There’s no better time to own an e-commerce store than today. Last year, total retail e-commerce sales in the United States surpassed 500 billion dollars, and that number is projected to rise over 730 billion by 2023.
More and more people are choosing to shop online because of the convenience and selection it can offer, and e-commerce stores have a huge advantage since the lower overhead costs mean they can outprice the retail stores they are competing with.
However, even though the e-commerce market is booming, merely opening up an online store doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful. Numerous factors go into running an online business, and if you don’t take the necessary steps, you might end up investing your time and money into a store that’s doomed to fail.
So, how do you maximize the chances of succeeding with your e-commerce site? Well, there are steps you can take that will help you carve out a place for your store in the online marketplace, and here are five of the most important ones you should consider.
Start Creating Content
Having success online is almost impossible without creating quality content – people love to consume information and learn more about what they’re interested in, and if you want them to get excited about your products, you need to create content that educates and guides them towards making a purchase.
Content not only helps to interact with your audience and position you as an authority in your field, but also has a huge impact on your SEO rankings – Google uses content to measure a website’s worth, and you can also use it to inject your most important keywords and gain valuable backlinks.
With content, you can also showcase your brand’s personality and build a loyal following that will share values with your company and buy from you even when the competition has similar offerings.
But what should you keep in mind when creating content for your audience? Well, the first step is to try and zero in on the ideal customer that you want to reach, as that will dictate all of the following choices regarding content development.
Namely, you should try to identify the most pressing issues that your ideal prospects have about the products that you offer – you could talk about the common problems that your products solve or help the customers overcome issues that are preventing them from buying your products in the first place.
For instance, if your ideal prospects are e-commerce store owners, you could do a comprehensive dropshipping guide because getting products to customers quickly is one of the biggest challenges many online store owners are facing.
You can also use content to highlight the numerous features and benefits of your products, revealing various ways they can be used and the different types of people that could benefit from them.
If your products have instructions for usage or maintenance, you could create content that addresses these requirements so that you can increase your customer satisfaction.
Whichever type of content you decide to create, remember that there are many ways you could deliver it – even though blogging and writing articles is still very popular, it’s now easier than ever to create video content, which could help you tap into a broader segment of your audience.
Utilize Social Media
It seems that everyone and their dog is on social media nowadays, which means that no matter your niche, it’s all but guaranteed that your audience hangs out there as well. That’s why having a social media presence isn’t optional for e-commerce stores that want to succeed online – you need to get in front of that audience, or your competitors will.
In fact, 90% of businesses plan on using social media for customer services by next year, so if you’re not one of them, you’re setting yourself up to be in a disadvantage in your marketplace.
What’s more, social media offers unique opportunities for branding and interacting with your prospects, which can have a significant impact on all your marketing efforts, even those not directly related to social media.
But how can you use social media for growing your e-commerce business? Well, there are two main approaches that you could use – one is to engage your audience on social media by sharing content, and the other is to use paid advertising on social media to market your products directly and grow sales.
Both are important and can be incredibly useful, and you should try and incorporate them into your marketing strategy if you want to achieve the best results.
Engaging your audience and getting traffic to your site will need to involve some type of content – since you can’t just continuously post sales offers on your social media pages, you need to have engaging content that draws attention of your followers and get them to react and interact with your brand, as well as share it with their friends.
When developing content for social media, it’s important to take into account not only the needs and interests of the people that you want to reach but also the specific platform that you plan on posting, because that will determine the type of content that will work best for each particular situation.
For instance, Facebook Video is becoming increasingly popular among users, so it may be worth the extra effort to create videos instead of written content if you want the best results.
When you have good content that’s relevant to your audience, it will be much easier to expand your reach and grow the number of followers, and you can then use paid social media advertising to take your social media marketing efforts to the next level.
Whether you use social media ads to promote your posts or social media page, engage your audience, or to promote direct offers of your products and deals, the important thing is to be very thorough when planning your strategy, as the costs of paid advertising can rack up quickly if you’re not in complete control of what you’re doing.
That’s why, if you don’t have an in-house social media marketing specialist, it’s probably a good idea to look for a Facebook advertising agency that can help guide you through the entire process.
With the help of an agency, you may discover new avenues for increasing your social media presence that you wouldn’t have thought of before, and they should be able to make full use of the advanced targeting and retargeting options that are available to help you reach a wider audience and grow your list of potential customers.
Make Your Store Mobile-Friendly
Not too long ago, mobile users weren’t really taken seriously – since the majority of online shoppers used a desktop computer, that’s what e-commerce stores focused on.
However, in just a few years, the situation has changed completely – last year, mobile users made up the majority of all internet traffic, and the disparity between mobile and desktop users is bound to continue to grow.
So, e-commerce stores that want to remain competitive and don’t want to alienate such a huge part of their audience must do anything in their power to ensure that their site offers a convenient shopping experience, no matter the device that it’s viewed on.
But what exactly should you focus on when trying to make your store more mobile friendly? Well, if you’re using WordPress, the task becomes much easier – most modern themes are already responsive and can adapt to any screen size. However, if you haven’t updated your design in a while, it’s a good idea to check if your site meets today’s requirements using a tool like the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
But if you want to really go the extra mile for your customers and maximize your earning potential from those mobile visitors, you should consider adding a mobile app to your store. An app gives you much more flexibility and allows you to add more advanced shopping features, which can only help your sales numbers.
And the best news is, it’s now easier than ever to create a WordPress mobile app – there are numerous app development tools that allow you to take your site and turn it into an app without prior coding experience. With a bit of customization, you could have yet another way to engage your customers and gain a permanent spot on their smart devices.
Build Relationships Using Email Marketing
Selling online has numerous benefits – you can reach a much wider audience, the overhead costs are much lower, and it’s very convenient for the consumer as well. However, even with all those benefits, there’s one thing that selling products online can’t offer – unlike in a traditional store, there’s no way to establish a personal connection with the customer and build a long-lasting relationship.
Luckily, even though you can’t provide in-person advice for your prospects, there is a marketing method that has a lot of similar benefits. Using email marketing, you can interact with your audience and guide them towards making a sale, all while establishing yourself as an authority in your field and building trust between your brand and the customer.
But how to get the most benefits out of email marketing? Well, since e-commerce stores lack that personal relationship, you need to compensate by making your subscribers feel like they’re in an exclusive group.
Run special promotions that are meant only for your email list – provide them with unique discount codes, secret offers, or even personalized deals that show them that they’re not just a number in your list, but in fact a real person that you want to cater to.
Another email marketing strategy that works particularly well for e-commerce stores is seasonal promotions – if you can match your offerings and deals with the current season, you’ll be much more likely to engage your email audience and should see a significant spike in your sales.
You can also use email to get sales that would otherwise be lost – by simply dropping an email and reminding prospective buyers that they’ve abandoned a cart on your site, you might be able to convince a significant portion of them to return and complete the purchase.
Finally, don’t forget to use email marketing for branding purposes as well – by using well-placed design elements in your emails, you can position your brand as more professional and make your emails stand out.
Most of the best email marketing services offer extensive customization options that should make it easy to inject your brand’s persona into your emails.
Ask For Customer Feedback
Gaining any kind of advantage online is tough – there are so many sites competing for the attention of the same audiences that new ways to get ahead are hard to come by. However, at the same time, even the slightest edge can provide a considerable boost to e-commerce revenue, so you need to do all you can to try and find it.
And there’s probably no better way to figure out how to make the experience of your customers better than by simply asking them what you should improve.
You’d be shocked to learn how few e-commerce stores take the time to have conversations with their audience – most are busy bombarding their target prospects with offers, wondering why their sales numbers keep going down.
That’s why you should make an extra effort to get to know as much as possible about the experiences that the shopper has on your site – try to learn about what they like, what they prefer, and especially what they would want you to improve upon.
The easiest way to do that is by conducting surveys – if you ask your customers to take a few minutes to answer a few questions, a percentage of them is likely to agree, which can give you incredible insights about what they think you could change.
Another way to learn more about what you can improve is to work with your customer support department – look at the most common issues that they have to deal with, and try to think of ways to eliminate them or at least work towards reducing them by setting team goals accordingly.
Over time, you’re likely to start seeing opportunities for improving your services and product offerings in ways that aren’t used by your competitors, which can give you an edge and allow you to gain a larger share of the marketplace.
Sometimes, even small changes that don’t seem like a big deal to you can matter a lot to your customers, and these little improvements are what often makes up the difference between e-commerce stores that fail and those that end up crushing their goals each and every year.
Author Bio: Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.
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