This is a guest post by Mark Beohar. Andy Beohar is the Chief Inbound Marketing Strategist at SevenAtoms Inc, a San Francisco Inbound Marketing and PPC Agency. At SevenAtoms, he manages and develops inbound marketing and Google AdWords strategies for companies with the goal to substantially increase their online visibility, grow their brand and bring in more leads and conversions.
With all the ecommerce platforms out there today, it’s easier than ever for ecommerce brands to set up an online shop. However, with increased accessibility comes increased competition. If you want to stay a step ahead of the competition, you’ll need to get a little creative. Below, we’ll outline some of the steps your brand needs to take to build an unbeatable ecommerce marketing strategy:
1 – Get to know your target audience
The first step in developing an effective ecommerce marketing strategy is learning more about who your target audience is and what kind of content appeals to them most. If you don’t do this before you start putting together marketing materials, you risk the chance of developing content that misses the mark—a waste of both time and budget.
Creating buyer personas is one of the best ways to make sure that you understand who your buyers really are. Buyer personas are profiles that you create based on the basic demographics and interests of your target buyers. To get started, you will need to gather information about your target audience:
- Look at your existing customer contacts to see if there are any common trends or characteristics.
- Interview current customers and people who are interested in your products about their interests and buying behaviors.
- Ask current and prospective customers to fill out surveys about their interests and what they look for when purchasing products and services.
Once you start to develop detailed buyer personas, you can use these profiles to understand better your target audience’s needs, interests, and biggest challenges, which will help you create more valuable and useful content.
2 – Put together a content team
Once you’ve got a handle on who your target audience is and what they find most valuable, you’ll need to assemble a team of talented content creators. This content team will be responsible for creating compelling written and visual content that helps you connect with leads and guide them through the buyer’s journey.
You may have to look outside of your organization to find writers and designers who can create content that reflects your brand’s culture. Though utilizing your in-house team might save some money initially, remember that creating content takes time and effort. If you don’t have the resources in-house, consider hiring professional freelancers or partnering with a digital marketing agency.
3- Create content that provides value.
Once you know who you are marketing to and you’ve got together a team to create your marketing content, it’s time to focus your efforts on developing content that provides value for your audience. Effective content should be both interesting and informative while providing stand-alone value to your audience. This means that you have to go beyond the sales pitch to focus on creating content that is educational and useful to your audience.
The key to developing truly great marketing content is to consider how your products improve your target customers’ lives. What challenges do your products solve? How can your customers get value out of the products you provide? If you can answer these questions, then you’ve got a great starting point for coming up with content topics that will engage and delight your audience.
For an example of an ecommerce company that does this well, let’s take a look at Motorcycler.com. This ecommerce site provides a range of motorcycle apparel like goggles, jackets, and helmets. In a recent post on their blog, they provided a motorcycle maintenance infographic that explains how to change the oil in a motorcycle.
Though the post does not feature any of the items that the site sells, it does provide content that is interesting and useful to their target audience. By giving readers something that provides value, Motorcycler.com is working to build trust and develop stronger relationships with their customers and prospects.
4 – Develop a content calendar to stay consistent.
When it comes to ecommerce marketing content, consistency is key. If you want to establish trust with your target customers and show them the value that your brand provides, you need to publish content regularly that they will find useful. A content calendar will help you stay on track with your content marketing efforts and allow you to see if there are any gaps in your publishing schedule.
There is no right or wrong way to develop a content calendar. Some ecommerce brands may use third-party content calendar software while others are content using a spreadsheet in Google docs. No matter what tool you use for content planning, you’ll want to make sure that your calendar includes the following:
- Topic – What will the piece of content focus on?
- Description – What specifics should this piece of content include? Who is it targeted to?
- Type of content – A blog, infographic, email, etc.
- Deadlines – When is the piece of content due?
- Publish Date – When will the piece of content be published?
- Promotion Strategy – How will you promote this piece of content? Through social media? Email? Paid ads?
By using a content calendar, you can make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page and work to ensure that all your content is published on time.
5 – Focus on SEO for ecommerce.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of your ecommerce marketing strategy. You need to make sure that your website and other content is optimized for search engines like Google so that you can rank higher on the results page and increase your online reach.
There are three parts that you will need to focus on to improve your ecommerce SEO:
- Keyword Research – If you want to bring in more relevant consumers, you’ll need to use the right keywords. Use a free keyword tool, like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, to find long tail keywords (three or more words) that have low to medium competition.
- On-Page SEO – On-page SEO involves optimizing the content and HTML source code of your web pages so that they rank higher on the search engine results page. In addition to optimizing your meta descriptions and title tags, you’ll also want to optimize elements that are essential to your ecommerce site—such as product categories, names, and descriptions.
- Link Building – The third element of improving ecommerce SEO is link building. This is the process of getting external sites to link back to your site to increase your website’s authority. You want to make sure that these are quality backlinks, which you can work to build through link exchanges, providing guest content, or even posting comments on other blogs and articles.
6 – Introduce paid campaigns.
Paid campaigns are a great addition to your ecommerce marketing mix. With paid ad campaigns, you can work toward increasing exposure to increase leads and boost sales. However, if you want to maximize your marketing budget, it’s important to be strategic about your ad strategy and execution.
Pay-per-click (PPC) AdWords campaigns help you increase exposure on the search engines. Though it may be difficult to get your website on the first SERP through organic search traffic, with strategic AdWords campaigns, your ad could potentially be the first result that the searcher interacts with. For best results, be sure to use PPC best practices to ensure that your brand is targeting the best keywords and utilizing an effective bidding structure.
Another paid campaign option is Google Shopping campaigns. These campaigns use a combination of paid advertising and SEO to increase search engine traffic to your ecommerce site. With Google Shopping campaigns, products from your ecommerce site will pop up right in the Google search results along with a price and image that link directly back to the product page. Much like PPC ads, Google Shopping campaigns help put your products in front of customers who are looking for them on the search engines.
Social media ads are another great way to bring more traffic to your site and influence more sales. Ads on Facebook allow you to take advantage of the channels’ sophisticated targeting capabilities to get your brand in front of the customers who are most likely to make a purchase. You can target consumers based on demographic information such as their age, occupation, location, income, as well as behaviors and even interests.
Before you invest in social media ads, make sure that you do your research to find the channels that your target customers frequent. For instance, if you are targeting middle-aged adults, you should not invest your resources into social platforms like Snapchat. Rather than trying to be everywhere at once, work on being strategic and putting your ad budget where it is likely to do best.
7 – Include strategic email marketing.
Email marketing is yet another successful strategy for ecommerce companies who want to grow their brand online. Reaching customers and prospects through email is an effective way to influence conversions while benefiting from low investment costs. The key to achieving high ROI on your ecommerce email marketing campaigns is to follow some basic best practices.
First, you will need to be strategic about what time during the day and which day of the week you are sending emails as this can have a significant impact on your email open rates. To find the best times for your business, do a little research into what times your target customers are opening and reading their emails.
Once you’ve determined the best time to send your ecommerce marketing emails, you will then need to optimize your email content to get higher open rates and click-through rates. Here are a few tips on how to encourage readers to open and take action on your marketing emails:
- Use a compelling subject line. The subject line is your first chance to leave an impression on the reader. It should be relevant and informative, but also compel them to open it. Use language that establishes a sense of urgency, such as “hurry” or “last chance.”
- Open with something interesting. If you want to grab (and hold) your audience’s attention, then you’ll need to craft a killer opening line. If you can’t earn your reader’s interest in the first two lines, they may stop reading.
- Break content up into digestible chunks. The average consumer leads a busy life, and they may even be reading your marketing email while on the go. To make things easy, use headings and bullet points to break your text up and make it easier to read. Avoid any large blocks of text that might overwhelm the reader.
- Use a clear call-to-action. The reader shouldn’t have to guess where you want them to go next. Make sure that your CTA is clear and lets the reader know where you would like them to go next.
Building an effective ecommerce marketing strategy takes a little planning and a lot of work. These tips will help you get started creating an ecommerce marketing plan that is sure to help you bring in more leads and boost sales.