Marketing Your eCommerce Website
eCommerce marketing has two purposes: to make shoppers aware that an online store exists and to give them a reason to visit it. While it is possible to grow a business by word-of-mouth with little deliberate marketing, it is a rare retailer that can avoid marketing altogether. If you run an eCommerce store, you’re going to have to learn how to market it.
Everything Starts With Marketing Personas
A marketing persona is a fictional representation of a potential customer. Who are they? What are they interested in? What are their values? How do they talk and dress? Which social media network do they use? Without an idea who you are marketing to, any investment in marketing is a shot in the dark.
For new eCommerce merchants, developing personas can be tricky because there’s little data about real customers to build on, but hopefully you have at least some understanding of the target market. Spend some time thinking about who your market is: research competitors for ideas, use market research, consider people in your social circle.
Once you understand who you want to attract to your store, you’ll be able to create effective, targeted content and distribute it to relevant channels.
Five Foundations Of eCommerce Marketing
eCommerce marketing is complex, particularly in competitive niches, but once you have even a vague idea about who your are marketing to, it’s time to start creating and distributing marketing content — over time, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of the channels and personas, refining your marketing strategy.
All marketing involves the distribution of content, but content marketing focuses on creating high-value written, video, or audio content relevant to a clearly defined audience.
Blogging is the canonical content marketing channel, and every eCommerce store should have a blog. But there are other forms of content marketing that shouldn’t be neglected, including guest blogging and native advertising. Podcasting and video marketing are increasingly effective.
Email marketing is a key component of any diverse eCommerce marketing strategy. Email marketing provides a direct line to your customers for sending promotions, news, tips, and other content.
Email marketing is another area that can be tricky for new eCommerce retailers: they don’t have any addresses to send emails to. Don’t be tempted to buy a list of email addresses; effective email lists are built organically. Collect email addresses at every opportunity and use them wisely. Avoid spamming at all costs.
Social Media Marketing
The majority of shoppers have a social media presence: almost certainly Facebook, but also Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and less well-known social networks.
Social media marketing is a powerful channel for connecting with an audience, publishing content, promoting products, and building a loyal and engaged following.
Influencer marketing is one way in which social media can be leveraged to increase the reach of eCommerce marketing content. Influencer marketing takes advantage of the audience of social media influencers, celebrities, and others with an following in a relevant niche. Retailers engage social media influencers to promote, review, or otherwise talk about their products — although retailers should be aware of FCC “truth in advertising” guidelines before embarking on an influencer marketing campaign.
Remarketing uses advertising networks like Google’s AdWords and Facebook to display advertising to customers who have already visited your store. Remarketing can be incredibly effective, especially where abandoned shopping carts are concerned, and typically costs less than standard social media and search advertising.
Search Engine Optimization
A significant proportion of eCommerce traffic comes from search engines, primarily Google, but also Bing and DuckDuckGo. eCommerce search engine optimization is all about making a site friendly for search engine crawlers and ensuring that on-page content is relevant to the search queries of potential users.
Google Shopping is an important source of traffic for many eCommerce stores. To appear in Google Shopping listings, retailers must submit a feed to the Merchant Center — this should be one of the first items on your eCommerce marketing todo list.
Focus And Experiment
We have briefly examined five eCommerce marketing channels, but there are many more, including search advertising, affiliate marketing, off-line advertising, press promotion, local business networks, sponsorships, and viral marketing.
For newer eCommerce retailers, however, it makes sense to focus on a limited set of channels that provide the biggest return on investment. By all means, experiment, but don’t spread your marketing dollars too thin.