When building an e-commerce site, you realize that there are many things you need to work out, from site appearance and security to payment methods and shipping strategies.
But even when all this is in place and your site is ready for selling, your work isn’t done.
If you want people to buy from you, you first need to let them know your eCommerce website exists.
In other words, you need to work out a digital marketing strategy that will help you appear in search results and drive traffic to your site.
Luckily, eCommerce marketing doesn’t have to be hard.
This article will help you learn everything you need to know to make your eCommerce store a success.
Part 1: Before Launching the Site
Launching an eCommerce store and hoping for the best isn’t going to get you far. You need to take a step back and start thinking about your marketing strategy well before the site goes live. Marketing needs to be incorporated into every segment of your business, from products to marketing channels.
Here are the 4 crucial marketing-related steps you need to consider prior to launching the site.
1. Select the Right Products
Picking the right products for your new eCommerce store sounds like a no brainer but if you make a mistake here, all your other efforts will be in vain.
If you want your e-store to be successful, you need to sell products that are in demand.
Wanna take a guess what people want to buy?
Determining what the market is lacking takes more than a lucky guess. You need to conduct market research.
One of the options is to examine current trends. For this purpose, you can use tools like Google Trends, where you have an insight into the search history and future predictions for certain product keywords.
Another option is to check out the trending items on Etsy, as well as the Amazon’s bestseller list to find out what people are buying at the moment.
You can also use keyword research tools like MerchantWords, Ubersuggest, and Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to obtain volume searches on various product-related keywords.
Join user communities like Reddit and look for conversations about certain popular products.
You can also analyze the influencers on Instagram. Chances are the products they’re promoting sell very good at the moment. In addition, check out the trending categories on this social media platform, which are organized through hashtags.
Finally, check the best-performing posts on product curation sites & accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to get a general idea of which products people are most interested in.
2. Determine Your Shipping Strategy
Besides the obvious need for having a shipping strategy – being able to deliver your merchandise to customers – there’s also a great deal of marketing involved in this segment.
By planning your shipping options beforehand, you might be able to include them in marketing campaigns later.
That’s why it is important to contemplate the details of your shipping strategy. Here are some questions to guide you through the process:
- Are you manufacturing your own products? Even though this might allow more flexibility when it comes to shipping, it can also be quite tedious.
- Are you drop shipping, i.e. sell your packages without ever directly handling them to the client? This option might make product delivery much simpler for you but, on the other hand, you have no control over the process. Depending on somebody else when it comes to shipping could put you in awkward ‘out of stock’ situations.
- Are there any shipping restrictions you should know about?
- What will you pack the products in? Will you include promotional materials inside the packages?
Once you have all these things figured out, you can begin playing with offers like ‘Free Shipping’, ‘Free Shipping Day’, or ‘Free In-Store Pick Up’.
“We understand that whatever Amazon does, we also need to do or we are going to lose business. The cost of offering free 2-day shipping is more than covered and offset by all of the additional orders and revenue we’ve gotten as a result.” – the Founder of MyCalmBlanket.
3. Determine Your Marketing Methods
Digital marketing allows you to play with a great number of strategies and tactics to market your products. But still, you need to select the most effective ones for your business.
Below we’re offering a few marketing strategies such as content marketing, SEO, social media, and email marketing but ultimately, which ones you choose will depend on a number of factors.
For instance, search engine optimization requires a lot of time and patience before you see some results so, if you need short-term returns, it might not be the best option for you. PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, on the other hand, give results almost instantly but can be very expensive for startups that operate on a tight budget.
Digital marketing is an ever-changing process that involves monitoring and analyzing results, so your marketing strategies should remain flexible. If certain methods prove to be ineffective, be prepared to make adjustments or experiment with new tactics.
4. Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Great content will make your website stand out and establish you as an authoritative figure. In addition, you can use your content in almost every marketing channel (share it on social media, include it in email newsletters, etc.) to attract traffic to your website.
Having a content marketing strategy means having a plan for a creation of engaging and useful content (articles, videos, newsletters, ebooks, case studies, etc.) and a system for distributing that content to reach out to customers.
A content-first approach allows you to build an audience and drive some search traffic so that you already have potential buyers when your eCommerce store goes live. For instance, the e-store matcha-tea.com started their content marketing campaign three months before their product was ready to ship.
Make sure to check this strategy every other week or every month in order to see whether it’s giving the desired results.
Part 2: After the Launch
5. Define Your SEO Strategy
The main goal of every SEO strategy is to rank higher in search results. To achieve this, you’ll need to target keywords with high search volume and low competition. Use the tools mentioned in #1 to conduct keyword research and find the best options for your business.
Once you select the best keywords, the next step is to create content around those keywords. However, don’t forget that real people will be reading your content. Write high-quality, useful content that people will want to read and share. Add a blog to your website and use it to educate and inform, as well as to provide solutions to your customers’ problems.
Take a look at Scotts Menswear blog, which is run by ex-Loaded editor James Brown. They create high-quality content around fashion, films, sport, etc, targeting a demographic which should include the Scott’s customer. The content isn’t too salesy, with occasional links where products are mentioned.
SEO is a complex and laborious task that involves a number of aspects. Explaining the whole process in detail would require a separate post, but here are the basics in a nutshell:
- Optimization of URLs, title tags, and meta descriptions
- Content structure
- Building links
- Pages loading time
- Content distribution
- Overall UX
As mentioned before, even though SEO is time-consuming, it can be a very powerful marketing tool, especially for eCommerce. Without an SEO strategy, you’ll be forced to use only paid marketing channels, which may exhaust your already thin budget.
6. Set Up an Effective Email Strategy
The goal of your email marketing strategy is not only to help you communicate with your customers, but also to persuade them to buy more.
When planning your email strategy, think about what type of campaigns would work for your business. Do you want to send newsletters on a regular basis? If yes, how often will you be sending them? In this case, you’ll need to have a consistent schedule and valuable content to send out. Or maybe your plan is to do an email drip campaign, i.e. send a series of emails at specific times and dates? If that’s the case, pay attention to including specific and visible CTAs.
The key to every successful email strategy is having a kick-ass email marketing tool like the one we use – GMass.
GMass is actually a mass email extension that works with any Gmail account and allows you to send email marketing campaigns to thousands of email addresses. You can create personalized emails, schedule mass emails to be sent later, and track clicks, opens, and replies.
7. Choose the Best Social Media Platforms
One of the most effective and affordable options for new eCommerce businesses is social media. Businesses who use social media successfully are able to drive traffic, build a trustworthy relationship with their customers, and increase sales.
However, the great number of social networks can get you easily confused. Building quality presence on all social media platforms is impossible; engaging with your audience and updating the content on all of them regularly would require your full attention.
You need to focus on the social media networks that your target audience is using. Observe how your audience interacts and what topics they’re interested in, so you can start relevant discussions and engage with them effectively.
You can also consider using social media automation tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to make the most of your time and resources.
8. Monitor and Analyze
One of the most important components of every successful marketing strategy is data analysis. Monitoring the progress and analyzing the results allows you to detect the failures and successes of your marketing campaigns.
Once you know where you stand, you can work to either solve the problems or to adjust your strategy to generate even better results.