Marketing has been redefined and disrupted by the social web.
In the past you had traditional marketing and mass media. This included TV, radio and print.
The arrival of the internet brought email marketing, Google AdWords and banner ads. That was it.
But there are some trends emerging driven by “Generation C”. I am sure you are now thinking this…”who and what are they?”
Who are they?
Generation C is the 18-34 year olds who can be called “Digital Natives”. They were born after 1990 and lived their teenage years after 2000. They make up a major force for retailers and as a consumer block in 2014. But by 2020 they will be 40% of the population for developed countries according to research by Booz & Co.
What are they?
The reason they are called “Generation C” is that they are:
- Content centric
- Community oriented
The implications for this comfortably connected generation are that they will redefine business to a more digital approach built around content and social networks.
For business engagement strategies this means they must do one thing. “Become digital” in everything they do from marketing to publishing and engaging with their customers. If they don’t they will become extinct.” This has to be the focus for not only ecommerce but commerce in general.
It is the end of business as usual.
So how do we plan for that future that is already here when marketing our online store? Here are five key marketing strategies and some insights into how you should be weaving these into your actionable tactics.
#1. Email marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your customers. It is still the primary tool for business communication.
Email before big data and sophisticated technology was all about just blasting your database with a blanket email. In fact this is still the way most ecommerce businesses use email.
Email marketing that is both personalized and also smart can be a very efficient as a marketing tool.
Some examples include:
- Email that are sent as an automated message whenever the shopping cart is abandoned that is a gentle reminder. This can lead to higher conversion rates.
- Emails are personalized so that the products, the sales specials and the messaging match the interests of the buyer whether female or male.
#2. Organic search marketing
Many companies are used to paying to appear in Google’s search results but achieved via AdWords. Often not enough attention is paid to optimizing websites for search through tactics that were not considered a couple of years ago by many.
This includes the following tactics.
- Including alt tags for images (keywords and phrases that tell the web crawler what an image is about)
- Content such as blog posts that have keywords in the headline, meta description (the description that appears under the headline in search results pages) and in the content as H2 headers.
- Making content easy to share with retweet, Facebook share and Google+ one sharing buttons. Google is now indexing content on human sharing popularity not just mathematical algorithms.
- Creating such contagious content that it is embedded and linked to by other websites. This increases the SEO of the website by building those important inbound links. Done well means you no longer have to pay sites for inbound links. This is also called organic inbound link building
For many ecommerce sites 50% plus of traffic can be from Google’s organic search results. It free but you have to earn it.
#3. Social media marketing
Social media is still often considered a plaything for teenagers and the immature adult. The baby boomer generation is now one of the fastest adopters of social media. So the reality is much different.
When Google invested over $500 million in Google+, it made people realize that social media was here to stay and was now an important part of the web. Social media had exchanged its short pants for dress shoes and a business shirt.
So what are the principles of effective social media marketing?
- Determine which social media networks your target audience uses
- Build significant and sizeable followers on those channels
- Don’t rely on just one network such as Facebook. That’s too risky. Also use Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and maybe even LinkedIn depending on your audience profile.
- Size is important on social but the quality of engagement is also vital. Loyal and engaged fans can be powerful advocates and will share your content often. This is free crowd marketing.
- Treat social networks as a digital asset that you are building up one follower at a time.
- Also use a variety of media including blog posts, images and video. The web is increasingly visual and this is powered by multi-media content that is shared. Some recent research by Octoly has shown that in some cases over 99% of content shared on YouTube is fan and follower created.
#4. Content marketing
Content is a two syllable word that has become an online marketing strategy that has far reaching effects that belies its verbal simplicity. It impacts search engine results, drives online engagement and can create brand awareness at velocity when it goes viral.
With Google’s recent updates the role of content has increased in priority. The search giant is now rewarding sites with higher rankings that offer unique content that delivers a quality user experience.
This means that progressive brands need to become publishers and not just advertisers.
So what should your content marketing look like for an ecommerce store?
- It should have a blog that has frequent posts
- That content should be shared on your social networks
- Social sharing buttons should be part of your pages where your content resides.
- Create content that is appropriate for each social network. A Facebook post is very different to a Twitter tweet.
- Content marketing is about adding value to your customer’s lives. That could be educational, inspiring, newsworthy or even entertaining.
- Consider the use of evergreen content. This is content that doesn’t quickly go out of date (like news). Evergreen content includes “How To’s” and Instructional videos.
Again treat your content as an asset just like the number of followers on social networks.
#5. Paid marketing
Often ecommerce start-ups have a limited budget. All the money is spent on the design and website development and they expect the buyers to just “show up”! It is not a build it and they will come. 550 million plus websites and counting makes for a crowded web. You need to buy some attention especially when the website is launched.
Paid marketing strategies include:
- Google AdWords.
- Facebook advertising
- Twitter self-serve advertising
- Buying an initial email list
If you measure the results for each of these you may find that if your profit exceeds the customer acquisition cost then continue that tactic.
How about you?
What marketing strategies are you using? What works best for you? What would be one key tip you would recommend from your experience?
Look forward to your insights and stories in the comments below.