According to 99 Firms, there are somewhere between 12 and 24 million eCommerce sites, with more being created every day. What this means is that if you are running your own eCommerce site you have a lot of competition, no matter what niche you are in. To gain the number of customers you are after, it’s essential that you have a solid marketing strategy in place. A good marketing strategy will help you to not only bring in new customers but to bring back repeat customers over and over again. Here are a few things you should focus on to give your eCommerce store a solid marketing foundation and stand out from the crowd.
Search Engine Optimization
The first thing you should focus on is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Every search engine has algorithms that they use to determine the order in which search results appear. The higher you can appear in search results, the more customers you’ll bring to your eCommerce store. To appear higher in search results, you need to optimize your store based on what the search engines are looking for. This process is what SEO is all about.
Entire books have been written about how to best optimize a website for search engines, but there are a few basics you should know right off the bat. You’ll want to start with keyword research, picking out the keywords that best represent your brand and products. You can learn more about how to do keyword research here. Once you have your keywords, you’ll want to make sure you include them throughout your store.
Besides that, you should focus on speeding up your website. Slow load times lead to higher bounce rates, which in turn will hurt your search engine rank. Try using smaller images, transferring to a faster server, or removing advanced features that you don’t really need.
Doing these two things will get you off to a good start. If you want to take your SEO game even further, you can learn all about it through this guide.
The next thing you’ll want to focus on is social media. Having a presence on the major social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – is an essential element to any eCommerce marketing strategy. Through social media, you can promote your latest products, interact with customers, run a social media contest, handle customer service requests, or learn more about your customer base. Best of all, using these platforms is entirely free – all it takes is time.
If you don’t have a social media presence yet, you can start by picking one of the Big 3 social media sites and creating an account. Once you have one, find other accounts that you can connect with and follow in your niche. You’ll also want to connect it to your website and encourage people to follow you for the latest news and special offers.
It may take some time to build up a large following, but if you keep at it, social media can become one of your biggest traffic sources.
Before social media, email marketing was the biggest trend in online marketing. And while it’s not as prominent as it once was, it is still a very effective way to generate return visits to your store.
Setting up an email marketing campaign is easy. You start by having a place on your website where you collect email addresses from your customer base. This could be an opt-in to a newsletter, or you could have your customers enter their email address when they check out. Give people a reason for providing their email address and always make sure you are upfront about what you will be emailing them with.
The next step is to send out targeted emails to the list you’ve accumulated. Using an outreach automation tool, you can make this process run on its own. Customers can receive emails when they first sign up, when you have a special offer on a product they might like, or even on their birthday if you have that information stored. Email marketing is great because you’re reaching out to people who have shown an interest in your product, making it much more likely that they will make a purchase.
Finally, you should have a system in place to encourage referrals. People are much more likely to buy a product if they receive a good review of it from someone they know. Referral marketing is essentially word of mouth, but there are some things you can do to give it a boost.
For example, you can set up a system where the person making the referral receives a discount on their next purchase if their referral becomes a customer. If you have a happy customer, giving them a small incentive to tell their friends about you is a great way to generate more customers.
Once you have a solid referral marketing strategy in place, your past customers will do all of the work for you. The key is then providing a good experience to as many customers as possible in the hopes that they then become marketers for you.
What to do Next
If you implement the marketing strategies above, you should have a solid foundation for your eCommerce store. However, there is still more you can do if you want to take things to the next level.
For example, you could implement an inbound marketing strategy. With inbound, you generate helpful content on your website and use it to draw customers in. Or you could experiment with split testing, in which you try out different marketing features on your website and see what works best.
Or perhaps you feel that you’ve generated all the visitors you can and it’s time to sell your eCommerce store for a profit. If so, consider working with an eCommerce business broker to help you get the best deal.
Lay a Strong Foundation
There are many avenues you can take once you have that solid foundation in place. The key is getting that foundation ready, then deciding on which path is best for you. Take some time to analyze your current marketing efforts and see which of the strategies above you are missing. If it’s one of the key foundational elements, now is the time to add it.
If you already have some of the elements in place, dive into them deeper, and see if there is a way you could make them better. Once you have a solid marketing foundation in place, you should start to see your traffic numbers rising and ultimately get to where you want them.