Practical tips for marketing your e-commerce business

If you’ve recently launched your e-commerce business online but are struggling to get traction, or perhaps you’re preparing for launch and want a solid marketing strategy in place beforehand, we’ve put together some practical steps for making sure you’re delivering the right message, to the right people, in the right place. And importantly, telling a message that makes your brand irresistible!

Understand where your customers go online

The most important thing to understand when marketing any business is to know where your customers go online. You might know some of this information already, as you could be a perfect use case for your own product and therefore understand where you’d go to find out information about it. You can glean information from your website analytics, to understand how people are finding your website too.

Another method is to ask your current customers not only where they found your business, but where they go to find other products, services and businesses in general. You might be surprised what results you get back and it could indicate where you either need to spend more time or less of your time promoting your business.

In summary

  1. Use all tools available to you to understand how people are finding your business online. Use analytics tools via your social networks, and for your website (if you have such capabilities) to gather more insights.
  2. Survey your current customers; send them an email, give them a call, drop a survey on your website. Seek to understand how they found you, but also how they find other businesses.
  3. Rank order the methods in which people find your business and others. Focus on the most popular methods first, creating a plan for which marketing channels you will use (see next section).

Create a channel plan based on your customer

Armed with your gathered intelligence, you can start to build a plan for what marketing channels you will market to and when. For example, you might have discovered that a lot of your customers conduct their research on social media first before visiting a website. You might also learn that Instagram is a popular social media channel, due to its visual nature. Conversely, you might learn that LinkedIn is non-existent for your audience, and Twitter isn’t that popular either. 

With this information, rather than posting the same message to all these social networks, you can tailor your messaging for each. For example, you might decide that you’ll produce nice glossy shots of your products for Instagram, but focus on slightly longer written-form content for Facebook, as you can include tags and links in the text description.

If you run a blog, which is a fantastic tool for attracting people to your website and giving them value, you could look to share excerpts in a monthly newsletter, effectively creating a round-up of content that you’ve written. Again, using analytics tools to understand how a piece of content is performing will help you identify whether it’s worth sharing with your audience.

In summary

  1. Understand the capabilities of the various marketing channels you have; know the message and media you can share on each, including things like tags, links, and any other features.
  2. Identify the marketing channels that you’re currently active on and consider turning down activity on networks that your customers seldom use, and consider using new channels you hadn’t yet thought of.
  3. Decide on what content you are going to post to what channel and why.

Plan a schedule of regular content

An important tactic for staying front-of-mind with your customer (and potential customers) is to post regularly. Even posting once a day, over the course of a month, will give you lots of touchpoints with your audience. Additionally, if you implement the method of deciding different content to post to different channels, you’ll have a nice spread of content to entice and educate people.

It does take time to get into the habit of regular content creation and posting, and at first, it can seem like a fruitless endeavour due to low amounts of engagement. But even just having your logo visible in people’s newsfeeds and inboxes can help keep your brand front-of-mind and potentially trigger someone to engage later down the line. A good example of this is TV and online video advertising. Advertisers use repetition, catchy slogans, songs, and visuals to help make their brand stick. You might not know it at first, but one day it all clicks and you’re buying the product or recommending it to someone else.

Many social media networks, content management systems, and nearly every marketing tool have some form of scheduling function built-in. You can therefore spend some time getting your blog articles scheduled and your social media messages written and queued up ahead of time.

In summary

  1. Perform a simple audit of current content that you can share; think blog articles, videos, guides and website product pages.
  2. Be real with the amount of time you have to create new content; decide on how regularly you will create it.
  3. Familiarize yourself with your chosen marketing channels and see if they have scheduling tools built in. Learn how these work, or look if there is a suitable third party tool to help you schedule things.
  4. With your existing and new content plans set, and an understanding of the tool(s) to schedule your content, block out some time every week to work on content creation and scheduling.

Tell stories with your content to help people relate

Human beings love stories. They make up a big part of our lives, both telling them and listening to them. Storytelling in marketing is what takes boring, generic content and turns it into something much more meaningful. It could be a story about how you conceived a product, or how you came up with the idea for your business in the first place. Provided it’s interesting, it can really help your audience connect with your brand because they can relate to it.

Great brands do this well. An example of this is Dollar Shave Club. They take the humble men’s razor and create a story that many men can relate to. And they do it in a fun and engaging way. Their original promotional video has had tens of millions of views on YouTube and is relatively low budget. Check it out here.

In summary

  1. Think about how you started your business and/or how you came up with your product(s), what were the key milestones? How does it change people’s lives? Note down any notable moments.
  2. Read your reviews and chat to your customers to understand why they purchased your product, how they use it, and how it’s solved a problem for them.
  3. Feed this information into your social media posts, about us page, blogs, product listings, and any other marketing content.

Try out user-generated content

This goes hand-in-hand with telling stories through your marketing. User-generated content is powerful because people are more likely to trust another human rather than a business. Asking your customers to promote your business and products, through testimonials, unboxing videos and demonstrations, brings an important human element to your brand. What might start as a product listing with selected images can now become a human picking up your product, showing not only how it works, but how it has made their life easier. 

In summary

  1. Identify evangelists for your products – who is singing the praises of your product and brand?
  2. Consider sending them a product for review in return for an unboxing video, testimonial, or similar. Set out how you’d like them to review your product and what you’d like covered. It just needs to be a simple guide to help them structure things.

Gather reviews for use in your marketing

We’re all very familiar with reviews and what part they play in the buying process. If you’ve ever purchased anything online, you’ve probably found yourself checking out the product reviews in detail to see how other people have got on with it. The same behaviour can be said for all manner of other things too, such as restaurants, attractions and hotels; a great review is going to tip you towards a buying decision and a negative review is going to leave your finger hovering over the mouse button.

Encouraging your customers to leave reviews is important, but you should make it frictionless and easy to complete. Sending a review request at the right time helps too! Let the customer enjoy the product and get to grips with it first, and then follow up a few days later asking for feedback. Reviews alone aren’t a silver bullet in marketing but used in conjunction with other methods mentioned above, you can start to build a positive brand image.

In summary

  1. Decide on where you primarily like reviews to live. You can’t control every review or where it goes, but when asking for reviews, you can highlight a chosen location. This could be your most popular marketing channel e.g. Facebook, or a third party review site like Trustpilot
  2. Have a plan for responding to reviews. If it’s positive, say thank you. If it’s negative, look to solve the problem and provide a resolution. It all goes towards showing that you’re an engaged, trustworthy brand.

This is by no means a one and done list of tactics, rather it’s an approach to get you started and something to revisit on a regular basis. The overall advice here is to create a plan, execute it, learn, and repeat what works.

Do you have a marketing tactic that works for your e-commerce business? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

(Featured image by Campaign Creators on Unsplash)