Tag Archive for: marketing

5 Common Myths Around Building an Online Business

04 Sep
4th September 2017

With so many new online shops being set up with each year, there are a few common myths amongst new shop owners which may slow or even prevent their business from taking off. With this in mind, here are our top 5 myths of building an online business.

 – “Build it and they will come”

Whilst this may to some degree be true of physical retail, sadly this isn’t the case online. With many types of products being so saturated nowadays, there’s virtually no way for potential customers to know you exist unless you tell them.

This leads us onto mentioning Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. Although a strategy to help your store climb the ranks of Google + Bing is highly recommended, it’s an ongoing effort and more effective only in the long term. SEO alone is unlikely to create sales for your online shop in the short term.

When starting up then, it’s important to know that some investment of money or time will be required to place your product/site in front of potential buyers eyes. This could be via Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Boosts), or linking in with shopping comparison sites (Google Shopping, Pricegrabber, Shopzilla etc).

You can also get more creative with your advertising – YouTube videos, blog posts or sponsorships can all prove an effective promotion of your business. It’s always worth trying fresh and unique ideas to try and win new customers; try new things and find out what works for your niche.

 – “My website looks great, so it’ll do really well”

Having a great looking website is obviously incredibly important these days. We’re visual creatures, and the design of your site could mean the difference between a swithering customer spending or not. It’s also evidence to your shoppers that your website is up to date, has had the proper time and attention paid to it, and can be trusted to deliver.

All said though, looks aren’t everything, and a great online shop needs more to it than just its looks, the style needs substance to back it up. Your offering needs to be competitive, as looks alone aren’t enough to sell your product.

For instance, is your product well priced in a saturated market? Are your delivery terms competitive in your industry? Does your online shop demonstrate the same level of trust and transparency that competitors do? Unsurprisingly these are quite difficult to achieve when starting out, for example your product may be priced higher, and you may not have as many reviews to back up your levels of service, as your competitors.

So then, it’s really crucial to hit on these points early, and call these out early on your site, for the greatest chance at success. Be aware too that the importance of design to your webshop also comes down to the relative standard within your area of business.

 – “I need to spend hundreds of £ on a web designer”

Although most web designers will try and convince you otherwise, the idea of strictly needing to hire a traditional web designer to build an online shop, is an outdated one. Unless your site needs bespoke functionality, a custom or unique design, or if you want to outsource the majority of your online store build. In these cases a more traditional approach makes more sense, and certainly has its place.

Otherwise, for a new ecommerce venture, you might consider self-hosted open source software such as OpenCart. Assistance with the more technical side is available if required and is often well backed up by the community via online forums, support sites etc. This route can be cost effective, but also might be more time consuming upon any problems or issues arising.

Alternatively, a cloud hosted ecommerce platform like EKM is a reliable choice for building an online shop upon. Commercial support is available, and with an impressive feature set, including over 150 templates. You’re also more likely to achieve a better looking website than going it alone. It may prove slightly more expensive month to month, but bearing in mind your saving of time and initial setup cost, this is the most suitable option for most.

 – “I’ll get loads of sales from my Facebook/Twitter followers”

Having an excellent and dedicated fanbase on social media is no bad thing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are a fantastic method of keeping clients up to date, increasing customer loyalty online and establishing a strong brand identity.

On the contrary though, more followers does not necessarily mean more sales. Fans on social media platforms are rarely looking to actually buy immediately. This also goes to show that paying for bulk Facebook or Twitter followers is generally a poor idea – it’s usually fairly obvious, and unlikely to generate any sales or return on investment.

Having a great social media following then will be more beneficial in the long term, becoming invaluable to your business later on. A consistent social media presence will keep your brand in their minds when the time to buy does finally come around.

(Note this section doesn’t apply to paid social media advertising, which can work well in many cases).

– “My website’s live now, so job done”

This might not be a surprise at this stage, but actually building your online shop may be the easiest part of the process! Getting set up is just the beginning.

Gone are the days when any old business idea could be profitable selling online – just about every market is saturated. The more saturated the market, the more time and money will need spent to make your shop stand out from the hundreds of others. You must have the right product(s), a clear Unique Selling Point, and a competitive price point.

Setting up an online shop, like any startup business, also requires a great deal of persistence, learning, and continual investment of time. Things rarely happen on their own. With enough effort, commitment and sensible decision making though, you can be sure of the reward. Customers will come back to you time and time again, when you give them good reason to.

We hope this post gives you an idea of some of the common misconceptions out there, and might help make your online business more successful. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Blogging is an Essential Component of Any Marketing Strategy

06 Jul
6th July 2016

There are many reasons why blogging is great for e-commerce. As well as helping to drive traffic to your website, promote brand awareness, and inform customers of news and offers, blogging also has many technical SEO benefits to provide for your website.

It’s no secret that Google loves fresh, dynamic content and therefore any blog on your domain which is consistently producing new posts on your area of expertise is bound to be viewed favourably by Google’s algorithms. Strategic links back to your own main site are a great way of increasing page ranking, as are link exchanges with other online brands.

As well as the technical SEO benefits, content marketing in and of itself cannot be underestimated as a means of driving traffic and increasing conversions. In order to do this, it’s important that you build up a following for your blog which means, first and foremost, only producing high quality content. Weak, derivative, link-cluttered clickbait simply isn’t going to cut it here.

So we’ve established that blogging for e-commerce is far more compulsory than you may have realised. The next stage in the content marketing lifestyle is to share your content far and wide; place links to your blog posts across all of your social media channels and also look at having these links shared by influencers within your industry wherever possible. Premium quality content is great, but it’s not worth as much if no-one’s going to see it.

You should also place careful consideration on the type of content you are producing. As well as writing articles on trending topics, it’s also important to have evergreen content – blog posts which cover perennial topics that are always going to be popular within Google searches. Such blog posts will index higher over time, attract more traffic, and inevitably provide more conversions.

Google Analytics will prove to be an invaluable tool when it comes to monitoring blog traffic, analysing conversion rates and working out which types of article and topic are proving to be more popular and more profitable. In this way you can put your blog to use in a wider SEO and content marketing strategy over time.

In instances of popular blog posts, it’s worth considering re-purposing content that has performed well for you, either in a guest-blogging capacity or by re-working old blog posts into other shareable forms of online content; think infographics, videos or online slideshows. These can also be shared across your social media channels with captivating pull-quotes taken from the blog text to capture your audience’s attention and imagination. There are a number of creative ways you can promote content online and drive traffic back to your website; the sky’s the limit here.

5 Reasons Email Marketing is Crucial

04 May
4th May 2016

… for your online (or offline) business.

Email Marketing – to some small business owners these are words tainted by images of unsolicited junk mail and tacky sales promotions. A digital version of the postal printouts we throw away after they drop through our letterbox. But when Email Marketing is done right, it’s in fact one of the best tools at your disposal. You’ll quickly wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

If you need some convincing on this though, here are 5 excellent reasons that email is crucial to your e-commerce marketing campaign.

  • Encouraging repeat business and loyalty.

The best use of Email Marketing is to keep your name at the tip of tongues in your particular niche or industry. This means you’ll be the first port of call when a customer needs to re-order, or has been deliberating a second purchase. Furthering customer loyalty is key in todays tough markets. It’s very easy to see exactly who your best customers are with email marketing. Your advocates will read (and probably click through on) each and every mailer you send out!

  • An excellent and quick way to qualify leads and convert sales.

With the power of todays advanced email analytics, it’s very quick to filter down your campaign results to see who in your email list is interested. Email is a much quicker way to qualify potential sales from a subscriber database than to phone each one, for example. Converting sales online can be a cinch too as opposed to other direct marketing methods. You can’t buy from a leaflet for instance, but you can click through and buy from an email. It’s fast and painless, and the client is already online and hopefully engaged with your content.

  • Obtaining real and immediate results to your marketing.

As effective as they can be, there’s only so much feedback you can get from posters, leaflets and fliers. Email Marketing gives you immediate analytical feedback, so you can quickly tell what works. You’ll most likely want to drill down and see your campaign’s Open Rates and Click Through Rates. A/B testing is pretty easy in most modern email software. This means you can test what works well, what doesn’t, and how to adjust your campaign for better results next time.

  • Email can be personalised to each of your users.

Assuming your email database is kosher, and you’ve gathered your customer information sensibly. Your email campaigns can be personalised to each individual recipient. Compare this to the likes of a generic leaflet and the advantage is obvious. If Jane reads “Dear Jane”, she is much more likely to engage with your content. This of course isn’t possible with many other forms of direct marketing, so is likely to lead to a higher conversion rate, and therefore a better return on your investment.

  • Extremely cost effective vs. traditional methods.

When you take into account the typical cost of designing, printing and posting leaflets. Email is a much cheaper way of communicating with potential or existing customers. That’s not to say it’s free though. You’ll need a reliable email service provider (a couple to note are Email Blaster or Mailchimp) to make sure your messages reach your customers inbox. Email also presents a better value option; it’s not only cheaper, but you get more feedback and better results for your money in most cases.