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You’ve created a solid business plan. You created a solid infrastructure for your business. And you’ve nailed down how you’ll deliver to customers. Now, how do you get people to visit your online store?
With e-commerce and marketing, there’s no one strategy that works. To help customers engage with your brand, you’re going to have to spend some time getting to know what they want, how they’re using technology, and what sparks their interest.
In marketing, quality is better than quantity. One great experience can generate way more interest than 100 mediocre ones. It’s best to choose one or two ways to engage your customers, master them, and learn what you can before moving on to new avenues.
Here are a few that might work for your business:
Marketing Tip #1: Learn what search engines like.
When you’re starting a website, you’ll likely see the term “search engine optimization” (or SEO) again and again. In a nutshell, SEO is gearing your content to make it easy for search engines like Google to recognize. So, when a customer searches “buy knitting supplies,” your knitting company will show up in the results.
This is the first place you should focus marketing efforts. Bottom line, people need to find your site, and SEO is the most natural way to help them.
When you’re preparing content, you may want to consider the following:
• Do keyword research. Think about search terms in your industry, and see how they actually perform with a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Once you’ve identified strong keywords, make sure you’re using them on your site as well as in metadata like your page title and description.
• But don’t stuff keywords. Search engines can tell when you’re just piling on keywords, and they will penalize your site for it. Work in keywords as organically as possible. This may mean limiting the keywords you choose.
• Name your images. When you add an image to your website, name it according to what it is. Google will recognize “largebabyblanket.jpg,” but not “00031.gif.”
SEO can seem daunting, but it’s pretty simple. If you’re having trouble, this SEO guide for beginners is a nice place to start.
Marketing Tip #2: Go social… with a plan.
Social media is a great place to engage new customers. And many small businesses are eager to tackle social media, because it’s a free, easy-to-join channel. What they don’t realize is that social media DOES come at a cost — your time.
The fact is, if you’re just listing your products, social media is a waste of time. You already have a website for that. Your social media presence should be an active attempt to build a conversation with customers. This entails:
• Posting. Creating content isn’t a fast process. You need to make sure your posts are relevant to your customers and that they spark some sort of response from followers. When you post, think to yourself: is this something I would comment on?
• Connecting with other people in the industry. Do you have a great response to an industry blogger’s latest article? Commenting on their post can bring your page additional views. In this case, it’s better not to self-promote. Let people click on your page…don’t tell them to go there.
• Respond to your followers… If someone cares enough about your post to comment, that’s a great start. A follow-up response can make them feel appreciated and show other customers you’re engaged.
• …Even when they’re complaining. One of the first things you’ll notice is that you can’t control audience response. Someone may complain about a delayed order on your new photo. Be sure to respond courteously — don’t ignore or delete the comment. This can make it seem like you don’t value customer service.
This is just scratching the surface of what you can do with social media. In this video, you’ll see how one of our favorite small business owners built an online community that supported her business.
Marketing Tip #3: Create content
Making useful content for your customers is a great way to identify yourself as an industry expert. Running your own blog is great, but guest blogging will help give you an even bigger reach. If you can identify a few key partners to share your content with, you’ve created a way to help your customers and get your name out.
The caveat to this is to be selective about where your content is going. Distributing one article to multiple sources makes the content less valuable and hurts your results on search engines — so if you’re guest blogging on three websites, make sure each site is receiving unique content.
Marketing Tip #4: If you shoot it, they will watch
People love video content, and it’s now easier than ever to create inexpensive videos. The key to making videos work is to make them relevant to what your customers are interested in.
Do you sell cupcakes? Make a video detailing a specific DIY recipe.
Vintage baseball cards? Make a video highlighting the story of a specific card in your collection.
Videos help put a face on your business and show your customers that you’re passionate about what you do. These videos can live on your website, social media, or your own YouTube channel.
Marketing Tip #5: Email marketing
Sending out email offers is a natural way to market online. When you’re sending out emails, there are a few best practices to follow:
• Keep subject lines short but engaging. You need to find a hook, like a promotion, question, or customer need that you can communicate quickly. People scan inboxes, and you need to catch their attention. Be careful not to set off spam filters.
• Make your offer quick. Again, people spend limited time with emails, so you don’t want to spend too much time selling them. If you can incorporate images or videos, customers are more likely to engage.
• Tell customers what to do. If you’re linking them to your site, make it clear where they’re going and what they should do when they get there.
Marketing Tip #6: Buy digital ads
Pay Per Click ads can be a great option for expanding your reach, but it’s also a costly one. Ads can be expensive, and if you’re not willing to invest the time and finances required to replace ads if they’re not performing well, you may be better served taking another route.
To get more customers, keep an open mind
This list is by no means exhaustive — there are a number of ways to bring in new customers. You should always be mindful of how your audience prefers to engage and think about new ways to improve how you’re communicating.
And finally, once you’ve built a solid customer base through marketing, you’re going to have to find a way to keep them coming back.
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