Maybe the last thing you envisioned spending a ton of time on when you decided to become an ecommerce seller was marketing. Sure, you recognize the word. You understand there is a basic need to connect with potential buyers. But is it really necessary to dedicate so much of your precious time and energy on an intangible?
In a word, yes.
In the absence of a physical presence that people drive by on the regular, your cyber business is virtually invisible. This is not a comforting thought, and it should wake you up to the pressing need to expand outreach. Marketing your e-business can become less painful—and, dare way say, even enjoyable—with the right attitude, the right goal, and the right strategy.
Storefront businesses endure Chamber of Commerce socials and mixers, talking up their offerings. Think of digital marketing as an expansion of those with a bigger payout. Direct outreach to consumers is mostly free when it’s conducted online. All you need to do is arm yourself with the best practices.
Here are some tried-and-true tips to employing ecommerce marketing in a way that offers a good return on investment:
When it comes to promoting your business, email continues to be one of the most important ways to reach customers and increase sales. Although it may seem that social media is catching up quickly, the numbers show that email marketing continues to be more effective for businesses to communicate with their customers.
A recent survey found that only 41 percent of people, and only 30 percent of Americans, trust social media. Four in ten people have deleted a social media account in the past year. Conversely, email use continues to grow, with a whopping 3.8 email users in 2018. That number is set to grow to 4.4 billion by 2023.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why your email list is still the most effective way to reach customers in 2019.
It’s Cost Effective
The average business owner reported a return on investment of $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing in 2019. That’s up from $38 for every $1 spent in 2018. If you focus on fine-tuning your message and determining what’s most effective for your audience, that number could increase exponentially.
It Requires Permission
Unlike Facebook, where people are bombarded with ads from companies they’ve never heard of, people who choose to receive your emails do so willingly. They’ve already expressed an interest in what your business has to offer. Requiring a double opt-in, or adding an extra step for customers to receive your emails, narrows it down even further. Research has shown that requiring a double opt-in can increase ROI by an average of 13%.
Who doesn’t remember the first purchase made from your ecommerce business? It was likely a high point, and not to be forgotten. No matter how many subsequent transactions you’ve processed, you’re always hoping for a way to hook in a stream of consistent repeaters. Right?
So here’s a way: set up a subscription service.
Increasingly, larger e-tailers have gone to a model that arranges automatic shipments of products commonly replenish, such as shampoo, vitamins, and food. The ability to build this into an ordering system is extraordinary; it mirrors the way non-profits solicit a reliable stream of donations by the month or quarter. Dropping the price at a level you choose offers incentive for dedicated shoppers, and may be a great offset to the fairly good potential of repeat business.
The big players in subscription services tend to be niche products. Home delivery entities such as Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, and Itsy are singularly focused on a single product line. But there is no reason it can’t apply to particular products in a larger inventory.
Aside from replenishment, the curation model is another way to land future business. Delivering a curated collection of items, usually within a specific product category, forms a perma-relationship by offering discounts on collection items that endure and increase as the customer stays on board.
Sustainability matters to people–particularly to Millennials. A Neilsen poll of over 30,000 people found that 66% of consumers– and 73% of Millennials– are willing to pay more to support companies who commit to sustainable, environmentally-friendly business practices. With Millennials set to overtake Boomers as the largest living generation in 2019, it’s crucial for businesses to pay attention to this growing trend.
In this day and age, it’s more important than ever for online stores to reduce their carbon footprint - not only to use as a selling point, but because it’s the right thing to do for our planet. And let’s face it. From gas-guzzling delivery trucks to layers of wasteful packaging, ecommerce isn’t exactly the most environmentally-friendly business model out there.
Going green may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve been in business for a while. The good news is that the more this trend catches on, the more opportunities there are for online stores to minimize their environmental impact. And this comes with the added bonus of gaining customers’ trust.
So, what are some easy steps your ecommerce business can take to become greener?
4 Live Chat Tips to Increase Customer Loyalty
Think back to your last live chat experience. Was it smooth and user-friendly, or did it leave you wanting to tear your hair out in frustration?
Mine, unfortunately, fell into the second category. I was trying to fund a checking account I’d just opened with a large banking and credit card company. Following the instructions didn’t seem to be working and I couldn’t find the answers I was looking for, so I clicked the live chat button in an attempt to get some help.
Though I didn’t quite get to the point of tearing my hair out, the whole experience had me scratching my head and wondering why on earth they even bothered to call it “live chat.” Each time I typed in my concern, it would link me to the same FAQ answers I’d already looked at. I couldn’t find the answer to my question anywhere, and there was no option to chat with a live person. So frustrating!
I eventually gave up, and a week later, I still haven’t funded my account. I’ll eventually get it taken care of with a simple phone call, but life’s been hectic and I haven’t found the time. (Sound familiar?)
Of course, it’s a little different for a huge bank with millions of customers who need their services to function in life. Frankly, there’s no reason for them to care about inconveniencing a customer from time to time. People don’t have much of a choice but to continue doing business with them.
But in a hypercompetitive market like e-commerce, any delay or inconvenience can be repellent to a customer and can cost you the sale and the relationship. Here are four tips to create a fast, friendly and efficient live chat experience so you can boost sales and form loyal customer relationships.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but words are powerful, and changes that hit the Facebook platform may be painful.
So say analysts reviewing new policies freshly implemented by the behemoth of all social media, and it could be a gigantic headache for those who write ad copy.
This shift in ad sizes was announced at a recent F8 conference, but the company has been somewhat stealth with respect to public information. Ad revenue is their bread and butter, naturally. And with more than 2 billion worldwide users, they are sharply focused on building a venue for paid advertisers, often at the expense of user experience. Nonetheless, the company continues to tweak its advertising options.
Here’s what’s happening: Facebook feed ads viewed in mobile mode (and let’s face it, few are using full-size computers these days) are shrinking. These “creative restrictions” make the image size and the amount of text smaller, with images reduced to a 4:5 aspect ratio from the current 2:3. Along with that is a text reduction from seven sentences to three – a tremendous drop by any measure.
Prioritizing ad copy words
Though users will be able to access more lines by clicking a “see more” link, the game is now changed. As anyone who has written for limited space platforms knows, the visible text is critical for engagement, and if that text is cut in less than half, it will be more important than ever to employ an economy of words with the most benefit.
With mobile devices already small in scale, that means even a typical one-liner with an inducement – the bread and butter of marketing lead-ins – won’t fit. And that hurts.
Beyond the written word, you’ll be dealing with a shrinking graphical allotment. This will require image redesigns, along with the judgment call on how small to make your overlay text.
The good news is that Facebook prepped for this sea change, perhaps to quell the tide of resistance. Their Video Creation Kit tool allows for a semi-automated process to make it easier through scaled image resizing. The kit also offers more templates that ostensibly provide flexibility to accommodate this curtailed space issue.
Driving sales for underperforming products and services can be a tough task. These products and/or services need additional tactics to help it perform and this is where scarcity marketing. This technique helps move sales for these items based on their rarity. With things so readily available to consumers through online shopping, more and more consumers find value in things that feel more exclusive. So here are several useful tactics for scarcity marketing for your small online business.
Establish Product Availability
It is important to let your consumers know how many items are still available for purchase. The point of this tactic is to establish a sense of urgency to influence consumers to purchase this product or service as soon as possible. If there are only three items left in stock, set an alert on your webpage to let customers know.
Limited Edition & Seasonal Products
Another way to establish a sense of urgency for products is to create special collections. These are products with limited quantity and will not be replenish them once they are sold out. This makes the product feel rare and exclusive which entices potential customers. Seasonal collections are also effective that may only come out during a certain time of year.
Creating a pre-sale offer for exclusive products brings a sense of excitement for potential customers. It can also gauge the demand for your product and bring in sales before the launch. This is also an effective way to show other consumers the high demand for your business as well.
Out-of-Stock Alerts & Low Stock Notices
When your items are out of stock, let your customers set alerts to know when an item is available again. Also let your consumers know when you are products are low in stock so they are more enticed to make a purchase before the item becomes sold out. This keeps a relationship between the consumer to come back for either the same item or perhaps another.
Customers love discounts and they love exclusive ones even more. You can do this by rewarding loyal customers as a follow-up from a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, and following your business on social media. Flash sales are also a good tactic to use as an exclusive short-term sale to attract attention to products as well. If you have a physical storefront, you can hand out invites to in-store patrons who make a purchase.
The “e” in “ecommerce” sets your business apart from storefront or warehouse operations, and the difference could not be more prolific.
Electronic and digital processing, advertising, communications, inventory control, and the like, functions well only with a reliable content management system, or CMS. It enables creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content you rely on to run your business on a day to day basis.
We’ve come a long way since headache-inducing HTML coding was necessary to develop anything worth viewing over a digital screen. Modern functions are more seamless than ever.
From small-time web sites and blogs to sophisticated multi-page systems, the CMS you use is arguably one of the most essential functions of your ecommerce business. When it’s user-friendly, it delivers even more benefits you can’t put a price on. Indeed, you don’t need to break the bank in order to maintain excellent control over content.
Take control with open source CMS
Open source means freedom and flexibility; it offers a host of possibilities for visual and functional fulfillment with enough customization to truly brand your own enterprise. With more control, you call the shots. Your limits lie in your creativity and visualization.
Plenty of open source CMS options offer free usage, making it an even more attractive option. All it takes is a bit of study and time.
Here are some to consider:
They didn’t name it Amazon for nothing.
As if the king of all internet retailers hasn’t dominated enough sectors, it’s now among the top platforms for advertising. There are good reasons for that, and none of them should be a surprise.
Just as Facebook took the social media world by storm, effectively lining out competitors, Amazon is well on its way to becoming the premier commerce player of all time. Aside from negative press surrounding unfortunate stories of porch package thefts, their rep is quite stellar, even as they creep toward a quasi-monopoly territory that has retailers concerned.
And why not? Eclipsing the 600 million product mark in 2018, it seems there isn’t much you can’t find on the popular site. Add to that two-day delivery with its Prime feature, and you have a massive cabal of captive targets. More than 300 million of them, to be exact.
This is where you come in. Whether or not you use Amazon as a sales platform, you should be giving serious consideration to its advertising feature. Not too much of a departure from Google Ads, Amazon creates a seamless search function for site users to locate a product. Sponsored posts appear at the top, designated as such in a subtle way. That puts your offering front and center to a consumer directly searching for it on a favorite portal.
Note to ecommerce vendors: It’s never been a more exciting time to sell things.
As new and riveting internet-based platforms emerge to make the process easier, faster, and more fruitful, there’s one that’s been around a long time and is still arguably the backbone of any business.
Email. Email marketing morphs a tool invented for personal conversations into a dynamic, effective platform for pitching products and services to would-be customers who may or may not know of you. Email happens to be the most widely used of all modern communications channels. Estimates say 99 percent of all consumers check theirs on a daily basis.
And perhaps it’s a better choice than other advertising-related vehicles for the simple reason that people read their emails with a different expectation than they have when they browse social media, or even watch television. Advertising that interrupts play time is probably less palatable than direct messaging sent to an account people read knowing they are there to receive messaging.
If you’ve prioritized your marketing and outreach through social media channels, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just consider the new benefits of an old standby that won’t steer you wrong.
Start With a Plan
Forming an email marketing strategy is pretty simple and straightforward, but there are must-do’s and must-not-do’s to keep in mind.
Start with the most obvious, and develop a targeted customer list. Generating leads is easier with the development of tools like Monster Leads, which integrates marketing functions by collecting, sorting, and storing sales leads. A service like this allows you to revisit the email marketing function without having to restructure and search for new targets.
Before you stress over being “that guy” sending a ton of unwanted mail, relax. Even if one-quarter of your messages are opened, that’s a significant reach. Another way to test the waters for oversaturation is to select a sub-group of customers you feel good about, and set them up for more frequent sends, while limiting the rest of the list to occasional messaging.
Once you have a target audience, think creatively by envisioning what you might respond to favorably. Develop eye-catching graphics that are easy to read and understand. Refine your wording to be brief, engaging, and (most importantly) urgent enough to prompt consideration.