Becoming an e-commerce business owner is an exciting yet daunting venture.
While being a business owner can be a rewarding experience, it can also be stressful. If you have been in the game for a while, you know that generating online traffic and sales can be challenging.
“In 2021, more people Googled ‘How to start a business’ than ‘How to get a job.’ This is not just the year of the entrepreneur — this is the start of a new era where being an entrepreneur is people’s first choice for a career,” observes Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify.
If you are new to the game, you have a lot to learn. Being a successful e-commerce business owner requires equal parts strategy, tact, and talent. If you’ve created a product or service worthy of selling, we know you have the talent, so we are here to help with the strategy and tact.
What Is E-Commerce Marketing?
E-commerce marketing is the process of driving traffic to your online store through different tactics, often including traffic generation, conversion optimization, and customer retention and loyalty. These strategies aim to improve marketing efficiency, increase brand visibility, and boost sales.
“You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed, you have to create traffic,” advises Joel Anderson, CEO of Five Below and former CEO of Walmart.
Marketing is one of your best tools as a new business owner. You can utilize the three tactics mentioned above in dozens of ways, and you can expand into anything from SEO and content marketing to email campaigns, Google ads, and more.
1. Build Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness is about building trust. As people come to know and trust you as a brand, your sales will increase. Trust builds repeat customers, and those customers tend to share products and services they trust with friends and family.
“Trust is one of the hardest things to build but also the most important. People need to feel they can trust the companies and organizations they give their money to. Without trust, you won’t have any sales,” says Agatha Relota Luczo, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Furtuna Skin.
If you want to build brand awareness (and therefore trust), focus on quality. All of your products need to be first-rate, and so does the content you produce to showcase them. You need a high-quality website to sell them on, and you’ll also need to practice excellent customer service.
2. Build Email Lists
Once you have started selling your product, build email lists of your past and future customers to use in your marketing strategy. You can send out information on new product releases and announce sales or discounts through your email list.
“The information you collect about your customers is invaluable. You should be keeping every email, every phone number, and every address to use in your marketing campaigns,” recommends Colby Schmidt, Founder of Coursology.
Some of your most valuable customers are people who have purchased from you before. Creating a way to communicate with them directly is incredibly important when you are just starting.
3. Strategic Marketing
Marketing and advertising is an essential tool for businesses of all sizes and stages of development. As a new business owner, you are probably concerned about cost. It can be easy to prioritize spending in other areas while you are just starting out, but marketing should be at the top of your list.
“Marketing is how you create new business. It is especially important when you are just getting things off the ground. You want to let people know who you are and what you do,” says Anthony Siskos, COO of Hypeblvd.
Advertising doesn’t have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. It’s more about spending your advertising dollars effectively. If you do it right, you will bring in steady business to your up-and-coming shop.
Blogs, social ads, podcasts, and video ads fall under the umbrella of content marketing. For many new e-commerce shops, content marketing is the best way to start getting your name out there. Effective content marketing will help drive traffic to your online store, which is essential to making sales.
“You need a strong presence on social media as a new e-commerce business. So many people have changed the trajectory of their lives by showcasing their products in viral videos,” mentions Victor Mathieux, Co-Founder and CEO of Miracle Brand.
It costs you nothing to set up pages on major social media sites. If you are short on cash, putting your focus on social media is going to be the best way to go. It takes a lot of work, sure, but if you can gain a following, you have a new group of people to market to.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google. It helps attract more organic traffic to your website. E-commerce SEO specifically focuses on getting your product pages to rank higher when people search for certain keywords.
“SEO is one of the greatest marketing tools of our time. If you can leverage it properly, it will quickly become your favorite marketing strategy,” says Jack Carrere, CEO and Co-Founder of Prokeep.
Many tools and services are dedicated to helping you improve your ranking on Google. Have you ever tried to search for yourself on Google? If your business isn’t showing up on the first page, you need an SEO strategy.
Google Shopping Ads
Google shopping ads are a relatively cost-effective way to get your product seen by more people. Google shopping ads are responsible for the product images you see at the top of the page when you search for a certain item. If you want your product to be up there, too, you need to set up a Google merchant account.
“Make your products as easy to find as possible. If potential customers find similar products first, they will never be able to give yours a chance,” suggests Scott Chaverri, CEO of Mito Red Light.
Once you set up your account, your products will be seen by millions of customers who are shopping online. As long as they search for the keywords that are associated with your product, you should show up at the top of the page.
Remember those email lists that we talked about? Email marketing is alive and well, and it can increase sales when traffic is slow.
“Customers love a good sale. Use your email lists to entice customers to purchase your products by offering them exclusive deals or free shipping,” suggests Anthony Tivnan, President and Co-Founder of Magellan Jets, a company that offers on-demand private jet charter flights.
Once you have built your subscriber base, you can send out monthly newsletters with information on exciting changes and new products that are coming to your shop. You can also inform customers of upcoming sales and any other announcements you have to share.
4. Perfect Your Online Store
As an e-commerce business, your online store is your main focus. You first need to make sure it is built properly. It needs to be clean, simple, and easy to navigate. Consumers have a notoriously short attention span, so if they have to work hard to find where to purchase your product, you could lose out on the sale.
“Your online store is your bread and butter as an e-commerce business. There is no excuse for it not to be perfect. Make sure it is set up to give your customers the same shopping experience you would want to have while shopping online,” advises Jason Zhang, CTO of Tapin.GG, a company that aids gamers in their quest to achieve an elo boost.
If you’re unsure where to begin, hire a web designer to help achieve your vision for your online shop. They can help you implement the tools you need to operate as a successful business. The upfront cost will be worth it in the long run.
5. Offer As Many Payment Options As Possible
Aim to accept all major credit and debit cards as payment for your product or service and allow customers to use PayPal, Amazon, or Apply Pay if possible. If you are making more complex sales, you can implement electronic signature software.
“You want to be as accommodating as possible to attract more sales. Accept all types of payment, offer different shipping options, and have products at varying price points. Make sure there is something for everyone,” recommends Julia Kahlig-Garuba, CEO & Founder of Herb & Root.
You never want to give people a reason to take their business elsewhere, especially if these factors are in your control. You should also offer different shipping options, such as next-day or two-day shipping. Lastly, avoid forcing people to make an account to check out. This may seem like a smart move, but it could drive people who are in a hurry away.
Breaking Into E-Commerce
If you are just starting your e-commerce business, you’ll need to exercise some patience. After all, the most successful e-commerce businesses today didn’t get where they are overnight. They utilized strategies and created well-thought-out business plans to get where they are today.
“This is an exciting time for e-commerce businesses. Shops are moving away from commodity products and moving towards things people cherish,” mentions Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer of Videeo.
Utilize the strategies in this article to get yourself off the ground. Be relentless with your marketing efforts, and never stop looking for ways to improve. If you work strategically and put in the hard work, you will surely get to where you want to be.