Stop Guessing! Here Are 10 E-Commerce Marketing Strategies That Work
The e-commerce industry is a hard nut to crack for many entrepreneurs that dare to get in. In countries like the United States (US), the long rooted history of e-commerce has gradually made it one of the most assuring internet businesses anyone could venture into. But in countries in the developing world like Nigeria and India, the industry still faces tremendous set-backs.
How then do small businesses with ambitions of becoming one of the future largest players in their local e-commerce market scale, or the very least, generate some reasonable revenues? What marketing strategies should these online small business owners execute to turn a profit?
While major players already with funding from angel investors & venture capitalists burn through thousands of Dollars monthly to barely achieve a positive cashflow, a few other really small unknown e-commerce companies have silently turned a reasonable profit for their size, even with the widespread clamour of unprofitability.
How then are the silent few doing it?
Here are 10 e-commerce marketing strategies that already work in Nigeria, & many other places in the world:
1). Start From An Online Marketplace:
Every successful business today, started small. Whether it was from a small store down the street, from an apartment, or from a store on an online marketplace like Jumia, Konga, Amazon, Ebay, and the likes.
The importance of starting from an online marketplace, is to test your product focus, and also increase the volume of your merchandise.
Rather than chase down every investor you see around the corner, that’d most likely not pay attention to what you have to say, start by selling your products on online marketplaces. As they sell out, you’d learn more of what people want the most; the category, the colour, the style, and adjust your marketing strategies to focus your product re-stock preferences to those items.
Make sure you use your proposed brand name as your store name on the marketplaces, so that when you eventually launch your e-commerce business, some of your store’s existing & future customers, can always find you through google to see if you offer better prices on your website, and what other exclusive products you may have for sale.
The great thing about this model, is that you don’t get to spend a dime yet, on ads, but you get enough time to triple, quadruple, or even quintuple the volume of your products before you fully set out to launch your own e-commerce website. And even after you’ve launched, remain on the marketplaces till you’ve fully figured out how to be fully independent of anyone.
2). The Mobile Experience Is Everything:
While a larger population of Americans place product orders from their computers than their mobile phones, over 75% of Nigerians, place their orders strictly from their mobile phones.
A great mobile experience in a developing nation as Nigeria or India, can never be emphasised enough!
Any e-commerce business that doesn’t have a wonderful, easy-to-use, and concise mobile site, can already be considered a failure. In an economy where almost everyone only makes product inquiries and purchases from their mobile phones, it would be outrightly dumb to not have a great-looking & fast-loading mobile site.
While a responsive e-commerce website is good, building a standalone mobile website to compliment it, is even better. The core reason is, the demographic that would visit the mobile website majorly only want a good-looking, but simple interface, that shows them only what they want to see immediately. And most often, the mobile-responsive look of the online store, doesn’t motivate the local users.
3). Your Product Images Must Leave A Lasting Impression:
Have you ever visited websites like Shoedazzle or SuitSupply before? If you have, then you know how an unbelievable product image quality can drive you to either make a purchase, or tell a friend about the experience you just had.
Product images that keep jaws dropping have a far higher chance of converting window shoppers to actual buyers. Irrespective of the fact that you just want to sell a product, you have a far higher chance of closing more sales if you sell an experience instead.
If your product images don’t make you doubt if your items are actually as good as the creative photographer has made them, then they aren’t good enough. Take the whole photo shoot all over again!
4). Use Smart Email Marketing:
Target created a smart data mining tool that can almost accurately predict if a regular buyer is pregnant, and at what stage. This even drove a dad mad, to accuse Target of sending newsletters, recommending baby items to his teenage daughter, whom unknown to him, was actually pregnant.
How did Target figure this out? The answer lies in probabilistic statistics harnessed from big data.
The best email campaigns are the types that sends the consumer, product recommendations and deals, based on their shopping behaviours.
A person who ships a car, probably needs someone to clear it from the port. A person who buys a Virtual Reality Headset, is probably looking for a badass war game to play it with. And a person who purchases a suit, probably also needs a great shoe, tie, or wrist watch to rock it with.
These may seem a lot simpler to predict than knowing when a person is pregnant, but it’s a good place to start.
Sending out email campaigns of complimentary products, based on the customers browsing and purchasing behaviour, will increase your chances of generating more sales leads, than choking up the person’s email with countless numbers of unwanted products.
5). Build A Social Media Engagement That Keeps Mouths Running:
Most people at some point, have experienced a time when an Instagram account was trending for having unbelievable items at very low prices. What’s more? These Instagram accounts from time to time, could post a photo of the team outing, a cute puppy, what they’re having for lunch at the office, and other enticing creative content. A perfect example, is Asos.
A social media experience that would make your followers wish they could be a part of your team, is an absolute win. This first means that they’re already in love with your brand, are probably already your customers, and constantly profess their love for your brand to many people in their circle.
The key to growing a great social media experience is to curate interesting content people would love to talk a lot about, and also share.
6). Consider Free & Fast Shipping As A Bonus:
The phrase, “free shipping”, has closed a lot of sales. People feel a bit more motivated to buy, if they know they probably won’t be paying any shipping cost; especially when the free shipping clause can be effected after their purchase meets a reasonable minimum price. But what marketing strategies motivate people to act, even better than free shipping? Fast shipping!
According to some scientific researches, fast shipping motivates more people to place orders, than free shipping. People would pay a little more to save their time.
Although the demographic covered in this research may not have similar cultures to many other demographics around the world, offering both free & fast shipping, could improve your chances of converting a potential customer.
In the developing world, free shipping has more impact over fast shipping. Since the per capital income is low, people want to save even more money, and wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer to get their orders delivered. The only downside to this, is that free shipping would cost every retailer a lot more, and some customers might change their minds about the order, before it gets delivered.
So what’s your best bet? Offer both free & fast shipping!
7). Your Call-To Actions Must Set Off A Panic Alert:
Ever added an item to a shopping cart, and saw a pop-up message like the image below?
Now, that’s some warning!
What would you do if the item you added to the shopping cart was a limited edition item you’ve always wanted to buy, and after adding it, and hoping you could maybe place the order several hours later, you get that message? You’d most likely move to complete your purchase.
Panic monsters have been proven to motivate more people to take immediate actions. Create a good call-to action that your local demographic can more resonate with. You can tweak it overtime, till you’re certain it converts prospects to paying customers.
8). Focus On A Small Niche:
A Jack of all trade is a master of none. When starting out, focus first, on a small category, then grow from there. Even the multi-billion Dollar company, Amazon, launched as an online book retailer.
Standing for something makes you claim both an untapped market, and a territory for yourself. If your initial customers are people who share a common interest, and belong to a local community, don’t be discouraged. Start with them, and covert them all to loyalists first. After you’re certain of your position in that area, you can expand to wider communities and categories.
Focusing on a small niche, is one of the most important marketing strategies to use, when starting any e-commerce business.
9). Smart Customer Follow-Ups:
Do you call the customer after a week of product delivery to get his/her feedback? Do you send them a surprise coupon if they added items to the shopping cart but abandoned them for quite a while? Do you even call them just to say hi?!
People care about people who not only care about them, but also make them feel good about themselves. Having your customers unconsciously establish your brand in their minds as family, is a major win.
The little things you do matter. And as customers come to realise the lot you’ve done for them, they’d defend your brand anywhere they see anyone try to trample on it.
10). Try Social Ads:
Advertising on Facebook has proven to be one of the most effective channels to promote an online business, and grow its sales. For fashion based businesses especially, the two best environments to try out your advert marketing strategies are both Facebook & Instagram.
Most people on Instagram only want cheap, but great-looking items. So you’d have to channel your ads correctly.
Advertising if done wrong, could tank your operating budget. Find someone experienced with the gimmicks of social advertising, and have the person put you through on how to achieve a lot more with a lot less (at probably $0.01 per click).
These e-commerce marketing strategies are already being used by multiple small businesses to grow their online revenues. You too can use them today.
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What are your thoughts on these e-commerce marketing strategies? Please let me know, by leaving a comment below.
Image Sources: etmedialabs.com, opiid.com