If there is one thing that’s true about digital marketing, it’s that change happens. Deal with it.
If you’re trying to promote your brand using techniques from a few years ago, don’t be surprised if your results are not great. Worse still, in a time of ‘Google slaps’ you could actually be damaging the chances of your site ever being successful.
So what is actually working for ecommerce professionals right now and what techniques can be used without getting your site penalised? Here is a list of 5 of the best techniques for selling physical products online in 2015.
1. Google Shopping
Google AdWords has been used successfully by online sellers for well over a decade but there is one element that is proving to be working particularly well for many of our clients – Google Shopping. These are the small images that are seen embedded in search results when searching on Google.
Like the standard text ads that everyone is familiar with, Google Shopping ads are run on a pay per click basis – so you only pay when somebody clicks on an advert and goes to your website. It works particularly well for brands that have visually appealing merchandise, but it can work for all types of products.
Getting things set up can be a little technical and involves downloading or creating a datafeed of products from your ecommerce store, uploading your feed to your Merchant Center and connecting your AdWords account to the Merchant Center. However once setup you can have your entire inventory available for people to find whilst they are searching the web.
2. Content marketing
With the increasing costs of advertising, savvy marketers have been turning to more cost effective ways of selling their products. Content marketing has emerged as one of the most popular methods recently for one simple reason – it works. Rather than pushing your message out via advertising, content marketing aims to attract targeted customers by producing, distributing and promoting useful media such articles, videos, whitepapers and guides.
If you have a blog, you can start writing articles that answer common questions from buyers. If you don’t have a blog…get one. The team at US-based Goodbye Crutches (an ecommerce store that sells mobility equipment) used this method as the centrepiece of their content marketing efforts and they report that they saw blog visitors rise from 3,000 to over 70,000 over a four year period. Not surprisingly, this also transformed the financial fortunes of the company.
No matter what product you are selling, the chances are your customers are already on Amazon. With many people starting their research for buying products on Amazon (not Google) you could be missing out.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to wait until Amazon call you and ask to stock your products. You can use Amazon’s Marketplace to start selling to the millions of users that know and trust this retail giant. You are effectively partnering with the biggest online retailer in the world.
One question that I am often asked is ‘won’t my products be lost among the thousands of other products’. A well documented way to increase your visibility is to use Amazon Sponsored Ads to get your products in front of people searching for what your sell. This product is commonly called Amazon PPC because it works in a similar way to other pay per click platforms, but your products are being seen by potential buyers on Amazon rather than the search engines.
4. Email marketing
With the glitz and glamour of social media, many see email as a very old fashioned method of communication. But if you are serious about making sales, that would be a mistake. With a return on investment of 4,300% (according to the Direct Marketing Association), email marketing can be one of the most effective sales channels for your business.
Email is being used by many savvy ecommerce businesses to combat shopping cart abandonment. Typically only 30-40% of goods that are added to a visitor’s cart actually result in a sale. There are various reasons for this including the shopper getting distracted or having a doubt about some part of the transaction.
Sending a timely recovery email can be the reminder or incentive that the shopper needs to click the buy button. Marketing Sherpa report how one ecommerce company were able to reduce their shopping cart abandonment by 29%, using triggered emails.
Email is also being used in conjunction with content marketing to further the relationship that shoppers have with a brand. This is an important point that many businesses miss. Mailshots of latest products or special offers are all well and good, but you should also be promoting useful content such as your training materials, blog posts or white papers.
Email is also the perfect medium for surveying your customers and asking them how you can improve your service/product or customer experience.
Retargeting is used extensively by the major online retailers such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. But it is now much more accessible to small and medium sized ecommerce stores. The premise is simple: people that have previously visited your store are much more likely to buy from you than complete strangers. It therefore makes sense to spend your advertising budget on laser targeting these people rather than the scatter-gun approach of banner advertising.
With a research case study showing that retargeting can improve revenue by 30% and double ROI, it is a method that should be seriously considered by all companies with their eye on the bottom line.
Retargeting can take various forms but the most popular is where you have visited a store and later see image adverts on that same store on websites such as Facebook. It is now also possible to target the most appropriate page of your store, so if somebody visited the men’s shoes section of a fashion ecommerce store, the advert that is later shown to them relates to men’s shoes.