It might feel as if you’ve climbed a mountain to get to this point, and now the real work starts. Don’t despair. Building your site (complete with product descriptions) and aligning with a payments provider are things you need to invest a lot of time in as you establish yourself. As you grow, you’ll need to update and refresh things here and there, but the bulk of the hard work has already been done. Marketing, on the other hand, is unfortunately not something that’s done once. It’s a process of trying, aligning, retrying, re-aligning… you get the picture. If you stay committed you will reap the rewards, and your bank manager will smile with you.
Let’s get down to business.
When you think about your audience you can break it down into these three categories:
- People who have shopped with you before or they know your store at least. In other words, they’re familiar with your brand. You have a direct line to them either via email, content marketing, or social media. Once your online store is up and running you can start promoting it to this audience. You don’t have to go far to reach them because you’ve done that already. So start marketing and sending
mails or creating content for them the moment your online store is done.
- People who are currently looking for the products you offer. You need to find ways for them to discover your products. The marketing strategies that reach this audience are SEO, content creation (like blogging and vlogging), and search engine marketing.
- People who would want your product if they knew about it. For this audience, you need to think about brand awareness. Are you offering a fix for a problem your audience is not even aware of yet or are they using a competitor’s solution for their problem? If your brand is top of mind, or you put it in front of potential customers at the right time, you’re likely to convert them into clients.
There are many more complicated ways to define your target market, but let’s not go there. If you break your market down into these three categories you can decide how much time and money you are going to spend to convert them into sales.
Email marketing is a science in itself and we will do a more comprehensive blog post about it later this month. For the purposes of this article, it is important to know that you should gather email addresses wherever you can. If you attend an event or host one, make sure you have a way of collecting this information. The bigger your database is, the better. Keep in mind that your lists should all contain relevant addresses of people who want to know what you are up to and who want to buy your products.
Use discounts to entice people to join your mailing list, or give them added value when they do. Another good strategy to build your email list is to encourage your current customers to refer their family and friends to you. Referral programs can work wonders to steadily build your lists.
Something else to keep in mind is that you need to regularly communicate with the people who want to hear from you, without spamming them. Develop a regular email cadence. Include promotions, discounts, new product ranges, and other news to encourage people to keep on visiting your site.
There are a number of software options for sending and managing bulk mail. The bigger your database, the more important it becomes to use a service that includes CRM (customer relationship management) options as well. Have a look at Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Sendinblue and HubSpot. If you are just starting out, something like MailerLite offers free bulk mail for up to 1 000 records. The most important functionality to keep in mind when you choose a provider is:
- Look at how easy and competent the mail editor is. Can you include videos, still images, forms and more complicated items?
- Take into account how many mails you plan to send, how often, and to how many people. Then compare the packages. Some providers charge per outgoing mail, others per record. If you plan to have quite an active mail presence in the market, your choice will probably come down to cost
Those are the ads that come up when you search for something on Google. The great thing about it is that you don’t need any design and it can be a very affordable way to drive traffic to your website. You get results in real time and can adjust your strategy as you go. Welcome to the world of Google search ads and keywords! There is a world of information on how to research and find the right keywords. Make yourself a cuppa and click on the link above to find relevant articles on how to do it.
The Google Display Network serves display ads to people while they watch YouTube videos, check their Gmail accounts or browse the Internet via their computers or mobile phones. This article explains how it works, how to target your market, when to advertise and how to set it up.
Google also offers responsive display ads that dynamically display and create ads on YouTube, Gmail, apps and websites. You basically load all your assets like images, headlines, logos, videos, and descriptions and Google does the rest. It’s the beginning of AI ads… are you ready?!
Paid social media ads
As we mentioned, marketing is not something you do as a once-off effort. You have to keep on learning and evolving with new platforms, formats, and ways of communicating with your audience. Facebook is a case in point. Things change as fast as Zuckerberg flies to Mars and you have to keep up to date with various marketing and social media blogs to know which way the wind is blowing today. Facebook has a Blueprint education centre where you can learn all the ins and outs of paid advertising. Have a look at the HubSpot Academy for amazing information on marketing, funnels, and paid advertising.
You can’t mention social media without mentioning Instagram. It’s mostly a mobile-first, visual platform. Recently acquired by Facebook, Instagram campaigns can be integrated with those on Facebook (although the aspect ratios are very different). We live in the age of video and Instagram was built for just that. Speaking of video, TikTok has taken the world by storm, especially in the teenage market. The platform offers millions of personalised videos and marketers have found ingenious ways to show their products.
Anybody who’s worked on or with social media will tell you the biggest challenge is to get all the aspect ratios right for each platform. Have a look at this handy, downloadable guide to make your life easier.
You know what a difference a ‘partner in crime’ can make to any venture. The same applies to marketing. Choose businesses with similar target audiences to partner with to offer shared value and capture double the amount of attention. Together you can advertise and sell complementary products.
Let’s look at an example: If you sell hiking boots, it would make sense to partner with an outdoor brand that sells tents and all-weather clothing. You might also want to connect with some travel or adventure sites, weather forecasting tools, and even a company that sells GPS products. Create things like hiking guides or maps, combined promotions, discounts, and co-branded gift guides around special holidays, for instance. You could even offer buyers a discount on your product when they buy one from your partner.
The possibilities are endless. With some strategic budgeting and content planning, you can amplify your business’s voice to the right people at the right time.