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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
PowerBlog Review: Ask Crabby
Editor's note: Welcome to the fiftieth in our regular weekly series of PowerBlog Reviews of business weblogs.

This week we review a blog that is different from any other blog we've reviewed. Ask Crabby's Gazette is a food blog, about seafood. It's also an eCommerce blog.

You knew eCommerce was coming to blogs, right? All it takes is an enterprising entrepreneur to marry the new form of website to good old fashioned eCommerce. That entrepreneur is Denise O'Berry, a well seasoned (no pun intended) blogger and Internet entrepreneur.

Denise started Ask Crabby's Gazette to complement her online seafood store, Lobster-Crab. As she says, "I wanted a way to interact with people and to be able to dynamically update the content as often as I felt necessary. A blog was the answer to that for me. Plus I felt it gave me an opportunity to reach a broader audience than just having a newsletter and a website."

Ask Crabby's Gazette offers seafood recipes, interesting seafood tidbits and facts, and special offers from the Lobster-Crab store. The offers and ads are well-integrated, being placed next to related content in the blog. Of course, smart etailers know that ads placed in proximity to relevant content have the best click-through and conversion rates.

For instance, at the bottom of a recent post entitled "Where Does Your Shrimp Come From?" Denise offers a mouth-watering text link to the Lobster-Crab store: "Plump Pink Shrimp Order Today, Eat Your Fresh Shrimp Tomorrow!" (That's "plump pink prawns" to all of you outside the U.S., by the way.) Appealing to the senses always helps sell.

Denise stays precisely on point in Ask Crabby's Gazette. Every single post is about seafood -- the blog never deviates. One nice side benefit of this highly targeted content is that the Google AdSense ads are all for seafood, too. On all too many blogs, the AdSense ads seem all over the place and offer little value to readers. But on Ask Crabby's Gazette they work the way they are supposed to, giving readers relevant resources.

Denise offered up some practical advice for entrepreneurs considering using blogs to augment an eCommerce strategy:
"The key to success in any business blogging endeavor is to be helpful to the audience you serve. If you can make their life easier or help them find the resources they need in less time than it would normally take, you can develop a faithful following. Be consistent in communicating with your audience. Gaps in communication can be a sure way to lose that following. I like to prepare ahead with all of my blogs. I search around for useful information I can share and make sure I have enough in my holding queue to keep my blog going for at least two weeks, a month is even better. I use Google Alerts to keep me abreast of what's going on in my topic areas. I'm always on the lookout for day-to-day life experiences that can add value to my blog.

Affiliate programs and advertising will work in a blog if they follow along with the same concept of helping the audience you are serving. Everyone's been through at least one frustrating episode of searching for what you need on the Internet. If all of that can be found in one place, whether it's free, via an ad or affiliate program, it will be a useful resource to readers."
Sounds like great advice.

The Power: The Power of Ask Crabby's Gazette is in the way the blog complements an eCommerce strategy. By combining relevant, frequently-updated content along with ads and special offers, the reader has a good foundation to read and then buy.
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