E-commerce has certainly come into its own in the past two decades. Many sellers are now moving their enterprises from brick-and-mortar shops to digital storefronts, which effectively means going global immediately. Marketing an e-commerce business is its own art and science, and it can be difficult for new entrepreneurs to get their bearings in this lucrative online marketplace. Here are six fundamental steps to success in marketing your e-commerce business.
1. Know Your Business Well
The first step to owning a business of any kind is to have a keen awareness of how it operates. That sounds pretty basic, but many new online sellers are surprisingly ignorant of the nuts and bolts of their own operation. One important thing you can do in this regard is to keep an eye on your various business metrics. Examples of these are average deal size, sales cycle length and employee turnover rate. These figures quantify and measure multiple aspects of your venture’s overall productivity. Some of this information can be gleaned from your general ledger, which is a summarization of all business transactions (such as sales and purchases) and should be updated every time a transaction is done. Make sure to keep your ledger secure, and ideally save all of your revenue and cost data in multiple formats to make cross checking your numbers simpler and more accurate.
2. Learn Your Market
You’ll never be able to successfully sell products to an audience that you don’t understand. Marketing research campaigns are how you gain information about your potential customers. Focus on statistics like customer satisfaction with your business, consumer expectations and attitudes, and even their habits and personal beliefs. This will allow you to tailor what you’re offering to current trends in the market. One good way of accomplishing this is through surveys and polls emailed out to your customers or placed on your websites. You can customize these surveys to include whatever metrics you wish, then analyze that data. A more qualitative and personal approach is the focus group. These can be done either online or in-person depending upon circumstance. Either will let you keep informed about the feelings and needs of your customer base.
3. Market on Social Media
There’s no way to be competitive in e-commerce without a solid social media presence. Your market won’t know you exist unless you make the effort to tell them that you do. This means a lot more than just advertising your business in your personal Facebook posts. First, your business should have an official website even if you’re not selling directly from it, since this adds to the public’s impression of your legitimacy. Believe it or not, there is actually a science to website design, and because of this the layout, typography and even color scheme of your site can be tooled to visually convey trustworthiness and credibility.
In addition, it’s important to spread out your marketing among multiple social media platforms, especially if those platforms are specifically geared towards what your business is offering. Certain sites like Pinterest and Instagram are optimized for visual information, so if you’re selling something that’s eye-catching, post about it on sites like these. If you’re selling fashion, think about starting a vlog that showcases your outfit try-ons. Regularize your posting schedule so that your customers have something to look forward to. Consistency builds trust. Don’t forget, social media is your customers’ best way to reach out to you as well, so be prompt with responses to questions and concerns.
4. Partner With Influencers
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is quite simply the most valuable form of advertising you can get. According to Nielsen research, a staggering 92% of consumers say that they value the word of family and friends more than any other channel. Creating that kind of local buzz is a good place to start; however, word of mouth marketing isn’t limited to a close circle of friends and relations. In a global marketplace, it never can be. This is why you should build strategic partnerships with influencers in your industry. Reach out to bloggers and see if they’d be willing to review any of the products that you’re selling. Be sure to like their social media pages and to repost their messages in return. If they have a YouTube presence, simply commenting on their videos boosts that video’s position in the algorithms that govern viewer recommendations. Remember, building your partners up helps to build you up in return, so be supportive and create personal friendships with the big names in your field.
5. Create Email and Text Marketing Campaigns
Email and text marketing campaigns remain the unsung heroes of the online marketing world. The truth is that email marketing campaigns have a return on investment (ROI) of up to 38 times the campaign’s input capital; email marketing costs virtually nothing but time to implement and email remains the mainstay of business communication. Unsolicited text messages aren’t popular, but once a consumer has opted-in to receive them from a given company, about three-quarters of consumers are fine with getting these messages; in fact, text messages from a brand have a higher response rate than email and customers continue to redeem coupons sent by text at a higher rate than ones sent via other methods.
6. Utilize Multiple Sales Channels
So-called “multichannel selling” is becoming increasingly popular in e-commerce. This involves using a mix of platforms for selling your products and typically includes online marketplaces (like Amazon), mobile marketplaces (like Wish), personal website shopping and of course physical storefronts. Having a mix of fronts allows you to market to multiple demographics and to tailor the shopping experience itself. The face of consumer demand is ever changing, and it’s up to you to be responsive and versatile in your response to those trends.
With online commerce booming, competition has never been more fierce or more profitable. Putting serious effort into creating an online presence is more critical than ever. The key is to make your presence and influence both broad and deep. In this way, you can keep your business strong and agile in an ever-changing world.