Today’s digital age is the ideal environment to run an eCommerce business. More and more consumers prefer shopping from home (or on the go via their phone) to visiting physical stores. Plus, with the current situation, brick and mortar stores may have to shut down again temporarily.
However, just because eCommerce is the hot business trend right now doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed success overnight. It takes more than setting up a website to get your brand known and bring in sales. There are tons of other online businesses that you’ll be competing against. It’s your job to position yourself in the market, showing prospects why your online store is the one they should shop.
To give your business a competitive edge, here are fifteen marketing tips you can practice to grow your brand’s awareness, customers, and sales.
1. Utilize social media marketing
Social media is an excellent method for marketing your business without spending a dime. Many of today’s consumers search social media to learn about new brands and find new products. Instagram is particularly useful for eCommerce because it’s an image and video oriented platform. And, it has the advent of hashtags and the discover page. Both make it easy for people to find your business who otherwise wouldn’t know you exist.
With that said, you also need to know how to use each social media platform strategically. If your buyer audience is predominantly Gen X and up, Facebook will be your best platform (although many people on the tail-end of Gen X are on Instagram too). For B2Bs, LinkedIn is an excellent tool for reaching businesses and professionals. However, LinkedIn isn’t suited for marketing consumer brands.
Finding the right social channels to use will probably take some time and experimentation. The more you learn about your audience, the better you’ll be able to tailor your social media marketing strategy.
2. Invest time (and maybe money) in SEO
Your eCommerce website needs SEO. Having a site that’s not search optimized is the equivalent of throwing a needle into a haystack and hoping someone finds it. Customers won’t find your business if it’s buried way back on page 20 of search results. A lot of eCommerce website platforms have built-in tools to help with SEO and also have app plug-ins you can install on your site. SEO is a long-game effort, which is why it’s often wise to hire a specialist if you’re unfamiliar with all of SEO’s intricacies and best practices.
3. Leverage and encourage UGC
UGC (user-generated content) is a free and genius way to get the word out about your brand. If you’re not familiar with UGC, it’s the practice of having your customers create content about your brand that they post to their social media channels.
UGC doesn’t have to be anything fancy or special; it’s content from everyday people, not social media marketers. It could be as simple as a social media post of someone wearing a piece of the clothing you sell, a photo of their package that arrived, or a picture they took of the items they ordered from you. The beauty of UGC is it gives your brand exposure from an untapped market: your customers’ social media friends and followers.
You can encourage people to create UGC by reposting it to your site or social profiles, making social media challenges, and offering prizes for people who post.
4. Get product reviews
A lot of trust goes into an eCommerce transaction when a customer hasn’t heard of your brand before. They want to know that their payment information is secure, that they won’t get ripped off, and that the items they order will be high-quality. Getting product reviews can help build trust with prospective clients. You can pretty much guarantee a prospect that hasn’t heard of you will read as many of your reviews as possible before they place an order.
Make sure that product reviews are enabled on your website. Depending on the eCommerce platform you’re on, you may need to add a plug-in to your site to have the review functionality. One way to encourage happy customers to leave reviews is to send follow-up emails asking them to write a review after receiving their orders. You can also implement a rewards program that awards users points toward future purchases each time they submit a review.
5. Reward customer loyalty
Let’s discuss rewards programs while we’re on the topic. It’s a good practice to reward your customers for their continued loyalty as it will keep your shoppers happy and encourage future purchases. Some options for a rewards program are offering a special discount on a client’s birthday, implementing a points system where shoppers accrue points with purchases and product reviews that can be used for discounts or free merchandise, and sales for rewards members.
6. Paid social ads
Even though it’s free to have a social media account, you might want to consider putting some money behind your content. Today’s social media ads have sophisticated targeting so that your target audience sees your ads. Facebook has the best ad platform and has so many different types of ads you can choose from, including photo and video ads that appear on news feeds or ads in messenger or Facebook stories.
With that said, Instagram ads have been improving, so you have a lot of options for your social ad budget. One of the great benefits of social advertising is that there are various ad types, like ads geared toward lead generation, shopping ads, slideshows, videos, and more.
7. Promote your social content
In addition to ads, you can also consider paid posts. With this method, you can pay to have social posts promoted – aka shown to a broader audience of people outside of your following. This is generally easier than running your own social ad campaign, which is why it’s so great for beginners while also boosting brand awareness.
8. Reward referrals
Word-of-mouth referrals continue to be one of the most powerful ways to generate new business. In many cases, referrals can bring a business more customers and sales than paid ads! Again, this goes back to the concept of trust. People want to know that they’re buying from a trustworthy business. Consumers trust their friends and family members, so if someone in their inner circle recommends your brand, you have an easier chance of winning their trust and business.
Your happy customers are probably already talking about your brand, so why not give them an incentive to continue promoting you? Offer customers a discount or reward for their referrals to encourage them to continue sharing your business with others.
9. Paid search and shopping ads
Customers turn to search engines to find the best and the latest products/services to buy. With paid search and shopping ads, people can find your business when searching for the items or services you sell. Setting up and managing a search engine ad campaign can be tricky if you’ve never done it before, so you should expect a learning curve. This is also another area in which you might want to turn to professional help.
10. Make email marketing work for you
A lot of people are hesitant to rely on email marketing. And honestly, the skepticism is warranted because so many people today have overflowing inboxes that they don’t want to dig through. With that said, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t nix it altogether.
People like sales and insider information. Emails can be a useful way to provide those things. Pop-up forms on your site to collect email addresses can help you build an audience of interested prospects. By the way, it’s significantly more effective than buying an email list. Give people a reason to want to sign up for your emails, such as a discount on their first order or access to content they can download (like an eBook). Once on your email list – even if they make a purchase or not – you can continue marketing to them to nurture the lead.
11. Try influencer marketing
Often when people think of influencer marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is a Kardashian or an Instagram celebrity with 100,000 followers. Influencers with huge audiences charge a lot of money to promote brands, but this doesn’t mean that influencer marketing is only for big companies with six-figure marketing budgets. If you don’t have the budget or means to work with an influencer with a massive following, try micro-influencer marketing.
Micro-influencers are people on social media with roughly 1,000 – 10,000 followers. A following in the thousands is no small feat and is pretty impressive. But, since they don’t have millions of followers, they’re cheaper to work with. Many micro-influencers are okay with commission-based compensation or getting paid in products they review for their social media/blog.
The benefit of micro-influencers, is that their followers are generally pretty invested. Followers know that this person isn’t a celebrity and doesn’t get million-dollar endorsements. Therefore, they feel that a micro-influencer’s sponsored posts or brand partnerships are more authentic. Paying a micro-influencer to create a social media or blog post about your brand or offering them a commission deal can help you reach new audiences and give your brand a sense of authority.
12. Start a branded blog
Blogging is a great way to promote your eCommerce brand. For one, it can help improve your site’s SEO and bring you more web traffic. It can also provide a place for you to share more information about your company and team. Today, consumers want to know about the companies they buy from and care about what the business stands for and its values. Blog posts can help you effectively communicate that information.
If you create a successful blog that people find engaging, informative, and entertaining, you’ll be able to grow your audience and sales. Additionally, you can cross-promote your blog posts on social media, which provides you with more social content to publish.
13. Advertise on podcasts
Podcasts are huge right now. Celebrities, influencers, business leaders, and brands are starting podcasts. There are also lots of “regular,” everyday people who decide to launch podcasts and are able to build a following of thousands of listeners. Thus, podcasts are a great advertising platform because they introduce your brand to thousands of users.
One of the greatest things about podcast advertising is that podcasts are generally based around interests and hobbies. Some of the most popular genres/topics for podcasts are true crime, politics, sports, pop culture, business, and health. Podcast listeners follow a podcast because they’re interested in the topics covered. If your product or service is very niche, advertising on a podcast can help you reach your target audience. For example, if you sell Friends-themed home decor, you could advertise on a pop culture of entertainment podcast.
Podcasts also have loyal listeners, which you can use to your advantage for promoting your eCommerce business. With loyalty comes trust. This means that listeners are likely to trust the brands that advertise on their favorite podcasts since they believe the podcast host.
14. Sell on Instagram
If you sell physical goods, selling on Instagram could work well for you. Today a lot of people spend hours scrolling through Instagram. With the selling feature, people can buy directly by clicking on a social post. You’re more likely to get Instagram sales from people familiar with your brand, meaning previous customers or longtime followers.
However, it’s also useful for people who are only just discovering your brand for the first time. If someone comes across your business’s Instagram account, they can scroll through posts and get an idea of the products you sell and the price points. If they like what they see, they may follow and become customers.
15. Expand your audience with affiliate marketing
Paying for ads can be one of the most impactful ways to spread brand awareness and grow sales. The downside is that you have to pay for your ad, and it may take time to deliver a return on your investment. Affiliate marketing helps you promote your brand without breaking the bank. If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, it’s when an affiliate (can be a company or individual) posts a product link on their website. If a user clicks the link and makes a purchase, the affiliate gets a commission.
With an affiliate program, you only pay when an affiliate brings you a sale, making it a more cost-effective advertising method. Setting up an affiliate program is generally very easy. Many different program options allow you to create affiliate links for all of your partners and track their sales.
Conclusion to 15 Marketing Tips for Your eCommerce Brand
You’ve done the hard work of setting up your eCommerce website and creating your brand. You deserve a customer following and sales. These marketing tips will help you make your brand successful and profitable, with a steadily growing customer base.