The web is loaded with articles that promise to help you market your ecommerce store, but there’s one really important fact they usually leave out: it takes time to see results from your marketing efforts, even when you’re doing everything right. How come?
Marketing campaigns tend to be more effective once you’ve got an established audience that you’re marketing to, and a larger reach. The problem is, the only way to get that reach and audience is through effective marketing. If you get it wrong, you’ll be speaking in vacuum; If you get it right, your audience will grow, and you’ll have more people viewing your next campaign.
Like any problem that affects your business, you can’t address a problem with your marketing strategy unless you really understand it. The good news is that there are plenty of tools available to help you understand where your marketing is falling short—and you’re probably already using some of them.
This article breaks down three key marketing challenges retailers face, and suggests a few ways to fix the underlying problems.
1. No one can find my ecommerce website on Google
This problem is an easy one to diagnose by keyword searching on Google and finding that you’re not on the first page. It’s probably the number one complaint for online stores in their first year of marketing. You’re doing everything right, so why aren’t you on the first page of search results?
The first thing you should check is whether your site has been penalised by Google’s algorithms or by a manual webspam report. Visit Google Webmaster Tools to see if any action has been taken against your site—you can ask Google to reconsider your site once you’ve fixed it.
Once you’re happy that your site is not working against you, check if it’s working for you. Google recently changed its algorithm to prioritise mobile friendliness and performance, so you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right design and development principles to rank as high as you can. Again, Google has come to the rescue with a great new tool for testing your website’s mobile performance, which gives you specific tips for fixing your website.
If you haven’t been penalised and your website is optimised, then chances are, you’ve got big competition that’s been around longer than you have. They rank higher on Google because they’ve got years of content and traffic to back them up. Over time, you’ll build up content history and traffic and slowly work your way up the rankings, too. For now, you’ll just have to accept that the big guys outrank you—no short-term strategy is going to put your name higher on the page than theirs.
Except maybe Google AdWords.
Pay-per-click advertising is the only legitimate shortcut for getting your business on the first page of Google’s search results. You set up your ad, keywords, and target audience, and Google displays it alongside search results for a subset of matching searches each day. You get to choose your budget, and you only pay when you ad is working for you—when visitors click through.
Pay-per-click advertising is also available on Bing Ads.
2. No one clicks through from my email marketing campaigns
Your email newsletters take time to put together, so it’s always disappointing if you don’t see results. You’ve taken the right first step, by tracking your website traffic and recognising that your email newsletters aren’t getting clicks. Now you’ve just got to figure out why.
Google Analytics and other web traffic tools tell you where your traffic is coming from, so if you set them up just right, you can see how much of your store traffic is coming from email links. But that’s a lot of effort, and it won’t tell you anything about what’s happening to the emails that didn’t get opened. This is where the analytics tools built into your marketing software can help, by making it simple to track reads and clicks, and also telling you:
- which emails bounced
- how many subscribers opened the email
- who forwarded the email
- how many people unsubscribed
- Take a close look at the subject and content of emails that had higher open rates. How were they different from your other emails? This gives you valuable clues about the sort of content your subscribers want to read. They’ll click articles and links they find interesting and engaging, so give them more of what they want. If your email marketing software offers A/B testing, try sending subtly different versions of the same email to a subset of your list, to test out which subjects, headlines and images work best.
Have you divided your email marketing list into audience segments? Your repeat customers may want more information about the products they’ve bought, or upcoming sales, whereas your leads may prefer content that establishes your brand as a leader and helps get them across the line.
3. My social media posts are falling flat
The key to a good social media strategy is having a clear objective in mind. Are you trying to reach a larger audience? Do you want to build a community? Or are you wanting to communicate with your existing customers, to tell them about an upcoming special deal?
There’s no magic formula for social media (though some websites will try to tell you there is). Each platform has its own algorithm that controls who sees what you post, and the best way to keep being seen is to keep posting content and engaging with people who seem interested.
But social media takes time, and that’s something most business owners have a limited amount of. So it’s best to identify the platforms that are working for you, and focus your efforts there. Look at the metrics available within each social platform, and also at your website analytics. Which channels are leading to the highest conversions…and which aren’t working at all?
If there’s a channel that’s underperforming, try to figure out why. How are your competitors performing there? What can you learn about your audience’s needs? It might be as simple as using shorter headlines on Facebook, or regularly posting a new link in your Instagram bio. Alternatively, you might be able to extend your reach by collaborating with other businesses or partnering with an influencer.
If there’s no audience there for you, it might be time to move on and try a new channel. For example, if you’re selling lifestyle products for the over-50s, maybe Snapchat isn’t the best platform for you; maybe you should try Twitter, or just put more effort into your successful Facebook campaign.
Most social media platforms now have paid ads or sponsored posts for business listings. Like any advertising, these should be used as part of a well-planned campaign, so prepare a post that’s eye-catching, and aim your headline at a specific target audience. Or take it one step further with a video campaign on Instagram or YouTube. And make sure your ads link through to a landing page that’s designed to match the ad—you don’t want to scare your visitors off with a homepage that’s got too many options!
Marketing success won’t happen overnight. Savvy business owners need to give it time, regularly referring back to your analytics to see what’s working well, and what needs tweaking. But if you do your research and make a few changes based off my tips above, you’ll be well on your way to a successful marketing campaign.