The strategy you employ to market and grow your e-commerce business will help determine whether (and how quickly) you reach your goals and achieve success. And whether you are new to the e-commerce game or you've been selling online for years, there is always room for growth.
Here is the good news: There are marketing and growth techniques that can put you on the path to success. Here is the not-so-good news: Sustained success won't come overnight.
Now let's take a look at seven highly efficient marketing and growth techniques for e-commerce businesses.
1. Focus on conversion optimization
How much traffic you push to your website doesn't really matter. All that matters is that people make a purchase. So the higher your conversion rate, the more money you will make.
(Here is a useful guide to conversion optimization. From testing to data mining, you'll learn quite a bit.)
The following scenario will open your eyes as to why conversion is so important:
- For every 1,000 visitors to your site, 10 of them make a purchase. That's a conversion rate of 1%. If, on average, those 10 people purchase $100 worth of goods or services, you will earn $1,000 for every 1,000 visitors.
- Now, if you find a way to double your conversion rate to 2%, every 1,000 visitors will bring in $2,000. Simply put, you double revenue without increasing traffic.
Many e-commerce business owners think the only way to increase sales is to increase traffic. Although that's one option to consider, increasing your conversion rate can be much more powerful.
2. Grab those email addresses
Email marketing remains one of the best ways to generate business. If somebody doesn't make a purchase, yet you capture his or her email address, you should still consider that a "win."
Of course, if somebody makes a purchase and then provides his or her email address, you are getting the best of both worlds.
As your email list grows, you will find yourself driving more traffic back to your site via email—without your having to worry about generating additional organic traffic or investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
(Want to avoid common email mistakes? This article, titled "How to Be the Worst Email Marketer in 10 Easy Steps," will keep you on track.)
3. Blog like you mean it
The primary goal of your e-commerce business is to sell something—shoes or dental services or power tools, or... And as much or as many as possible.
The benefits of starting a blog are many, including the following:
- Boosting search rankings to increase organic traffic
- Providing current and future customers with advice and guidance
- Creating a place to share company news, such as new products
You may find that your blog acts as one of your best selling tools. You could write a post about the top products in your category, linking to those that you sell. This "soft sell" strategy has been proven effective, time and again.
4. Let social media be your best friend
Social media isn't an effective way for every e-commerce store to reach its customer base, but it is a sound approach for many.
Consider an online store selling women's designer clothes. What better way to connect with your audience than via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? All of these platforms will give you the tools you need to reach your audience in ways that boost traffic and revenue.
You can use social media organically by posting regularly, or you can advertise (if your budget allows for it, of course).
(Here is the story of a fast-growing online boutique that relied on social media to move to the forefront of its industry.)
5. Redesign your store
Because you face so much competition, the design of your website could make all the difference between success and failure. Whether you've created your online shop from scratch or you're using one of the top e-commerce platforms available, here are some questions to answer as you attempt to decide whether a redesign would be in your best interest:
- Is it simple for visitors to find what they are looking for, without delays?
- Do your analytics show that people are visiting your website but leaving before they view more than one page?
- When you compare your website with other, successful websites in your industry, do you multiple areas where yours is missing the boat?
6. Take better pictures (and share them too)
An online store that sells physical goods will greatly benefit from the use of high-quality images.
Remember, buyers are not able to see your items in person. They are not able to feel them with their own two hands. The only things they have to go on are the images and descriptions that you provide.
Sticking with the example of women's designer clothes, let's consider the following options:
- Using stock images
- Using images of just the clothes themselves (not worn)
- Using images of a woman modeling each piece
Of those three options, which would attract the most attention? You may want to experiment with all three options, but the third one will come across as most professional. Not to mention it gives prospective buyers the ability to see how a particular item looks on a person.
The high-quality photos on your website are also perfect for social media marketing.
Try this: Hire a professional to take shots of your best sellers. Then, share those photos via social media. After a few days have passed, compare the performance of your previous (nonprofessional) photos with those shot by a professional. Which one performed best?
7. Customer service is a form of marketing
Many owners of online stores don't look at things this way, but it is absolutely true: The customer service you provide can be your biggest ally or you worst enemy.
When happy customers tell others about your store, you know they spread positive vibes. As a result, word-of-mouth marketing begins to pick up, as do sales.
By the same token, angry customers can tell just as many people that your store has nothing to offer. Again, word-of-mouth can take over, causing damage to your business.
At times, you will have to deal with angry customers. At time, you will have to make tough decisions about how to make them happy. How you deal with such situations is important.
Providing a high level of customer service should be part of your sales and marketing strategy. If somebody asks a question or expresses a concern on social media, be sure to get back to them right away. If somebody sends you an email to complain about a product he or she purchased, don't wait to offer a resolution.
You hold the key to success
When using marketing and growth techniques for your e-commerce business, you hold the key to success. The steps you take and the strategies you employ will have an impact on the future of your business.
You may have implemented some of the above-listed tactics in the past, or maybe not. Now is the time to think about the future. Using one or more of these ideas could take your sales from average to extraordinary.
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