2. 18 tried and proven marketing tactics for Ecommerce companies
Most Ecommerce store owners are reluctant to get too deep into marketing tactics because they are intimidated by the sheer number of strategies and tools that can be employed. Plus, as creators and innovators, they much prefer sticking to product-related tasks. However, at some point they’ll need to develop enough marketing savvy to effectively scale their business.
It’s certainly true that technological advances and changes in the market have created numerous new opportunities for companies to promote their business well, but that doesn’t mean your Ecommerce marketing strategy has to be overly complicated. Once you learn how to manage the various tactics, you can create a cohesive marketing program that will deliver the right information to your customers at opportune times.
1. SEO and value-added content
A critical component of any modern day marketing strategy is SEO, powered by a well-thought out content production and promotion plan. To do this successfully, you must factor in four things, which may help you gain thousands, if not tens of thousands, of new visitors each month:
Why it all starts with targeted keyword research and content production
When one digital marketer launched a new website, he challenged himself to grow it to 100,000 visitors a month in under a year and with $0 in advertising budget. And against the odds, he managed to achieve that milestone in only nine months and published a case study about it on SEONick.net
Using a purely organic marketing strategy, SEONick’s team built a website from scratch and grew it to more than 100,000 monthly visitors in under nine months.
Two things Ecommerce businesses can learn from his example are:
First, you can’t have effective SEO without an initial investment in exhaustive keyword research. You need to know which terms will have the most impact for your business, as well as how they may evolve over time.
After that, it’s all about designing a compelling content strategy that uses those keywords and features them organically throughout your articles, videos and product descriptions.
Once you’ve worked out a plan for creating great content your audience will want to consume, you should investigate additional ways to distribute it outside of SEO.
How third-party syndication can boost your organic audience
In the current Internet climate there is an insatiable need for content among hundreds of influential publishers, which has led to an increase in media syndication opportunities. For instance, food and recipe site Delish has a republishing partnership with lifestyle publication Insider in which select articles on the Delish site are promoted on Insider. And in this syndication , Delish’s republished post received more than 23,500 pageviews, some of which were redirected to the Delish
A single blog post Delish syndicated to Insider drew an additional 23,500 pageviews.
So, for Ecommerce stores, an investment in your brand blog or company magazine can be worthwhile when paired with a smart syndication strategy. Syndication arrangements not only bring awareness to your brand at a pivotal time, they also position your company as an established expert in your field to whom customers can turn for dependable advice.
Why the headline is the first hurdle in content promotion
Publishing blog posts and videos for your Ecommerce business but not getting much traction? Consider ways to improve your page headlines.
If you haven’t spent much time studying contemporary marketing principles you might be surprised to learn how much of an effect the title (also known as the headline) can have on the performance of your content. The real value may lie in the body of webpage, but the headline is what gets noticed first and provides a gateway for the audience into the piece. In a world where social media sharing carries much of the burden of getting your content seen by the right people, it becomes more necessary than ever to focus your energies on writing engaging headlines that will boost the clickworthiness and shareability of your content many times over.
In 2014, viral-content website BuzzFeed reached an unprecedented milestone for a fledgling media company: it began attracting over 100 million unique visitors a month. Around the same time, feel-good site Upworthy was described as the “fastest growing media company in history.” And both would attribute part of their success to their ability to craft headlines for stories that would ultimately promote themselves.
Soon, savvy editors and marketers understood that in today’s marketing landscape headlines had to be A/B tested and consistently optimized. Entrepreneur and marketing expert Noah Kagan saw the benefits of this firsthand when he changed the title of an online course he had created from “How to Make Your First Dollar” to “How to Make a $1,000 a Month Business.” With that single tweak, he saw a 10% increase in the number of people that purchased the course. This amounted to an extra $300 in revenue per day, and an estimated $109,500 per year.
With one headline upgrade, Noah Kagan’s “How to Make a $1,000 a Month Business” course sold 10% more memberships a day worth $109,500 in annualized revenue.
So, just think about what you stand to gain by improving all of the titles for every page on your website.
Where product reviews can impact search rankings
To also generate new content and improve your SEO performance, feature product reviews from your customers on your site.
Assuming the majority of your customer feedback is positive, this allows you to highlight information that may convince otherwise reluctant shoppers to add the items they view to their cart. At the same, enabling product reviews helps you naturally populate your page with user-generated content that almost always includes relevant keywords to boost your SEO. When customers write about their experiences with a product, they include language that aligns with terms other shoppers may search to find your website and products.
When it comes to creating a robust social media strategy for promoting your online store, three important things to remember are:
Choosing the right platforms
Great content needs the right push on the appropriate platforms if it’s going to provide the results you’re hoping for. And given the unique attributes of each social media site, you’ll want to play to their respective strengths. Below are a few broad differences:
Facebook is great for reaching a wide and diverse audience and encouraging discussion in the comments section.
Instagram provides you with the opportunity to tell visually compelling stories and forge an intimate connection between customer and brand.
Snapchat allows you to give your audience an inside look at the inner workings of your company and reach Millennial consumers.
Pinterest is a great place to connect with enthusiasts of a particular hobby or interest.
Twitter is ideal for sharing newsworthy stories and showing your followers you have a finger on the pulse of the industry.
They may not all make sense for your particular organization, but they have inherent attributes that can be exploited to reach the customers you need. Be mindful of your resources too; you do not have use every social media platform available to promote your store. Instead, it may be more strategic to heavily invest in the top two or three social networks where you’ll attract the best customers and garner the most engagement.
In the broader digital marketing landscape, too, Facebook drives more traffic to websites than Google these days according to research from analytics firm Parse.ly. And social media sites overall send more visitors to websites than the major search engines combined. So while SEO is a critical component of any good traffic acquisition strategy, so is social media.
Strategically using hashtags
First pioneered by Twitter, hashtags have become crucial in larger conversations on social media, and brands can use them to their advantage in several ways. To start, hashtags offer an easy way to understand the current context of customer conversations, which empowers store owners to share more applicable content. Once you join a conversation by adding related hashtags to your social posts, you’ll gain increased visibility courtesy of the greater discussion surrounding the issue.
Furthermore, hashtags provide branding opportunities through their very use. Leading multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola and non-profit organizations like the ALS Association have made waves by establishing popular hashtags that are inseparable from their very brands, and those are just a few of the many examples of this social media phenomenon. In fact, when the ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge campaign ended, the total tally counted more than 4.4 million mentions of the hashtag which contributed to an additional $88.5 million in fundraising donations.
The ALS #IceBucketChallenge hashtag was mentioned more than 4.4 million times on Twitter and the campaign raised a jaw-dropping $88.5 million.
By creating a hashtag that goes viral, you gain increased exposure across platforms, reinforce your brand identity in the mind of the consumer, and generate meaningful traffic and sales.
Developing an optimized posting schedule
So we know two things:
What you post on social media matters.
Which platform you post it on is also paramount.
But does it make a difference when and how often you post? Of course it does.
Your audience is overwhelmed with content as-is, and is highly susceptible to the many distractions of the Internet. If you’re not popping up frequently in their social media feeds with something of substance, other brands will find a way to claim their attention.
According to many experts, you need to post on Facebook at least three times per day for your content to have maximum impact. They don’t all have to be in-depth stories about your product, brand or shared interests, but you will still want to ensure each interaction provides value for your followers. These are not strict guidelines though since every store has a unique audience with particular media consumption habits. For instance, here at CM Commerce, we post twice a day to Facebook and five times a day on Twitter based on our understanding of how often our fans and followers want to hear from us. Also, given our geographically diverse customer base, we schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter during hours when our customers overseas are more active on social media.
One thing to prioritize in your social media approach is A/B testing to consistently refine your strategy. Components to test include:
Different types of content (practical advice, humorous content, video, questions and surveys, coupons and promotions, contests, and more)
Different times of day (morning, afternoon, evening, overnight)
Different days of the week (weekdays and weekends)
The goal here is to see which posts resonate well with your social fans and followers allowing you to establish a publishing cadence that garners the most engagement and interactions.
3. Video marketing among visually-minded audiences
In November 2015, Facebook reportedly reached 8 billion daily video views. Currently, YouTube boasts more than one billion active users watching hundreds of millions of hours of content every day. It is clear that customers are incredibly eager to consume video content — through both social media and company websites.
And savvy brands have caught on. To capitalize on this trend, meme-based greeting card company Unwelcome Greetings created original videos and curated comical clips to share with audiences on Facebook. With this, they figured out the perfect way to use video marketing to capture real estate across millions of Facebook users’ timelines. Over the past year, the Unwelcome Greetings team, primarily run by two longtime friends and business partners, produced roughly 100 videos that have generated 50 million video views on Facebook and counting.
On Facebook, the two-person team behind Unwelcome Greetings has produced dozens of viral videos, which have collectively generated 50 million views over the past year.
Though text- and image-based stories are still vital to growing your Ecommerce business, brands may ignore the potential of video marketing at their own peril.
And if that wasn’t a compelling enough story to get on board with video marketing, there is evidence the practice improves your SEO performance too. Google considers “bounce rate” and “time on site” important factors in its search algorithm, so when visitors click onto a site and immediately abandon it without viewing another page or taking time to digest the available content it can damage search rankings. With video, visitors are more likely to stop and watch your embedded clips, which signals to Google — and other search engines — that your website was one worth visiting. In turn, your SEO rankings improve and you inbound more organic search traffic overtime.
4. Public relations (PR) when mainstream media still sways public opinion
PR is a proven, low-cost way for brands to establish credibility and increase visibility. The only real downside though is writers may misinterpret your message and inappropriately portray your brand image. But you don’t have to let that scare you from pursuing valuable PR opportunities; as long as the core of the strategy is based on providing value for your customers you’ll be on solid ground. Four approaches to test are:
Using data to tell newsworthy stories
One method for getting publications to notice your brand and give you a free PR boost is to use interesting data sets to draw newsworthy conclusions. Journalists and bloggers love stories that are easily-digestible and supported by original research and statistics that catch the reader’s attention.
GrubHub, for instance, used this same strategy and landed coveted coverage on The Wall Street Journal. Citing proprietary internal data from customer orders, the online food delivery service created a list of the most unique dishes ordered in major cities. And the media loved the creative way GrubHub analyzed user behavior to highlight fun facts about our dining preferences.
Guest posting on high-traffic and niche audience sites
Guest posting on various media outlets may be more well-known as a B2B marketing tactic, but the practice can be immensely valuable for Ecommerce companies too. Regardless of the industry in question, customers almost always want to buy from companies that have established credibility in their arena, so consider having someone on your staff write for influential publications that reflect your company’s niche. For instance, if your store sells organic snack packages you could choose to publish recipes on a site such as SheKnows.com. For nascent brands, this is arguably one of the faster and more effective ways to generate awareness and build credibility. Additionally, linking to articles and videos on your own blog from those guest posts can boost your SEO rankings and drive referral traffic.
Conducting a surprising PR stunt
There’s often a negative connotation surrounding PR stunts in the business world, but the potential downsides are actually quite limited. When PR stunts work, they accomplish their intended goals with startling efficiency; namely, they get people talking about you. The main thing you need to be careful about when organizing a PR stunt is making sure it’s on-brand and legal. Once those conditions are fulfilled, the sky’s the limit in terms of creativity.
For inspiration, consider the case of apparel company entrepreneur Gihan Amarasiriwardena who showed just how performance-friendly his business’ new suit was by running a half-marathon in it, and at a blistering pace to boot. Major media publications including Esquire, Fast Company and Runner’s World covered the story prompted in part due their disbelief.
Working with bloggers who have influence over a large audience
Influencers can be another great source for affordable publicity, because as long as they like your product and believe it’s right for their followers, they’re amenable to mutually-beneficial partnerships. While mainstream journalists typically eschew offers of free product or payment in return for promotion, independent bloggers are not bound by such restrictions; just remember to insist on including a sponsorship disclosure. If you find a blogger who commands an audience you’re looking to market to, it makes sense to offer them something in exchange for their promotional help.
5. Paid advertising for targeted clicks and customers
While some companies manage to grow by leaps and bounds utilizing only PR and content marketing, there comes a time for every organization where paid advertising makes sense. Thankfully, the current landscape offers numerous options, many of which are cost-effective. It’s important to try out different combinations of paid advertising techniques (such as the three below) to determine which methods drive the most ROI for your business.
Google Adwords and product listing ads (PLAs)
If you’ve never engaged in paid advertising before, Google AdWords is a good place to start. Because Google’s influence has spread across industries and throughout the planet, people tend to forget that the bulk of their revenue is still dependent on Internet search, which means they have vast resources available for Ecommerce companies to utilize. And with the average cost per click ranging from $0.18 to $5.88, according to data from online advertising platform Wordstream, store owners can easily and affordably acquire targeted paid traffic.
The average cost per click in Google AdWords ranges from $0.18 to $5.88.
In addition to advertising for related search terms on Google, you may want to investigate the potential value of sponsoring your own brand name as well. This insures your brand’s search placement and protects you against the unknown; research indicates many users even fail to notice the first result is a paid advertisement anyway. As always, Google provides a robust set of tools for you to track the efficacy of this strategy and make adjustments accordingly, so don’t neglect to take advantage of them.
As a part of the Google AdWords interface you can also access another ad tool known as product listing advertisements (PLAs). You may have noticed that if you type the name of a product into the Google search engine, often a listing of those available for purchase will appear alongside traditional search results, including a thumbnail, price and seller. The value of PLAs lies in the streamlined purchasing process for shoppers who desire a specific product, putting the item and price directly in front of their eyes when they have high purchase intent.
Social media and in-feed advertising
Branching outside of Google but staying firmly in the digital realm, social media platforms offer attractive paid advertising options due to their massive captive audiences and detailed demographic and behavioral information on users. Social media advertising also has the benefit of being inexpensive (with traffic costing as little as a few pennies), but this is offset somewhat by the potential for your ad getting lost in the noise of users’ news feeds and timelines.
Keep in mind the ads that tend to be most effective for Ecommerce companies on social platforms are compelling visual stories audiences can quickly connect with. Therefore, you may want to focus on visually-minded channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. While it’s possible to include pictures in sponsored tweets, they are usually capped until the user decides to expand them, rendering some of the arresting qualities of their visual nature moot.
Image Credit: AdBeat
Not to be forgotten is display advertising, which doesn’t get as much attention in a world dominated by social media, but is useful nonetheless. Display advertising can be especially helpful for companies whose products benefit from larger, high-quality, curated images that aren’t always possible to display through PLAs or social media ads. An investigation into the world of display marketing for fashion brands illustrates this principle clearly. These brands rely on being able to showcase their wares through rich tableaus and composed images, and the increased ad expenditure of display advertising is well worth it for them.
6. Affiliate marketing, the always profitable pay-for-performance model
Sometimes it helps to have a force that connects your brand with your potential customers, and that’s where affiliate marketing comes into play. In affiliate marketing, a third-party markets your product on their own channels and when a customer makes the decision to purchase your promotional partner receives a predetermined cut of the sale. This is achieved through customized links the affiliate places on their website and social media posts, so that every resulting sale can be attributed to that specific affiliate.
The biggest benefit of affiliate marketing is you only spend money on completed purchases. Affiliates work exclusively on commission, so if the marketing effort stalls for whatever reason, you don’t waste funds to keep it going.
Of course, the value of an affiliate ideally also goes beyond the single sale. If you and the buyer are a good fit, then the affiliate has done the work of introducing you to a new customer who will likely purchase from you directly in the future, relieving you of the burden of additional affiliate commissions. The long-term value of these shoppers can vastly exceed what you spend paying out to your affiliates.
For your affiliate marketing program to perform well, you need promotional partners who understand your industry, your customers, and how to represent your brand and your value proposition through their own unique voice. If you’re unsure of where to start there are several networks designed to match store owners with motivated affiliates.
These sites pair you with affiliates who can advertise your wares to their audiences, and in many cases these networks handle affiliate payments as well.
You must also decide how much you can afford to pay an affiliate. If your commission incentives are too low, affiliate partners may not be suitably motivated to do everything they can to push conversion-ready leads your way. On the other hand, if you set your bounty too high, you may find affiliate costs eroding your already thin margins. Alternatively, you may want to consider raising your prices slightly to offset your affiliate marketing costs. That way, you yield more traffic and revenue. At CM Commerce, we’ve also established an affiliate program with other Ecommerce technology and marketing software vendors where we pay out a 20% commission on recurring revenue.
7. Influencer marketing and everyday people capturing major audiences
In the digital age, the most unsuspecting characters become Internet celebrities overnight with millions of fans and followers. And those that manage to stay in the limelight — instead of withdrawing to the shadows — tend to cultivate powerful relationships with their audiences. Before you tap an influencer to endorse your product though, the important questions you need to ask yourself about the proposed relationship are:
Is my brand a good fit for their audience?
Does this person command the attention of people who are well-suited to buy my products?
BarkBox partners with YouTube influencers
As one of the oldest social platforms that still has a large active user base today, it’s safe to say YouTube is the original home of social media influencers. Many YouTube stars have the added benefit of a captive audience of subscribers who expect content from them at certain times of the day or week and tune in accordingly.
Knowing this, pet product subscription service BarkBox ran an influencer-driven campaign combining the power of two things YouTube viewers love: unboxing videos and pets. As a result, the YouTube influencers BarkBox teamed up with produced several branded videos which garnered millions of views. Consequently, the company received tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of clicks to BarkBox call-to-actions within the videos and description boxes.
Lifestyle marketing on Instagram and account takeovers
For the influencers who are particularly adept at exploiting the idiosyncrasies of Instagram (IG), the service is far more than a way to share pictures with friends; it’s a way to sell a lifestyle.
Instagram influencers succeed by giving their audience a glimpse into something desirable and attainable, and brands can take advantage of this by leveraging organic partnerships. One popular tactic many companies use is to promote an Instagram account takeover. The IG influencer is handed the reins of the brand’s Instagram account for a day, bringing their curated lifestyle and built-in audience to the company while showcasing relevant products.
Facebook’s dominance as the platform for everyone
Facebook might not be the first platform people think about when it comes to social media influencers, but it remains an important outlet because, simply put, there are so. many. users.
That type of potential audience is just too lucrative for Ecommerce companies to ignore. While other outlets such as Instagram (which is now owned by Facebook) and YouTube boast more loyal influencers who are famous because of those specific platforms, they also use Facebook as complementary medium for communicating with their fans. Add in Facebook’s trove of digital information on its user base, and the world’s most popular social media site represents an important opportunity for all store owners seeking traffic.
Power pinners and a Target collaboration
When looking at how to create an effective influencer marketing campaign on Pinterest, an example from Target provides a clear path forward.
In 2014, the retail giant boasted a total of approximately 150,000 Pinterest followers, a modest sum for a leading global brand. To increase its visibility on a platform that would be very valuable in advancing its modern design aesthetic, Target partnered with top Pinterest influencers and designers to feature customized party planning collections. Soon, Target not only had innovative design work to showcase, but the company also gained exposure to tens of millions of followers courtesy of ‘Pinfluencers’ such as Joy Cho, Jan Halvarson and Kate Arends.
Forming more organic brand-influencer relationships
Looking for ways to connect with relevant influencers who can have a real impact on your company’s social performance? Reach out to them for an interview that will be published on your brand blog. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about their fans, interests and values, create content your existing customers will love, and gain access to an entirely new audience when your influencer interviewee features a link to the story on their platform of choice.
To successfully secure an interview, you need to:
Be mindful of the influencer’s time (we’re all busy people, after all)
Find ways to extend them value (help the justify taking time out of their day to speak with you)
Explain what you admire and respect about their work and how your brands are compatible (flattery goes a long way!)
Bribing your audience’s favorite influencers
Another option is to simply send power users on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram free stuff and see if they respond. Some may plug your product organically in future social posts or they may ask for payment in exchange for a more formal review their audiences would enjoy.
8. Co-branded campaigns and cross-promotions
Many Ecommerce company owners are wary about investigating potential partnerships with other brands, fearing they may somehow tip off competitors. But it’s important to remember that Ecommerce isn’t a zero-sum game; there is value to be found for all parties when businesses come together for cross-promotional opportunities that make sense for customer and company alike. This can work two ways:
Cross-promoting content and products using partner email lists
This tactic is made all the more powerful when two complementary brands come together to engage customers in innovative ways. For instance, if you run a company that produces jewelry you could look for a womenswear brand with an aesthetic that matches your own products, and one that pursues similar customers. By creating a cross-branded marketing campaign featuring pairs of your products modeled together, you can share email lists and gain access to each other’s social media followers to broaden your reach significantly. This allows you to double your marketing resources with each new partnership; in an instant, you can send an email blast that highlights both brands’ products to your 10,000 subscribers and to their 15,000 contacts.
This works extremely well because two organizations can vastly extend their respective marketing reach at a comparatively low cost. When you partner with another company you have access to a whole new audience that is already primed to buy.
Collaborating on a shared product and marketing it independently to your audiences
Another way two brands can work together is to collaborate on an entirely new product and market it across both business’ respective channels. Not only will you introduce your store to the other retailer’s fan base and gain their traffic, but a product collaboration can yield tangential benefits as well. It’s possible that during the course of this partnership you will learn advanced manufacturing techniques or be introduced to new supply chain vendors.
9. Email marketing and newsletters
As we get deeper into the 21st century email marketing no longer captures the zeitgeist the way social media marketing and influencer collaborations do, but it’s still a crucial foundation upon which to build a successful Ecommerce marketing program. One of the reasons why email has remained relevant is because of its inherent versatility. It can be used for:
Special deals and promotions
Perhaps most important of all, email allows you to communicate with your customers in a very personalized manner, using data from their site visits and purchasing history to deepen the bond they feel with your brand. This way, you also drive additional value through subsequent interactions.
Despite initial panic amongst many marketing professionals in recent years, the proliferation of “promotions” folders across the various email services hasn’t signaled the end of email marketing as a necessary and effective tool. If anything, it has resulted in a more captive audience for promotional emails, since users will periodically scour their “promotions” folder for interesting offers. It places an even greater importance on the art of writing compelling email subject lines, but as long as the content delivers on the promise of value customers will welcome effective email marketing.
Building and curating email lists is vital to the success of any traffic acquisition program. Retain your audience by encouraging new visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, allowing you to prompt those past shoppers to frequent your store so you see sustainable growth month-over-month.
10. Mass distribution through third-party marketplaces
Selling through third-party marketplaces opens up a completely new distribution channel for your Ecommerce business.
Sites such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy have massive built-in user bases you can leverage to increase your reach and sales. For shoppers who, by default, search these marketplaces and megastores for products rather than being directed there through organic search, this might be their only opportunity to be exposed to your brand. When you do sell to customers through these channels, make sure your packaging includes information on how they can access your store’s website directly the next time they’re interested in purchasing.
Also, most established Ecommerce companies don’t often think about launching new products on Kickstarter, but this can be another way to reach an audience you usually wouldn’t have access to. Many people frequently browse through crowdfunding sites including Indiegogo to find innovative products they can be among the first to try, and they will be eager to contribute to the cause if they believe the product is worthy.
And sometimes these early adopters may surprise you. When Mike Salguero launched his meat delivery service ButcherBox, he introduced it first on Kickstarter with a modest goal of raising $25,000 from the campaign. Before he knew it, the project had more than 1,100 backers pledging $210,000; and many of the buyers who viewed his campaign also visited his website to learn more about the business. Today, still, more than a year after the expiration of the campaign, ButcherBox receives residual traffic from Kickstarter users who stumble upon the closed and successfully funded project.
Using Kickstarter, ButcherBox attracted a completely new audience that pledged $210,000 to bring its product to market.
11. The tangible benefits of offline ads in a digital world
It sometimes seems like the digital realm drives all of marketing these days, but there are still myriad opportunities for Ecommerce companies to take advantage of tried-and-true analog techniques. Although we now normally assume traffic to a website comes first, sometimes in-person interactions are the driving force that leads to online visits. Below are four powerful ways to approach offline advertising:
Branded flyers, postcards and packaging
If your company already has the means for physical distribution, make sure all of your printed materials — including packaging — push customers towards your website for future interactions. Integrate moments of delight too; for example, you can include a handwritten thank you note with every packaged order. Remember that creativity pays in these situations. CM Commerce’s resident marketer (a.k.a. our Damsel in Demand) Kim Budd suggests, “Go outside of the box.” Generic ads are likely to be ignored while inventive ideas will surely be noticed.
Of course, if you lack a brick-and-mortar location, one solution is to partner with compatible local merchants who will agree to carry branded materials in their stores such as flyers, coupons and postcards.
Sponsoring in-flight magazines
While print-based ads can be expensive depending on the market and location, there are still several cost-effective options for Ecommerce companies to consider. Many online stores believe national magazine advertising to be outside of their budget, but you have to remember that not every magazine is Vogue or Better Homes and Gardens. Advertising in in-flight magazines is usually less expensive compared to subscription-based alternatives, and the high cost of in-flight WiFi keeps many passengers glued to these print publications for hours at a time.
Billboard advertising and direct mail
Also, don’t neglect the potential benefits of billboard advertising and direct mail. Thanks to high speed mobile data connections viewers can visit your URL immediately upon seeing it projected on a billboard, relieving them of the need to write it down or remember it. And while direct mail may predate almost all other forms of advertising, it still has a place in the digital world. For many customers, putting a physical reminder of your brand in their hands will spur them to visit your website.
Local events and pop-up shops
Beyond the traditional analog options there are tons of creative ways you can increase your awareness offline. Hyperlocality is an important concept in contemporary marketing, and you can engage in this practice by partnering with local organizations to host events. Alternatively, you can create temporary pop-up shops that give you most of the benefits of a permanent brick-and-mortar shop without all of the associated costs.
12. Coupons, discounts and other clever sales promotion strategies
The digital revolution has transformed the way consumers find and use coupons, and the changes benefit both shoppers and store owners as well. No longer do organizations have to print coupons and spend money on direct mail to get important promos in front of customers (of course, it’s still a recommended tactic as part of your overall integrated marketing approach). Most Internet-savvy consumers are now conditioned to search the web for discounts and promo codes anytime they make an online purchase.
Leading the charge in this arena is the explosion of coupon aggregation websites that have millions of repeat visitors each month such as:
These sites allow Ecommerce companies to submit their deals which are then searchable for customers. They’re a great example of how tech companies can fill a market gap and help consumers and businesses alike: customers can have confidence they’re getting the best price possible and Ecommerce companies receive additional web traffic from users who search exclusively on these aggregators.
Another strategy for taking advantage of the prominence of deals sites is to reach out to them directly and inquire about promotional opportunities for your brand. You can promise to give their users access to an exclusive offer, which can expose your company to a new core audience.
Then, there are daily deals sites. These include:
Being featured on one of these platforms can introduce you to a loyal group of customers who are specifically looking for one-of-a-kind steals when they browse these stores. Just be mindful that these ‘bargain shoppers’ can sometimes be a short-term solution to a longer-term problem as most might never make repeat purchases in the absence of a deep discount. So, to maximize the value of these visitors, you may want to develop a marketing strategy that aims to cultivate brand loyalty among these buyers so when they return to place another order, they complete the purchase at retail price.
13. Contests and sweepstakes that may go viral
Contests and sweepstakes are a popular tactic for Ecommerce companies because they have the potential to go viral and require minimal upfront investment. The prize for the contest can be as simple as a store gift card, but if the content of the sweepstakes is compelling enough people will take notice on a larger scale. This is where it pays to follow the trends; encourage your audience to submit user-generated content that capitalizes on an industry trend or references a popular Internet meme. This often strengthens the bond between brand and customer and makes waves throughout social media.
The reach of this strategy is multiplied when you partner with like-minded companies to exchange email lists and run a co-sponsored contest or sweepstakes. For an illustrative example, check out this $1200 giveaway by Mouth.com, Plated, Oak73, and Brika. Savvy Ecommerce store owners have made these types of collaborations a regular practice, thereby gaining exposure to the followers of other compatible brands at a low cost.
It’s even possible to give back to your customers and create powerful buzz for your company before you’ve made a single sale.
That’s exactly what online megastore Jet.com proved with their launch plan which made headlines throughout the Ecommerce and marketing industries in 2015. Their business model was based on customers buying memberships to access deals on everyday consumer items, but in an ambitious pre-launch move they decided to give away hundreds of thousands of six-month free trial memberships to early adopters who signed up for the Jet Insider program. Jet had shoppers who consciously opted-in to receive marketing materials before the company had sold its first product. What’s more amazing is that Jet managed to accomplish this with a minimal advertising budget.
14. Message boards and forum marketing
Sometimes it’s helpful to look beyond your website and core marketing channels to seek out creative ways to interact with prospects and provide value even when they don’t know you exist yet. There are numerous communities of people discussing every possible topic somewhere on the Internet, so don’t be afraid to find ongoing discussions that are related to your brand and products and start interacting with consumers on various forums. Here are four resources you can consult to find groups where you can join in and add to the conversation:
For inspiration, a sampling of interest-specific forums are:
Bodybuilding.com Forum (prime consumer engagement opportunity for stores that sell products in the fitness, health and wellness categories)
Watchuseek (ideal for timepiece and watch accessories companies)
Industry-focused blogs are another option for discovering people to engage online and advertise your brand simultaneously. The key is to identify high-quality blogs that command an audience filled with your ideal customer. RSS readers are a great tool to assist with this because you can enter in the websites you want to track and be notified when relevant posts go up. Make sure you sign up for a profile on whatever commenting platforms your chosen blogs utilize, and include a link to your company’s URL whenever appropriate to direct traffic to your site.
In either case, whether it’s message boards or blogs, the primary goal here isn’t to shamelessly promote yourself in the comments section; it’s to contribute to the communities in question and be a valuable resource to others. Take care to only share thoughts when have meaningful insights to provide and can be a respectful member of the group. As a result, people will organically seek out your brand. And whenever a competitor’s store or product is mentioned, respond with constructive, rather than emotional, comments that exercise restraint, state objective facts and are in good taste.
15. Referral marketing to leverage peer-to-peer promotion
You probably already know how important your existing customers are in terms of contributing revenue and reducing marketing costs, but they can also be a major resource in generating traffic and selling to new customers as well. Referral marketing has become a cornerstone of many Ecommerce companies’ marketing program, largely because it is inexpensive, easy-to-implement and effective.
It gets results is because personal recommendations are among the most trusted sources of “advertising.”
In fact, research indicates that over 90% of consumers feel positive peer reviews have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions.
You can create the most evocative ads imaginable and have an ideal strategy for distributing them, but they still won’t have the power of one person telling a trusted friend about their experience with a company.
While satisfied customers will usually be amenable to talking about their positive experiences, only ecstatic customers will go out of their way to promote your brand on your behalf. Therefore, for the majority of happy customers who aren’t entirely motivated to refer friends and family members your way, you should be proactive in letting them know how much you appreciate their business and then incentivize them to sign up their friends and family.
16. Wishlists and gift registries
Wishlist and gift registry marketing is an offshoot of referral marketing. In most cases, the person who creates the wishlist is an existing customer who is already familiar with your brand, and they will encourage friends and family members to visit your website and purchase from you too. Unlike with referral marketing though, where past shoppers introduce your store to less than a handful of their friends, wishlist and gift registry users may share their shopping list with hundreds of people they know, love and trust.
With one wishlist or gift registry, your registrant may help you acquire hundreds of first-time customers.
Gift registries can help you achieve some of the same goals as referral marketing, namely spurring your advocates to recommend your brand to those they know, and increasing the traffic on your Ecommerce website. If you want to connect the experience to referral marketing more directly you can take a cue from the large department store retailers who handle immense numbers of gift registries at any given moment. Once the period for the wishlist or gift registry has ended you can give the registrant the option of purchasing any remaining items on the list at a discount as a thank you incentive.
17. Retargeting to balance new and returning traffic
Sometimes visitors leave your website for any number of reasons, but that doesn’t mean they are forever a lost opportunity. Because these shoppers have a pre-existing relationship with your brand, it’s possible to tap into the reasons why they left and optimize the experience for their return using retargeting.
This enables you to balance the ratio between new and returning visitors to your website, and renew engagement with a customer segment that has fallen off the radar. Marketing to these buyers requires different resources and techniques than marketing to new customers who are unfamiliar with your store. For help, you can enlist platforms that specialize in retargeting.
18. Word-of-mouth marketing through superior customer service
There’s no replacement for word-of-mouth marketing, especially early in a company’s history when aggressive growth targets are commonplace. It’s one of the oldest and simplest forms of marketing, but its power belies its straightforwardness.
So how do you encourage positive word-of-mouth marketing for your online store without the use of incentives or giveaways? The answer to that question is simple in concept and complex in execution: deliver an outstanding customer experience across every interaction and exceed buyer expectations whenever possible.
Derek Dier grew his business, WatchesToBuy.com, primarily through word-of-mouth thanks to the reputation he has developed as an expert among vintage watch enthusiasts and his lightning fast and knowledgeable approach to customer service, which instills trust in otherwise reluctant shoppers. When something surprises your customers they want to talk about it with everyone they know, so give them every reason to want to spread your gospel across each communicative medium they possess.