With the pandemic still present in many parts of the world, e-commerce businesses are thriving. This is evident when we look at the numbers for Black Friday 2020, which shows us that consumers spent a whopping $10 billion nationwide, with the bulk of the purchases coming from online shopping! Economic crisis who?
Although with the good, comes the not so good. Online retail has become a brutally competitive and challenging industry to be a part of. So how can a business owner stay relevant in this economic roller coaster? Below are my top 5 marketing tips for making your e-commerce site successful!
Tip #1: Start with a manageable inventory
Your online inventory should be kept small and manageable, at first. The goal is to scale and grow your business over time - So don't overwhelm yourself!
I would suggest you start with no more than 30-50 items. Adding a ton of items sounds exciting at first, but every single item in your store will need to include photos, descriptions, pricing, item variations, discount info, etc. It can quickly become overwhelming as you move along in this process!
The same principal works if you are a service based business with several services on your site. Although services may be less of a hassle to manage than products, you can easily confuse customers by having too many options.
Pro Tip: If you've got a ton of inventory (and very little patience), hire someone to manage your website for you. This way you'll have a dedicated professional to manage inventory, discounts and promotions, and engage customers.
Tip #2: Consistent branding is key
Studies show us that visually appealing sites make more sales. You want the customer to click around and "play" on your site, so they feel more encouraged to make a purchase! Every page on your site should have the same overall aesthetic, to create consistency. And this same style can inspire your marketing content, too. The idea is to give your brand a unique personality!
There are a few easy ways to create consistency in your brand. To begin, set a dedicated color palette for your brand, and have the colors visible in different ways through the site. Got a favorite font in mind? Use it thoughtfully through the whole site.
Another way to create brand consistency is in your banners, buttons, and links. As you can see in the image, these badges were created (by yours truly) to advertise pricing for a client. Even though I've used different colors for each, I've used the same jewel tones on all of them, so they have a consistent style.
Tip #3: Professional photos are a must
Photos of your products or services are the absolute number one driver for your customer to make their purchase, so this is where your brand needs to shine. If you're not sure how to stage your photos, there are so many unique and wonderful brands out there to get inspired by - And it's completely free to browse their sites to get ideas!
However this is one area where hiring a professional could really give you an advantage. Aside from having great imagery that is professionally enhanced, you can also use the high quality photos in your marketing and promotional content! And your photographer may have some great ideas for presenting the products or services in a fun way.
Tip #4: Marketing and SEO
You can have the best products and a stunning website, but if you don't focus on marketing then no one will find you... Which means you won't make any sales! Marketing is another area where hiring a professional really pays off. The money you invest in marketing, graphics and analytics will return to you ten-fold with the results you get from consumers shopping your site.
Marketing is about strategy. There is intense consideration when it comes to targeting the right consumers. It's also important to consider the method of marketing; many people know about social media marketing, but what other platforms could be valuable to your business? YouTube? Groupon? Google Ads? Print ads? A skilled marketing professional will be able to give you feedback - It's not a one size fits all situation!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is what helps you get found on Google and other places. Professionals spend years studying SEO and focusing their tactics, so this is another area you'll need to hire a professional. If you're not going to invest a penny in professional graphics or marketing services, then put the money into SEO so you can at least get found by search engines!
Tip #5: Double check the details
Broken links, typos, and missing product info (such as ingredients or sizing) are just a few of the little details that many entrepreneurs miss when designing their site themselves. Even as a professional designer, e-commerce sites take twice as long for me to build because of the depth of content that each page needs. So if you're designing the site yourself, don't miss the details! When you think you're done, go back and review your work a third or fourth time. Have a friend review it too. And don't forget to check that mobile version of your site, as a large percentage of your shoppers will be visiting you from a mobile device.
As you embark on this journey in online retail, the biggest tip I can give you is to consider the scope of work ahead with your site. If you're designing and managing the site yourself, this will be one of the most challenging parts of the process. If you start to rush through the creation phase, or become lazy over the little details, the site is already off to a bad start. The same can be said if you've got a completed site that isn't performing! If you're losing patience on your lack of business, it may be a sign that it's time to hire someone to make your site shine.
The good news is that people do this every day! And you can too. With a little time, attention and patience, your e-commerce business will be a success!