eCommerce Digital Marketing 101: Where do I start?

You’re on this page for one main reason…

You want more people to buy products from your online store.

Let’s go over a couple things I think you’ll agree with:

  • People love shopping online
  • Most people own a smartphone and carry it wherever they go (bathroom included)
  • We no longer watch TV, listen to the radio, read magazines and newspapers like we used to
  • We use the Internet for almost everything (social media networks, videos, emails, searching, map directions, chatting, shopping…)

I’m sure you will also agree that we now consume a lot of digital content mainly due to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

And for this reason alone, if you want more people to buy products from your online store, you should be marketing on digital channels.

So where do you start? Let me share with you my experience.

4 Steps to Get Started with Digital Marketing for eCommerce

  1. Create a Plan
  2. Define your target market
  3. Figure out what makes you unique
  4. Start promoting your online store

In this post, I’m going to give you an overview of each step.

Step 1: Create a Plan

If you’re serious about successfully building an eCommerce business, you’ll need a solid plan so you can avoid wasting time and money on things that won’t have a positive impact sales.

A plan will help you focus and will also allow you to allocate resources on the right projects. A plan should include both short-term and long term goals.

When setting your goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time-bound

You will also need to define objectives to help you achieve your S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Tracking your progress is key as you will be able to measure your results.

I plan on writing some articles around the topic of eCommerce planning, goals and objectives. Stay tuned!

Step 2: Define Your Target Market

The next step is to figure out who’s your target market. Who needs your product and who’s willing to buy it.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out who would want to buy your product, here’s a trick.

First, ask yourself what problem does your product solve? And then find people who are experiencing this problem.  Those people will be your target customers (market).

Understand who they are (demographics) and why they buy (psychographics) so you can better craft your marketing message.

Any information about your target will be useful. Gather as much as you can. I highly recommend you conduct interviews with them so you can learn more about who they are and their lifestyle.

Step 3: What Makes You Unique

If you were to ask me what’s the main reason why people fail in eCommerce, it’s because they haven’t really figured out what makes their brand or product unique.

We call this a Value Proposition.
Why would people buy YOUR product and the not the one from the competition?

Figure this out and you will have an easier time selling your product.  You will also be able to better craft your marketing message when speaking or advertising to your target audience.

Step 4: Start Promoting Your Online Store

So you start with a plan, you then figure out who’s your target market and then figure out what makes your product unique.

The next step is making sure you create awareness for your brand/product by promoting your business on digital marketing channels.

Which ones?

Here’s a tip: Promote your business where your target audience is.

Let’s start!

Paid Search (Search Engine Marketing)

People search the Internet to find answers to questions, search for a place, search for information or search for a product.  A big percentage of people make these searches on Google.com, Bing and Yahoo.  Searches for videos are made on Youtube.com.

Promoting your online store on search engines is one of the most popular methods of driving traffic to a website.
You can do that by using the following tools:

Email Marketing

Email is usually among the top 3 channels that drives the most traffic to an online store.

Your email list will become a valuable asset for your business. Make sure you focus on list building!

Do this:

  • Build an email list
  • Offer incentives in exchange for an email (coupon, buying guide PDF download etc.)
  • Host contests
  • Send email campaigns at least once a week
  • launch trigger emails that will be sent to subscribers when they perform a specific behaviour (cart abandonment, order confirmations etc)
  • Monitor list engagement (open rate, click rates, unsubscribes, deliverability)

You can notify subscribers by email about new products, sales/promotions, store events, coupon offers, new blog posts and so much more.

Search Engine Optimization

Optimizing your online store for search engines such as Google or Bing, is going to be one of your best investments in the long-term.  By doing so, you will benefit from free traffic from search engines.

Optimization includes how you structure and design your website.  It’s also about how fast it loads and the type of content you create (text, videos & images).  Those are some of the factors that can affect your rankings within search engine results.

SEO will require some technical knowledge but nowadays, there are many tools to help you out.  Start with Google Webmaster Tools.

Social Media Marketing

I can assure you that a big percentage of your target audience is spending a lot of time on social media.  They’re using it to stay in touch with friends, post selfies, share food pics, watch videos, support causes, engage in groups, seek entertainment or learn about something.

Nowadays, most social media networks allow businesses to create a business account and create ads.

Take advantage of that.  Use social media as a way to generate awareness and drive traffic to your online store.  It compliments your other digital marketing efforts.

Start with:

Display Media Marketing

Display ads, also known as banner ads, are great for brand awareness.  Unfortunately, they’re performance is no longer what it used to be.  People have gotten used to ignoring them and not clicking.  Yet, this does not mean they don’t work.

Display ads can be effective when targeting the right users at the right time.  It’s also important to consider mobile users and how they engage with banner ads.

Display ads can also be used as part of your retargeting strategy.  You can use it to effectively communicate with past website visitors.

Content Marketing

This is one of my favourite marketing channels.  Creating content for your audience that is both valuable and entertaining is going to be one of the best investments you can make in your eCommerce business.

Not only do you own this content but you will benefit from free traffic to your online store from search engines.

You should create a blog to host your content.  You then distribute it on social media, email or other websites.  Search engines will pick up this content and send you traffic when someone is searching for it.

Content marketing includes:

  • Articles (blog posts)
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Downloadable PDF guides
  • Courses

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great acquisition channel.  It allows you to boost brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and acquire new customers by having others promote your business.

How it works? Affiliate partners sign up to your program, advertise your brand/product and send you traffic to your website.  You only pay them when someone actually buys from you.

First, you will have to join affiliate networks such as CJ.com, PepperJam.com, Shareasale.com.

Then, you will need to get affiliates join your program.  There are many types of affiliate websites that might consider promoting your eCommerce business.  Examples such as coupon sites (Retailmenot.com), Cashback programs (eBates.com), Loyalty Sites (AirmilesShops.ca), Shopping sites (shop.com) or any type of blog within your industry.

Final Words

At first, you might feel overwhelmed as you navigate through the world of digital marketing. It’s normal. There’s a lot going on.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place.  You’ll also need to evaluate whether or not you will outsource some of your initiatives to an outside agency or maybe hire additional expertise within your team.  In addition, using the right tools for marketing is very important.

If you want sales, you need quality traffic.  Digital Marketing channels will help you acquire this traffic if done right.

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