If your retail business doesn't have an ecommerce site, what's holding you back?
With spring 2020 nearly in the books, we now have an idea of how the retail landscape is currently being impacted since retailers have been forced to close their doors as a result of locally-mandated quarantines from COVID-19:
Whether you have an existing brick-and-mortar business or are thinking of selling online, you'll likely need some guidance on how to get started. There are thousands of small businesses just like yours who are operating an e-commerce website, but few are really successful or know where to start.
Given our experience and the conversations we’ve had recently, the Harvey team has put together this essential guide to help. From building your ecommerce site from scratch, to promoting yourself online, we've got you covered!
Follow these five foundational e-commerce marketing tips to not only start, but grow, your online site, while also increasing your traffic and conversions.
Unless you're a technology guru or have plenty of time on your hands, you’ll most likely need to find an expert to help you build your e-commerce website. This, surprisingly, is one of the more challenging decisions you’ll make in this process, and we’ll briefly explain why.
Time and again, we hear stories from small businesses who opted for the lowest bidder when it came to building their site. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until weeks or even months after going live, that they discovered their new website was poorly constructed and riddled with experience and functionality issues that ultimately cost the business customers, revenue, and in the long-run, additional time and money to resolve.
Our advice? Save yourself time, money and frustration by building your e-commerce website properly the first time. Choose an expert who is highly skilled not only in web development and retail/e-commerce best practices, but also at ensuring your companies big picture best interests remain at the forefront of the project.
Now, let’s dive into some specifics that can help guide you through an e-commerce platform selection process:
E-commerce solutions like Shopify and Magento offer a simple way to start selling online. A good website developer will use these tools and combine them with your brand to produce a solid shopping experience.
You will need a list of the products you wish to sell and preferably good photographs. If you need help with that, Harvey offers custom lifestyle and product photography as well as best-in-class photo-retouching.
What about online selling platforms like Etsy or eBay?
Both sites are viable marketplaces to sell your goods or drop shipping. In fact, your ecommerce site can link with them as an extra sales channel. But beware. These sites charge fees upon fees from listing charges to final sales tariffs.
Regardless of the platform you choose, it’s a good practice to make sure your website is loaded with as many products as you have to sell to ensure you’re able to meet the high product variety demands of today’s modern consumer.
Now more than ever, regulators and lawyers are cracking down on companies who do not take effective measures to ensure their website is accessible for all internet users, while also protecting these users’ private information.
Ignoring this critical component of modern web design not only alienates an entire portion of the population, but also leaves your business vulnerable for lawsuits. Google is so keenly sensitive to this that sites failing to meet ADA and Data Privacy requirements, will also suffer a noticeable negative impact to their SEO rankings, and other indirect perks that can ultimately better-position your online store for success.
At Harvey, we constantly stay up to date on the ever evolving U.S. and global regulations to ensure your site is safe and accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, many web developers ignore ADA compliance and Data Privacy regulations, and in the end, this can be a costly mistake to both you and your customers.
*Read more on ADA Compliance here!
If you build it, they will come
Unfortunately, that isn't true for an online store. To drive traffic to your site, you'll need to implement e-commerce marketing strategies across various marketing channels in order to increase your chances of being found by your consumers.
It takes a lot of work to get this right, but thankfully we’ve been doing this long enough to know what marketing approaches make the biggest impact.
Social media is now a very mature concept, and the majority of Americans check their news feeds at least once a day. As a result, social media is quickly becoming the dominant marketing channel for e-commerce and it’s an opportunity that’s too big to be ignored.
Let’s dive into some of the most popular social media platforms worth activating your e-commerce brand:
Facebook attracts 2.45 billion users every month. All areas of business advertise and post on this platform. They range from retail to CPG to the food and drink industries. Whether you’re personally a fan of the platform, or not, it is a must in your marketing mix today.
While setting-up a Facebook business page is free, there is an investment of time needed to create and post content. This effort can pay off in a big way if you are consistent with this practice and know which social platforms are right for your brand.
No time to post? You can advertise on Facebook to target your customers by a number demographic and geographic variables. Social media has in many ways become a pay-to-play arena, so you’ll see far more fruits from your social media labor by boosting posts and creating ads versus relying solely on organic exposure.
Yet, depending on the audience you are seeking, Facebook may not be right for everyone .
Many Millennial and Gen Z users have opted for a newer platform. One where pictures tell the story. If these generations represent your target audience, then let’s pivot to marketing on Instagram.
With 71% of Instagram’s users being 35 or under, it’s no secret that Instagram is the social media platform to promote your Gen Z and Millennial-focused e-commerce products.
Thankfully, getting started with Instagram is relatively easy for brands because all you need is a smart phone and high-quality content to become #instafamous overnight. Ok, so it isn’t that easy to be successful on Instagram, but it our point is that getting started doesn’t have to feel as intimidating as it seems.
With Instagram Stories are becoming one of the latest digital marketing opportunities for brands to pursue, Instagram can quickly and affordably provide your brand with increased visibility and a new, unique way to engage with consumers. In a recent survey, 20 percent of businesses chose advertising on Instagram Stories over other traditional Facebook advertising placements.
Keep in mind that every social media platform has different predominate demographics who use the platform versus others, so make sure you’re setting your business up on the right platforms before you do anything else!
In basic terms, SEO means making your site appealing to search engines, specifically Google, who performs roughly 66% of all online searches (about 5.2 billion online searches per day!)
Books have been written on this subject but here are some quick pointers to get you started with SEO:
Check your competition. What are they doing right? What products and keywords are they using? What can you borrow but make better? This is the always-on approach you should take when approaching an SEO strategy for any CPG-focused online store.
Google values customer engagement as one of its search factors. Integrate your social media platforms within your pages and encourage feedback. To help with this, use an e-commerce plugin.
E-commerce software like WooCommerce offers extensions or plugins to market your store.
Do you accept bookings? A plugin can insert a full booking system into your site without extra coding. Offer subscriptions? Plugins offer time-based payments.
There are hundreds of extensions available and lots are free. Many promote customer engagement reviews and star ratings which builds trust in your brand.
Ask your web developer what's available and see how a small store can plugin to become a big success.
Tired of waiting to rank well on Google search?
Google AdWords allows you to jump to the top of the queue since it is essentially a paid search strategy. Your site will list for the keywords you select, and you'll only pay if someone clicks your link.
AdWords also performs better than organic results, so if you want to capture consumers at their highest purchasing intent, then a monthly paid search budget and strategy is something you’ll want to consider augmenting into your e-commerce marketing strategy.
Keep in mind that sales conversions rank 50 percent higher when advertising with paid search. Many businesses often earn double their ad investment, and we at Harvey have personally seen positive returns on investment (ROI) from many paid search efforts.
Read Google's pricing guide and you'll discover AdWords’ flexibility. You can create multiple campaigns with pricing tiers to show your ads when you want.
The account is free to set-up and gives access to the Keyword Planner. This is an essential tool that lets you see the keywords your customers actually search for.
Remember to add Google Analytics to track your site's usage. It's free and works in tandem with AdWords to link conversions.
Because time is such a precious commodity to all of us, chances are you’ll need professional and expert assistance in setting up your ecommerce site the right way the first time,.
At Harvey, our body of work speaks for itself. With 35+ years of experience, we offer just about everything a business needs to jump-start its e-commerce operations and marketing strategy.
From branding and packaging to web design and development, Harvey can help! Ready to take the first step to sell online? Make the call and contact us today. Let’s grow your business together.Next post: Consumers Are Changing Faster Than Ever – And Why Your Marketing Must Keep Up