Digital commerce marketing is more than selling. Selling focuses on selling what is available. Ecommerce and online marketing covers much more:
- Deciding what to sell,
- Finding ways to make the selling easier, and
- The actual selling process.
We had discussed the first of these in an earlier post on drop shipping. We discussed:
- The importance of finding a niche in an intensely competitive market,
- Adding value to the product by providing support to the customer to benefit from his or her purchase and
- The broad approach to sell the product.
In this post we go into more detail on the last issue, selling your products in a digital commerce context. It starts with a careful look at the specific value your product delivers to the customer and importance of digital marketing for ecommerce sites.
What Value do you Deliver to your Customer?
Selling involves using the marketing message developed by professionals. The marketing message is designed to create a desire for the product by explaining the value it delivers to the customer.
Value is NOT the product. You don’t buy a smartphone because it is a smartphone. You buy it for a great camera, easy access to the Internet and a number of apps to do many tasks; in addition to being able to call someone at the other end of the world (or next door). It is these things that constitute value, and creates a desire in the minds of buyers.
Value is based on needs, starting from basic needs like hunger and thirst to status and prestige. Identify the need that your product fulfils and build your marketing message based on your findings.
Communicating the Digital Commerce Marketing Message
This core message, known as the Value Proposition, developed as outlined in the last section is communicated through different channels. The message will need to be adapted to each channel. For example, your AdWords ad copy will seek to communicate it in around 200 words. On the other hand a long-form email might use thousands of words to communicate the same message.
Which channels you use will depend mainly on the customer you are selling to. A business buyer is not going to be impressed by the emotion-triggering copy of the long-form email. On the other hand a whitepaper clearly bringing out the value of the product to the buyer’s business can influence the person in a big way.
Specifics of Digital Commerce Marketing
With the preliminaries covered as above, let us get into the specifics of ecommerce and online marketing.
You can do digital commerce using different channels including eBay, Amazon and other third party platforms. However, in this post, we are focusing on the option of creating an ecommerce website of your own and getting buyers to that site. This option allows you to create a business that can build a brand value and can be sold as a business.
An ecommerce website will need:
- Product display pages with photos, descriptions, prices and Buy Now buttons
- Shopping cart software that stores a product catalog, and allows buyers to select products to buy and to put these into a virtual shopping cart for later checkout
- Payment gateway for buyers to pay for the items in the shopping cart and complete the purchase
Buyers should be able to add and remove items from the shopping cart, choose different delivery options and payment methods, and track their orders.
While you can develop a website from scratch on your own, it is far easier, faster and less expensive to use Shopify, Bigcommerce and other platforms. They offer sites with all the e-commerce requirements built in. The built-in tools usually include marketing tools to promote the website.
Once you have your website, the next task is to bring targeted visitors to it. Targeting means that the visitors should be people who are likely to buy what you sell. You can define such people by their characteristics such as age, gender, location, income, etc. Or you can define them through their behavior such as people searching for something related to your product or reading a publication that discusses issues related to it.
Let us now look at some specific ways to get visitors to your site or how to perform digital marketing for ecommerce sites.
Free or Low Cost Promotion Methods
- Tell your relatives, friends and acquaintances about your store and ask them to check it out. If they make some purchases (say against a discount offer), you can test the ordering and fulfilment processes. in case something goes wrong, no serious damage to reputation will occur
- Announce your store through your Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles, preferably with some great product photos. Ask relatives and friends to share the post to their connections
- Add a link to your store in your email and blog comment signatures
- Include your store URL in print materials you hand out, such as business cards and flyers
- Join forums and groups frequented by prospective customers and participate actively in discussions. Once you have become an accepted member, you can offer a discount (with a live link to your store) to fellow members.
- Publish a blog and regularly add informative and useful posts on a topic that allows you to mention about your product and store. Adding fresh and popular content to your site regularly can help you to answer the question – how to do ecommerce SEO?
- Build a mailing list using a subscription form with an incentive for subscribing at your site and social media pages. Send regular newsletters to your subscribers with content of value. With valuable content, you can establish a relationship with your customers and prospects
- PPC advertising management on Google and Bing could help you generate some immediate traffic from interested persons. You will be able to reach persons actively searching for the product, or reading publications relevant to it
- Social media ads can help you reach a wide audience you might not reach otherwise
- Create a Google Merchant Centre account and use Google shopping ads to sell with product photographs and other details in search results. The photos and details show up when someone searches for the product
- Create a Facebook store to supplement your main store and reach a highly targeted audience
- Find bloggers who write on a topic relevant to your product and get them to post reviews of your products. Give them a free sample for evaluation
- Find something newsworthy about your business and create a press release about it. Distribute the release to the press or press release distribution agencies. If a reporter looking for a story picks it up and publishes a favorable story, it could generate high value publicity
- Go out into the field and hand out flyers and talk to people. If you have people skills, this could be a good opportunity to get the word out
One major advantage of digital marketing is that it is possible to track the performance of each campaign. You can trach which ads produced results that paid back its costs. Tools like Google Analytics help you do this in an automated fashion.
By monitoring results in this way and acting appropriately on the findings, you can grow your business volumes continuously.
Digital Commerce Marketing – Summary
In this post we focused on selling, the final component of marketing. You create a marketing message based on the value your product delivers to its users. Then adapt this marketing message to different media that reaches prospective buyers. Next you get it in front of these prospects using different strategies outlined above.
Each of these strategies has its own best practices. Following these best practices will lead to effective campaigns that produce results.
Don’t forget to measure campaign performance using analytic tools like Google Analytics and act on the findings.