If you run your own small-medium size business, you likely wear many hats. Being able to effectively market your store is integral to winning more sales, but not all of us have a marketing degree (or even like the effort). It’s easy to get caught up in the operations of running your business and bump into some marketing mishaps. Take a step back, and check-in to verify the health of your marketing strategy. Here are what we consider to be the top five e-commerce marketing mistakes, and how to fix them.
- Speaking with an inconsistent brand voice.
While your business grows, it’s easy to get caught up in the struggle to manage operations and many moving parts. As a result, your brand voice may get diluted or irregular. When your brand voice is fragmented, you are at risk for dampening buyer trust and consequently, diminishing your shot at better sales. Keep your brand voice consistent across all social media platforms and sales channels with this simple test: ask employees to write down what three words best describe your brand. This is not about the products, but about the persona of your company. Are you friendly, dependable and knowledgeable? Educated, quick and communicative? Whatever it may be, all of your employees should come up with the same three words (or words that are interchangeable for one another). In order for your marketing efforts to be successful both now and in the future, your brand voice needs to be consistent – regardless of where or how customers reach you.
- Creating pushy “look at me!” ads.
The point of an ad is to get someone – a buyer, in particular – to notice you and your products. However, there is a clear wrong way and right way to doing this. Ads, social media posts and any other content that simply regurgitates your product detail pages will not bring in buyers. If anything, the aggressive sales pitch will make buyers uncomfortable and deter them from shopping with you. Instead, produce content that is timely, relevant and engaging for an audience of buyers. If you sell swimwear, you should not be putting together ads or posts that say, “look at my stuff, isn’t this cool, definitely buy it.” Rather, create educational, instructional or otherwise relevant content for your industry and share that. A blog post titled, “Top 10 Indie Swimwear Brands You Need to Try” or “How to Accessorize Your Poolside Look” would be of interest to shoppers looking to gear up for the summer. They would engage with the content and your brand and consider you an expert in the industry, which will encourage them to convert. Give your audience the content they want, and they will reward you with sales.
- Lumping all email subscribers into one massive list.
If you have a substantial amount of email subscribers, that is great news. Browsers who sign up to receive emails from you are actively engaged with your brand and ready to buy. If you keep them all in one endless list and don’t segment, though, you risk losing subscribers and subsequently, the money that would come from better sales. Properly segmenting emails results in about 39% better open rates, 28% lower opt-outs or unsubscribes, and 24% better email deliverability, increased sales and revenue. Though optimal segmentation varies from business to business and across industries, there are a few groups you can organize today.
- Segment by customer longevity. New customers should be greeted with welcome emails, whereas longtime shoppers may be interested in getting notified about sales first.
- Segment by purchase history. Filter orders by SKU, and send emails to customers based on their last purchase. For example, if you are a pet supplies retailer, a customer who recently purchased puppy pads for housetraining may also be interested in training treats.
- Segment by loyalty. What we mean by this is, segment based on which buyers are more willing to jump on a deal or flash sale. Ask buyers to become “members” and subscribe to your list where you send out exclusive first looks at new products, promo codes and VIP sales. These are the buyers that are highly engaged with your brand, and will happily receive frequent emails (in addition to make the most purchases).
- Isolating yourself in the corner.
Running a small to mid-sized business is no easy feat. Take some of the pressure off of yourself by teaming up with similar companies for partnership activities. Find congruent businesses in your industry (but not direct competitors) with great reputations, and see if they’d be interested in doing joint webinars, social media campaigns, email newsletters, contests – whatever makes sense for your business. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s timely, mutually beneficial for both of you and offers your shared audience something of value. I tend to see swimwear brands teaming up with sunglasses or skin care retailers to host summer giveaways. It’s an effective way to grow your audience and assert your business as reputable (which is why you should look to partner with an honest company of integrity). You’ll get an audience of potential buyers engaged, without spending a lot or adding too much to your work plate.
- Sticking to one form of marketing.
Do you have a killer Twitter presence? That is great (and you should maybe write a post about how you did it). However, using only one marketing medium will eventually grow stale and limit your audience reach. To rope in a bigger group of potential buyers, you need to diversify your marketing efforts and get creative. Think about what needs, questions or concerns your buyers may have, and put together some collateral that is educational or instructional. John Lawson, Chief Consultant of ColderICE Media and successful Amazon seller has done this successfully for his own Amazon business. John’s company 3rd Power Outlet sold bandanas on Amazon. In the heat of early 2000s hip hop, John was constantly asked by customers how they can tie a bandana like Tupac. Growing tired of answering the same question repeatedly, John created a quick YouTube video tutorial on how to tie a bandana like Tupac. Whenever John was asked this question moving forward, he would direct them to the video that showed them how. Today, John’s YouTube tutorial – which he filmed on a 1mg pixel camera while going barefoot, he admitted – now has over 300,000 hits and still brings him traffic to this day. It put his business on the map and cost him nothing to create. Explore new forms of marketing, and create materials that are instructional, educational or otherwise engaging for your audience. You may be surprised by how many people you end up reaching.
Marketing may not be everyone’s strong suit, but it’s essential to running a successful online business. So long as you avoid these common blunders and check-in with analytics software to make sure your efforts are paying off, you will prosper. Don’t be intimidated by marketing. Lead with who you are as a business and what you value. Customers will recognize authenticity and support your business for the long haul.
This guest blog post was written by Tiana, a content marketer and writer for Ecomdash. Her favorite author is Oscar Wilde and she is a self-proclaimed Etsy addict.