Starting an e-commerce store can be daunting and overwhelming. Getting to your first few sales can be a large challenge, and can take a bit of time. The entire process is one to learn from, and is unique to each business. Make sure you are keeping track of your efforts, markets, sales, etc. so you may refer back to them as needed. To help you begin, we’ve created this specific tool to guide you through the e-commerce marketing process. Download the tools below:
The Digital World
Because you are selling products online, you should put a good amount of emphasis on your digital presence. The following should be a part of your digital presence:
Think of the internet as more than just a fixed spot on the web that hosts information. Your customers are using the web for much more than that, and so should you. Ensure all of your digital efforts are in concert, and provide your customers with the experience you desire for them to remember your brand by.
The first, most fundamental space on the web is your website. A place to direct customers from all corners of the internet and tell them about your product and your business. Using a website platform that is attractive, yet easy to update and manage is essential. Our recommendation is a content management system called Word Press (wordpress.org). You will need to setup a domain name (website address such as DetroitFulfillment.com) and a hosting account (a place to store the website). There are many service providers out there for this. www.JustHost.com is one that will walk you through the process step by step (click here). Or, there are more “out-of-the-box” solutions for anyone that is not familiar with how to setup a website and hosting. A great example of this is Shopify (Shopify.com). Both of these solutions have step by step instructions on setup, as well as sufficient support teams to get your site up and running.
Beyond the technical aspect of setting up your website, there are many other customer experience concerns to address. Start with developing a mission statement for your business. Put some thought into this as it should be a point of reference for many businesses and marketing decisions moving forward. Here is a template on how to create a successful and meaningful mission statement.
Similar thought should be devoted to creating the visuals for your brand, logo, colors, typeface, etc. You can speak with one of our DeFI partner companies that specialize in brand development or marketing, and they will be happy to help you get the ball rolling. Here is a quick tool that can help guide you through a fun and productive brand exercise to help you define your brand.
Assuming you have reached the point of an active website, here are some further ideas on how to generate sales.
2. Social Media and Early adopters and influencers
A presence on social media is a must for product based businesses. We recommend using Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus at a minimum. If you’re products are photogenic or can be used in a picturesque setting, Pinterest is great platform as well. Thought not all businesses need a presence on LinkedIn, it is a great idea to setup a business page, and link it to your personal profile. LinkedIn is great for letting people know what’s going on within the businesses side your company. Ie, new product releases, new website, new articles, etc. Search engines do consider social influence and presence when valuating your website content. Consider each social platform a separate fishing line, trolling for new clients. The more lines you have out there, the better off you are. Just make sure to use the proper bait.
The internet is full of all sorts of people. The [objective] beauty of this is the internet has created a space for people to talk about and share thing they like…and don’t like. There are many influencers out there with great blog sites, vlogs, writing influence, etc, and they have large social followings eager to hear what their next topic or product review will be.
Share your products with these influencers and tell them your story, you may like what you get in return. Though it may cost you a little to ship your products to them, the net return on the investment is priceless when they blog, post, share, and talk about your products. Here is a great infographic on how to properly utilize social influencers.
3. Blog about your products
Content is King! That’s what we say in the marketing industry. The more content you have out there, the more chances you have of being found. Take a look at this content marketing strategy guide to help you develop content for your brand. Back to the fishing analogy, each piece of content is a hook at the end of a fishing line that ultimately leads back to your boat, where you can make the sale, and showcase other products or services. Now, there are some things to be aware of when creating content according to this philosophy. Don’t just post blogs crammed with keywords and phrases that are nonsensical or not well created or produced. Aside from the obvious reasoning, damage to your brand’s reputation, Google and other search engines rank your content according to much more than the keyword density. The quality of the content weighs heavier than keywords in today’s digital marketing. Make sure to keep your target audience in mind while creating content. If you sell bubble gum, chances are your audience is going to want shorter, more visual, easily consumable content, as opposed to someone selling computers whose target may require greater detail and grander content.
Video blogs are of growing popularity too. Use your imagination, include a product demo or exaggeration. I’m a fan of humor, and it is the #1 most memorable way to market a product. Not every circumstance is right for humor though, there are plenty of other ways to entertain or draw attention to your products.
Get into the habit of drafting a press release for any new products, services, hiring, or major announcements related to your business. It’s also a good idea to create a simple contact sheet in your CRM or at least in Excel, where you keep contact information for local, regional, trade, and national news media. With each press release you develop, you can pick the individuals and organizations on the list to send the press release to.
Though not everyone likes getting sales type notifications, email is still (believe it or not) an effective way to communicate with your customers. Email can be used to notify customers of sales or promotions. It’s also effective for communicating contest entries and results.
There are endless email marketing tools out there. Some include more features than others, some are just email marketing. The advantage of a good email marketing tool is that it keeps track of email lists, contacts, email results including click and link stats, and timing automation.
The website recommendations we listed above will have email list integrations that allow your customers to subscribe to a contest, blog, promo, etc through the website, and connect to your email marketing tool. Here is a list of email marketing tools we recommend:
Some of these solutions include a survey tool. Surveys are a great way to get feedback on products, processes, and your business overall. Long surveys, however, are more difficult to get feedback on that shorter surveys. It’s not unheard of to create a one or two question survey that addresses specific issues or items, and use the results to enhance the customer experience.
5. Online Advertising and Tracking
Google soundly owns this market, with 3 or 4 companies trailing a bit, including Bing and Yahoo. With more than 55% of the market share of online search advertising, Google is the first place to look when spending money on online advertising. The Google AdWords platform is not quite as intuitive as one would hope. However, there are a plethora of tutorials, videos, documents, and Google AdWords advisors to help you step foot into the online advertising world. On top of that, DeFI has a great network of companies in this area that are experts in the field.
The great think about Google, and other online advertising is that it’s all very-much track able, allowing for detailed insights as to what advertisements and keywords are winning you new business. Google allows you to research keywords and key phrases, and see what is the best fit for your product. Using Google AdWords, you would then bid on your pre-determined keywords, setting a minimum cost per click, and a maximum cost per click. Google would then automatically bid on your keywords depending on your min and max in comparison with other bidders, then display the winning bidder’s ad. Of course this is a shortened version of what happens behind the scenes, but it gives you an idea of the process. Other ad-networks work in a similar fashion, using keyword and key-phrase bidding.
You may also choose display type ads which would display a graphic advertisement, created by you or Google, to your targeted audience. This is great for products that are simple and the use can be conveyed in a small visual.
Even more, there is a way to dynamically target your ads at people that have visited your site using re-marketing ads. With re-marketing ads, if a user visits a page on your site that is selling baseballs, the user will then see an ad on other websites with your baseballs, ultimately re-marketing them to try and get them to come back to your site and buy the baseballs. Statistics say the chances of a person making a purchase on your site increases exponentially each time they visit.
On a related note, tracking your website traffic is very advantageous to the success of your online selling. Because you are now posting blogs, social media updates, articles on other websites, and other people are talking about your products, you need a way to see which marketing efforts are working best. Don’t fret, Google is there to save the day again with Google Analytics. This is the industry standard (free) platform for all things web-analytics. Google Analytics allows you to see which marketing channels are working best, what time of day your visitors are on your site most, age demographics, gender, time-zone, computer and operating system, and much more. Though some aspects may seem a little unnecessary, the more online traffic you have, the more handy this tool becomes. When used properly, Google Analytics can be an outstanding tool that helps you rid your marketing strategy…and budget of waste, and allows you to fine-tune your advertising to optimize your return on investment.
6. Use social marketing, influencers, and email marketing to execute a contest.
Assuming you have some following on your social media platforms, use them as a loud-speaker to promote a contest to win a free product. Social contests are fun because they are only limited by the imagination of the creator. Think of the ALS ice bucket challenge…I’m sure you know what that was, even if you don’t use social media. It can be easy to get carried away here with creativity or sexiness of the campaign, but be sure to keep your mission statement in mind. As well, make sure the campaign is in-tune with your branding, so you maximize your brand recognition.