The E-commerce Digital Marketing Checklist For Entrepreneurs

e-commerce digital marketing

E-commerce Digital Marketing – It’s All About The Sales!

Starting out to create a e-commerce digital marketing presence can be hard if you are not well versed with the variety of options that are available. To make an informed choice, it helps to be aware of all the options out there which can help you increase your sales.

Different businesses have different goals when it comes to what they want out of their digital marketing activity. For most e-commerce businesses it is visitors, conversions and sales. With a little bit of patience and effort, you will not only be able to generate sales, but also build a brand experience that people can identify with. We have put together a small checklist that should cover some of the important areas that need your attention when it comes to building your digital presence and pulling in sales.

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms can be used to communicate your brand personality to your prospective customers. It also helps build “reach”, word of mouth and acts as a nurturing channel to constantly remind customers you are around. If used wisely, it will help you to create a niche of loyal customers who value your brand because it speaks to them. However, it is a bit unrealistic to expect direct sales from these efforts or look at it purely as a marketing platform that generates instant conversions. Look at it as a long term investment and not as an advertising channel!

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a must for all online businesses. Google keeps reinventing itself, and so do SEO techniques. However, SEO is something which is required invariably if a website or your products have to show up in search. Be sure to get each product page optimized. Get your site structure and landing pages in place. Also do submit your site map using webmaster tools. All these activities are well worth investing in at an earlier stage itself. After all what is the point of having great products if your customers don’t know where you are selling? Again a cautious word of advice: don’t expect SEO to generate instant sales on it’s own right from day one. It takes time to build search traffic that is of high quality and while this is what will eventually determine a lot of revenues, it’s a long term on going process.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay per click advertising or PPCs is something every online business has to use to ensure it gets right to get sales keep trickling in. Always keep aside a budget fo PPC, Google Ads that are search based, display ads, Facebook ads and paid advertising in general. Though these will lead to instant sales, be sure to factor in your cost of customer acquisition. Many ecommerce businesses fail to really factor their customer acquisition costs, percentage of advertising spend required and eventually fail to drive sales simply because advertising cots were kept out of the equation while determining pricing. Keep optimizing your ads to ensure that you are able to optimize on your investment and ensure higher returns on advertising spend.

 Affiliate Sales

New online businesses should keep an open mind about using affiliate networks. Networking, tie ups and reselling through other market places, stores and websites is usually the bread and butter for most new online businesses. You will have to part with a percentage of your sales when using an affiliate network or partnering with other channels of sales. However, these will help you in the long run as it will increase your visibility and online presence to customers who would otherwise not have heard of you. Listing on coupon and deals sites can also help customers, stumble upon your website, looking to cash in on a good deal!

Buzz / PR & Coverage

What others are saying about you is perhaps even more important than what you’re saying about your self. Getting PR and coverage from third party blogs, sites, reviewers and publications can go a long way not just in terms of creating more visitors and traffic to the site but also building a reputation and confidence among users online. With so many ecommerce sites going up each day, standing out and being talked about is an essential area of your overall digital strategy.

User Experience & Website Technology

Another often ignored area is user experience and choice of the e-commerce website/platform. Since your website is going to be a major factor in influencing the final choice of the customer, be sure that is free of all bugs and problems. Ensure that the UI is flawless as a bad user experience will result in users landing on the site but not converting into sales despite there being no issues with the product, price and other factors. A/B testing can help you increase the number of conversions. Payment features should be simple, secure and work perfectly so the process of an user landing on the site, browsing products and checking out is seamless.

 

An e-commerce venture (especially a new one) is often easier to setup and start than it is to succeed at since it takes a tremendous amount of daily effort on a number of fronts before sales start to happen at a respectable rate. Unlike a physical store which has foot traffic and people passing by, an online store isn’t going to have visitors magically appear unless you make it happen. However, with a focus on some of these core areas of e-commerce digital marketing, consistent activity on these fronts and building your ecommerce brand one step at a time, you could be on your way to being the next big name in online shopping!

When is the right time for start-ups to start social media marketing activity?

Right time to start social media marketing

A dilemma that many start-ups face today is the question “When do we start social media marketing outreach? Do we start before the launch of the product or after we are completely ready with our products and service offerings? To answer the question let us consider the analogy of a brick and mortar store. Every entrepreneur knows that in business it is all about location, location and location! Now, if you were to open a store in a mall’s forefront, you might get a modest footfall right on day one. On the other hand, it would be difficult to draw huge customers footfall on day one to a shop located in a corner or for that matter in a small alley on the street.

Similarly, in the virtual world Google can be considered a mall where everyone is trying to get onto the front page results of Google. With hundreds of thousands of websites getting launched each day it isn’t easy and only gets harder. The purpose of social media activities like blogging, developing a community on Facebook, engaging on other social networks is to develop word of mouth reach and visibility: not direct sales or leads as if often presumed. It’s a very organic process which takes a considerable amount of time to drive more awareness, more people talking about you or spreading the word about who you are or what you offer. It’s a brand building exercise, not a sales drive.

That said, for your brick and mortar store would you wait till it has completely opened doors or would you start telling your friends and relatives before that? If you don’t spread the word beforehand and build some excitement for the day you open, who will come to that grand opening and the days that follow? A similar concept applies to start-ups and social media campaigns for outreach. Ideally, you want to get the word out and start building some excitement before you launch so there is some traction as soon as you do go live. At the same time, you may want to hold off on activities like advertising, pay per click campaigns or going all out since you don’t want to spend on these activities until you are actually live. These are sales oriented activities, not brand building or visibility development.

An ideal time to start with social media outreach activities and building initial buzz would be a few (2-3) months in advance to the planned launch of your website/product. Too early and you may end up creating customers with nothing to sell. Too late and you could have a store open with no one that knows about it and a long road ahead to start building that awareness which is slow process in its initial days. Depending on the nature of your start-up, we would say start your outreach and community building activity just ahead of your launch so that you have had enough time to build a little rhythm with those activities so when you do launch, you’re not starting from scratch but looking to move your marketing activities to the next gear.