“If you build it, they will come.”
You’ve probably heard that quote before, right? It comes from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, starting Kevin Costner.
A lot of people seem to live by that mantra, with books, blogs, websites, YouTube channels, online stores… just about anything you can think of in the business world.
But unless you are very lucky, people aren’t just going to magically find your store and start buying from you. You have to get out there and bring in visitors.
Let’s talk about a few cool ways you can market your store as a beginner.
It’s very important that your store have a USP—a Unique Selling Point, or Unique Selling Proposition. This is something that sets your store apart from all, or at least most, of your competition, and gives people a reason to shop with you instead of someone else.
If you’re selling a very unique product, that alone is your USP. However, if you’re selling something that is available at many other stores, you need something that will set you apart.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Free shipping – This may or may not be possible based on your profit margins, or you may have to include free shipping only with a purchase over a certain dollar amount, but this is a great way to get people to order from you instead of your competition.
- Specialize – We talked about the importance of drilling down as far as possible in a niche, and that’s because it can really set you apart from the competition. It’s a great USP.
- Include bonuses – People love getting stuff for free. Including bonuses with purchase, even small bonuses, can be a great way to boost customer loyalty, gain repeat purchases, and attract people to your store. Shops that are well known for this include Fingerhut and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
- Create bundles – Bundlesare a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. Let’s say you have a shop selling kits for building model cars. You could have a beginner’s model building kit that contains everything someone might need to get started in the hobby, including things like a basic paint set, brushes, craft knives, etc. You could then advertise this specific kit in order to get people to visit your store, where they are likely to purchase other items.
- Differ your business model – A lot of people change their business model from the standard shopping cart type website to a subscription model, bundle model, or some other model. Just be sure whatever type of model you choose is suitable for YOUR market before you invest too much time and money into it.
Don’t create a USP just for the sake of having one. Make sure it is suitable for your market and adds true value to the experience for your customer.
You probably already know how powerful social media can be for marketing purposes, but you might not know which sites would be most effective, or how to use each site for the most traffic and the best quality traffic. So let’s talk a little about some of the popular networks, and how you can use them to get traffic AND sales.
Facebook is one of the most well-known social media platforms in the world. According to Statista, Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users. Not just 2 billion accounts, but active users! They also have one of the most diverse audiences, with a greater number of mature users in addition to younger users.
Marketing on Facebook can happen in three major ways:
- Facebook pages
- Facebook groups
- Facebook ads
It’s a good idea to set up a Facebook page for your business so you can start building your brand’s presence there, but aside from using it for paid marketing, I wouldn’t focus too much attention on the page itself. This is because Facebook has changed the way posts on pages appear on people’s newsfeeds, resulting in far fewer views.
Instead, focus most of your efforts on building a Facebook GROUP. Group posts are seen much more often, and groups also inspire more interaction than pages. Inside your group, you can hold members-only contests, giveaways, and more. This will encourage more people to join your group and be active in it.
You still need a page for advertising purposes, because Facebook ads require this. And you can still post to the page regularly. But you should focus more effort on building your group in order to take advantage of the free traffic they can bring.
Facebook is probably the best overall social media platform for marketers, because the group function is incredibly powerful when used correctly, and because they have the most diverse audience when it comes to balance between the genders as well as covering the majority of age ranges and other demographics.
Instagram has a user base that is mostly under 35, but they do still have a lot of users in other age ranges, too. This makes them another platform that is fairly diverse, but it is skewed to a mostly younger audience.
Instagram has recently been building a reputation as another great place for marketing, because they have been working on their format in order to make it much more productive to advertisers without upsetting its core user base.
Because it’s highly visual in nature, it makes it easy to market products by showing photos and videos that appeal to your market, and you can even demonstrate the product’s use.
One thing that makes Instagram so powerful is that users are 58 times more likely to share a post than Facebook users, and 120 times more likely to do the same than Twitter users.
Instagram has also added a paid ad system that has been getting a lot of positive feedback. It’s great for building brand awareness and engagement, but since the platform doesn’t allow clickable links, it’s not as effective for direct selling.
Pinterest isn’t really considered a social network by a lot of people. It does have a social aspect, because you share content, which is viewed and shared by other people, and you can like and comment. However, it’s not as robust in the social area as other networks. But we’ll include it here because it does work quite similarly to social networks.
Pinterest is widely considered one of the most effective platforms not only for getting traffic, but for getting sales, too. Analytics have shown Pinterest to be far more effective than most other platforms when it comes to marketing products.
Pinterest has a paid advertising system, too, and many marketers have found it to be remarkably powerful for generating sales. The targeting is robust, and you can reach exactly the people you want to reach with exactly the products they are looking for.
There are other networks that may or may not work for you, depending on your market and how you use them. For example, Twitter works very well for some people, and not so well for others. Snapchat can be excellent for younger, more tech-savvy markets, but possibly not as well for others.
It’s a good idea to have a presence on many different networks, but don’t spend too much time on them unless you really believe they have potential for YOUR market.
For example, LinkedIn advertising is reported to be quite effective, but it works mainly for a B2B audience, or when you’re selling something that relates to education or job hunting.
If you want more in depth information on marketing your e-commerce store, check out Ecom Smart Start. You’ll learn a lot more ways to market your store to get the most traffic possible.