In 2014, e-Commerce sales in the US were higher than 1 trillion.
Today, that number is 4.2 trillion.
This is an approximate increase of 1 trillion annually, which is why your brand’s online presence is much more important than a physical outlet.
If you’re new to this, here are some of the best strategies when marketing for online stores:
#1. Keep your website top-notch
It takes milliseconds for visitors to judge your website. To be precise, they form an opinion in 50 milliseconds.
If your website doesn’t look good, they will abandon it – contributing to a high bounce rate.
A good design doesn’t have to be extraordinary and overwhelming.
In fact, most of the best web designs that have won awards have the simplest look:
The reason behind this is that simpler website designs allow for easier navigation.
Make sure your homepage has complete but only relevant information.
In addition to that, a strong internal link structure is extremely crucial i.e. you need to frequently monitor your website for any broken links and make sure internal pages are linked to the homepage correctly:
The less complicated your link structure is, the easier it is for visitors to navigate through your page.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is the website loading time.
According to Google, 53% of users will abandon your website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Test your website and optimise loading times by using compressed images and files.
In fact, a simpler design will also contribute to faster loading times.
Lastly, you need to optimise your website for search engines.
Make sure your content is full of high ranking keywords.
Use clear headings with important keywords so that your content ranks higher on Google.
This is perhaps the most important technical aspect of promoting a website because if websites aren’t discoverable, marketing for online stores will go to waste!
If the concept of Search Engine Optimisation is foreign to you, check out my guide on What is SEO and how you can incorporate it into your website.
#2. Use retargeting when marketing for online stores
According to Kenshoo, display ads have a CTR of 0.07% while retargeted ads have a CTR of 0.7%.
That’s 10 times higher, which means that customers will pay attention to an ad when they see it for the second time, which makes sense.
The more exposure, the better the retention.
You can post ads on both search engines and social media platforms:
Here’s how it works. Every time a customer visits your website and doesn’t purchase a product or abandons their carts, you can target an ad towards them.
Retargeting is such a common technique that we see it around us every day (which is further proof that you need to incorporate it as well if you’re not doing it already).
I often refer ManyChat as a chatbot service for marketing platforms, which means every time I open their website, I don’t sign up for it.
Here’s what I saw on my Instagram feed:
This helps brands better gauge what their website visitors’ interests are; thus, more accurately targeting products and services towards them.
#3. Provide exceptional customer service
In my own experience which is backed by extensive research, customer service is one factor that has growing importance in gaining customer loyalty and is crucial to gain a competitive edge over other businesses when marketing for online stores.
To make sure you carry this out effectively, come up with unique ideas.
Every online store has chatbots to provide customer service.
While this is much more convenient for customers who previously had to wait in long queues for a human representative to respond to their query, some people find chatbots impersonal.
In order to counter this, what you can do is offer customer service through automated chatbots but also place an option that allows customers to talk to a customer representative if their issue is not resolved.
By doing this, you’ll be aiding small but very important segments of the society such as the elderly, special-needs people and others who require extra assistance.
Plus, by incorporating the two together you will ensure that your costs remain low because basic queries will be handled automatically and only those that require special attention will be diverted to your salespeople.
However, if you’re a startup with low working capital, simply investing in platforms like ManyChat will satisfy your customer needs by offering customer service that is designed to sound personalised:
Another unique idea that you can incorporate into your strategy is SMS marketing.
While many marketers believe the platform is too old, it still boasts an open rate of 98% as of 2020.
Even so, due to the aforementioned reason, SMS is still one of the most under-utilised marketing channels out there – making it the perfect channel to offer customer service through.
You can easily integrate SMS with your mobile app or website so that customers can open up SMS with one tap on their device.
SMS is integrated into every phone and it is highly personalised which makes it a great idea if you want to offer customers something out of the ordinary.
Plus, a text takes seconds to send and it is much less intrusive than calls, making it the perfect balance between website chatrooms and phone calls.
If you have your own idea or the potential to come up with a unique one, don’t be afraid to incorporate it into your marketing strategy as long as you make sure it has the potential to generate high ROI.
#4. Minimise cart abandonment
If there’s one thing that customers hate, it’s definitely hidden costs.
There have been a lot of studies done on cart abandonment, each yielding its own results.
On average, 77.4% of customers abandon their carts, which is 3/4th of all shoppers!
The biggest reason behind this? Hidden costs revealed at checkout:
To make sure you minimise cart abandonment, you need to be absolutely transparent with customers.
Here is where Amazon becomes the perfect example.
On the landing page, you are asked to specify your country.
This way, not only can Amazon determine if the product can even ship to the location or not, but it can also estimate how much shipping costs you can expect.
There are so many other eCommerce websites out there nowadays, but these are the little things that put Amazon ahead of its competitors.
Another thing that leads to high cart abandonment is payment options.
If you use CRM and website optimisation tools like CrazyEgg, you’ll notice that users often leave your website when it comes to payment at checkout.
Not all websites support different methods of payment, for example, Paypal or Payoneer.
Thus, it is best to specify which payment options you do or don’t accept while the customer is shopping.
Your aim is to create convenience because you will be saving customers time and effort if they find out what their options are earlier on.
#5. Optimise your website for mobile
Marketing for online stores is impossible without mobile optimisation.
According to Wordstream, 53% of all Google searches are made on mobile devices.
If your website isn’t built for phones, then you’ll lose all these customers.
Here’s an example of what I came across while shopping online the other day:
If you’re viewing this on your phone, you’ll notice that the font is so tiny it is barely readable.
Neither are product descriptions because so many products are present on one page.
Our mobile phone screens are much smaller, meaning that font needs to be bigger, lesser products can be viewed on the same page, touch needs to be incorporated, the orientation needs to be in portrait form and so on.
Here’s the difference clearly explained by Google Developers:
In order to optimise your website for mobile devices, it’s best to create one from scratch rather than make changes on your already existing desktop website (that is, if you have one).
This way, it is easier to build and design it accordingly.
Plus, it’s always great to have an app.
#6. Build an app for mobile shopping
Apps have their own pros and cons; they are by far the most optimised for mobile devices so it is easier to shop through them rather than mobile websites.
However, only your loyal customers will use the app; new customers are more likely to visit your website which is why both are crucial for your marketing strategy.
This is because an app takes effort to download which only frequent shoppers are willing to make.
However, there’s always a way around things.
To get maximum customers to download your app, offer them an incentive such as discounts on their first purchase, exclusive membership access, points that can be redeemed later for gifts, free sample products etc.
This is because your loyal customers bring in 80% of profits, so you should definitely invest in them.
#7. List your online store on all the important platforms
You’d be surprised at how willing millennials are to try out brands just by looking up the product or service they need on Google.
Then again, you probably already know this if you’re a marketer.
I recently worked for the promotion of a dental clinic and customer feedback revealed that 70% of new customers visited the business after seeing a listing on Google (other reasons included referrals from already existing customers i.e. word of mouth).
Make sure you list your business on the following 3 search engines:
On Google, all you have to do is sign in to your Gmail account and then create a business profile on Google My Business.
By adding basic details about your business i.e. location, hours, contact number etc., customers will see a listing of your business if they search for your brand name or even businesses near me:
This is an extremely simple and crucial part of your marketing strategy because Google has a market share of 86% globally, making it the biggest search engine.
However, there are still small segments of the world population that use other search engines like Yahoo and Bing.
If it doesn’t cost you to list your business on a search engine, it can only benefit you!
Plus, if you deliver in all nations or aim to give every country importance when it comes to ease of delivery, then there are countries like China that use their own search engines.
In China, Baidu is the most commonly used search engine, so if you want to gain market share over there, your best bet is to list your business there as well.
Never overlook your smaller segments because they tend to be ignored by most businesses but can prove to be the most profitable because other brands are not fulfilling their needs so it is easier to capture and retain them.
So this sums up marketing for online stores as these are tried and tested strategies that are a must-have for every business.
Plus, whether you own a small business or a large one, the majority of these strategies will not cost you too much which gives all businesses an equal chance to compete against one another.
The key takeaway is to be unique and come up with creative ideas that are cost-effective in order to gain an edge over competitors.