As online shopping becomes mainstream rather than an alternative, more and more businesses are seeing the need to invest in e-commerce. It is allowing them to more successfully and efficiently expand their operations.
Thanks to easier internet access and the stay-at-home measures instituted globally over the last couple of years, e-commerce has flourished exponentially. In 2020, over 2 billion people made purchases for goods and services online, with e-retail sales figures reaching $4.2 billion.
E-commerce offers multiple benefits for entirely new businesses and even more established ones that are branching away from brick and mortar storefronts. This includes:
- A streamlined and faster-buying process
- Cost savings from not needing storefronts to serve customers
- Focusing on cheaper online marketing
- Access to a broader market
- More options in payment processing
E-commerce can also take various forms including business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), and consumer to consumer (C2C). Here we will focus on B2C or retail e-commerce. Including the growing trend of direct-to-consumer e-commerce where brands sell directly to consumers without going through retailers or other middlemen.
Although e-commerce does save on having to invest in shopfronts while expanding the business, there still needs to be some added investment in marketing for it to succeed. There are many businesses already operating in the online environment. This means tougher competition for new entrants looking to carve out their niche.
To ensure new-commerce entrepreneurs are getting it right, here is a 5-step marketing guide that highlights key areas of focus to invest in and monitor.
- Develop A Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a content marketing strategy will be of immense help as you go about building your online presence and brand awareness. There are multiple channels you will be able to use to connect with and interact with your potential and existing customers. From social media platforms to email, these channels will use content to carry your message across.
You need to tailor your content plan so that it appeals to your target audience. This means first learning more about what constitutes your target audience. Once you understand your audience, you can then identify what content they will consider interesting and what channels they are most likely to be found. There are too many types of content and channels to establish a presence on, so focus on the top options that best match your target audience.
For instance, with younger audiences, there is a preference for faster and engaging visual and video content found on social platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Older and professional audiences are more likely to be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Website Optimization And User Experience
Most online consumers appreciate being able to find the products they want on dedicated e-commerce sites owned and managed by the brand owners. Being able to go right to the source helps to build trust. Consumers will however also accept purchasing on an e-commerce site belonging to a retailer that has built a good online presence.
It is important to ensure that the website you create to facilitate these transactions is free of errors and bugs. It needs to be well-optimized, with an easily navigable and mobile-friendly user interface, fast page loading speed, and regularly updated content.
Your online visitors need to be able to easily find what they want to encourage faster conversions. If they need help, availing chatbots that can guide them is useful. Offering flexible and secure payment options and cart flexibility can also promote quicker sales.
Ensuring that page content has been SEO optimized will also help ensure users can easily find their way to your products through search engines. The best user experience ensures that from the moment the buyer lands on the site, to when they complete checkout is a seamless experience.
33% of online shopping inspiration comes from social media. This is just 6% short of the influence wielded by search engine results. With online users spending as much as 145 minutes a day on social media, it is an essential space in which e-commerce businesses must build a presence and engage with customers.
This is particularly helpful for small and medium-sized businesses that can still reach a wide audience with their smaller budgets. With suitable content shared on social channels, e-commerce businesses can cultivate a following they can convert into paying customers and advocates for the brand. It can also help in customer retention as you get to keep reminding existing customers of what you have to offer.
Regular engagement on these platforms is also helpful in building trust with your audiences and can serve as a useful customer service channel where clients are assured they will get a response.
- Incorporate User Generated Content
Sharing user-generated content (UGC) can help to boost online sales. UGC is estimated to deliver 29% higher web conversions than other campaigns that do not include it. It refers to content created and posted online by ordinary users in various forms such as text, images, and videos. Video content has however become the most popularly exploited content for brands looking to build an image of authenticity and quality.
Video in social media marketing has become so popular, even long-established platforms like Instagram are incorporating them alongside their traditional content. This is thanks to the growing consumption of video content that has seen 96% of consumers increase this viewership in 2020. So as you incorporate UGC in your marketing efforts, be sure to emphasize video content.
- Paid Promotion
Paid promotions should also make up part of your marketing checklist. This can include a combination of pay-per-click advertising, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, display ads, native ads, banner ads, and influence marketing. Set a budget for paid promotions and monitor the performance of each type of advert you run.
Compare the cost of acquisition with the level of conversion to determine which options are giving the best return on investment (ROI). Ensure that you keep optimizing your ads for the best impact. Also, establish a good web presence so that when online users click through, it takes them to a well-designed website that inspires confidence in your brand.