The e-commerce market continues to grow at a healthy rate worldwide as customers take advantage of varied channels for online orders across product categories. In 2016, total retail sales across the globe will reach $22 trillion, up 6.0% from the previous year. eMarketer estimates sales will top $27 trillion in 2020, even as annual growth rates slow over the next few years.
Against this backdrop, we anticipate that e-commerce businesses will flourish in our region. As online sales growth continues to outpace the total retail market, e-commerce will need to focus on enhancing their platforms across digital channels to meet the increasingly diverse needs of their customers. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman once said, “communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community.” Whether your company is just starting up or has reached the point of maintaining a well-established customer base, it is important to stay up-to-date with the most current marketing trends and techniques for your e-commerce business. Structuring and finally launching an E-commerce website is a milestone achievement for your brand. Therefore, it’s crucial to invest in an effective website structure and marketing strategy.
So how do you determine what methods work? Here are 15 areas that may be worth testing for your e-commerce business.
1. Narrow Your Focus
The first step to promote your e-commerce business is through a diversified marketing plan. There are plenty of avenues to concentrate on. However, not all of them will generate leads that convert to sales. Profiling the demographics of your customers is a good start. The key is to narrow down where your prospects are and focus on those areas. This will vary based on your industry and market.
2. Create a Content Marketing Strategy
An e-commerce business needs a content marketing strategy. Write a list of all the methods you plan on using to reach out to customers, whether it be blog posts, images, videos or newsletters. Make it a point to check in with this strategy every month or quarter, evaluating how the content creation and distribution process is going. Many companies use content pulled from around the web to free up time for other business tasks. This, however, doesn’t have the same effect as original content. Original content helps you build your e-commerce site as a knowledge base for those interested in learning more about your market.
3. Social Media Sites
Social media marketing can take a lot of time. It also needs to be done consistently to reap the most rewards. The best part is that it is free, unless you use paid ads. However, don’t spread yourself thin and market across all platforms. e-commerce entrepreneurs should focus on where their traffic comes from and what social media outlets their target customers use. A B2B e-commerce site may find LinkedIn to be a good source; a jewelry site may find Instagram generates the most leads; furniture retailers may find that Facebook generates the most traffic; and a wedding business could find Pinterest as a top source. Not every platform will work for you. Don’t spend time on networks that don’t generate leads. Market only where your prospects are.
4. Automate Your Social Networks
Not all social content needs automation, but you will find that planning your social strategy frees up time for other tasks in your business. For example, when you schedule a month of Facebook posts, you no longer have to think about it for the rest of the month. Moderating comments is still needed.
5. Use the 80/20 Rule for Social Media
If you only post your products and service in every social media update, you will find it very hard to engage with your followers and fans, which is the ultimate goal on social media. Work to a ratio of 80/20 – that is split your posts so that only 20% is promotional. The rest being interesting content that appeals to your audience. Followers will not appreciate a constant stream of promotional messages only. They want to be informed and entertained, rather than just sold to.
6. Site Optimisation
Optimising your e-commerce site for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a vital step in getting your business off to a good start. Make sure page load times are as fast as you can get them. Customers on the internet are extremely impatient. The speed of your website can make all the difference between a purchase and an abandoned shopping cart. Site optimisation is a top priority. Do-it-yourself search optimization is becoming feasible to help you rank organically. There are many resources (blogs, videos & books) where you can learn the basics. Each month you should look at what articles generated the most traffic to your site, and which of those led to the most sales. Use a tool like Google Analytics for this.
7. Put Personalisation into Action
Personalisation is the best new form of marketing since no one wants to spend money on faceless companies. The idea is to brand your company along with a person, using one or two people as the “face” of your business. Address people with their names in your emails, send out videos and images of your employees and show how your products are made. Every little detail of personalization makes your customers feel special and take a peek into the inner workings of your business.
8. Reviews – Word of Mouth
Excellent customer service and compelling products or services can generate many leads over the long term. How you respond to customer service issues online is a good way to enhance your image. Customers now trust online reviews as much as they do word-of-mouth. Product reviews provide an essential social credibility, convincing other customers to buy products based on user feedback. How many times have you bought something online because of its ratings and reviews? Make sure you are keeping track of your reviews, and have a solid strategy in place to deal with negative reviews.
9. Keep Your Website Simple
You should always make your website easy to navigate. Along with site optimization, make sure your landing page is simple and comprehensible at a single glance. Keep the graphics clear and the content to the point. If you make your customers work for information they will migrate to the competition. The best way to do this is to have actual customers walk through your checkout process and send you feedback on how fast it was.
10. Email Marketing
Email marketing is at the heart of effective e-commerce marketing strategies because it is still one of the best methods for influencing your customers and convincing them to buy more. Collect email addresses and make sure to send out regular newsletters to keep your name in your recipients’ minds. Use an email marketing campaign to keep in contact with your customers, send them helpful information and sell your products. This should result in repeat customers.
11. Strategic Partnerships
Do you know a business owner who sells a complementary product or service? Why not try partnering with another business? You can place an ad on another business owner’s blog or offer bundled services along with your partner. Creating partnerships can be free and can benefit both companies greatly. The possibilities are endless, and the more ways you can market your e-commerce business, the more opportunities you will have to reach directly to your customers.
12. Implement a Loyalty Program
A solid loyalty program brings people back to your store, and it makes them feel appreciated for spending money on your company. You convince your most loyal customers to spend a little extra money, and they receive a reward for doing so. Another great way to engage people is to give something away, typically in exchange for them posting, sharing or ‘liking’ something. This might be simply sending a personal message when they buy something, or an exclusive discount code, or a competition. The great thing about this is that their network of followers will all see these posts, creating a viral effect that spreads the message of your brand.
13. Optimise for the Mobile World
We live in a world where we communicate with each other over mobile phones than we do face to face. For keeping in touch, shopping, hailing a taxi, booking a flight or hotel, or ordering food and apparels… everything begins and ends with a smartphone. It is only getting bigger. Consider implementing a responsive interface so that your e-commerce website transforms for devices like tablets and smartphones. Consider mobile advertising. Mobile advertising combines geo-location and mobile-ready ads to connect your customers to your store while they are sitting on the sofa at home or in a doctor’s waiting room.
14. Pay-Per-Click Advertising/Google AdWords
Paid advertising is not always the first option for new businesses as it requires cash rather than hard work. But, if you have the funds, it can be a great way to generate sales. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are audience-targeted ads, typically shown in search listings and on social media websites. If someone clicks on your ad, they get taken to your website and you get charged a fee. The great thing about PPC is that once it is set up correctly, and you are generating a return on your investment, you can simply increase your ad spend to grow your revenue.
Many customers likely visit your site and leave without purchasing. How do you get them back? This is where retargeting comes in. Retargeting will place a cookie on their computers and when they visit another website that shows advertisements from the retargeting network, your ad will be shown. When these visitors enter your website again, they are far more likely to make a purchase.
Staying current with the latest marketing trends and techniques is crucial for any successful e-commerce business. It is important to deliver relevant, interesting and valuable content and products that truly suit the needs of your target market. Reach out to your customers in a variety of ways. And, as always, make sure you are monitoring your website analytics to examine trends, keep your website optimised, and track your results! With the right mix of marketing techniques, you can improve your conversion rate and attract sustainable business that will continue to grow over time.