Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a globally-recognised brand, having an ecommerce store with no marketing is somewhat akin to setting a stall in the middle of a vast maze. Even in the unlikely event that someone stumbles upon you, they won’t understand your significance.
Because of this, if you want to keep bringing in relevant traffic, you need to invest in marketing — but the costs can be brutal if you don’t know how to carefully allocate your resources. Money is required for PPC advertising, print marketing, most influencer marketing, some link building, and the production costs of creating and formatting media. It adds up quickly.
It isn’t as hard as you might think to cut back on the costs, though. There are various ways in which you can save time and money without hugely compromising your marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at some you can implement in under 6 weeks:
Optimise your PPC activity
PPC is the best way for a fresh ecommerce business to bring in sales, because it doesn’t rely on brand perception and can be scaled up as required within hours (if not minutes), but it can easily drain a budget with mixed results if left unchecked. As tempting as it is for a new merchant to throw everything they have into PPC to pursue their ambition of hitting a certain amount of revenue as soon as possible, it’s neither sensible nor sustainable.
To address this danger, closely examine all your PPC activity to determine the effect it’s having on your bottom line. Think less about how many clicks your pages get and more about how many conversions those clicks lead to. It’s no use winning 1000 clicks through Google Ads if not one of them leads to a sale. Disable the ads that aren’t getting you results, expand the ads that are proving profitable, and commit to updating your settings on a regular basis to trim the fat.
Start producing reusable content
Content marketing is a must for a budding business, but it’s even more vulnerable to scope creep than PPC because its costs are less obvious. Instead of draining your budget, it will drain your time — and your time is invaluable (and much better served being spent on other things). It’s easy to look at the relentless tide of online content and feel pressured to keep up, but even the biggest companies in the world struggle to do that. You need a smarter strategy.
What you should be aiming for is operational efficiency — spending as little time on content marketing as possible and getting the greatest possible effect from everything you do. To that end, reusable content should form the core of your material. Reusable content is expansive and flexible, being suitable for distribution as an article, a podcast, a video, a guide, or even a listicle. Instead of writing 10 pieces on a topic, assemble a comprehensive chunk of content and reuse it to spin off 10 distinct pieces.
Make customer loyalty a priority
It’s considerably more expensive to win a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, and though customer loyalty may seem quite far off (if your business is quite new, for instance), it’s never too early to make it a central part of your business strategy. This calls for you to stop thinking so much about how many leads you can bring in and start thinking about the long-term quality of the leads you spend money acquiring.
In addition to making the aforementioned PPC changes, ensure that you’re doing everything you can to make your new customers happy and keep them that way. The more you can delight them, the more likely they’ll be to stick with you in the long run, spending more money and requiring less convincing to do so. It’s that kind of mentality that helps brands grow to the point that they barely need to market at all — their qualities are evident through their reputations.
Make good use of time-saving tools
It is the digital age, after all, so there’s little sense in doing things manually if they could be done to a similar (or superior) level of quality using automation tools. Cross-platform marketing is something that notably be made much more efficient through tools such as Sprinklr or SocialOomph — instead of producing social media copy for different channels, you can produce it once and have it automatically reformatted as needed.
If you run your store on a modern ecommerce system, then you’ll have access to a wide selection of apps (some free, some paid). Users of Shopify’s popular user-friendly CMS can use apps such as Kit to use auto-generated and optimised ads instead of composing them manually, for example. And then there are dedicated financial tools (such as Nuvem9’s cloud accounting package) that can greatly reduce what you spend on tracking your budget.
Encourage referrals and UGC
If you’re going to the effort to prioritising customer loyalty, you need to do everything you can to harness that loyalty to your advantage by encouraging satisfied customers to recommend your business to their friends and family members and help you out by producing some UGC — typically in the form of a positive review or testimonial that they’re willing to share.
Influencer marketing can be very powerful, but it’s often expensive, and it’s inherently fraudulent to some extent. Someone who legitimately loves your business, however, is going to be hugely more compelling if you can get their voice heard in relevant communities. Think about offering some mild incentives for referrals: something like a one-time 10% discount won’t cost you too much but will have a big impact on your sales funnel.
How much can you get done in 6 weeks? Surprisingly, quite a lot when it comes to making your ecommerce marketing more cost-effective. PPC changes can be made almost immediately, your content calendar can be rapidly revised, you can start reaching out to customers straight away, you can research and implement tools over the course of a few weeks, and you can surely generate some referral buzz by the end of week 6. Give these ideas a try — you won’t regret it.
Author credit: Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips. He covers all the latest and most noteworthy updates in the online retail world to help entrepreneurs stay ahead of the game. Visit the blog ecommercetips.org for some useful tips, and check out his latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.