Updated: Nov 4, 2020
If you don't have an online presence in the day of COVID-19 you're missing a big part of your retail strategy. When you ask a panel of E-commerce nerds (like me), you’ll find a dizzying variety of answers that will eventually lead into fox hole that can leave you confused. To make things worse the strategy you use depends on factors like your business model, budget, product, etc.
To get you started I’ve put together a list of where to start. I like to start with the FREE stuff first:
1. Start With Your Website. Keeping the traffic in your store is equally as important as DRIVING the traffic to your store. Spending money to drive traffic only to lose them on the first page is counterproductive. Some basics: A. Design your user interface (UI) so it’s clean and easy. Limit the homepage content to two or three messages. Complicated content with a lot of words is a turn off. A user should be able to see what you’re all about and jump to the page of interest easily. B. Avoid high pixel graphics to reduce the time it takes to load. Up to 80% of websites will be viewed on a mobile device making it important to be mobile-friendly. If your site is too slow to load when scrolled down, or they move to another page, you’ll lose them. Fast loading will also help your SEO ranking. C. Sign up to Google Analytics. This could be a little more complicated to the new user but learn how to do it. It’s very important to know how/what/where/ when the traffic is hitting your store and to begin collecting cookies immediately. You’ll also need Google Analytics to access SEO and Re-marketing.
2. Content. Start blogging to drive new traffic to your site. Blogging helps you create a brand around your products and services, allows you to share your expertise and passion, and helps get traffic. You’re reading one right now! There are all kinds of reasons for blogging but for the purposes of this blog: get people interested, and keep them interested. Other things you can do for content are free downloads (there’s one below), podcasts, Youtube videos, how-to guides, etc. No matter what you do, start collecting email addresses so you can commoditize your efforts down the road.
3. Email. Communicating to your customer base is the best way to drive traffic and sales. If you’re lucky enough to have an established email list, use it to communicate to your customers regularly. Reasons to communicate doesn’t have to be about promotions or sales. It can be about your blog, information, industry news, tips and tricks, etc. Be creative but make sure you communicate regularly. If you don’t have an email list, start building one. Some popular ways to collect emails are: contests, discounts, subscriptions, and downloads; to name a few. Whatever strategy you decide to implement, ensure you follow rules around email marketing set by the Canadian Anti-Span Legislation (CASL).
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Simply put, this is where you figure out the most common search words for your products and implement them into your store. Having good SEO puts your site higher in the rankings in organic Google Search results, and high ranking means a higher likelihood for clicks- that’s FREE TRAFFIC. Having keywords in your product descriptions and product titles, adding external links, and writing compelling copy are all part of it.
Can this be more complicated? It sure can. Some SEO Service Providers will spend a lot of time ensuring your site can rank high in search results. As a start, Download an E-commece Checklist here.
5. Paid Ads. The most popular Ad Platforms are Google Ads (includes Instagram, Gmail and Youtube), Facebook, and Pintrest. These platforms can deliver ads to your target audience with accuracy, making efficient use of your marketing dollars.
Depending on your products, customers, and business model, this can be a tough choice. Consider this: if you’re selling a B2B product, you may not want to engage Face Book, instead use Google Ads and Gmail. If your customers are millennial or younger, Instagram might be a better choice. If your product is arts-and-craft related, home ware, jewelry, or apparel, then maybe you should use Pintrest; or maybe use a combination. No matter what you decide, make sure to engage Google Analytics so you can identify your traffic patterns, start collecting cookies, and emails.
6. Influencer Marketing on Instagram. The Karashian’s combined followers total over half a billion. Believe me when I tell you that if they endorse a product online, there will be sales, and a lot of it. But unless you’re a billion dollar fashion mogul, you probably can’t afford Kim, Kloe, Kourtney, or Kendall. Maybe you can afford Caitlyn. It’s all a matter of popularity and followers. If you’re a saavy participant in your niche, you can recruit an influencer to push endorsement posts to drive traffic and sales to your online store.
The challenges with Influencer Marketing at our level is that you can’t always trust follower counts, follower authenticity, valid “influencers”, and targeting. As a result, trustworthy analytics and ROI data suffers. To help offset the risks with this type of marketing, Hashtagpaid.com is great way to cut through the fog of Influencer Marketing. They can maximize success by helping with influencer selection, creative, and reporting.
I hope this helps. Drop me note if you want to talk about it.