Every businessperson knows the importance of marketing. As soon as you put up a signboard or print your visiting cards you have started marketing your business. But what next? And what is the best way for an online store to market itself? Here’s the no-jargon quick guide to online marketing. We’ll get into more depth on each of the marketing channels in future posts.
In the infographic below which we call the “Wheel of Marketing,” we’ve covered all the different marketing channels that most online stores rely on. If you are just starting out, do not try to do all of these at the same time. Start with one or two channels, try different tactics within each channel so you get to understand how they work and eventually where you should put in more of your time and money. Talking of money, when you are starting out, that is the one thing that is usually in short supply. So we are going to talk about the marketing channels in order of increasing spend levels.
Yes it is possible to market your online store for zero or near zero money. Here are some ways to grow traffic to your site without busting the bank.
On your home page, feature the hot selling items. Offer a time-bound discount with a coupon code. Run a festival-specific special deal. Announce these on your home page and change the announcements frequently.
First, start building your mailing list. You can start with your friends and relatives, people you meet at parties, ex-colleagues and classmates. Collect visiting cards and enter the details in a spreadsheet. Ask people visiting your site to register for new product announcements and special deals. Create emails for each group separately so that they do not feel you are spamming them. There are great online services for email marketing such as MailChimp, which can make very professional looking emails. But don’t overdo mails because everyone is fed up of getting spam email. Once a month is okay. Ensure that everyone you are emailing has opted-in to receive your emails. And always give the person a chance to unsubscribe and stop receiving your mails.
This is a huge and always changing area but the basics are easy. When you build your site, create unique and accurate page titles for all pages, not just the home page. For each page you should have a “description meta tag” which is a few sentences describing the content of the page in more detail than the title. Submit your online store URL to search engines such as Google. You can do that on the Google website “Submit your content” section.
These two go hand in hand. This blog post is an example of content. You can also write a blog or make a video that is related to your store but which has useful information or opinions. For example if you sell masala and spices on your store, your content could be recipes using the same. And the video could show how to make a particular dish. You could even shoot it with your mobile phone camera. Once you have some content to share, you can get social by creating a Facebook page for your online store and tweeting on Twitter. The important thing is to be chatty and social. People have to find you interesting enough to follow you. Talk about your products and how they fit in with peoples’ lives, without blatantly advertising your products at all times.
It’s like having salesmen who only get paid when they make a sale. In this case, the salesmen are other sites belonging to an affiliate network. You sign up and place an ad on these sites. The ads result in traffic and some of that traffic results in sales. You pay a commission if there is a sale, and if not, you don’t pay anything. Here’s a list and ranking of the top 10 affiliate marketing companies in the US and in Canada.
Results are very good here, but you need to commit and spend some money. You can start with Google AdWords which places your ads next to related search results, or on partner sites where the content is relevant to your ads. The good thing is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and therefore visits your site. You can use text ads which show up on both search results and partner websites. Experiment with different ad texts and determine which ones work best for you. Alternatively, you can use image ads, which only show up on partner sites, but here you are able to use an alluring visual along with ad copy. You can also advertise on Facebook to people interested in your product categories or fitting a demographic specification that you provide. These kinds of ads are considered highly targeted and even if they do not result in a store visit, your brand awareness starts building.
It takes a little patience as well as practice to start getting results from any of these tactics. But, once you start getting the hang of it, you will find them working wonders to your bottom line.
So set the “Wheel of Marketing” in motion and increase the movement of traffic to your site! We’d love to hear what your experiences with marketing have been like. And, so would our readers.