One of the biggest challenges for new online store owners is getting shoppers to the site once it’s launched. This article by Emily Johnson, Manager and Team Lead, Springbot, provides pointers about where to focus marketing efforts to drive traffic and set up your new store for growth.
Congratulations! You are now an online store owner! You refined your products, built a website, wrote some pithy descriptions, took some beautiful pictures, set up a payment system and have a team of friends and family ready to help pack up and ship out orders as they begin rolling in. You have flipped your digital door sign to “Open for Business!” But, now what?
You’ll need to muster up what elbow grease you’ve got left to make sure shoppers know you exist, and building awareness is not necessarily a walk in the park. In fact, according to PipeCandy, only 245,000 out of 1.3 million online stores set up in the U.S. actually sell anything. Welcome to the overwhelming and complex world of digital marketing! If your head is spinning, I assure you, you are not alone. I work with hundreds of new and established store owners every day, and marketing is always both a top priority and a top challenge, especially for small teams with few resources and little marketing experience.
There are so many options, avenues, strategies and tactics for marketing that it can be paralyzing to decide where to invest your precious dollars. It may be tempting to spread them out broadly across everything you can, but this is a quick way to waste time and money. A more calculated approach can bring you optimal value and hopefully allow you to keep your sanity. Here are three smart steps for building awareness and growing your online business as well as three common time sucks that will add little value to your store.
Implement These to Quickly Boost Your Marketing Game
1. Pay attention to the big picture to understand the little pictures.
It is critical to understand your buyers and think about their entire path to purchase. Where do they spend most of their time? What are they into? What are they searching for online? Do they use email a lot? Are they on social networks and, if so, which ones? Understanding their broader behavior will allow you to pinpoint specific channels as ideal for reaching your audience. Continue taking a pulse of your audience over time, because your strategy may shift as your goals shift from awareness to conversions or retention.
2. Retargeting is a glorious thing.
Shopping is a fickle sport. We’ve all clicked on links, browsed around, visited sites multiple times and even put things into carts only to ultimately walk away or get distracted before clicking buy. Then we start seeing adds pop up online for that particular site or product. Freaky? No, that’s retargeting.
In simple terms, it’s when you use advertising to target users who have already visited your website, viewed a product or are otherwise engaged in your brand. We partner with AdRoll to provide our customers with retargeting capabilities. It’s easy to manage, inexpensive and can make a huge impact on your bottom line because you are marketing to people who have already displayed some level of interest in what you are selling.
3. Automation won’t make you boring.
Yes, big stores with big money have the luxury of throwing money at the latest tools and technologies to automate their operations and free up valuable time and resources, but here’s a secret: You can benefit from automation too. Just be particular about what you automate and where you think it’s critical to maintain a human touch.
A lot of customers I work with are initially afraid of marketing automation because they fear it will cause their brand to lose its unique personality or consumers won’t sense the humanity behind the business. Avoiding automation for this reason is a big mistake. There are so many time-consuming elements to marketing that can be easily automated to save you valuable time. Then you can focus on those parts of marketing and the customer experience that let your brand personality and uniqueness shine!
Avoid These to Make Sure You’re Focused on High-Value Activity
1. Automation can also make you crazy.
Marketing automation is awesome. It makes it simple to customize who is seeing what ads and receiving certain emails. Abandoned cart? Send them an email asking if they forgot something! Signed up for the newsletter? Send them a coupon! The possibilities are endless as to what rules you set up that trigger an automated message. This also presents a potential rabbit hole that is difficult to get back out of: too much customization.
Automation like the examples above can be a significant sales tool, but it is possible to start getting so customized that the law of diminishing returns kicks in and you end up just wasting your time or, in some cases, scaring customers away. Read your data. Understand what makes an impact and what is just empty personalization. There is also plenty of industry data that provides general guidelines around how much is enough.
2. Don’t let social give you anxiety.
Everybody is on social media! If you ignore it, you are doomed to leaving money on the table. It is true: Social media is a great way to reach your target audience. It’s also a great way to get sucked into wasting a bunch of your time for little impact on growth. Email and digital ads still have significantly higher ROI than social marketing, so give yourself a break. Pick a network or two that are most popular for your target audience, and don’t beat yourself up about leaving bases uncovered. You can get to those as your business grows and you hire a team of marketers to run your social game!
3. Don’t forget to ask for help.
Chances are you have a support network of friends and family who have been cheering you on in your entrepreneurial pursuits. The early days are the most important for getting your business off the ground. They are also the toughest, so swallow your pride and lean on those who are there to help.
Most vendors that cater to small businesses also have a service crew who is ready and willing to be your extended team during times of need. Don’t leave those benefits undiscovered. Take advantage of everything that comes with your vendor relationships. You are paying for it!
And lastly, look to fellow business owners and the eCommerce community. They have all been in your shoes, and most of them would be honored to share their experiences and advice. Is there a store that you love, or is there a merchant who you think kills it in marketing? Reach out and let them know your situation. Chances are you will get some valuable nuggets of wisdom!
Hopefully these tips have provided you with at least a smidge more clarity on what to do next. Breathe deeply, and don’t let the complexity take you down. There are plenty of tools, strategies and people that can help simplify the marketing madness and lead the crowd to your virtual door!