This article was updated in April 2023.
There are a lot of opportunities to start and grow a successful e-commerce business. While the sheer number of competitors in most niches can make this endeavor a little challenging, it doesn’t have to hold you back. With the right playbook and some careful planning, you can easily overcome these challenges and learn how to promote your online store.
In this post, we’ll discuss why e-commerce is so challenging, and offer four strategies you can use to beat the odds. Let’s get to work!
Why Many E-Commerce Businesses Lose Money
Online business is competitive, and too many companies approach it without having any kind of coherent strategy. This typically leads to avoidable losses.
In most cases, the e-commerce businesses that fail are making a few common errors. The good news is that with the right knowledge and tools, these mistakes are easy to prevent or fix.
Here are the most common e-commerce marketing errors you’ll want to watch out for:
- Not optimizing for mobile devices. One study of consumers in the U.S. showed that more than 31% of all online spending is done via mobile devices. With so many people shopping on their phones, a non-responsive site can mean losing lots of potential customers.
- Not paying attention to the User Experience (UX). Many e-commerce sites load too slowly, are difficult to navigate, or have complicated checkout processes. A great user experience is key to keeping visitors engaged long enough to make a purchase.
- Not researching your target audience. Too many e-commerce business owners assume they know who their target audience is without doing enough research. As such, they waste money on the wrong audience (or have no defined audience at all).
- Not analyzing available data. Data paints a picture that can help you answer important questions and make better decisions. Wondering what products to promote, what content to create, and what segments to target? Don’t ignore the data!
Now that you know what not to do, the next step is learning how to attract traffic and promote your e-commerce store.
How to Promote Your Online Store and Drive Sales (4 Methods)
If you want to maximize your odds for e-commerce success, the following four strategies should help you get started. If you apply these techniques correctly, you can put yourself several steps ahead of the competition.
1. Be Present on Social Media
Social media is still a great way to promote your online store. While some of the major social media sites, such as Facebook, have made recent algorithm changes that somewhat discourage organic page growth, social media remains a valid marketing channel.
In fact, over 3.6 billion people use social media globally. So you’re sure to find a significant chunk of your target audience on these platforms.
However, you can’t expect to sell out your store simply by opening a Facebook page. On social media, you’ll be playing the long game rather than seeking immediate wins.
To do that, you’ll first want to focus on the social media platforms that are a good fit for your target market. You can further refine your efforts by choosing social media platforms that are used predominantly by specific demographics.
Once you have selected the social media platform that is right for your target market, you can create content for the core groups of users who best fit your buyer persona.
2. Build and Leverage an Email List
An email list, when properly leveraged, is a valuable asset for any e-commerce business. There are approximately 4.2 billion email users worldwide,and that number is projected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025.
So how do you make email marketing work for you? First, make sure you are only sending solicited emails. Unsolicited emails can be off-putting, and at the worst may get your email and IP addresses blacklisted.
You can build your email list in a sustainable way by offering something in exchange for visitors’ email addresses, such as a discount or freebie. Once prospects have provided their addresses, be sure to send a welcome email to start the relationship off and let them know what to expect:
Just as with social media posts, you have to be consistent with your email marketing. You can use a tool such as OpenEMM to create messages and schedule them ahead of time. As you do, be careful not to annoy readers with too many emails, and make sure that each message has something valuable to offer them.
3. Use Effective Search Engine Optimization
One study by Backlinko showed that the website in the first position for any search query tends to get ten times as many click-throughs as the website in tenth position. Clearly, the difference between being on the first and second page of search results is huge, and the key factor is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Search rankings are extremely competitive, but with a bit of consistency you can get your content noticed. You’ll want to start by creating a content strategy built around targeting relevant and popular keywords:
While you can do this manually, tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush can also help. These solutions can audit your website’s SEO, conduct competitor research, and so on. If your budget is tight, however, you can also get a lot of mileage out of free tools such as Google Keyword Planner.
The average online shopper doesn’t buy anything the first time they visit a website. They are much more likely to make a purchase on subsequent visits, but how do you get them to come back?
Even with great content and a well-designed website, prospects may simply forget the name of your store or decide to do their shopping elsewhere.
You can proactively manage this behavior with retargeting. This is an advertising method that specifically targets prospects who have already visited your website:
Retargeted customers are much more likely to buy a product or pay for a service than people who have never interacted with your website before.
Retargeting campaigns are easy to set up with most email marketing and advertising tools. Whatever you decide to use, don’t forget to track the performance of your campaigns so you can make improvements over time.
How to Promote Your Online Store
Running a successful e-commerce business can be hard, but it’s not impossible. With the right tactics, you can surmount the challenges and even turn them into a competitive advantage. If your competitors aren’t doing the things we’ve talked about in this article, you can easily jump ahead of the pack.
Do you run a successful e-commerce business? We’d love to hear any tips you might have in the comments section below!