by Adam Robson
Posted on Wednesday 7th February 2018
So you've worked long and hard to create the perfect online shop but now you've discovered the biggest challenge still lies ahead; letting people know your store exists.
This week, let's go over your marketing options and how to proceed to get those all important sales...
If you're reading this then I'm assuming you have a stunning online shop full of products that you simply know people would love to buy if only they knew you had them for sale.
Marketing will be your greatest challenge as an online shop owner, but it doesn't have to be.
There are countless options to market your business but for the sake of argument, let's discuss the current top three, namely Google, Facebook and influencer marketing.
To be listed on Google there are essentially two main options, an organic listing or a paid listing.
To be listed (organically) or let's just call it for what it is, to be listed for free, you really need to be on that first page. Is that difficult to do? Hell yes. Businesses spend huge amounts of money on search engine optimization (SEO) to get into those top 10 spots. In fact, in reality there are no longer 10 free spots, as paid advertisers now take up the top 3. SEO is a time consuming task. It can take months to optimize your website and create enough interest around your brand to have Google take notice and move you further up the listings. Don't get me wrong, I think it's vitally important to have a well optimized website, just don't expect to be number 1 a day after you've done everything correctly as per Google's own website optimization guidelines. Google also have a habit of moving the goal posts, so if you do manage to get higher up the search listings it isn't guaranteed to last.
If you're a new store owner, to be frank, you probably don't have the luxury of time to wait for Google to notice you. You need to make sales to survive and you need to make them now.
A paid Google listing is an option available to you. At its simplest, if someone is interested in purchasing an item they may query Google on where to purchase such an item. Your job is to match that query (keyword) to an advertisement placed by you.
It's incredibly easy to setup a Google Adwords account, in fact if you are a new store owner, Google usually provide a $100 credit voucher to get you started.
Sounds generous so far, right? To the uneducated Adwords user it can be a complicated beast to master. In fact, Google must have recognised this as they have recently upgraded their interface to make things slightly easier, although personally I prefer the old system. By default, the options Google preset in Adwords for you are designed to give you the widest possible audience. This isn't necessarily a good thing as it's also designed to take as much money from you as quickly as possible. To really get the most out of Google Adwords I highly recommend you do a course or read a solid book on the subject before you spend a single cent.
For a small business, Google Adwords can be expensive. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Sounds fair doesn't it? Given the cost per click (to be in those top three spots mentioned above) may cost you on average around $2.50 a click, that can quickly add up. That $100 voucher may not be looking as generous as it once was. Now here's the killer....did you know that on average out of 100 users to your website only 1 may purchase on that first visit? There is a wealth of other information available on the maths behind this subject, and I have written a seperate blog here.
In summary, yes Google Adwords can drive traffic to your website, just be prepared to have a large advertising budget and understand a buyer may click and visit numerous times before they finally purchase.
Not to be beaten by Google, Facebook Advertising is a viable alternative. Unlike Google where you pay for each click, with Facebook you pay when someone sees your ad. I'm sure you've seen those sponsored ads in your newsfeed and elsewhere on your Facebook page.
Facebook advertising can be cheaper than Google Adwords if you set the right settings. Again, like Google, the presets they supply are designed to provide you a very wide audience which is definitely not in your interest.
The greatest asset Facebook Advertising has is the ability to narrow your audience and target only those individuals that may be interested in your products. For example you may sell 'fishing rods'. You could elect to only show ads to men between the age of 32 to 55, that like boating and fishing, and live near the water. Yes, it can be that specific. Now at first glance you might be thinking, that's wonderful, I can target the exact audience for my products, and that's certainly true, but Facebook advertising has one big problem. You see when we're on Facebook, we aren't usually in a buying mode. We're in a "let's see what my friends have been up to mode". Compare this to Google, and they are worlds apart. Remember, someone on Google who types 'buy fishing rods', guess what, they're probably in a buying mood!
With all that said, Facebook marketing has its place, and it's particularly effective when your ad is so engaging, so interesting, or so funny, it goes viral. If you think you can create amazing viral advertisements continually, use Facebook advertising as you'll be loved by followers everywhere and some of them may just buy.
With Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising you pay for marketing regardless if it's effective. Also, you need to be very aware of your return on ad investment (ROAI). To keep things simple here, there's absolutely no point spending $100 in advertising to sell one product that has a profit of $50 in it, as you are obviously losing money.
Influencer marketing has become an extremely popular alternative. If you're not aware, influencers are simply people on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms that have thousands (some millions) of followers and they can promote your product to their audience.
With influencer marketing there are two main paying options. Pay the influencer upfront to promote your products, or pay the influencer a commission on every sale. I personally prefer the second option for a couple of reasons. Longer lasting and greater sales are made by having your influencer on commission, and secondly you only pay your influencer on sales results. Let me repeat, you only pay when results are achieved. This is huge advantage to other forms of marketing.
It's best to find an influencer that matches your product. For example, if you sell 'fitness apparel' find a fitness celebrity to promote your brand. You can even send them product to wear in their social media posts. The right person promoting your product can also add massive credibility to your brand, and combined with engaging content may even go viral.
Finally influencer marketing has the ability to reach a far greater targeted audience at a next to nothing cost when you build a network of effective people to promote your products and brand. The full power of social media and the sheer reach of this medium should not be underestimated.
With 19 years experience in e-commerce, the owner of numerous successful online shops, and the founder and director of ShoutOut, Adam Robson discusses the challenges every store owner faces in the current online business environment.