Written by Richard Protheroe
15th January 2016 • 34 min read
When it comes to marketing your online store it’s understandable to feel overawed by the amount of avenues available to you. As a retailer you are on a constant mission to increase your sales, but deciding what option best suits your business can be very tricky.
What are the best marketing options in 2016 and what can I do?
Below are 8 essential marketing strategies that you need to be looking at. Some may work better than others, but that is solely dependent on your business.
Check out how to be an online retail success and let us know if you agree or disagree with anything in the comments below. It’s the Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Marketing 2016…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In recent times the way businesses communicate with their audience has changed dramatically. Visitors to your website and social media accounts don’t want to be constantly sold at. Therefore there has become an increased emphasis on companies to create good quality content that is both helpful and informative.
So cutting through the noise and standing out amongst the crowd has become difficult, especially for smaller companies. This is why influencer marketing has become such a phenomenon and Instagram in particular, is a great platform to utilise this.
Companies are using celebrities or influential people within a certain industry to help leverage their product. The person involved essentially becomes a brand advocate and the company’s message is placed in the hands of someone that people trust.
Lyfe Tea, a detox tea company who started up in October 2013 used Kylie Jenner to promote their tea on Instagram. The picture amassed 1.2 million likes and had a link to their site and Instagram page. This helped Lyfe Tea establish themselves as a massive brand and grew their Instagram following to just under 500,000.
Of course if you’re a small company you won’t necessarily have the budget to afford these celebrities. In the case of fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein, she gets paid a staggering $15,000 to promote a product to her 1 million followers.
You don’t need a big budget to take advantage of influencer marketing
A great site to help you identify influential Instagram accounts within your industry is Webstagram.
Let’s say you sold guitars. You may want to find accounts related to different makes of guitars, or fan pages of famous guitarist. You should identify any accounts that have an email address in their biography and contact them.
You need to first figure out a maximum amount you would pay for a shoutout and also target more prestigious accounts. Finding an account with 500 followers say isn’t really worth your time and effort. It’s worth noting though that some accounts aren’t comfortable with promotion, so brace yourself for rejection.
Once you have gathered all the email addresses of the accounts. Send them a short sharp email asking for a shoutout. Initially, don’t mention a fee as they may well do it for free if they think it’s helpful for their audience. A fantastic example of doing this comes from Uwheels who generated $1 million from an ad spend of $61,000.
If you are creating an offer, create a separate Instagram account just for that product
That could then include a coupon code in the bio and a link back to your main Instagram account.
This is becoming an increasingly popular tactic in general on Instagram. The example below is from Protein Card who are looking to promote their Christmas sales. They used 6 images to promote the offer and then added a link to it in their bio.
When it comes to free marketing you can do a lot worse than check out Facebook groups. However, I must warn that simply plastering your product offering in there is a big no-no. In our example, we offer inventory management software to online retailers who use platforms like Shopify. We took to Facebook and were able to find 7 groups that had thousands upon thousands of our potential customers in.
- Shopify Entrepreneurs – 6,673
- Shopify Brand Academy – 978
- Shopify Newbies – 2,639
- Shopify Strategy – 8,054
- Shopify Store Pros – 7,315
- Shopify Masters – 2,106
- Shopify Ecommerce Group – 1,440
Although there may be a crossover of people in those groups, that’s 29,205 who use Shopify and are actively asking questions about the platform.
What’s great about Facebook groups is that you’re able to search within the group for certain keywords. So in our instance we used ‘inventory’.
This then brings up a list of posts that have been using this keyword. Below is great example of someone posting a question that our product could solve.
Perhaps you sell dog beds? You find a list of groups related to dog breed owners and then search for “dog beds” and direct links to your product. This is the reply I gave, relating it back to her problem and putting a link in there as well. This is much better than blindly posting links.
With Facebook groups it does help that you are seen as been helpful. Just replying to posts related to your products isn’t enough. Firstly introduce yourself to develop that trust element. Get involved with other discussions and participate in polls. We regularly post links to helpful articles, videos or webinars that we are running on the groups.
Twitter is another fantastic tool to engage with potential customers and to do so without spending a penny. What’s more is that you would only need to spend 15-30 minutes a day on it and you would see your audience grow!
Firstly, it’s worth noting that the tactics below will bring people to your Twitter account. Therefore ensure your profile picture and header image are up to date and explain clearly what you do. Additionally ‘pin’ a tweet to the top of your page that perhaps promotes a great piece of content or an offer. If it has plenty of RT’s and favourites this is also a bonus.
Once that is all in check you want to be heading to search.twitter.com. From here you are going to engage with users who are discussing your specific niche. Similar to Facebook groups it’s imperative that you DO NOT act too ‘salesy’ and DO NOT ask them to follow you. These people won’t know who are so just be helpful.
Here are the parameters you can use to find your potential customers:
“” – Use quotation marks to find someone talking about a specific phrase e.g “Dog Beds”
-filter:links – This will remove any tweets that include links, which tend to be promotional tweets
? – This will only include tweets that are asking a question. Perhaps someone is looking for a specific dog bed and you can help
lang:en – This will only show tweets in English
near:London – Is location important to you? If so, you can find people near you who are tweeting
-word – Is there a specific work you want to remove from the search results. Perhaps ‘free’ could be a good option
So in my example I’ve used the example “dog beds” again and have filtered all the links within the tweets. Below is a result of someone discussing dog beds and my reply.
Terrible puns aside this is a great way to interact with people. It’s fun, friendly and not at all salesy. The positives of this is that the user may retweet this to her followers and it could be picked up by fellow dog lovers.
When the time comes to purchase a new product, it will ensure that you are in the back of their mind
Another great tool to use to build up your Twitter following is Crowdfire. Available at just $10 a month it allows you to copy followers from certain Twitter accounts, hashtags and also allows you to leave automated direct messages.
In this example we have identified a Twitter account that our potential customers might be following which is @DogsTrust. From this you can click the click green button on the right hand side to follow these people on mass. If they don’t follow you back, no problem you can just select ‘Non Followers’ from the left hand side and unfollow them on mass.
This is a surefire way of increasing your followers and keeping you following down. Remember, it’s all about that ratio! Adding a chatty direct message (DM) is also a great way of interacting with your new followers. Once they have followed you try sending a message like the one below.
Setting up a DM with a name on the end or replying to tweets with a name is a great way of adding a personal touch. Just to make the user feel at ease that they are talking to an actual person.
Pinterest now has over 100 million users of which 85% are female. At this point you
should be considering whether it’s worth investing your time in it, dependent on what you sell.
Pinterest is an extremely powerful platform. There’s a great slideshow from from Nir Eyal that shows Pinterest manufactures a desire within people. A study from Shopify as well shows that the average order value from Pinterest is higher than both Facebook & Twitter.
So what can be done? In order to convert people from your pins you need to be looking at Rich Pins. At this point i’m assuming you have a Pinterest account set up. If not, here’s an article we wrote about setting up and picking the best photo.
It is a very technical process in order to enable Rich Pins, so if you are not comfortable with this get in touch with your developer. What’s great about these pins is that if you reduce the price of it an email notification is sent to the person to notify them.
It’s not only products that you should be drawing attention to in your Pinterest posts. Written some good content pieces or posted some good videos of late? Create a board just for these and link them back to your blog.
Make sure your board is using your targeted keywords, so it’s easy for people to find them in search engine results. Also look to include a brief summary of the piece and of course attached a high-quality image.
Lastly on Pinterest look to run a competition! We recently had Alex Missett from Shopify on a
webinar who recommended Gleam as a great site to set up a competition on. There are T’s & C’s of course (sorry, boring I know) but it’s critical you abide by these guidelines to avoid any punishment.
One fantastic idea that people regularly comment on is Peugeots Puzzle competition. They created boards for each of their cars, where each image would make up the picture of the car. However 4 of the 5 pieces were missing and they were scattered over Peugeots website and Facebook pages.
The results? It created over 50,000 interactions through likes, pins and follows. It increased their Facebook following by 320% and had a positive impact on average time spent on their website. Result!
It doesn’t seem too long ago that YouTube was being described as this new and exciting media platform. However it is now over 10 years old and has amassed over 1 billion users who upload more than 300 hours of video every minute!
Therefore if you are not considering YouTube in your 2016 marketing plan, then you are making a very big mistake! We’ll cover what sort of videos you should be making and then how to promote them.
6 Types of videos:
Tips – These work great, especially in Facebook groups which we mentioned earlier. Sell golf clubs? Share some tips on how to use a 3 wood off the floor for example.
Tutorial/Product Demos – Demonstrate how a product works and it’s uses. Embed the video on the page to increase average time spent and improve your SEO!
Testimonials – There is nothing more powerful than a customer testimonial video
to convince people about your business. In fact 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online video reviews.
Introduction – YouTube allows you to place a video on your channel homepage that automatically loads. An explainer of your company and what your offer works wonders!
Behind the Scenes – It’s a cliche but ‘People buy from people’. Introduce members of your team and show the human side of your company.
Any of these types of videos would work wonders in your email campaigns. It’s shown that you can improve click through rate by 300% by including a video.
It’s worth noting however that video’s uploaded straight to Facebook work better than sharing a YouTube now. In fact, of all the video interactions 80% are uploaded directly to Facebook. This graph
from Social Bakers shows the increase of shares against Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube in 2014.
This also goes for blog posts. They can have a 48% jump in views if they contain both photo
and video within the content. If you are looking to give video a go yourself then you can! We wrote an article about what you need to shoot your own video for Out of the Sandbox.
6. GOOGLE REMARKETING
If you aren’t using remarketing already I have one word for you..WHY? For the uninitiated, it targets people who have previously visited your website, via banner ads across the internet.
As it targets users who are already leads, it has a 25% lower cost per conversion than regular search ads. If you are new to it, get started, for the rest here’s some great tips to improve your remarketing
As we touched on earlier, YouTube is a great cost effective way of producing content. The biggest thing is the variety of content that you can generate with video. Another is “in-stream” or “pre-roll” ads, which are the 30 second advertisement clips you see on YouTube before watching your video.
You only pay when people view the whole 30 seconds of your video
Also, you can only target people who have visited your site before or people who would be interested in your product.
You can also target by geography, location, demographic, topics & interest. This is all done within Adwords ‘Video’ tab as well, which was a recent change. This helps you to manage all your paid advertising from one dashboard. Go here for more information on In Stream ads.
The benefits of having an app for your store are endless. Also, it’s never been easier to set up an app. Users of Shopify for instance can hire people such as Moon Code to help them build the app. You can choose from 14 different themes to match the style of your online store.
Furthermore Statista has shown that 87% of time spent on mobile devices is done so within an app. So how does this relate to remarketing? Well, you are now able to link your Google Play and Adwords account together.
Just head to the settings cog in the top right hand corner and select ‘account settings’ and then ‘linked accounts’.
What’s great is that the remarketing list will automatically be created for you. This allows you to create campaigns within Adwords, targeting those people who have previously used your app.
This is particularly good for targeting people who haven’t used your app in a while and you’re looking to bring them back.
7. GOOGLE SHOPPING ADS
Shopping ads are slowly taking over text ads as the main source of expenditure from retailers. There is no official stats yet for 2015 but retailers spent 47% more on Shopping ads in 2014 than they did for 2013 and that looks set to rise again.
It’s clear to see why as well, as 50% of all clicks are now on Product Listing Ads, which works out as average clickthrough Rate of 5.96%. In comparison text ads scored just 4.91%. For information on how to get them set up check Google’s guidelines. So what can you do to improve your Shopping ads and make sure your ads are clicked over your competitors?
Google made an abundance of new improvements to Shopping / Product Listing ads in the back ed of 2015, so theres plenty to take advantage of.
Google Merchant Center – Google Sheets
Before my current job at Veeqo I worked for an ecommerce site and took it upon myself to submit the data required to appear on the Shopping section of Google.
It can be a tricky process using Excel, as you have to keep flitting between the required field document to ensure you have the specifications right. With the sheets add-on it assists you in validating the spreadsheet and also warns you of any errors you have made before submitting. Whereas you’d find out afterwards if you’d submitted it using Excel.
The new insights tool was released by Google in the later part of 2015 and it’s still in its Beta stage,
but it looks a great tool to utilize for retailers.
The new tool gauges the interest in certain products across the country (currently only available in the US). What’s more is that you can also drill down to device and city level. You can aggregate terms as well such as “Microsoft Xbox One”, “Xbox One” and “Xbox One Console” unlike Google Trends which just took the specific phrase.
The city aspect works great for companies on a local level, as it can help you to manage your inventory better
It will also aid you when you look to increase your CPC in more popular areas.
The new assortment reports has been a real game changer retailers, as it’s been able to assist with two critical points.
- Expand Your Product Range – You can quickly identify the top 100 products within your Google Product Category field and discover items that you don’t already offer.
- Find Missing Products – From the reports you can identify popular products that you already offer but have perhaps not included in your product feed.
What’s more is the assortment report also shows the prices of five competitors. This can help you identify what strategy your competitors are going for. Is there anyone beating you by one penny? Is there anyone being successful with a much higher price? If so, is there something they are offering to get away with this?
There’s plenty of more information on assortment reports and how you can get started available from Google.
8. DIY SEO
The term “SEO” can send a shiver up a retailer’s spine as they turn and run for the hills. Understandably so as well. A lot of people who start their own store may not be from a technical background. We recently spoke to a Shopify store owner whose background was in design, and they confessed to not even knowing what it stood for.
‘Search Engine Optimization’ sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a few things you can do today to boost the traffic to your site.
‘Where to Buy Pages’
Are you a reseller? If so, you should be listed as a vendor on your supplier’s website with a link through to you site. In this example, Stanley Bostitch are a very prestigious company that have been running for over 100 years. However, they don’t sell directly through their site. So packaging company Packability gain all traffic through to their site when somebody searches for this Carton Stapler.
HARO & Journo Requests
No matter what industry you are in link building is important for increasing your visibility in Google. So what’s a quick way of getting authentic and powerful links? Using tools like HARO & Journo Requests of course!
HARO stands for ‘Help a Reporter Out’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Three times a day you get an email sent direct to your inbox, where reporters are looking for a source to contribute to their article/blog/feature etc.
You simply just click on an article that’s relevant and reply to it and hopefully you will get featured in their piece. Be quick though, as there tends to be a quick deadline on these. Similar to HARO is another service called Journo Requests.
Here’s an example of the daily email you will receive from them. I currently subscribe to the ‘Business & Finance’ section and as you can see the top two requests are from BBC & Cosmopolitan. This works slightly differently from HARO in that all these requests are collated from people who have used
the #JournoRequest on Twitter. Therefore make sure you are using a personal Twitter account with your company information and be quick to reply!
As we mentioned before SEO can be a very tricky business, however Dallas McLaughlin an SEO Expert who recently took part in a DIY SEO article of ours, has created a dashboard for your Analytics. It has all the important stats you need in one place!
Written by Richard Protheroe
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