We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard that Internet marketing will not work in an “old school” marketplace. It doesn’t get much older school than the grocery food business, yet organic seller Whole Foods Market is using its Whole Story blog to “share some of the cool things going on inside the company as well as the natural foods industry,” according to Paige Brady, the Senior Coordinator of the Integrated Media Editorial Team for Whole Foods Market. You can find their blog at blog.wholefoodsmarket.com.
Instead of simply posting store hours or coupons on their site the way many grocery stores do, Whole Foods is creating remarkable content on its blog that pulls in new customers, enables them to connect more deeply with those customers, and makes it easier for customers to spread the word. Whole Foods is doing many things right on their blog, so let’s go through some of their best practices.
Whole Food’s content is remarkable. Because Whole Foods has been creating remarkable content since July 2006, its blog is now a major, sustainable asset to them with over 1600+ pages in Google’s index eligible to rank for different search terms. Over 12,000 other websites link to these 1600 pages, giving Whole Foods 12,000 ways in which new customers can find them. This relatively large number of links tells Google that the Whole Foods blog is worthy of ranking for many important terms. Whole Foods also has tens of thousands of blog subscribers who get notified and sent a link every time the company posts a new article. The pages, the links, and subscribers are a major permanent asset to Whole Foods.
In our opinion, they set up their domain right: blog. wholefoodsmarket.com. Rather than create a new brand to keep track of, they made the blog a sub-domain of their main website- a practice that’s becoming more common. According to Brady, the company is lucky to have a “whole bunch of smart, passionate people doing incredible work in all areas like organics, supporting local growers, green practices, Fair Trade, micro-lending, and all kinds of food related stuff. We have a chief “hunter-gatherer” for the blog to make sure we don’t miss important stores and we invite our team member experts to write their own posts as well.”Content on Whole Story includes straight articles, guest recipes, contests and video and is created by over 20 employees.
Whole Foods is particularly adept at writing clever, short article titles that are easy to spread virally within the social mediasphere, including:
Natural Approaches To Allergies
And The Green Prom Winner Is. ..
Pregnancy-A Time To Go Natural
The combination of pithy titles and good articles is one reason why the company has over 1.8 million Twitter followers and over 460,000 Facebook followers.
Brady adds that another important aspect of the blog is “continuing the conversation through comments from our readers. We have an educated customer base and they ask excellent questions, which we answer either in the comments section or by posting a new blog entry. It’s very important to us that we engage with our readers.” The proof is in the pudding, as they say, as Whole Story is read by tens of thousands of subscribers.
The Whole Story team are masters of the soft sell. It is very hard to acquire subscribers and get lots of other websites to remark about you if your blog is overtly selling your products. Approximately 90 percent of Whole Foods’ blog content does not sell their products at all. A great example of a soft sell article is one concerning a sheep’s milk cheese called Mons Cazelle de Saint Affrique. Instead of talking about the product itself (and why people should buy it) the cheese buyer wrote about the romantic town in which the cheese is made, how it’s made, and the people who make it. The article ends with the following: “Either way it is a fantastic cheese that we are offering you during the month of April. Welcome spring with a lovely, young cheese from France, and hurry since it may not be around long!”
This article is an excerpt from the book “Inbound Marketing” Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.