Everyone loves buying stuff online. More and more businesses are expanding their markets and reaching new customers thanks to the robust features of an online ecommerce platform. How much different is marketing for a website than it is for marketing for a brick-and-mortar store? Some of the concepts are similar, but there's many key components to ecommerce that can make or break your success. Here's four of the biggest elements you need to be successful selling online.
1. It's a marathon, not a sprint
We've all seen glory stories about companies opening online stores or putting their products on Amazon and immediately producing $50k in sales in the first month. While everyone should set big goals and work hard to reach them, it's important to manage expectations as you start the process of creating your ecommerce machine. Some people expect it to be easy, others quit when the going gets tough. Don't let the laundry list of challenges discourage you, because you can be successful. Building the processes is the most difficult part, so ramp up the projections down the road and give yourself time to get to those goals!
2. You get out what you put in
The whole point of your ecommerce initiative is to make more money, so some business owners are reluctant to spend money to get their online sales going. But the benefits of a powerful ecommerce platform far outweigh the costs. If you invest in something like Magento or Ucommerce as the base for your new store, you'll have amazing features and flexibility as you develop and grow. But don't go crazy: buying a huge ecommerce platform for a fledgling company could hurt you in the long run if you are buying products that do more than you need. Having perspective about what you need and where you can grow to will help you understand where and how to spend your marketing dollars, be it an online platform, pay-per-click advertising on Google, or Facebook ads.
3. Know your audience
Building your ecommerce site is no different than building your regular website: you need to build it with your customers in mind. Who are they, what are they looking for, how can you provide them a solution or product that they want? By understanding the buyer personas you are trying to reach, you can construct an ecommerce site that help point them towards the right products. This extends to the kind of content you put on your pages, and the way you maximize your SEO tags to help your Google ranking. The higher you rank, the more visitors you get, and the better you design your site, the more sales you'll see. It all starts with knowing your audience and buyer personas.
4. Unleash your digital marketing tools
Your products won't sell themselves, no matter how great your ecommerce site is. You still need to utilize the full range of marketing options at your disposal, like email, social media, blogging, eBooks, and the aforementioned SEO and PPC campaigns. The goal of an inbound marketing campaign, as opposed to traditional (read: old-school) marketing efforts, is to draw relevant traffic to your site, interest them in your company and products with quality content and other offers, and move them towards the sales point. Some people will show up ready to buy: awesome! Others will need to see some powerful email campaigns or a call to action on your Facebook page before they make their purchase. Inbound marketing gives you the full range of tools to capture new customers wherever they are in the buying cycle, and is the best way to maximize your potential with ecommerce.
These four keys just scratch the surface of what you should aim to do when launching your new ecommerce iniative. Every site is different, and every selection of products needs and different kind of site to sell them. We're big fans of ecommerce here at Revenue River, and as eCommerce Manager, I'm learning new things every day about industry standards and how to maximize your marketing budget to make online sales. It's not an exact science, which makes it a unique challenge and opportunity. If you're interested in talking about how to launch your ecommerce site, I'd love to talk to you about it!