Starting a new online retail business can be really frustrating. There are so many decisions to be made, from choosing a platform, then the development team, and then setting up every single aspect of the sales chain. It is time-consuming, doesn’t come cheap, and is in fact quite uncertain in terms of the end results.
If we assume that you have successfully passed that part of the business preparation and that you have your sales channels ready to go, the next thing you will have to focus on is marketing. After all, you need someone to actually land on your website and make purchases in order for the entire ordeal to make any sense at all.
Unfortunately, this part is easier said than done! In most cases, people who just start selling online face some serious difficulties when it comes to marketing. This often results in struggles that tend to last even years, or not so seldom – in bankruptcy and abandonment of the entire project.
So, are there some rules that need to be applied in order to escape the latter scenario? Is there a proven recipe that will guarantee success in the end?
Fortunately – there is. It requires a lot of knowledge, some caution when making decisions, and constant engagement. Still, if all of the steps are covered in the right way, success is inevitable.
Now, there are several ways to cover the marketing issues, and all of these methods are equally important. The difference is in the fact that some of those yield immediate results while others are more oriented towards the long term success.
The key to the successful operation is to identify the right balance between the available channels. Of course, there are some differences between the retailers, as different goods require different channels, but in essence, the approach is similar. To put it simply, if you are operating in visually stimulating niches such as fashion or luxury goods, the most important marketing channels will be those that allow graphic depictions of your products. Still, no matter the niche all of the steps we are going to mention are essential for the overall success. These are as follows, in the order of application:
• Google Ads
• Social Media
• Newsletter campaigns
It is simply impossible to imagine a good marketing campaign without SEO. It is an essential step to do pretty much anything with your online store. Without a good on-page SEO, there will be no significant organic visits, and that means that you will have to pay for most of the visitors on your website every time. It is not a good or sustainable method of marketing.
In order to make SEO impeccable, you will need a KW research, and then careful implementation of the best keywords for your niche into every segment of the content on your website. Metadata is something that is often neglected, and that is the most important part of the SEO in general. So, this is the thing that needs to be covered first!
After that, you will need good content on all your category and sub-category pages, and you need it to be infused with the right KWS and in the right way. This is the part that is best left to the experts, and although it might seem like an investment that doesn’t return much in the beginning, it will pay off multiple times in the long run.
Finally, you need to populate your product descriptions. This part is often covered by simple copy/pasting from the manufacturer’s sources, and although it is the cheapest way, it is far from the best one. Since the original content is the only one that doesn’t get penalised by search engines, it is a good idea to invest some time to at least rewrite the existing descriptions to make them original.
SEO does not yield immediate significant benefits, but if done properly, in the long run, it will give you a steady influx of high-quality clicks and a lot of free conversions. Since it is essential for anything further, it simply has to be covered if you want to be successful.
Google Ads is the most popular and quickest way to get significant exposure and get your first customers. Depending on the type of your portfolio, you could use either Google Search, Google Shopping, or Google Display ads in the beginning.
Google Search will not usually yield many sales, but it will attract some good visits, and it is easy to target using search terms of your potential customers. Running this with lower budgets can also significantly improve your website rankling’s which is never a bad thing.
Google Display is somewhat harder, and it lacks the basic control from your side. You can target the audiences you want, but in the end, it is up to the algorithm, and you will get the visits that are based on the user’s previous behaviour patterns. It could be a quite lucrative option, but it also often doesn’t produce the results you hope for.
Finally, there is Google Shopping. For a start-up, this is the best way to enter aggressive paid advertising as the products are offered to people who are actually looking to buy. If set up in the right way, this can be more than a good move and it is the most likely way to kick your business off to a good start.
Social media were threatening to dethrone Google as the main marketing platform for retailers. It was especially the case with Facebook and Instagram. Unfortunately, the latest developments in this sector have caused some real trouble for the new retailers.
To be more precise, some newly introduced Facebook policies (that also apply to Instagram) are so complicated and so much open to interpretation that a lot of people get their accounts banned for no reason at all.
In the attempts to deal with the scams that were omnipresent on social media, Google managed to kill off a huge number of legitimate businesses, and the current situation is disturbing, to say the least. They are so random in dealing with the bans and so unresponsive to the legitimate appeals that it dissuades many retailers from even using the platforms anymore.
Nevertheless, if you hire a professional who knows how to stay compliant with the policies, this can easily become the channel that is equally lucrative as any of the Google options. Still, it is something a new business user is hardly going to manage on his own, and you will need some expert help. Even in those cases setbacks and bans are more than probable at this moment.
Before the introduction of the GDPR, this was pretty much the first step to use to get to the customers. You would simply obtain a mailing list and try your luck. Unfortunately, these times are over, and the GDPR dictates that all of the contact details are obtained through direct and clear communication with the shoppers.
This means that you will be able to use this resource only once you have managed to collect enough subscribers. This is something that organically grows over time, but you can also use some of the previously mentioned methods to get more people to subscribe.
This method is extremely cost-effective, but due to the limitations that have been recently imposed, there is no way around it, unless you wish to risk serious fines.
If you stick to these 4 initial marketing methods, and you carry out the mandatory ones in the right way, you should not worry about the future of your business. It will generate visits and sales, and although the beginning will not be a very comfortable one, in the end, you will be more than satisfied with the results.
We are experts in this field, and if you need any help to organise your own campaigns, feel free to give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you out!