There are two key types of marketing — inbound and outbound. Here we’ll focus on outbound marketing, but you can find out more about inbound in How to Promote Your Store With Inbound Marketing.
Outbound marketing refers to the ways in which you reach out to your audience. There are many tactics, but for an e-commerce store, the key tactics are paid advertising and email marketing.
Most search engines and social media platforms now offer some variation of paid advertising to drive traffic to your e-commerce store. In the majority of cases, these ads are ‘pay-per-click’, or PPC, which means that you only pay when your ad is clicked on.
Google’s AdWords is by far the largest PPC platform, allowing you to display ads whenever a specific keyword or phrase is searched for. If you’re a Google user, you’ll see these ads at the top and down the right-hand side of your search results page.
AdWords is a very effective way to advertise products on your site, as you know the searcher has already expressed an interest in what you’re selling. However, you must compete with many other retailers offering similar products. How do you make sure your ads are displayed over theirs?
When you choose your keywords, Google’s keyword planner will tell you how many people are searching for your keywords (volume), how many other companies are bidding on the same keywords (competition), and how much you’ll need to bid per click to get your ads shown. Of course, the more popular and competitive the keyword, the higher the bid price.
The trick is to choose keywords with high search volume and low competition. This means there’s an interest in the product, and your ad is more likely to be shown. Also consider the bid per click, as very high bidding prices might blow your budget after just a few clicks.
Facebook and LinkedIn
Facebook and LinkedIn also offer a PPC service, but unlike AdWords, they target people by demographics. If you know your buyer persona well, then this allows you to get really specific and target the exact customer you want.
For example, you could choose to target your Facebook ad for a weight loss supplement to women aged 18-25, in your delivery area, who frequently check in at gyms, like certain brands, and have expressed an interest in fitness or weight loss.
All of the major social media platforms offer additional paid options in the form of sponsored posts. These ads are styled to look like regular posts and embedded in your target audience’s social feeds.
Slightly more expensive than PPC, pay-per-view advertising, or PPV, requires you to pay for your ad to be shown whether it’s clicked or not. Examples include banner ads and pop-ups.
So why use PPV if it’s more expensive? Well, if you’re selling a very niche product, you might find there’s a low search volume. Instead of setting up PPC ads nobody will see, you can buy space on sites or forums related to your product, where they’ll be seen by a qualified, interested audience.
Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is another form of paid advertising that targets visitors who have left your site with ads related to the products they’ve browsed.
When a visitor views a product on your online store, a tracking cookie, or a small piece of code, attaches itself to their browser. Later on, this cookie signals to your ad providers to serve the visitor an ad for the product they browsed, with the goal of reminding them to return and make a purchase.
Google Remarketing is the major provider of retargeting services and, like AdWords, you only pay when your ad is clicked. Google has an extensive display network of partner sites, so when your visitor leaves and visits one of these sites, that’s where they’ll see your ad.
Retargeting is shown to be very effective at increasing sales, but use it sparingly. These ads can give some people a perception of being spied on or ‘followed’ around the internet, so be careful not to bombard them with ad after ad!
Tip: Systems like AdWords and Remarketing are rather complicated and it’s easy to waste money if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure, consider handing your paid advertising over to a professional who knows the systems inside out and specializes in getting you maximum ROI.
Email Marketing and Automation
When talking about designing your e-commerce site, we advised you not to force your customers to register if they didn’t want to. However, when somebody purchases from your store, it’s perfectly acceptable to capture their email address and, if they consent, add them to your subscriber list.
When they’ve received their product and had a chance to try it, send them an email encouraging them to leave feedback. Assuming your product is a hit, you’ll have a great piece of social proof to share with other potential customers. And if the review is negative, it gives you the opportunity to address any flaws in your product or service to keep your customers happy.
Other ways you can use their email address include sending a thank you email, offering discounts for future buys, offering incentives to share their purchase on their social networks or with friends, or showing them similar products they might like.
The best part about email marketing is that all of the major providers allow you to automate these processes. Simply create the email and set the conditions, and the provider does the work for you. For example, you can set up a feedback request for three days after confirmed delivery of an order, or set up a discount email to go out to all customers spending over $200 one week after purchase.
Shopping cart abandonment
Another great email tactic for online stores is the shopping cart abandonment email. Here, leaving without completing a purchase triggers an email reminding the shopper of the products they’ve left behind, and perhaps even offering a discount or other incentive to go back and complete the purchase.
For abandonment emails to work, the shopper either needs to be logged into an account associated with an email address, or they must have already entered their email address at the checkout. Remember, you shouldn’t force people to register or log in, but there are tricks you can use to increase your chances of an email capture.
First, give registered users the option to remain logged in whenever they visit your site. Second, offer the option to log in, register, or proceed as a guest as soon as they start shopping. If they choose ‘guest’, offer an incentive to at least enter their email address and join your mailing list, such as a discount. Third, ensure that you capture the email address of guests at the very beginning of the checkout process, so that regardless of when they leave, you’ll still have their details.
What else can you do to promote your e-commerce store?
Those are the key outbound marketing techniques you’ll need to make your e-commerce store a success, but what about inbound marketing? Learn more in How to Promote Your Store With Inbound Marketing.