Create a solid marketing strategy that will help you achieve your short- and long-term business goals. While this may not seem too difficult, the way you choose your marketing strategy can make your online store a success.
Typically, successful online stores use one of the following three tactics:
- Paid marketing
- Marketing platform
Let’s talk about them in more detail.
SEO for online stores
This marketing strategy is quite simple: find keywords for the products you want to offer and position your site on Google for those keywords.
In this example, IKEA, Target and Amazon rank very well organically (under the carousel and ads) for the search term “bookstore.” This means that when hundreds of people search for the term bookstore every day, they will be directed directly to these websites where they can purchase bookstores.
If you can make this strategy work for your business, you can make a lot of money with your online store.
SEO offers some ideal advantages for a business:
Traffic flows are very reliable, which means reliable revenue for your business.
Search traffic is usually the one with the highest traffic volume among all traffic sources.
Even at a large scale, search traffic can be extremely profitable.
Reliable, high volume and profitable. That is all that is desired.
There is one major drawback: SEO requires a lot of time and effort. Even if it is a product category with no competitors, it can take 3-6 months before your site appears on the first or second page of search results for a keyword.
The volume of traffic will be quite low until you can place your page in the first 1 or 3 positions for a keyword. If your category is competitive, it can take years of effort to get there.
If you opt for SEO as a marketing strategy for your online store, you will need to focus on three aspects:
Optimize product pages for product keywords.
Create useful and engaging content for keywords not related to the product but to its category. This helps product pages rank.
Make your content so good that people link to it as a resource.
In the SEO game, there are only two things that matter: content and links.
Paid Marketing for Online Stores
Some online stores achieve extraordinary results with paid marketing. This includes sponsored posts on Instagram and Facebook and paid Google search results. Paid marketing consists of buying advertising space.
But is paid marketing right for your business? My rule of thumb is that paid marketing is a great option if your product is the type that could be displayed in a mall.
The biggest paid marketing channels right now are Facebook and Instagram. In particular, Instagram has become very popular for online retailers in recent years.
But think about the mood of someone scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feed. He’s relaxing for a few minutes, laughing at some photos and leaving quick messages to some friends. He’s having fun. It’s a bit like the way people shop in a mall.
Sometimes people are looking for a specific item, but a lot of people go to the mall to have fun. Malls have known this for a long time and stores have optimized this browsing experience.
Products that sell effectively in a mall are also likely to do well with a paid ad on Social media. These products are generally:
- Consumer products. Commercial products have a hard time on these channels.
- Very visual and eye-catching. That’s why apparel companies do so well in malls and why apparel companies have been very aggressive on Instagram in recent years.
- It’s easy to understand. The offer should be understood in 3 seconds. If you have a more complicated sales process that requires more explanation, people will pass your ad by long before they have a chance to make the sale.
- Pulse-friendly pricing. If the price is too high and people have to think long and hard about their decision, they will skip your ad and quickly forget about it.
If your product meets all of these criteria, you should seriously consider the paid marketing route.
One exception is Google Ads (formerly AdWords). Since you bid on keywords in Google, you put your ad in front of people who are already actively searching for that type of product. As long as the keyword has sufficient search volume and the ad bids are not too competitive, it works very well.
The downside of paid marketing is that you will have to invest quite a bit of money before you know if you will make a profit. Most of us don’t have thousands of dollars to invest without the certainty of being able to get it back.
Most paid campaigns don’t make a profit at first; they usually require many iterations and work before they start making a profit. Most paid marketers need 3-6 months before their campaigns are profitable.
So be careful and make sure you don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. If money is tight, choose one of the other marketing options.
Marketing platform for online stores
This is a completely different direction from the previous two methods.
Instead of creating your own store and using one type of marketing to acquire traffic, you will take advantage of one of the major e-commerce platforms:
It is certainly possible to be successful with any of these three. I recommend that most people choose Amazon. Amazon’s audience is much larger, which gives it greater advantages, and almost every product niche already exists on Amazon.
The main exception is a craft of some kind, such as making bookends to sell to customers. In this case, Etsy is a better fit, as the audience expects more handcrafted products.
eBay is still a good option if you are buying and reselling. But if you produce the same kind of items on a consistent basis, Amazon’s potential is much greater.
Whichever platform you choose, you need to treat it as a marketing channel. First, you will need to create your store on that platform and put all your products there. Second, you will have to optimize your store as best you can so that the platform will want to include your products.
Store optimization usually consists of focusing on two aspects:
Orienting your product pages toward the specific terms searched on the platform.
Getting as many 5-star reviews for your products as possible.
By improving search terms and reviews, more people will see your products on that platform, resulting in more sales for you.