You have a new online e-commerce store. Your web developer has set up your store to process e-commerce transactions in a secure environment for you. Now all you need is some tips on how to get your online store running well and making some money. Here are a few e-commerce marketing and promotion tips to get you started.
Products that wow your customers sell themselves.
Your e-commerce store needs to offer products that are more convenient, better value, higher quality, more original, or in some other way better than competitors'.
- Make sure your products are amazing. Then keep making them better. It should really go without saying, but if your e-commerce store doesn't offer something cheaper, higher quality, more original, more convenient, or in some other way better than everyone else's, your online sales will not follow easily without some expensive marketing.
- Service delivery will make or break your e-commerce venture - so respond to enquiries timeously and courteously.
- Test everything thoroughly prior to launch (correct pricing, taxation, product info, etc). Then test again. And again. Transaction mistakes can cost you a lot of money and reputation damage to correct after the fact.
- SEO (search engine optimization) - Have your web developer and/or online marketing specialist optimise the content of your e-commerce site on a product-by-product basis such that search engines will understand each and every item that you're selling.
- Internet marketing and promotion - Undertake some long-term internet promotion and marketing to grow your traffic over time, otherwise you're likely to be underwhelmed by your resulting sales.
Don't underestimate offline advertising
to complement online marketing.
Print is often forgotten by online retailers, which is why it can be a great place to cut through the online noise. For example, you could send out print promotions with coupn codes that can only be redeemed on your online store. Traditional promotions can still be a great way to acquire potential online customers, so don't forget about them!
- Online advertising - Consider some online advertising such as Google Adwords until your search engine optimisation campaign has started to kick in and produce top search engine results. You only pay when a potential customer clicks on your targeted ad, so this can be fairly cost effective. Once you're ranking well in search engines, you can probably reduce this, as your organic results should be performing better if your SEO has been done correctly.
- Don't forget some offline marketing, at least for a while in the beginning. Especially if you serve a local market, this can help get your name known long before search engines start ranking your site well enough to send you potential customers.
- Partner with other online sellers. You can achieve some nice cost efficiencies by pooling your efforts, expenses and promotions with the right businesses.
- Partner with offline sellers who don't have an online store. You can sell their products online (for a markup of course, 20-25% is a common percentage). They do the actual stocking, packaging and delivery, and offline promotion of your site in-store and in other marketing activities.
Run regular specials.
These are an incentive to buy, and most people buy more than just the item/s on special.
- Create electronic discount coupons that can be redeemed by entering a promotional code when purchasing online at your store. You can distribute these via email very cost effectively (through legitimate channels such as friends, family and existing customers, never spam). This has an added advantage that, if attractive enough, these people will forward the coupons on, creating free advertising.
- Implement a loyalty points system. You could, for example, specify that $1 of purchases = 10 loyalty points. Allow future purchases using these points to obtain a discount or full purchase of items in your e-commerce store. By working on a factor of 1-4% of goods' value in loyalty points, you can promote repeat purchases, while still keeping the promotional costs thereof low.
- Implement a newsletter for your customers to subscribe to. These are qualified leads, and are probably the people most likely to purchase from you again, if you are able to keep them informed of your latest products and specials.
- Run regular specials on your site. These are an incentive to buy, and most people end up buying more than just the item/s on special.
- Put together an affiliate and/ or reseller program to allow other businesses to sell your goods on your behalf. This costs you nothing to market once it's up and running, since they carry the marketing costs, and either receive a percentage of the purchase, or alternatively mark up your reseller price to their own (allows them flexibility in their profit margins).
There's a lot more to e-commerce marketing, but if you only get the above things right, you'll be well on your way. Don't get discouraged if it takes some time to build up your store, it's normal to do so, the same as any business, online or offline. Work consistently hard on the fundamentals of e-commerce marketing and promotion, and you'll soon enough see a steady growth in e-commerce sales and profitability.