This is a guest post from Marvellous Aham-adi, a content marketer and the creator of TheZeroed.
There are somewhere between 12 million and 24 million active eCommerce stores worldwide, with new ones popping up every day. That stat has the potential to be very intimidating—and even deflating—to an eCommerce store owner. After all, it’s a stark reminder that you’re not only competing with mega-brands like Amazon, you’re also competing with millions of smaller stores, many of which are trying to sell their products to the exact same audience as you.
But there’s good news: Not all of those 12 to 24 million stores are taking advantage of the advertising and marketing tools at their disposal. Many, maybe even most, of them are not. So if you really know your brand and customers, employ the right marketing strategies, and put in the effort, you can boost the visibility of your eCommerce store and rise above the fray. And that, ultimately, should lead to more customers and more sales.
In this article, we’ll dive into five of the strategies you can use to improve the visibility of your eCommerce store to give you an edge over all that competition.
A blog can play a huge role in spreading the word about your eCommerce store—and can significantly impact how much revenue you can generate. According to one study, nearly two thirds of internet users in the U.S. made an online purchase in the past year due to something they read in a blog post.
When done right, blogging (which is a large component of content marketing) can bring a ton of benefits that you wouldn’t get from traditional forms of advertising or marketing.
Here are a few of the key reasons why your eCommerce site needs a blog:
- Consumers are always looking for answers. If you can give credible, helpful answers to problems—even ones not directly relating to the products you’re selling, but ones that your target customers are facing in their lives—you build trust with current and potential customers. That trust is an invaluable asset for a brand.
- Blogging brings in more traffic. According to HubSpot, websites that have a blog get 434 percent more pages indexed by search engines than websites without blogs. With more indexed pages, you should come up in more searches—which, logically, should bring you more traffic.
- Consumers like to read blogs before they make a purchase decision. Blogs play a vital role in influencing a buyer’s decision. Research from Dynata found nearly half of customers read blogs when they’re researching a product to buy, and 84 percent will use the information from those blogs to decide whether to make their purchase. (PDF)
So how do you figure out what to blog about? Here are some things you should consider when you’re starting an eCommerce blog.
Define your target audience
The first step in creating a successful eCommerce blog is to define your target audience. You need to ensure that you create content that’s relevant to the things your potential customers would search for.
For example, if your eCommerce store sells high-end yoga mats, blog posts on the basics on yoga (like “Getting started with yoga” or “The first five yoga poses to master”) won’t serve your target audience. Your product is for customers who are already actively doing yoga and are looking to upgrade their mat. So write content on more advanced yoga topics accordingly (“How to master firefly pose,” for example).
Create valuable content
Always create content that your audience would enjoy. Content marketing is a slower burn than outright advertising—not every blog post you write should be a hardcore sales pitch for your product. Create content that offers enormous value or solves a particular need, and the sales will follow.
Here’s an example from Press, a cold-press juice company. They’re targeting customers who are interested in health (and health trends), so their blog covers a lot more than just juices. It also has sections on beauty, fitness, travel, and, as pictured below, mindfulness. This is valuable original content that’s relevant to their target customer—which can help in both discovery and retention.
Keep search engine optimization in mind
Ultimately, as search engine algorithms get smarter, good, relevant content should find its way to the top of the results. However, no algorithm is perfect. So while you shouldn’t let SEO dictate the entirety of your eCommerce blog’s content, it’s good to always keep SEO basics in mind—and take the steps toward optimizing your blog posts to help boost their position in search results.
It’s not exactly groundbreaking to say “you should use social media to market your store”—at this point, everyone knows about the power of social media—but there’s a difference between using social media and using it well. And to increase your store’s visibility, you need to use it well. Here are some of the ways you can really stand out with your social media marketing.
Using live video is a marketing strategy that’s growing in popularity—and it won’t cost you anything to get started. You can now go live on most of the big social networks, which allows you to engage with your customers in real time. And your customers want you to: One survey found 82 percent of people prefer live video from a brand to regular social posts. Are any of your competitors using live video? If not, it’s a great way for you to stand out. (And even if they are, as long as what you’re doing is unique, it’s still a low-investment way to make a big impact for your brand.)
Link to Facebook Messenger from your site
Facebook Messenger has well over one billion active users every month. It’s one of the top ways that people communicate with each other—and a way your brand can communicate with them too. After you set up a chatbot and link Facebook Messenger to your site, you now have the power to show product updates and price changes to customers using Facebook Messenger—and provide them with customer support. Plus, customers can buy your products directly through Facebook without the need to leave the site.
Here’s an example of some of the different ways that Burberry is using Facebook Messenger—promoting products, helping customers find gifts, answering questions, and even telling interactive stores.
Showcase your products in interesting ways on YouTube
There are two main ways eCommerce brands use YouTube: Product demonstrations/sales videos… and creative content. And while the former might be easier to create, don’t neglect the latter; many huge eCommerce retailers have had a ton of success by getting creative on YouTube. (Think of Blendtec’s “Will it blend?” series, Dollar Shave Club, and GoPro.)
Brainstorm some ways you could showcase your products in unexpected, creative, funny, or unusual ways in YouTube videos. They just might help you expose your brand to an entirely new audience. You might even be able to unlock the holy grail of marketing: A video promoting your product that organically goes viral.
Create testimonials using influencers in your niche
Don’t underestimate the value that a good influencer can provide. Influencers can help you market your products and get your brand in front of a whole new audience.
Influencer testimonials can be very effective in building visibility for your brand. 93 percent of online shoppers say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
The key is to find influencers that are popular in your niche. Those influencers need not have tens of millions of followers, but if they have the right 2,000 followers, their endorsement can carry some real weight and help you make sales. (They will also probably cost less to hire than someone with millions of followers.) You can use a tool like Klear to find the best influencers for you.
You’d be hard pressed to find an eCommerce store owner who doesn’t recognize that email is a top lead generation channel. When it comes to increasing your store’s visibility with your emails, though, sending an occasional sales announcement to your list isn’t enough. You need to use your emails to continually remind customers and potential customers about your store—so when the moment comes that they do want or need a product you sell, they instantly think of you.
Take advantage of automations
Automated emails are an incredibly powerful tool for eCommerce stores. Send a welcome email (or series) when someone subscribes to your list or makes a purchase. Send cart abandonment recovery emails when a visitor to your website adds an item to their cart but doesn’t complete checkout. Send emails cross-selling related products based on a customer’s past purchases. Send invitations to loyalty and VIP programs, requests for product reviews, and reminders for customers to reorder consumable products they’ve bought in the past. By sending automations, you’re keeping your brand in your customers’ inboxes (and bringing in more revenue) without having to hand craft each individual email.
Here’s an example of an automation from clothing brand Tradlands promoting their loyalty points program. How do you earn points? By making purchases, sure—but also by taking lots and lots of other steps to help with their brand’s visibility.
Integrate social media into your emails
Your goal when it comes to increasing visibility is to make your customers feel like they’re seeing you “everywhere.” If they subscribe to your email list and follow your social media accounts, they’ll get that feeling.
So promote your social media accounts in your emails to get some of your subscribers to follow and interact with you on those platforms. Likewise, promote your email list on your social media accounts.
In-person marketing might seem passé in this day and age of hypertargeted online marketing, but a good guerilla marketing plan can still work wonders in building awareness for your eCommerce store.
Your guerilla marketing effort can be as simple as handing out flyers or cards in a strategic location—or as elaborate as pulling off a flash mob or other major public stunt.
Editor’s note: the advice in this section should not be followed while social distancing recommendations are still in place.
While you can probably conceive of a digital-based guerilla marketing stunt (like a mysterious website or something like that), there’s still something about offline interactions that register in a different way with customers.
The only limits to an effective, offline guerilla marketing campaign are your budget and your imagination. Guerilla marketing is all about grabbing people’s attention. You can do this by installing things like billboards, creative art pieces, temporary installments, and more. Put them close to landmarks that get a lot of foot traffic—that will get people talking and sharing pictures on social media.
The key is to try to be funny and creative (and legal). The more people that are talking, the more visible your store becomes.
Here’s an example of a guerilla marketing stunt from fashion company GoldToe—during one New York Fashion Week, they put their t-shirts and underwear on famous statues around New York City. Those were highly visible stunts that lent themselves to people taking selfies and posting them on social media.
Create a social challenge
Social challenges are a great way to increase the visibility of your eCommerce store. You can create a challenge with a fun idea that would get your audience engaged, and possibly even offer an incentive (like a discount) for participating. TikTok challenges, in particular, seem to be happening more and more often these days—so think of a good one that ties in with your brand.
In addition, keep an eye on social challenges that are trending—and think about a clever way you could have your brand participate.
Google is still the top search engine by far (it has roughly a 92 percent market share)—so you need to make sure your eCommerce business is as visible on Google as possible. And while it’s crucial, as we discussed earlier, to focus on your SEO and show up in search results, there are other ways to increase your presence on Google as well.
Google My Business
With Google My Business, customers can easily find your business when they search for it online. You’ll also be able to promote events, respond to reviews, get more insight into how customers are searching for you, and find where your customers are coming from. The only catch: You must have a physical location.
Google Shopping is different than traditional Google Ads. When your products are listed on Google Shopping, people can click directly through to your eCommerce site to buy them. It’s a great way to increase your sales and help your website’s visibility.
It does take some work though. Merely signing up for Google Shopping does not mean your products will automatically show up in the results. You’ll need to optimize your Google Shopping ad campaigns for engagement and conversions. (Check out our guide to getting started with Google Shopping to learn exactly how to accomplish that.)
There’s a ton of competition in the eCommerce industry, and more stores going up every day. Even if you have excellent products, that might not be enough—you won’t make any sales if no one can find your brand. So, if you want to increase the visibility of your store to stand out from the pack, it’s going to take some effort and some creativity.
- Start an eCommerce blog. Post content that’s helpful, engaging, and relevant to build trust with your customers and increase the traffic to your site.
- Create a social media strategy. Keep up on the trends in social media, and make sure to get creative with YouTube, live video, and more.
- Stay top-of-mind with your emails. Use automations to maintain a continuous presence in your customers’ inboxes, and integrate your social media into your emails so your customers feel like they’re seeing you “everywhere.”
- Use guerilla marketing. Go offline and market your store in the real world—it can be as simple as handing out flyers, or as complex as pulling off a flash mob or other huge stunt.
- Increase your Google presence. Use features like Google My Business and Google Shopping to make it even easier for customers to find you through their searches.