With the wide range of platforms, tools and templates available, creating an e-commerce site has never been simpler, and no longer requires costly outsourcing or even a high level of expertise. However, for your e-commerce venture to be successful a well-designed site really is just the beginning. Perfecting the marketing of your new e-commerce site is crucial to attract new customers and build your online reputation, and you should give some thought to your strategy early on in the marketing process.
There are a huge range of methods you can use to maximise the visibility of your e-commerce site and bring customers to your virtual door. In essence, however, the same rules apply for marketing in the virtual world as in the ‘real’ world. Our top five simple tips for e-commerce success mirror those you would use in a real world strategy:
* be visible
* talk about your product or services as much as you can
* hold sales and promotions
* spread the word far and wide
* allow your customers to trial your products
1. Be visible -Maximise your SEO
Search engine optimisation is vital not just for e-commerce but for any website. There are a number of different elements to optimisation. The easiest steps you can take yourself, which are quick to implement and require little technical knowledge, are as follows:
* Be aware of your keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Think about what words you might use if you were searching for the product or service you are offering, and make sure they are regularly mentioned within your website text – in titles, descriptions and meta-descriptions
* Make sure your main keyword is part of your site’s URL. For example, if you specialise in selling zebras, the URL www.zebra.com is preferable to www.animalswithstripes.com . This will greatly increase your chances of your website appearing prominently during a keyword search by your customers
* Sign up to webmaster tools embedded within your website. Most common platforms have these as plugins or add-ons. They will measure your website’s health, speed and performance so that you can easily correct any errors which may make you less visible
* Make your website easy to share. Have widgets embedded for all the main social media sites, in a prominent place, so that your customers can do the hard work for you
* Choose your web host carefully. Check out reviews of web hosts online to check which ones will maximise your SEO
2. Talk about it – Blog it
Embedding a log in your website is a highly effective way to market online. Cost efficient and appealing to your target audience, if your e-commerce site sells a specific type of item, then you can easily create a
buzz around your product through regular blog posts regarding your niche. Once visitors start reading your blog, you have a captive audience to tell them more about the products you are selling, and you are guaranteed to convert at least some of your blogging audience into customers.
3. Hold sales and promotions – Go old school with a good old fashioned promotion
Promotions have always been key in marketing any new business. Even before the internet was crawling with ecommerce sites, new businesses would always have opening sales, or some type of promotion to help attract people. The same strategy works on the internet. If you are offering a promotion or sale, then you can appeal to a huge number of people. Consumers love a good deal, so make a great offer, and watch as they come flocking to your site.
4. Spread the word far and wide – Embrace the power of social media
Social media is incredibly powerful in establishing your online presence, and its potential as a free, effective online marketing tool is limitless. There are billions of people in all corners of the world using all types of social media, and at least some of them will be your potential target customer base.
If you implement a high profile social media campaign, you could see dramatic results in a short space of time. Social media marketing doesn’t have to cost anything, but by using the ‘boost post’ and other promotional options available in many social media sites you can reach many more people very quickly, at a cost of just a few pounds a day. The analytics embedded within social media are also valuable tools for measuring traffic to your site and choosing the customer demographic on which to target your efforts.
5. Let your customers trial your products – Remember everyone loves a freebie – even in the virtual world
Freebies are a strategy that many businesses avoid, but giveaways operated in a careful manner can be very effective. Using the word ‘free samples’ as a keyword in your site when giving products away will bring in traffic. To prove that your products are as fantastic as you say, give some away and ask for open feedback. If the recipients love your products they will spread the word via word of mouth and online reviews, effortlessly promoting your product for very little cost to yourself.
Every ecommerce site will offer different types of products and services, so some of these methods will be more suited to your particular ecommerce strategy than others. Keep them all in mind, give them all a try and figure out which ones will be the most effective for your site. Securing your place in the ecommerce word can be as simple or as complicated as you make it, but by using a range of marketing strategies (and making sure you keep using them repeatedly) you can increase your visibility in the online world quickly, and at very little cost. Happy ecommercing.