Build your e-commerce marketing strategy
Before building your e-commerce site, you have to step back and create your e-commerce marketing strategy by answering a few basic questions. Perhaps the most important question is why your customers should choose you over your competitors.
The answer will guide your online marketing strategy and the direction of your brand. An effective brand helps you find your audience and your place in the market. It’s also essential to tell a consistent story about your business. This consistency builds trust. Trust leads to sales. And sales are the basis of a thriving e-commerce business.
What do you want to sell?
Businesses often succeed in e-commerce when they start with a small number of unique, competitive products they will be sure to have in stock. Use your market research to choose products that stand out. Here are other factors to consider when choosing what to sell.
5 factors to consider when deciding what to sell
➀ Product size and weight Lighter products are cheaper to ship and offer better margins online. Shipping costs are a frequent cause of shopping cart abandonment.
➁ Customization level Customization can be a unique selling point, but it’s also a source of the additional cost. Variations in product colour, size and other elements can increase inventory costs and the risk of fulfilment mistakes.
➂ The competition: your competitors’ products and price levels have a direct impact on what you’re able to sell and charge. It’s key to know the marketplace and decide which of your products
are the most competitive.
➃ Product fragility: selling fragile goods increases shipping costs and could complicate customer service if too many products break on their way to the client.
➄ Seasonality: different products sell at different levels at various times of the year. This can affect your cash flow, your busy season and your cost structure.
What is your market?
Research your online market
- You’ll first want to understand how much online demand there is for your products and/or services.
Start with an online search to see how many people are talking about and searching for what you sell.
- Next, use published research to get an overview of consumer demographics, industry trends, market share, etc. Other sources include articles from business magazines and periodicals, trade associations and analyst reports or company annual reports.
- Finally, you may want to consider gathering original information, through interviews and other first-hand methods, specifically about your product or business. Learn more.
Study the competition
After looking at online demand, you’ll want to understand the online supply to be able to implement an effective e-commerce marketing strategy. Take a look at the competition with an in-depth online search. Also talk to salespeople, suppliers and other industry players. This should help you answer the following questions.
- Is there a leading player in your industry?
- Is the market overcrowded?
- Is there a market niche that isn’t currently being served?
- What is the quality of competitors’ websites, and what customer experience do they offer?
- How are your competitors positioned in the market?
- How much are competitors charging?
- Is the competition well rated on review sites and social media?
Who do you want to sell to?
Define your target market
The data you’ve already collected will help you choose your target customers and understand what they want from your business. This can include purchasing behaviors, demographics, social values, media consumption habits and more.
Focusing on specific segments of your total potential market lets you increase the returns on your marketing efforts. You can tailor your messaging to resonate with a specific type of client. You can also create a target persona—fictional characters used to understand customer expectations online related to user experience, ease-of-use, and navigability.
Reach your customers
You might be tempted to pursue online sales on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, and Etsy. These platforms allow you to reach a large audience with a lower initial investment and less technical complexity. However, such sites can also charge high commission rates.
We recommend you adapt your online sales strategy per channel. For example, you may want to sell returned goods on eBay. Or you could decide to sell last year’s collection on Amazon at great prices to increase your score on the Best Sellers list.
How will you build trust in your brand?
Every customer interaction is an opportunity to build trust. But some interactions are more important than others. Here are six moments that deserve a bit more attention on your e-commerce journey.
6 key e-commerce customer interactions
➀ Evaluation: establishing trust online can be difficult. Clients will read reviews and testimonials on your website, but they will put more importance on independent sources such as blogs.
➁ Initial contact: potential clients will often try to contact you to ask questions about your products or services. Make sure you can be reached by phone, email, chat or social media. Remember
that e-commerce consumers can be anywhere in the world and you want to answer any question within eight to 12 hours.
➂ Trial: online customers increasingly expect a trial period before making a final purchase. If you can’t offer a trial, consider offering a strategic discount code, free samples or other perks
to help convert leads.
➃ Purchase: make purchasing as painless as possible. Aim for a one-click purchasing experience by gathering as much information as possible from your clients during their first purchase.
➄ Shipping and return: shipping is crucial to positive customer experience. Online clients typically want rapid and free or low-cost shipping and the ability to track shipments. They also want hassle-free, inexpensive returns.
➅ Retention and loyalty: we strongly recommend re-engaging with customers after the sale. You want to know more about the customer service you offered, but you also want clients to talk about you to their friends and to advocate for you. If you know that a client is happy with your business, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or a testimonial.
Who will do what and when?
- Involve your team: you’ll get the best team buy-in if as many employees as possible are involved in creating the action plan. Employees can give valuable input on the steps needed
to build your e-commerce site and set up the operations of your online store, from purchase to fulfillment.
- List actions: the core of the action plan is a list of tasks for achieving your objectives. They can include everything from choosing a web platform to creating content for your website. Don’t forget the operational side of your site: production and distribution teams need to be readied for more customers, IT capacity needs to be increased, accounting and inventory systems may need to be updated, and you need to budget for all these costs—including lining up financing so your cash flow isn’t affected.
- Set a timeline and decide who will be responsible
Establish a timeframe for completing each task and choose who will be responsible for each task. Also outline other resources (money, equipment, personnel) you’ll need to carry out the various tasks.
- Establish a follow-up and measurement process
Spell out how you will follow up on the action plan to ensure the steps are carried out. This can include internal reporting and regular meetings to discuss progress. Also, specify the metrics you will use to track implementation. These can include milestones, such as the completion of certain tasks, and quantifiable measures, such as revenue or market share.
- Communicate the plan
Make sure all employees are aware of the action plan, including their role in implementing it. Explain how the plan fits into your overall business strategy.
Contact Musato Technologies today to learn more about our e-commerce marketing strategy and other ICT services and solutions that empower your business to succeed and thrive.