We are in a new era where technology covers most of the aspect of our daily lives, and lately, in commerce too. With so many tools offered by the internet, a new commercial peak arose, the well-known online stores that can help entrepreneurs with little experience who are searching to create a known brand in the market.
Like physical stores, online commerce needs to be promoted in order to grow, as the beginning of an online store can be quite hard. Actually, opening an online store and wait for it to reach sales, is like opening a store in a dark alley and waiting for success to come. An online store requires a very active promotional work, since you are not opening your store in the middle of a successful shopping center but rather in the middle of the desert. There are some key points in online store promotion:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google is quite hard with newly registered domains, so the first months of any store or website are the ones where it is more difficult to position yourself. With a continuous SEO job from the blog of your store, you can start to see some results within the first 6 months. If you do a good email marketing strategy and social networks, this will help empower your results. Your store needs to be appealing to Google in order to get out of “the dark alley” (achieving a good place in the searching engines). Reaching the first page results of searching engines is not an easy job. Your website needs to be optimized for search engines and you have to do a thorough job on the blog, using the keywords by which people search for your products. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have incoming traffic on the website. In a few weeks (depending on your SEO, in which you must put a lot of effort and hire someone experienced for this task) you will start to notice improvement. You have to update weekly, using a good keyword strategy. Patience and perseverance are overriding.
- Email marketing. If you have a neighborhood store, customers are constantly aware that it exists, as it is likely to be on their daily path. The thing with internet is that it doesn’t works like that. If a customer bought once in your store, there are chances that they will buy again, but if you do not remind them that you exist, they may end up forgetting you. Email marketing is an essential tool. It’s your only way to communicate with them. You should not abuse email marketing though, as it may irritate your customers. It would be best to keep in touch with them to send them interesting information, offers that may interest them and exclusive offers.
- Social networking. Social networks are an important complement to the rest of the strategy. They can serve as a speaker, to disseminate the contents, show the products and create a community around your store. It is important that you use them to bring traffic to the web. If you share a product or an offer, do not forget to always include the link where you can buy it. Remember that the online store is the place where sales close. On the internet, the purchase has to be a single click. It is not useful for the client to see a photo and then have to search the store in google.
Also in social networks you have to share balanced content, you cannot be constantly showing products and making sales. It is necessary to create a community around common interests, which can be fashion or children that depends on your target audience. If you only do self-promotion, soon your followers will get tired. There are some strategies of social networking that can be useful, the main one would be the influencers. Sending them free samples of your products could spark your popularity in online communities. The easiest way to get their postal address is to send an email in which you present your product and ask for it directly. Also, the results are better when you do not ask them directly to talk about what you are sending them, but doing it in a completely disinterested way. Try to get them to know the person behind the product.
Following the followers of your competence is another good way of attracting customers and publicize your store. They will most likely get curious and check your profile. If they like what they see, you will also gain followers and potential customers. You can also try networking with other stores with common interests. For example, imagine that you sell cutlery. You can collaborate with stores that sell tablecloths and dishes. Take pictures together and make promotions together.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads. A fast way to drive traffic to your online store is to pay for it. These targeted ads appear in search results, and when someone clicks on the ad, you pay a fee. Google AdWords is probably the most used and known method, as it displays ads or text in Gmail, apps and websites. Also, it showcases videos on YouTube and target your audience according to different aspects (their interests, demographics, etc…). You are probably thinking about how much you should spend in ads. It depends on what you are selling, the prices and even the relevance of your competitors. Since there is no standard investment figure applicable to all online stores, think about 25/75: 25% of your investment goes to the developing of your e-commerce, and the 75% left goes on promoting it.
“Mouth to mouth”. The recommendations of other customers who have purchased are a very effective weapon to help a new customer decide to make a purchase. Buying from the internet is different, it is not the same as buying in a store that you can always go to claim if you are dissatisfied, so you have to earn your customers’ trust. Most online stores have systems with which customers can leave their opinion on the products they have consumed. You may have to give them a little push to leave that review, sending them an email within weeks of the purchase (Email Marketing) or even encouraging the review with a small discount for their next purchase.