The difference between opening an online shop and a physical shop is that an online store will usually open to little fanfare. Physical shops can be opened inside malls or on a busy town street, with balloons and flyers, and a higher chance of garnering some foot traffic and excitement.
When it comes to opening an online store, on the other hand, it comes down to more than just developing and designing an awesome shop. Sure, you’ve chosen the right niche for your business, populated your store with profitable products, with all the necessary web pages and product images. Now, you can twiddle your thumbs and waiting for your customers to walk into your virtual revolving doors, but chances are, no one will come if you just sit and wait for it to happen. The saying “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to building an online store. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way of getting around this.
What you need to do as an online store owner is to get out there, and play a proactive role in promoting your store and acquiring those customers. How, you might ask?
In this article, we have compiled some of the most current and most effective ways of marketing your store and getting the word out there to your target customers. Let's get to it.
Marketing your Online Business
What comes to mind when you think of the word “marketing” when it comes to your online business?
Some might imagine that getting the word across about your online business is expensive and resource-consuming and that the more people you want to reach, the more expensive it can be.
But it does not necessarily have to be so. There are many free and effective ways to market your online store, besides the paid promotions you've probably heard of.
The key to marketing your online business isn’t a high budget for ads, it is about consistency and providing quality content to your prospective consumers.
Just stick to it, even if your social media post didn’t garner a lot of likes, or the first few months of your business had you hearing the sound of a cricket chorus. The worst thing to do is to give up. Stay true to the course of growth that you have set for yourself, and adapt your strategy when you must. If you stay consistent in your marketing effort, you will eventually begin to reap the benefits of having reached a wider audience, an increase in following, and more traffic to your online store.
Here we will be giving you the best options and strategies for you to use in your marketing scheme. Without further ado, here are our top ways to promote your online business:
1. Get on social media
Having an online store is not enough. If you want to get your brand in front of people and you want more people to know about your online business without having to rely solely on SEO, then you want to start building your brand up on social media. Think of going on social media as your way of going to where your customers are, instead of waiting for your target audience come upon you on Google.
Your target audience is most probably on social media, interacting with one another, sharing and discussing topics and content that is relevant to your online business, and you don’t want to be left out. You want your target audience to know that you exist and that you’ve got something to offer.
You can use your social media page to directly promote your business, products, and deals. You can also use your social media accounts to share relevant and interesting content, like your latest blog posts, or use it to feature influencers using your product.
When used effectively, your social media pages are going to become a valuable resource for you to generate traffic and revenue for your online store.
Here are the most popular social media platforms for you to market your business on:
- Facebook- Clearly the most popular social media platform out there, with 1.5 billion active daily users. Facebook provides the most diverse range of users for you to appeal to in a great number of ways.
- Instagram- This popular social media platform has over 500 million active daily users. Instagram is a photo-sharing app, so it’s a perfect place for you to share images and videos of your store and products.
- Twitter- This platform has over 800 million users. 81% of Twitter users have made a purchasing decision based on products they have seen on the app. Twitter is a great place for you to share information about your sales, links, products, and events.
- Pinterest- Pinterest is a visual search engine and a great place for you to share your product images. Pinterest has over 200 million monthly users. 93% of people who use Pinterest use the app to follow creative ideas and to plan their purchases.
It might not be possible for you to handle multiple social media accounts at the same time on top of running your online store, so try to pick at least two, based on which platforms you know your target consumers use actively.
2. Start a blog
Do you want to promote your online store in a way that is mostly free and will help you generate more sales? Well then start blogging. Your Shopify store comes with a built-in blog engine already in place for you to work with, no matter what plan you choose.
Starting a blog can be hard work, but it’s the kind of work that can really pay off if you really make it your goal and stay consistent. It is one of the ways for your site to get that organic traffic that will help you get your online store rolling!
Blogs usually take on a more personal tone than other information-rich content on the internet, and it is meant to help you connect at a deeper level with your audience. Your blog also needs to be regularly updated and following the current trends if you want to really see results.
Blogging for your ecommerce business shouldn’t be limited to a handful of content though. The great thing about blogging is that it allows your brand to be creative, and to experiment with how best to reach your audience with different types of content. However, blogging can be a pretty big commitment, more so than posting daily on your Instagram page.
The key to blogging, like in any other method of promoting your online business, is inconsistency. Whether you plan to publish daily, weekly, or bimonthly, keep the content coming in a steady stream. It is also rare for blogs to reap the benefits right away, so just take note of this, and stay motivated especially in the early days of your blog.
Here are some reasons why starting a blog can be great in promoting your online store:
Helps you share value- Starting a blog for your online store gives you a wider opportunity at connecting with your customers in a way that your shop alone may not be able to do, in the sense that a blog helps you share more value and information to your consumers. The value that your shop brings can be in sharing insight and information, not just about your products, but also in cultivating the interest that your target demographic shares.
Blogs are shareable- Blog articles are shareable on social media. Not only will starting a blog give you better material to share on your own social accounts, but you will also be increasing the likelihood of others also sharing your content as well.
Search Engine Optimization- That’s right, having a blog is great for SEO and can help you rank higher on the search engine results page.
Blogs keep customers on your site longer- Someone who discovers your website through your blog has a lot more reasons to stick around longer and to read your article, especially if it contains relevant information to your target demographic.
Helps you connect to your audience- Blogging gives you the voice to speak out to your audience directly, and share things that are a common interest between you and them.
Establishes you as an authority- Building a blog and posting on it regularly will help you not only appear current and in-the-know, it helps you build industry authority that your customers are likely to recognize.
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencers are social media user who have established a loyal audience of followers and who have large amounts of post engagements. Many of them are considered experts or lifestyle gurus, and even celebrities in their field or niche, whether it is beauty, fitness, tech and more. Influencers also happen to have the power to extend their trustworthiness and credibility to the brands that they are endorsing.
92% of people who have tried influencer marketing on Instagram have reportedly seen improvements in their sales and customer engagements. More than any platform for advertising, Instagram influencers have the potential to cause the deepest impact on the purchasing habits of your consumers.
Influencer ads are actually ads that people want to see. Unlike those annoying pop-up ads, Social media influencers are seen are less invasive and less pushy forms of advertising. In fact, to many they don’t look like advertising at all, even if they are endorsing your products. That’s because influencers know how to talk to and engage their audience in a very personal and meaningful way.
A study on Instagram influencer marketing has found that for every $1 that you spend on your influencer, you get $6.50 in return.
If you feel like leveraging an influencer costs too much, then you can always just send social media influencers free stuff- Literally everyone loves free stuff, including social media influencers. There are ways for you to get social media influencers on board to promote your brand by giving them free samples of your products to promote. If you can’t afford to have a celebrity influencer, or a macro-influencer, then micro-influencers are your next best thing and may endorse your products if you just send them samples for free.
4. Email Marketing
Some marketers may be too quick to dismiss email marketing, but email marketing for your online store is far from dead, and growing your mailing list should be a strategy that you need to implement if you wish to boost sales in your online store. In fact, email is one of the most effective ways for you to engage your visitors and turn them into active customers.
Your relationship with a customer does not end after a transaction has been fulfilled through your store, and email marketing is one of the best ways to keep in touch. Email marketing can help you promote your newsletter, your blog, special offers, and it’s a great way to retarget your customers and bring them back to your site over and over again.
For those who are a little new to the concept of promoting your store through email, email marketing is the practice of sending out marketing messages to your existing and potential customers, with the purpose of encouraging loyalty and perhaps even trust, by educating your customers, sending them updates on your latest deals, cart reminders, and maybe even sending them some discount coupons. All this helps to encourage customers to come back to your site.
5. Native Advertising
According to a study conducted by Infolinks in 2013, 86% of internet users have banner blindness, and that number has most certainly increased ever since. If you are someone who relies on online advertising to generate sales for your business, these aren’t great figures. As marketers who rely on advertising to get the word out about products and services, we have to adapt with the numbers. More importantly, we must adapt to the preferences of our target market in order to circumvent banner blindness and to find new ways to connect with our audience once again. One of the ways that many online business owners are achieving this is through the help of native advertising.
What is native advertising, then? Native advertising are paid ads that don’t look like ads at all. Instead, they seamlessly match the feel and the function of the content of the very platform in which they appear on. Native ads are unobtrusive, and since they match the content of the platform, they provide targeted valuable information to a specific target demographic.
You will find native ads spread out across your social media feed, on news websites, and other digital media entertainment sites. These ads are not pushed along the side of the webpage, but are front and center, right in the middle of your feed, looking like every other type of content you would normally be interested to look at.
This is the brilliance of native advertising, is that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb to intrude upon the user.
There are 6 types of native ads most commonly deployed to achieve native objectives:
- In-Feed Units
You will be familiar with this type of ad from Facebook, Twitter, and many other platforms. These types of native ads are designed to fits seamlessly and unobtrusively between the content of a site or newsfeed.
- Paid Search Units
This type of native ad is commonly seen at the top of the search engine results page, as in Google search.
- Recommendation Widgets
You will come across this type of ads from reading articles online. Recommendation widgets are found at the bottom of a page, where there are recommendations to articles from other websites.
- Promoted Listings
This type of ad features products that are being recommended from ecommerce shops, often with the sponsored tag. You’ll see native promoted listings ads for online shopping on places like Facebook, Etsy, and eBay.
In-Ad native advertisements are standard ads found outside of the site’s main editorial section or outside of the main feed. They look like typical web ads, with the exception being that their content aligns with the content of the page you are currently viewing.
The IAB includes custom ads category for the ads that don’t fit into the above listed categories. This category is for the odd ends that do not conform to the popular classifications.
Compared to traditional forms of advertising online, native ads are showing far better results. With Native ads, brands and advertisers find themselves with higher rates of customer engagement. Findings from a recent report conducted by Facebook have found that, with native advertising, consumer engagement was up to 20% to 60% higher than traditional banner ads. Native ads are outperforming banner ads by a long shot.
Back to You
There you have it. We have talked at length about some of the best ways to promote your online store and improve site traffic. To sum it all up, acquiring your customers should be your top priority—you can even start marketing your store before you launch to get the word out about your business. If you are running an online shop, you have to be where your customers are and play an active role in connecting with them. So join social media, start a blog, and start drafting your email campaign! Don’t just build your store and leave it to sit, discover new ways to reach your audience and adapt to what you know works best with your target demographic.
What’s your take on the importance of promoting your online business? Are you also working on finding the best ways to market your store? If you are, and you have any concerns or questions, then please feel free to start a conversation with Ecommerce Pro today! We love to discuss the future plans of online business ventures and to share practical solutions to help you meet your ecommerce and dropshipping business goals.