee.

Lessons Learned

Generate content to increase your natural-search rank

Search engines, which attempt to deliver results that best match their users' search requests, love fresh content that appropriately incorporates the search terms that their users are typing in (i.e., copy that uses those keywords and phrases in context, as opposed to stuffing them into tags or listing them in bulk on the page).

By reworking your copy—or, better yet, launching a blog that is regularly updated with new content—you can help your rankings rise to the top.

Take advantage of the opportunity to create interaction

Once you draw readers in, make an effort to build a relationship and keep them coming back; you can do so by providing value rather than always pushing the sale.

To some degree, Fairytale Brownies has the advantage of offering a product that people like to talk about, but if your product or service is not quite as appetizing, try writing about topics that relate in some way to your business, industry, or expertise but also directly correspond to users' personal interests or needs.

An example might be tips for new moms if you're an infant-supply company, or concert reviews if you're a guitar manufacturer. Integrating reader contests and polls is another way to keep the blog interesting and further build that connection with readers and customers.

Urge readers to take action

With regular calls to action, Fairytale Brownies helps convert blog readers into qualified leads for its e-commerce site, thus helping to drive sales. The company has also found this tactic to be effective for drawing traffic to its tradeshow booth and company-sponsored events.

Other effective business-building calls-to-action include prompts that encourage readers to download whitepapers, sign up for a company newsletter, or schedule product demonstrations, according to Compendium.

Got a tempting marketing campaign? Email CaseStudies@MarketingProfs.com and tell us how you're hitting the sweet spot.

Related Links

Looking for some help in creating your own effective blog-marketing program? Check out SmartTools: Blog Marketing part of our online SmartTools Web service exclusively for Premium Members. This online toolkit will help you rapidly build, promote, and evaluate a high-impact blog marketing program.

Premium Plus Members may also enjoy viewing Not Blogging Yet? What Marketers Need to Know to Get Started and Next Steps with Your Blog: Building Excitement, Readership and Community, a blogging "how-to" seminar doubleheader by blog marketing expert Mack Collier.

We hope these resources help you boost lead generation for your company by establishing an effective blog-marketing program.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.

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