Running your own ecommerce business is no easy job. Especially if you don’t have a huge team around to help with all the various tasks that need to be done, running a brand can be exhausting. From a technical side, there is a lot of work that goes into ensuring you have a properly functioning site that displays your products, securely accepts payments, and more. From a design aspect, you want your website to visually appeal to your customers in order to keep people interested (and we all know by now people’s attention spans online are short). However, beyond all of the tasks to be done on your actual website, there is another crucial element that will help determine if your brand is a success or not: your marketing plan (or lack thereof). You can have the perfect product and perfect website to show off that product, but if you don’t market the product, you likely won’t be selling much.
Especially for ecommerce brands, digital marketing is what you should be focusing your energy on. But even narrowing down to that still leaves you with a huge amount of work. Learning about the various social media platforms, discovering which will be best for your brand, setting up your pages, figuring out who your audience is, determining which types of ads you should run, and that is just scratching the surface.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by all that is out there, follow these tips on how you should be crafting your marketing plan.
More is not always better
When you get started, it is easy to assume that you should put yourself and your brand online in as many places as you possibly can. You might set up a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr page thinking you are helping your brand, when in reality that isn’t true.
While all of these platforms are great, and it is true that you will end up utilizing some of them, trying to run all of them is going to waste your time. Additionally, if you give yourself that much work to do, the reality is that the quality of what you are producing is going to suffer. Instead of having a mediocre presence everywhere, strive to have a strong presence where it matters most. This isn’t a tip that just goes for beginner brands, as most stores generate the majority of their sales from a small section of channels. Figuring out which avenues to pursue involves more marketing plan research up front, but down the line you will be in a better position.
Take things one step at a time
This is similar to the previous tip, but it breaks down this process even further. While you should go forward with setting up your social media pages for the platforms you determine are best for your brand, there are additional tools you can use on these platforms. For example, say for your brand you determine that you should have a digital presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. That is a great first step. Set up those pages and get them running and established with some good, relevant content. However, all 3 of those channels also have their own types of advertising- but that doesn’t mean you should dive into using them right away.
Once your channels are up and running you can decide which advertising method you want to tackle first. Again, take this one step at a time. Running ads involves spending money, and you can quickly blow through your marketing budget if you aren’t careful. Start with one, optimize your efforts so that you are seeing results, and then you can consider starting with another platform.
Determine your goals
For each marketing plan strategy you employ, you should have a clear goal in mind. Following the SMART acronym can keep you focused.
- Specific: Are you trying to increase conversions? Build up your follower numbers? Determine the one goal you have in mind for a particular method (i.e. an Instagram ad that you run).
- Measurable: Don’t select a goal that you won’t be able to figure out if you accomplished it or not. If you want to increase your followers, track what numbers you start with so as you go you are able to measure your performance.
- Attainable: Is it realistic to expect growing your follow total by 50% the first week? It is great to be ambitious, but don’t set expectations that you realistically won’t be able to meet. Based on your audience, current exposure, and budget, you can come up with a realistic goal.
- Relevant: If the goal you are seeking won’t help your brand, why are you seeking it? Make sure your goal is related to growing your presence on social media, increasing your search results ranking, or increasing conversions (or something related to those).
- Time Based: Finally, determine when you want to reach your goal by. Are you running the ad for a month? Is it just a week? This will also help determine what the scope of your goal should be. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Be willing to change
You put a lot of time into developing your marketing plan and your goals, and that is great. But don’t be afraid of making changes to that initial plan. As you get going, you likely will discover what is working for you, and what isn’t. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over if it is not giving you the results you are looking for. Marketing is largely a trial-and-error based system, even for those most experienced. Have a critical eye when looking over your analytics and determine what you could do better. Maybe something you thought would work great didn’t at all and you should abandon that effort, or maybe you should just change something to make it more effective.
Whether you are running Facebook ads or Google PPC ads, there will be some type of tracking tools that you can analyze to see what is working for you and what isn’t. There are plenty of free social media analytic services out there that can help you as well.