Just over two decades ago an entrepreneur near Seattle embraced the idea of using business owners to help pad the success of another business. He called it “friendship marketing,” and wrote extensively on it as a way to generate leads and brand familiarity.
That was in the pre-eCommerce days. The field now is far wider; the competition much stiffer. But the ideology remains, and it’s now known as “affiliate marketing.” Though not quite as personal, it’s a way to piggyback off of successful businesses to both generate and divert sales. For the most part, it involves allowing other businesses targeting the same audience to receive commissions from their willingness to refer out to you. Sounds simple.
It’s a bit more complex, but the possibilities are plentiful. The obvious big-time affiliates range from Shopify to Amazon Associates; from Ebay Partner Network to Coinbase; and from ClickFunnels Affiliates to Wayfair Affiliate Program. Each offers a varied payout structure and a different set of unique benefits. On the low end, commissions may amount to 5 percent of each sale. That said, individual arrangements may spice up the deal with kickbacks as high as 50 percent. Your mileage will vary.
For newer or smaller online sellers, it’s a way to get established as you are building what hopefully will be a thriving business, and earn revenues in the process.
It may sound counterintuitive to send business away, but consider this: if someone is already signed on to you as a seller, they will buy a product from you unless you don’t carry it. This is where affiliate marketing referrals kick in, earning you a slice of the pie.
Meet Shoploop, Google’s latest toe-dip into creative digital selling. It’s been called everything from a “Tik Tok for shopping,” to a new version of an old idea, to the next hottest thing in the future of online buying. Some even liken it (for better or worse) to telemarketing for ecommerce.
Somewhere in the middle may work. It goes without saying that the younger generation of consumers is already fully on board with video. They’ve cut their teeth on it, be it through large-screen gaming to Instagram feeds. That captive audience is fruitful, but older shoppers are also taking to the medium in large numbers. The upshot is an intriguing way to personalize and expand your marketing.
The Google surge to dominate online buying explores the spiking reliance on video to entertain and inform, turning the tables and using it as an ingenious way to offer detailed visual and audio product information. Shoploop is under the Google “Area 120” umbrella, which explores ways to expand its reach into ecommerce. Unlike close competitors and platforms, its video services come grouped, eliminating the need for multiple apps.
At rollout, its focus is on the obvious sectors such as clothing, cosmetics, and skin care. Expansions are inevitable as the trend catches on.
Every ecommerce vendor has a fantasy of standing out among the competition. And why not? Name recognition gains new customers and retains current customers, if you play your cards right. The way to rise above the crowd comes down to the ability to provide excellent products and service or services. It also comes down to a concept known by entities for a very long time: branding.
Brand Management involves personalizing your business with an aspect of familiarity that makes you recognizable, attractive, approachable. Marketing experts call it a way to translate emotions into behavior on the part of consumers. To get there, you have to do the heavy lifting first.
Consider large companies we all know well. Apple Computer. REI. Microsoft. Nike. IBM. Uber. All of these mega-corporations have packaged customized imaging, slogans, philosophies, and outreach through advertising that requires little attention to know whom it’s coming from.
Branding occurs with a consistent presence through all of your correspondence, advertisements, web page design, and everything connected with your business. When you have it down right, your path is practically obstacle-free. When you don’t, you’re left vying with countless others.
Marketing, marketing, marketing.
If you’re weary of hearing the term, let alone employing it in your ecommerce business, you’re not alone. It feels like a never-ending, energy-sucking pursuit. You know it’s essential, but with the vast expanse and reach of the internet and its mind-numbing competitive obstacles, it ought to be ranked among your highest of priorities.
Developers and app geniuses know this. They’ve responded to the call, rolling out a wide array of tools to assist you along the way.
Unlike advertising, marketing requires an ability to gauge your most promising audience. Real-time features of online tracking, analytics, and other tailored options that help avoid wasting too much time, are in reach. One relative newcomer is Traffic Jet, a release by SEMrush, a digital marketing firm devoted to streamlining successful marketing campaigns.
A recent study shows that more than half of all marketers indicate machine learning is speeding up their day-to-day work a bit, while just under one-third said it does so a lot. Traffic Jet, with its Artificial Intelligence (AI) process, is likely to make those numbers grow among fledgling, growing businesses.
Traffic Jet allows full automation of your traffic acquisition, or new traffic flow, offering easy access to quick numbers. Those are all words you like to hear, so read on.
If it seems as if the entire world has changed, it has. We know this. Nary a region, city, continent on Planet Earth has escaped the ravaging effects of Covid-19, now a global pandemic that has severely shifted commerce, labor, and everyday living in a social distancing environment.
As commerce is the backbone of all free societies, this is a startling fact. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: Global Web Index found that 80 percent of consumers in the US and UK have increased their online purchasing in the wake of this pandemic. A sudden emphasis toward ecommerce is opening up markets that in the past were strictly in-person, and padding revenues for existing online sellers. It’s critical to closely examine your business model to make the best of a dire situation. With the right information, tools, attitude, and devotion, you may get through this unprecedented time.
The most essential factor here is understanding consumer behaviors in the wake of closed storefronts and empty grocery shelves. How are average citizens choosing to replenish basic supplies? How are they spending mostly limited dollars on “luxury” goods, which were not so luxurious just three months ago?
Commerce crashes are hitting virtually every sector of the economy and society. From entertainment to education, new purchases have all but disappeared. And in the runup to a real recession, many consumers are finding themselves out of work and unable to meet their current financial obligations for basics like utility bills, rent, and credit card payments.
But not all. Some are positioned to ride out this storm with a modicum of buying power. Can you take advantage of that? Take a look at some digital marketing trends that are helping businesses stay afloat, taking advantage of the nearly captive audience of consumers stuck at home with only the internet as a source of information. It’s also their source of purchasing.
The constant stream of comparisons and differences between brick-and-mortar retail establishments and online stores may become trite over time, as more and more commercial activity unfolds in cyberspace. There are definite overlaps that call for the same basic principles, but as the internet becomes more sophisticated, and more buyers navigate there to make purchases, the differences are starker than ever.
Marketing analytics is a function made simpler for those who operate online, by sole virtue of the complex, computerized system you already have in place. Tracking sales, customers, inventory, and just about everything else is somewhat automatic. In most cases it’s not necessary to actually ask a customer how they stumbled onto your store. Identifying strategies and efforts that are paying off is also much easier when your shortcut to analysis is effectively done for you.
But that doesn’t mean it requires no efforts. Putting in place an accurate, useful, and – more important – tailored process for tracking these markers demands a plan; it necessitates putting a sensible marketing analysis strategy in place.
It’s not hyperbolic to proclaim that computers are taking over our communications. Considering smartphones and tablets are effectively mini-computers, it’s safe to say that between emails, texts, and online chatting, the days of verbal interaction are waning.
The development of the “chatbot,” a cute moniker for pop-up screens that allow one-on-one interactions, originated from old-style chatrooms and expanded to take on a more commercial application. If you’re in the biz to sell goods or services, you may find yourself gravitating to that medium in order to provide optimal customer service.
Here’s a figure to knock your socks off: In 2018 there were more than 300,000 active chats on Facebook alone. That social media platform is an ideal venue, but considering this next statistic may be even more shocking. Experts say chatbots will likely handle more than 85 percent of all customer service interactions this year.
Here’s how it works: Your potential or existing customers have a question about a product, or an existing order. A chat icon on your page opens a chat window in which you and the customer may engage in a friendly discussion.
How to leverage Instagram for your benefit
Have you wondered where all your Facebook followers have gone?
If you’re a retailer – or just an average user – you may notice that you’re seeing more ads, political content, and puppy pictures than usual. And most important, fewer younger users.
That’s because the graphics-based social media platform Instagram has swooped in and begun dominating social users.
Instagram claims over one billion monthly active users. ONE BILLION. That’s a tough figure to ignore, and it illustrates why so many smart retailers are taking notice.
Instagram’s early days offered a somewhat rudimentary vertical display of pictures. Period. Ultimately its potential grew, and combined with forward-thinking strategizing of its leadership, it now has become a major player in advertising and marketing.
What drives most of Instagram’s appeal are “influencers,” or celebrities and others who have massive followings. Not willing to mess with the litany of issues that keep making Facebook more of a chore than a pleasure, these high-profile dazzlers maintain captive audiences. Some may be compensated to plug a product, but others are self-financed, and they honestly promote their favorite clothing, cosmetics, household décor, and just about anything they think of.
In a pleasant turn of events, sophisticated consumers are no longer automatically averse to email solicitations. Perhaps the years have instilled patience and discretion, leaving them more open to opening an email even if it isn’t from a colleague, romantic interest, or their mom.
That said, there is a method of madness to employ when crafting a direct mail campaign strategy – or really, any form of communication between your business and a current or prospective customer. And it’s something few really think about.
Let’s start this with an illustration. When you open your email app and peruse the cascading list of incoming mails, what’s the first thing that catches your eye? Chances are it’s a sender address that is recognizable. This is where we start with productive, successful marketing.
A “sent from” name can be an automatic invitation to the trash bin. Consider this one:
It goes without saying that an email with this sender name isn’t exactly inviting. And truthfully, it’s more likely to come from a larger company with a robust list of email accounts linked to their domains. Even then, with the glut of spam out there, it’s not likely to be read.
Do you have a single email account linked to your domain name, with your actual name as the prefix? That’s not a winning strategy. Add a few more. Even dedicated customers may not react to an email coming from a name they don’t recognize.
It doesn’t take care of itself.
Approaching the second decade of the 21st Century, it may feel redundant to refer to “online marketing.” The bulk of commerce arguably has moved toward Internet transactions and advertising for some time, and it’s becoming rare to think of marketing as shaping up anywhere but in cyberspace. That makes it all the more urgent to tailor functions for the virtual platform; to consider the web your home space for growing a business.
Consider sectors once thought to be averse to Internet that have formed a presence online. Insurance used to observe stealth, cautious marketing and underwriting activities anywhere but in an agent’s office – or, in the early part of this century, over the phone. Now it’s possible to shop, ponder, and instantly bind coverage from an iPad.
Shopped for groceries lately? Increasingly, that’s taking place through online orders managed by third-party sites, as is food delivery. Booking travel, flagging down ride shares, and even applying for college is becoming a fully virtual experience. This has one lesson for ecommerce vendors: your business is an online entity, and must be treated accordingly.
Following are resources for fine-tuning your marketing and sales functions on the internet. Consider each carefully, assessing its value to your business in terms of affordability, comprehensive features, and ease of use.