Online sales reached nearly $800 billion — 32% higher than the previous year. Most experts agree that the face of online retail has been forever changed by shifts in both the online shopping mindset and technology introduced in 2020.
With shoppers increasingly turning to online retailers for everything from fashion to their weekly groceries, you can’t afford to fall back on the same old advertising and marketing strategies you’ve relied on in the past.
That’s why we’re here today. To give you the information you need to make changes in your eCommerce business now. To create more effective advertising strategies before your sales start to fall behind your predictions and profit goals.
Some of the strategies we’re going to discuss today you may have heard many times before. That doesn’t mean they’re too basic for experienced eComm heads like our members and guests.
Why? Because we’ll be presenting them with our advanced eCommerce Fuel twist that you’ve come to know, expect, appreciate, and love.
So without further ado, here are four advertising strategies that will hopefully see your online store healthier and happier than ever by this year’s end:
Content Is (Still) King
Content is possibly the best strategy for advertising to your target audience with just the right information they need at just the right time.
The face of content is changing, thanks in large part to social media — and that’s where a bit of the tried and true advanced thinking expected by our members comes in.
Content marketing can do five things for your target audience, and each has a different effect on you, as the person behind the business. It can:
Educate, setting you up as the go-to expert
Engage, positioning you as a community leader
Empathize, establishing you as a “friend” and fellow “traveler”
Encourage, making you a source of inspiration and a thought leader
Entice, putting you in place as the go-to supplier for your products
Typically, and historically, eCommerce businesses have used content solely as a marketing strategy at the top of the sales funnel. Businesses use it to inform and engage prospective customers. They show how their product can solve the buyer’s problem.
Content marketing, however, should follow the buyer through the funnel — even after the sale. As an advertising strategy, content marketing can reach the buyer wherever they are in the buying process.
In the middle of the sales process — guides, case studies, emails, or online courses can show the customer how to use the product, how others have used it, and show off benefits like ease of use.
At the bottom of the funnel — social media testimonials, customer stories, and video reviews can be used to persuade the buyer to make a purchase.
Customer-created content is one of the best advertising strategies out there, after all. Word of mouth advertising is worth more to prospective buyers than all the pay-per-click, direct mail, email marketing, and other paid advertising campaigns combined.
Taking Your Show on the Road with Local Advertising
How far-reaching was your last advertising campaign? Did you simply rely on your email list, your social media, and some on-site advertisements? Strategies that exclude the old-fashioned in-person opportunities leave money on the table.
Every brick-and-mortar small business knows that the more people you can reach with your ad campaign budget, the more successful it is likely to be. And just because you have an online business, doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to only using online advertising.
Other forms of local advertising for the eComm small business include:
1. Pop-up stores in public places like parks, fairs, and street festivals
2. In-person product demos
3. Free workshops/makeover sessions/seminars
4. Customer meet-ups — sponsoring a live event or “shopper’s party” for loyal customers and “special guests”
Going local allows you to answer questions, dispel misinformation, and show off your products in their best light.
Getting out and meeting your audience is an effective growth and sales strategy. Advertising the event can be as simple as announcements on your social media. Encourage your followers to “come on down” and “connect with us.”
Opening the Conversation — Customer-Connectedness
You may think of connecting with your customers as a one-sided issue — your business uses its social media to “talk to” your audience.
What happens in many cases is the business ends up talking at them instead of engaging in real conversations. They tell or teach, or worse — sell. All. The. Time. No real communication occurs.
How you may wonder, can talking with customers and prospects be utilized as an advertising or marketing strategy?
It’s simple. Eventually, customers become your brand ambassadors, doing the bulk of the advertising and reaching out to you. Engage in enough conversations via social, forums, SMS texting, and in-person events to turn customers into a friend as well as a source for your products.
We are social creatures and getting to know the people behind the companies we support is important. We go from feeling like just a customer to a family member. Connecting with customers is another strategy you simply can’t afford to use
Follow-Up Advertising: Keeping Them Coming Back
Did you know that a large majority of small business owners — both online and off — don’t engage in any form of follow-up marketing or advertising?
They instead spend all their time, effort, and energy on drawing in new customers, making new sales, acquiring new leads.
And yet, study after study shows that this strategy is flawed in so many ways. Here are just a few of the inherent problems:
1. Converting a new customer costs 6 times more than making a sale to an existing customer.
2. The likelihood of making a sale to a new customer is between 5 and 20%, while it’s between 60 and 70% for an existing one.
3. Loyal, repeat customers are worth 10x their initial purchase over their lifetime.
4. 62% of customers feel content helps foster customer loyalty.
A follow-up content strategy involves more than just a “holiday sale” or “new product” email. You can use any or all of the following content in a follow-up, customer loyalty-building strategy:
1. Resource lists of other content that can help get the most out of a customer’s purchase
2. A monthly “preferred customer” newsletter with after-sale product info and discounts
3. Preferred customer events like invitations to pop-ups and connection events, exclusive AMAs via Zoom, and virtual “private shows” of new products and product lines
4. Personalized content such as thank you cards or emails, birthday cards, customer anniversary recognitions, and shout-outs to top monthly or weekly contributors to your social media
Using any one of these advanced ideas for advertising your eCommerce business will more than likely increase your sales. Utilizing more than one strategy will increase the likelihood that you’ll keep those sales numbers high.