If you want to start marketing your online store you will need to use a combination of offline and online marketing tactics. There are several ways to market your business offline using conventional media but lets take a look at a few ways to drive traffic to your online store and market your brand online:Create A Marketplace Or An Online Store >
Search Engine Optimization is one of the oldest ways to market your online store and is usually the first step taken by a lot of businesses. People use keywords ('headphones', 'recipes', 'woodwork') or keyphrases ('potato salad recipe', 'beach villas thailand', 'plain t-shirts without any crap on them') to find websites and products and content on Google.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of identifying which keywords and phrases your target audience is likely to type into Google and then using those keywords in various places in your website or webstore content. Learn more about Search Engine Optimization >
SEO may not work for all kinds of businesses. If you type 'black t-shirt' into Google you get all the well-known brands like Amazon, Asos, Macy's and Nordstrom. For businesses like clothing you are better off investing your time in building your brand rather than investing in SEO. Same with other industries like daily-use electronics or music - it will be a bit tough getting a good score for something like 'DJ in New York'.
SEO tactics may work better for you if you use longer keyphrases or if there is less competition in the market. Maybe something like 'solar charger 50 watts 12 volts' or 'horse riding trails Albuquerque New Mexico' or 'flyboarding'. And you cannot just stuff keywords into your web pages and hope for the best. It is not the 1990s anymore. Google has gotten a lot more advanced and actually looks for relevant content in your website related to your keywords.
If there is quality content on your website related to your keywords then you have a better chance of ranking well and promoting your online store. In fact, the process of creating quality content is a whole new chapter in online marketing:
So what is quality content? It is not enough that you are selling a '50 watt / 12 volt solar charger'. It is better if you have a few articles on your website about renewable energy and green tech, where you can talk about the benefits of solar power and new advancements in solar panel technology. People come and hang out on your site, like they would on any other news or information site and in the process you figure out how to drive traffic to your online store. Learn more about content marketing >
So what do you do if you are selling black t-shirts? Not much technology in there. You could start a fashion blog, talk about fashion trends, fashion events, or even other events in your city. Stuff like that gets shared around on Facebook and increases traffic to your website. And Google notices when there is increased traffic on your site. It means that there is something of value on your site and your search rankings should be given more weight.
But there's about 2 million people doing the same thing on the net nowadays - with clothing, yes, but maybe not so much with solar chargers. So you need to figure out if your business will really benefit from a time-consuming content marketing exercise. Learn more about the benefits of content marketing >
Content that gets shared on Facebook will get you immediate traffic. You might have to wait a bit longer for Google to index your new content pages before they start showing up in search results. With Content Marketing you wait for Google to 'pull' in your content. But you should also 'push' your content via other online channels such as social media and email.
Both SEO and Content Marketing are time-consuming, long-term exercises and may take a long time to show results. If you need to fast track your online marketing efforts you may consider shelling out some $$:
You can start ad campaigns on Google or on Facebook and then pay per click (that's how it gets the name). That is, pay whenever someone clicks on your ad. Online advertising, as opposed to offline or print advertising, is highly trackable. You can start a campaign, monitor the results (all the demographic, geographic and keyword data that these platforms provide) and then tweak your campaign accordingly by expanding the geographical range or changing the kind of keywords you want to target.
You can start a Facebook ad campaign for quite a reasonable amount and experiment with it. Facebook may be better for lighter topics such as travel and leisure and clothing or entertainment-based products. If you want to sell more business-oriented products such as accounting software or heavy machinery, Google Adwords may be the better option. There's no way of telling which is better for promoting your online store. Both of these are relatively new media and we do not have decades worth of data like we do with print media or television.
But prices are low enough that you can experiment with a week-long or even a single day campaign and see how it all works. You can spend a lot of time reading about Pay-Per-Click Advertising or you can just dive in and try them out to see what works better for your business.
Once you get some data you can calculate your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) - the amount you spend to get one paying customer to your site - versus your Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV or LTV). If a customer costs you $20 worth of advertising to get in and you sell them a product worth $10 then that does not sound so great. But if they stick around for 5 years and give you $100 over that period then you have a winning CPA to CLTV ratio. All this is basically good old ROI (Return On Investment).
However, you need to factor in your operating costs as well on top of your advertising costs. The CLTV needs to cover your initial $20 advertising plus the fractional cost of running your business. You will need to chart out all your expenses on a spreadsheet and work out annual operating costs + advertising spend and profit on products to work out if your advertising spend will result in any overall profits.
With some products these calculations are simpler - you buy a box of t-shirts for $500, spend $200 on advertising, $200 on shipping, sell them for $1200 and make a profit of $300, so that works. But if you have your own production plant and an office with 50 staff and insurance costs and other overheads then calculating returns on advertising spend becomes a bit more complex.
Getting a headache? Time for a funny cat video and social media:
You could land a 3-headed alien on a busy high street or beam them right into a subway train and no one would notice nowadays. Not until someone made a quick video on their smartphone and uploaded it to their Facebook page. Then you would have all the chaos and pandemonium worthy of any respectable Hollywood creature flick. Or 'likes' and 'reactions' and scream-inducing 'shares'.
Life used to be simple before Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and Pinterest and Whatsapp, if you were born back then. You picked up a glossy, saw a nice ad, walked into a store, tried out(!) the product, paid for it and then went home. That was called....Shopping.
Now, if you are running a business you need to figure out where people are. Are they on Google? Are they on Facebook? Are they on YouTube? Are any of them using desk-top computers? Does anyone watch TV anymore? I read somewhere there's no trees left so surely they cannot be reading newspapers for sure....
So where is everyone? The truth is, no one knows. Sure there's bar graphs and pie charts all over the Net but they are changing all the time. You cannot trust any data that is over 2 years old these days, it would seem. So how do you promote your online store via social media?
Facebook seems like the obvious choice for starting your Social Media Marketing exercise. But then you would not be very popular if you started posting screen grabs from your accounting software or performance charts of your hydraulic pressure testing guages on it.
Opened a pastry shop? Or started an adventure camp for kids? That's more like it. The dull stuff would probably be better off on Linkedin, where relevant professionals from your industry can view the information. Brand-heavy or fashion-related material may be better off on visually-intensive platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. Got a country to run? Twitter it is if you are the presidential type.
One thing is certain. If you like predictable routine or are an introvert, then social media is not for you. Social media is not just one-way product promotion, it is intensive customer engagement. People will ask you questions, or post a rant if their delivery came in 2 hours late. Social is not just about selling products fast. It is about getting feedback on your business and improving your brand so it becomes more valuable.
Put up an interesting post and your followers will market your brand for you. Coming up with posts that capture your audience, creating graphics and maintaining links to new products on your online store takes up a lot of energy. Your FB or Linkedin page will not run itself. It is like a daily TV show and needs constant material.
But once you have an active social media presence, it becomes easier for you to run a paid campaign - you already have an active page that your customers can follow and get updates from in the future. Try out the platforms that you feel comfortable with.
But do not get into social cause everyone else is doing it. It takes a lot of work and you have to be actually interested in using the platform. Moreover, you have to be a social sort of person to begin with to really get into the game.
Still getting emails from an adventure camp you visited 10 years ago? You may never go back but you probably will not unsubscribe either. That's cause you had a great time and still recommend friends to visit the place. If you did not get all those emails then you might have forgotten about them years ago.
On the other hand, emails from all those cloud software companies and airline companies hardly get a second glance. Spam mail, marketing automation and the proliferation of email newsletters have cheapened this marketing channel somewhat. Everyone is accustomed to getting gigaloads of junk mail these days.
Building an email database is crucial for your business. But think twice before hitting that 'Send' button. If you are sending out a mail that you would not want to receive yourself then avoid sending it. Use your email judiciously so people expect to get sensible and relevant mails from you.
At the same time, don't forget to mail your customers when you do have an interesting offer or some important information about your product. Email is something everyone checks once, if not several times a day. That makes it a great tool for reaching out to your customers.
And pay serious attention to that 'Unsubscribe' link. If you are a prolific emailer and this link does not work chances are some people might mark you and your email server as spam and earn your online business some negative points.
If good old email is not quite your idea of marketing nirvana then head over to YouTube. The world's most popular video platform is probably the second-most used search engine after Google. Coincidentally, Google also owns YouTube. Guess they saw a good thing way before most online marketers did.
If you have content that could be useful to people - how to fix your bike, healthy eating recipes, space-age technology - create a video and put it up on YouTube and provide a link back to your website. The best thing about YouTube is that you can feature your product in the video and so long as your video is an interesting topic people will actually search for it and check out your product or brand in action.
Need to sell a power drill? Show people how to build a table. Got a range of hiking equipment? Make a little video on some lost tribe at the edge of Tibet (make sure they hide their iPhones first..). Got some trendy outfits? Take people pub-hopping in your city. Try and make videos that people will find useful and then upvote (Do NOT put music in that motorcycle review video - I want to listen to the engine, not something puked out by a glam rock outfit lost in the 90s...).
Your video does not need to be an Oscar-winning production - information is more important than a glamorous presentation and death-defying stunts. You can shoot something with your mobile with a cheerful voice-over on top. Try and keep the camera still, avoid jerky movements.
You can put down a voice-over script on paper and use that as a shooting guide. Simple video-editing software can help you splice together a fairly usable production. Or you can try out Adobe's pro video software for something more ambitious. Read 'Rebel Without a Crew' - the story of how Robert Rodriguez made his first full-length feature with a $7k budget - if you really want to get into it. Learn how to market your online store on a budget.
Cross-selling is something you can do on Bipteam, our ecommerce sharing platform. Lets say you have 10 products in your Blipteam store and 50 people looking at them. And a friend of yours has another 10 products and 50 customers of their own. With a single click both of you can embed each others' products in your own sites. Now both of you have 20 products each and 100 potential customers.
Cross-selling on Blipteam allows you to expand your product offering and share inventory with complementary brands. This scenario works when you are selling t-shirts and your friend is selling jeans. Or you are selling luxury handbags and your friend is selling jewelry. Get onto Blipteam and start sharing customers with each other. You can learn more here >
Got enough marketing tricks in the bag?