So, your online shop is live, photos and product descriptions meticulously done, and it has a kickass banner to boot. Now what? You cannot just sit there, stare at its awesomeness and expect it to be the next Shopify.
The real work now starts: establishing a connection to the online community, devising a marketing strategy, following up, updating, monitoring, and hoping and praying your fate will be different than the 20% of small businesses that close shop in their first year.
It’s not an exact science, but in this post, we’ve compiled five of the most effective outreach strategies that you can adapt to drive your ecommerce business to success.
Strengthen your reputation through product referrals and reviews
Let the customers become your personal brand ambassadors and do the talking for you through online reviews and testimonials.They are important for a number of reasons, most notably in boosting SEO rankings and generating more traffic and conversion.
Customer reviews and testimonials are as influential as word of mouth, creating a story that can either build or destroy trust. In a survey by Fan & Fuel, 97% of the respondents said customer reviews factor in their buying decisions, looking for customers’ experiences and problems, handling of complaints, and consensus on whether or not the product or service lives up to their claims.
In a Deloitte Customer Review, customer reviews weigh equally with family and friends as the most trusted sources of information when making purchase decisions, followed by independent product/service experts.
To get initial reviews for your site, reach out to bloggers and industry influencers in your niche via email. As for your customers, send an email and get their response after they received their order and had some time to use it.
You can include a request for photos of the customers actually using the product, if appropriate, for more authenticity. Giving a small incentive like a coupon or a small free item motivates customers to respond. Plus, when they use the coupon, they return to your site as a repeat customer. So, double benefits on your side.
Social Media Engagement
There’s no hard and fast rule on what works and what doesn’t work in social media. It’s an ever-changing beast that you need to keep up with in order to remain relevant. While choosing social media platforms depends heavily on your target demographics and your product or service offerings, studying your competition and analyzing what works for them help as well.
E-commerce brands benefit mostly from image-led platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. With visual content marketing, both sites allow brands to create a “look” for their target audience and take a peek into the lifestyle they are promoting. When users are ready to buy, Pinterest’s buyable pins and Instagram’s Shop Now button make the process easier for them.
It’s important to study levels of engagement as well. Facebook, for instance, remains the top social network in terms of active users, followed by WhatsApp and YouTube. For some, these are the first sites they discover products and services through posts shared by a friend or peer, a form of social proof supported by human’s inherent trust in people they already know.
And since omni-channel promotion is the buzz these days, using social media management platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer is extremely useful for constant monitoring and updating. And if you’re running a blog or news feed page in your ecommerce site, don’t forget to include social media buttons for easy sharing.
Publish significant content
Content marketing solidifies your branding strategy and drives more traffic to your website. One of the easiest content marketing strategy is maintaining a blog where you can showcase your expertise in your niche.
Be it stories, advice, tips, or infographic, creating quality content that the audience wants to read and share sends signals to Google that your site matters, which also help in SEO rankings.
Writing guest posts for various websites similar to your niche also creates brand awareness, allows you to (discreetly) promote your products at no cost, and positions you as an authority in your segment. Most blogs accept guest posts as it helps them in SEO, too, by keeping their content fresh and relevant.
And as a short bio comes along with guest posts, it gives you an opportunity to tell the audience who you are and what you do and gets you to leave backlinks through your signature.
Leverage mobile technology
Mobile connectivity is a trend that will rise steadily in the coming years. By 2020, mobile and Wi-Fi will consist 66% of IP traffic, and over 200 mobile networks will include of 5G architecture by the end of 2017. This means consumer and brands can interact more in a real-time basis while on the go. Those who cannot keep up will not generate many sales and will eventually lose the race.
For e-commerce brands, these mobile marketing strategies provide invaluable resource in optimizing your mobile strategy.
- Make sure your website is prepared for mobile devices before marketing to mobile users and driving traffic to your website.
- Having a responsive design is important, ensuring customers do not have any issues with viewing product images, clicking on buttons or typing into form fields, which can act as a major deterrence in the mobile user completing the purchase.
- Users consume social media mainly on their mobile devices. Instagram and Snapchat’s full capabilities, for example, are only possible while on mobile. So, if you’re looking to penetrate your mobile audience, social media marketing is a priority.
Compelling email newsletters
Most people who visit your ecommerce sites are new visitors who either do not purchase anything or will never visit again, or both. By building an email list, you’ll retain more of the traffic you worked so hard to earn.
Together with your list, compelling email campaigns can drive repeat visits to your website. Directly communicating with the customer and keeping them updated with the latest promotions, as well as giving them incentives in the form of discounts, giveaways, or prizes make them at least read your email before deleting it. Or better yet, they’re excited to get a message from you, not just because of the incentives, but because they get valuable content from it.
For instance, Storq’s newsletter includes curated stories related to motherhood, parenting, and pregnancy, which is apt to the products it sells: fashionable clothing for expectant moms. Doing so keeps its target audience interested and prevents repetitive promotional content.
This and other tactics, like incorporating social proof from your social media sites in the newsletter, make your campaign interesting and forward-worthy.
Starting and sustaining your ecommerce business is not without difficulties. Although a lot of it depends on hard work, lacking the know-how and technical skills can contribute to failure. Choosing the right tools can help, but you’ve also got to know your strengths, match them to your customer’s needs, and then set realistic expectations and follow through.