There is no "build it and they will come" in ecommerce.
Driving sales for an ecommerce site requires raising awareness about the online store and the products it sells, all while increasing traffic to the site. Where do you start? How do you stand out in a crowd of thousands of other shops competing for the same traffic? The answer lies in your marketing strategy.
Let's break down the basics of some tried-and-true ecommerce marketing techniques.
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is the process of producing content by way of videos, blog posts, photos, infographics, or any medium that engages and appeals to your target audience.
Let's say your site sells jewelry. The holiday season is approaching, which is the ideal time for you to write a blog post titled "Picture-Perfect Holiday Looks." In the blog post, you could list the dress, jacket, shoes and the perfect accessories to complete the outfit along with the jewelry you sell. You include high-resolution images of all the products you mention and a link to the product page(s) where readers can "shop the look," aka buy your jewelry.
The ideal scenario is that a fashion-savvy woman is looking for some inspiration on what to wear for the office holiday party or Christmas dinner. She turns to searching for "holiday looks" and up pops your blog post, complete with links on how to buy the jewelry you sell. When reading the article, she likes what she sees and starts browsing your online store. Boom, sold.
Content marketing can also come in the form of how-to articles, topical posts and lists (for example, "5 Great Ways to Wear Chandelier Earrings").
2. Social media
Social media can have a huge impact on your sales figures when done right. Ideally, it should be your go-to source for turning your customers into your brand advocates.
Which social media channels should you use? Typically, the best channels for online stores are Instagram and Pinterest, although Twitter and Facebook are just as crucial. A shoppable Instagram feed can be a super way of generating revenue for industries such as fashion and home decor.
How often should you be posting on social media? Every day! But don't make your feed all about promotions for your store only. Followers don't appreciate a constant stream of strictly promos. Focus on informing and entertaining, instead of just telling them what to do. Twenty percent of your social media feed should be promotional, with the rest focused on interesting content that appeals to your audience. Don't forget to reply to comments!
Also, use your bio link wisely on Instagram. There are all kinds of services now that turn your photos into shoppable links. A couple we like are LIKEtoKNOW.it and Like2Buy. Also, keep your eye out for Instagram Shopping, which makes actual photos links within your Instagram feed.
3. Email list
It's important to have a plan for email marketing, just like your content and social media.
Start by making a list of ideas for topics (think of a calendar layout), and update it frequently with fresh ideas. You should be aiming for one email per week, which means you'll need plenty of ideas to keep you on track:
- Promote new and/or upcoming products
- Mix up product and non-product content so your email marketing doesn't feel too salesy
- Offer promotions and discounts
- Highlight relevant posts from your blog
4. PPC advertising
If you have the funds, pay-per-click advertising can be a great way to generate sales. PPC advertising works by targeting a specific audience with ads via search results and social media websites. If someone clicks on your ad, the customer gets taken to your website and you get charged a fee.
PPC marketing can be time-consuming, and for someone starting out, it can be difficult to determine ROI. If you plan on running your own campaigns, spend as much time as possible researching best practices and the keyword bidding process. If you are just too busy to learn the ins and outs of PPC, consider a media optimization solution, which takes your ads and gives you data in real time on your best ads and helps lower the cost per acquisition.
5. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you let other people market your products in return for a percentage of sales generated as a result of their efforts. Sounds easy enough, right?
To successfully use affiliate marketing, you must be able to track the source of the particular sale (for example, a unique URL on a website or a blog post). The customer would then click on the URL, which takes them to your website. If the customer makes a purchase, the tracking software will give the affiliate marketer attribution for the sale.
For affiliate marketing, you have the option of paying to be part of a network or doing it yourself. Network options include ShareASale, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), Rakuten LinkShare and Amazon Associates, just to name a few. These networks make it easy for you to connect with affiliate marketers by taking the pain out of finding them.
Ecommerce marketing certainly has a lot of options for you to consider. It's definitely not one-size-fits-all, but you can use this guide to fit your niche and build the right plan for your business.