Building a great website is important but unless people know that it’s out there you are not going to sell any products. This is the most important lesson in eCommerce success.
You are better to have a 1 page website with 1 product to sell and a comprehensive marketing plan and budget, than 1000 products on an amazing website and no resources to let people know about it.
So what are we talking about when we say marketing? Well the first thing to realise is that it’s not JUST Advertising we are talking about when we say Marketing, although it is one of the channels used in marketing online stores.
Here is a list of Marketing Channels inspired by one of our favourite marketing books Traction to give you some ideas when brainstorming your marketing plan.
Branding: The starting point to all marketing activity is to have a consistent, audience tested and well defined brand guidelines. This goes beyond just a nice logo – brand colours, imagery, icons, fonts and descriptions of your ideal customers all play into creating a “brand voice”.
Once this is established it will be SO much easier to build the rest of your marketing and advertising materials and you will get much more value from your communications.
If you are going to be running the business, the most important thing when it comes to marketing your online store is that you are proud of your brand. This is the face of your store and if you are not so in love with it that you want to show it to everyone, then you are going to struggle. Big time.
Targeting Blogs: finding blogs that appeal to the same audience as your products is a great way to reach established markets for what you are selling. You could reach out to advertise on the site, offer the owner of the blog a discount code for their readers or even contribute a guest post to help establish credibility.
Publicity: this is the art of getting noticed in the media. The most common way is to reach out with a story or educational piece of writing to media outlets that highlights your brand in some way. It could also include competitions or publicity stunts.
Search Engine Marketing: This channel is dominated by Google Adwords where marketers around the world spend more than $100m per day to get the attention of users as they make Google searches.
Social and Display Ads: Display ads are typically the image banners linking to websites that you see on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as well as news websites and blogs.
Offline Ads: These include TV, magazine, newspapers, billboards and direct (junk) mail. There is still a lot of money spent on offline advertising and if you have an audience that consumes a lot of offline media then this should be a consideration in your strategy.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Is the process of increasing your position in the Search results for search engines such as Google. Identifying words and phrases that your target customers are using to search for products and including them in your websites metadata is the key to this process. SEO is a long game though and worth getting some expert advice on and investing in software like SEMrush once you have a plan in place to make the most of this channel.
Content Marketing: This covers the process of creating interesting relevant blog and infographic content on your website and social media channels. This can encourage traffic via links to your site, has SEO advantages and provides content for email newsletters and social media posts.
Email Marketing: A key channel for ecommerce, building your email list allows you to cultivate a personal connection with your customers, keeping them in touch with your sore and products as they develop.
Viral Marketing: Hype aside, the technical definition of Viral marketing is getting your customers to refer other customers. If every person you reach with a piece of marketing or that buys something on your website tells another person about it you have created exponential growth and “gone viral”
Branded Functionality: Creating online tools that are useful, not just informative for your market is a great way to spread the word. Examples might include calculators, forms, surveys or other handy widgets that fulfill a need for potential customers and can be used to promote your store at the same time.
Collaboration: Creating joint marketing promotions with brands that you share a target audience with is a great way to expand your reach and gain credibility by association. Offering discounts to their customers, developing complementary products or sharing advertising costs are examples how collaboration can work.
Conversion Optimisation: in this case we are talking about the process of converting a visitor to your website to a sale. There is an art to reducing any friction points that might cause a customer to abandon the sale. Establishing a “Sales Funnel” involves tracking the steps the customer takes from the first point of contact – whether is your website directly, or an ad, email or search result – to the point where they have paid for a product on your site (converted).
Seeing where the customer is falling out of “the funnel” allows you to focus on improving areas of the process to increase conversions.
Affiliate Programs: When you set up an Affiliate Program you are encouraging people to promote your online store or products in exchange for a commission on the sales that come from their recommendations. Most shopping carts have plugins that can be used to automate the tracking and payment of commissions to your affiliates.
Marketplaces & Platforms: Selling your products across multiple platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Facebook Stores allows you to reach a wider audience. There are ways to share your product inventory with these other marketplaces, as well as your website so you can take advantage of all available sales channels without accidentally selling products you don’t have.
Community Building: Bringing a group of people together around a subject that is relevant to your products or brand is a great way to build loyalty and credibility. You can use Facebook groups to easily manage the process online or tools such as Meetup.com to organise offline events where you can introduce people to your store face to face.
Remarketing: this is a specific type of advertising that tracks visitors to your website and shows them display ads as they surf the web or Facebook. You can even show products that customers may have shown an interest in or left in their shopping cart. Although generally thought of as a little creepy, remarketing, also referred to as retargeting has a proven increase in conversions.
Video Content: creating content for the worlds second biggest search engine “Youtube” is a great way to provide a more engaging presentation of your product. You can also take the opportunity to tell your story and create a personal connection between the viewer and yourself.
Celebrity Marketing: There are a number of agencies set up to engage the new batch of Instagram and YouTube “celebrities”. Using this form of Product Endorsement has a proven track record in promoting online stores but can be expensive initially.
Social Media Marketing: This is similar to content marketing but is more focused on using the tools specific to the platform. In the case of Facebook you would be creating a strategy to maximise likes, create advertising optmised for facebook such as sponsored posts and using the messaging features to engage your customers directly.
The world of online marketing is growing with new ways for you to spend your money every day. Once you have an understanding of the basics and have set up your social accounts, sales channels and your email marketing and have your branding guidelines then it’s time to narrow your focus.
Pick one or two channels to focus on at time, set a timeline and a budget and work out how much product you need to sell to prove that channels is profitable. Using Google Analytics is a great way to track whether the marketing is paying off.