You’ve got your website up and running. Bravo! Unfortunately, your website is not an end in-itself. Websites are passive. Even a physical storefront has more marketing potential from drive-by and walk-by traffic. To find a website by mistake is a rare occurrence. You have to get people’s attention by spreading the word.
There are several ways to do it (in order of priority):
- Search engine marketing and optimization
- Social media
- e-commerce channels
- Email marketing
Search engines are key but they are also complex and expensive to master. Let’s face it, we’re really talking about Google here, although there may be specialty search engines for your market niche (see e-commerce below). There are two kinds of promotion you can do on Google. One you pay for directly, called adwords, and the other you earn through hard work, called search engine optimization or SEO.
SEO has two advantages over adwords — it’s free and people tend to click more often on the organic results than the sponsored, adwords links. The downside? It can take a lot of work and be complex. And, in practice, it may not be free because you should probably hire an SEO specialist to help you with it, at least to get started.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing uses social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to gain attention for your product, service or company and drive traffic to your website. As opposed to capturing people who are looking for something, social media is all about relationships. It is the digital way to harness word-of-mouth, the most powerful form of promotion.
Like Google, Facebook and other sites also offer paid advertising, but the goal is to be “liked” by your own customers. Their likes are shared with their friend groups. Friends tend to trust “likes” more than advertising.
The key to getting liked/shared is to get your customers and prospects to engage with your brand. That takes a lot of work; you really can’t let your social media page gather dust. That means at least bi-weekly updates, if not more. If you want your customers to be actively engaged with your brand then you have to be even more active with them.
Although they don’t usually get listed as ways to promote your business, online marketplaces, such as Amazon, can do just that. Amazon is very much like a specialized search engine. It is also a great place to read reviews on products and comparison shop for the best prices. With over 50% of all product searches now beginning on Amazon, it is a great way to get found.
Like Google and Facebook, Amazon sells ads and, similar to adwords, they are driven by search terms. Once you start to show up in Amazon searches, you will find that you also show up in Google searches. The downside to Amazon is that they own the customer. So, no email addresses and almost no way to engage with the customer off of the Amazon platform. The only ways that are allowed are related to after-sales support, such as registering warranties, and customers can be encouraged to like and share you on their social media channels.
Despite these restrictions, most major companies see Amazon as a place to build their brands. You can too. Focus on after-sales support and make sure your customers are very satisfied with your products and service.
I put email marketing at the end only because it has a major achilles heel. You need a good mailing list. If you are starting from scratch, it isn’t your first choice. Mailing lists can be bought, but there can be a lot of hassle. However, if you’ve got a good list of customers that have shared their email with you — and given you permission — email marketing can be a very powerful and direct way to market to your customer base.
The key is to work your mailing list intelligently. Use the data you have on your customer to send them relevant offers and information. One size doesn’t fit all! If you have access to items they’ve browsed on your site before making a purchase, or the items in wish lists and abandoned shopping carts, use this data to re-engage them on those items and maybe sweeten the offer. Use coupons to track your email campaigns through to sales to see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to experiment, it’s free after all. And, again, engage, engage, engage. This is how you build your brand.
Integrate your marketing
All of these tactics tend to reinforce each other. Good presence on social media can build Google presence, as does presence on channels such as Amazon. Email newsletters can point customers to your social media channels. Encourage customers to like you on your own site. All of these activities working together make your brand stronger.
Sounds like a lot of work? It can be. But having the right tools can help a lot. That’s why we’ve paid special attention to how we integrate marketing activities into Systum. It not only manages the content for your website, but for your social media and e-commerce channels as well. Tracking coupons and email campaigns against sales is a breeze, as well as having access to browse histories and abandoned carts. It will even help you to pinpoint those Google search terms that are bringing in the best traffic and help you to optimize your SEO. Integrated, results-driven marketing is the hard work behind every great brand. With Systum, it is built-in from the start.
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Categories: B2B eCommerce