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How to Take Your Ecommerce Business to the Next Level
Creating a website isn’t the last step in kickstarting and growing an ecommerce business, in fact, it’s just the beginning. Much like a brick-and-mortar business, you must develop and implement a viable marketing strategy. Yes, it may look a little different in the online and ecommerce world, but it’s still a critical aspect.
None of the giants, like Amazon, Overstock, Wal-Mart, and Shopify made it to where they are today by ignoring common marketing strategies, and neither can you.
1. Do Some Content Marketing
Whether you’re writing blogs, news articles, sending email newsletters, or hosting guest content, they’re all valid and reliable forms of content marketing. Pair a solid content marketing campaign with a successful SEO plan, and you’re on the path to greatness. You’ll rank higher in search results, which will direct more potential customers to your website or storefront.
It also builds a presence for your brand and introduces people to the goals, ideas, and general mission of your business. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and get creative with your content. Not every piece has to be promotional and about your products. People really love helpful advice and user guides, too.
Once you have a blog or content feed on your website, you can branch out and explore other channels to generate additional interest. Platforms like Medium, allow you to create storied content to engage with an existing community. Putting in the time to become an expert or well-known author on a platform like that, will naturally generate more interest in your other content. It’s always a good idea to look into hiring a copywriter or content marketing team, because they generally have the talent, expertise, and connections to squeeze the most out of a content feed.
2. Engage on Social Media
While this may be a no-brainer tip, it’s such an important process for running a successful online business that it deserves a spot on the list. If you don’t already have a presence on social media, then you need to get started. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the obvious platforms to join, but there are many others. It’s best to leverage the networks that your community uses most, so you’ll need to do some market research. Consider your demographic, their interests, and where they spend a lot of their time.
When you do join, you must engage with your audience through genuine content and interactive posts. Don’t just publish advertisements and promotional content over and over. Ask your followers questions. Invite them to share stories and experiences. Respond to their commentary.
That’s why it’s always recommended to hire a social media team to handle all the day-to-day engagements. You probably won’t have the time, or energy, to do it all yourself!
3. Optimize for Google Shopping
What used to be a premium service is now free. That’s right, you can get your products visible on Google’s Shopping feed and there’s no advertising subscription or cost.
To do this, you’ll need to sign-up for a Google Merchant Center Account, as well as a Google Ads account. Then, you must turn your listings into Google Shopping Ads. The process is super easy if you use Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce. Fortunately, Google offers a handy guide to get your products listed, if you don’t know where to start.
Once listed, your products will start showing up not just in search results, but also in the Google Shopping and products feed. Each entry will contain an image, a brief product description, and a direct link to the storefront where the product can be purchased. Think of it as a hotline for your best products.
4. Enlist Some Help
Whether you’re a small business with 2 to 10 employees or a medium-sized business with up to 100 or more, there are going to be some processes and tasks that aren’t in your wheelhouse — or your team’s! That’s okay because there are plenty of resources and opportunities at your disposal.
Outsourcing some of the more challenging tasks is an excellent way to reduce operational costs, take some stress off you and your team(s), and open up many new opportunities. For example, as your business grows it’s much easier to scale up, and quickly, with the help of a contract packager and other supply partners. Trying to do it yourself is probably going to end in disaster, or it’s going to take a much longer time, at the very least.
You can also outsource other aspects of your business, like IT and cybersecurity, payment processing, order fulfillment, and beyond. Consider what may help your business the most, and give it a shot!
5. Make It Mobile-Friendly
As of 2020, there are 3.6 billion smartphone users worldwide, and that is expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023. You can’t ignore mobile, especially since it’s the preferred browsing medium by many, and lots of people use their phones to shop online, too!
Yes, you should have a responsive and mobile-friendly site, but that’s not enough. The entire mobile commerce experience must be optimized, convenient, and user-friendly. That means ensuring images display correctly, along with product descriptions. Customers should be able to easily scroll and navigate the site, storefront, and individual pages. The checkout process should also be compatible with mobile devices, and speedy!
Be sure to test your website on all devices, including mobile. It will show you how convenient, or frustrating, the experience is for your customers, and it will also give you some ideas about where and how you can improve.
6. Offer Exclusive Deals
Email newsletters are a great way to reach out to regular customers, but if you want to kick things up a notch, you should offer exclusive discounts, promotions, contests, and more! Customers will subscribe to your email newsletter for access to those discounts and promotions, but the content will also keep them engaged and satisfied. What’s more, it gives them a reason to return to your site or storefront week after week.
One week they might pay a visit because of your discounts on apparel. Another week they might be looking at electronics. Of course, these are just examples, but you get the gist.
You can also extend the same benefits to social media followers, through snail mail or print ads, and so on. Use promo codes to direct customers to your storefront. You can also host contests, which tend to be super effective at generating brand awareness, especially if you use other social elements like hashtags and videos.
7. Create a Rewards Program
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Customer loyalty programs are a fantastic way to encourage repeat business and reward your most loyal followers at the same time. There are many ways to implement these kinds of solutions, from points-based systems to incentivized referral programs.
People love them. About 84% of customers say that a good loyalty program will make them more likely to stick with a brand, long term. Another 66% say that rewards programs actually change their spending habits.
Either way, you’ll see a boost in support by implementing a loyalty program, regardless of the format you choose.
8. Do Some A/B Testing
Talk to any marketer and they will tell you that a successful website, whether it’s a store or a blog, acts as a funnel. They exist to promote and encourage visitors to follow a specific action. When a visitor turns into a customer, by making a purchase, downloading an ebook, or some other action, it’s called a conversion.
To understand conversions, and how effective your website or storefront is at generating them, you must do something called split testing, or A/B testing. During the process, potential customers are presented with multiple formats of a site or page to test the effectiveness of various elements. You might test whether a page with a big red button gets more clicks than a page without, for instance.
A/B tests can help discern what parts of your ecommerce site are most effective, and which ones don’t offer any value. Every business, website, app, and general experience should undergo A/B testing at some point during its lifetime. Better yet, A/B testing should be conducted regularly, and it should be used to measure how effective a design or change is, big or small.
There’s So Much More to Do
While many of these tips are an excellent place to start, there’s a whole lot more that you can do to improve and grow your ecommerce business. Again, don’t be afraid to get creative and try some unique ideas.
Some other strategies include:
- Personalize customer experiences through contextual data
- Build top-notch and on-demand customer service channels
- Create a brand ambassador program that rewards referrals and influencers
- Engage with your local community through adverts, sponsorships, and live events
- Team up with other local businesses to offer a multi-product or service package
It’s also important to remember that while your business may be primarily online, there’s no reason why you can’t engage customers in the real world, like retail or brick-and-mortar stores.
With some time and lots of hard work, you’ll have your business booming in no time!