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[Podcast] 3 Essentials to Growing Your Ecommerce Brand

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This article is taken from the Build Your Queue podcast below, Season 2 Episode 21 with Rob Bettis, an independent paid media manager for ecommerce brands.

Running any store is difficult, but it gets even more complicated when your storefront is entirely online. You don’t have any in-person opportunities to build one-on-one relationships with customers, so what other ways can you increase sales and encourage repeat shoppers?

To define and grow a strong ecommerce brand, you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • How do you create a concrete foundation to succeed online?
  • What can help you bring in and keep customers?
  • How can you use paid media to pour fuel on your fire?

We’ll help you answer these questions so you can stand out from competitors, earn loyal followers, and grow your brand online.

1. How do you create a concrete foundation to succeed online?

The biggest challenge when you’re new to ecommerce is building a strong brand that can compete with Amazon.

Amazon can easily scoop up companies that haven’t built their identities online, and so your goal is to differentiate your products and brand name from Amazon. To do that you need to build a brand that is big enough to compete on its own.

This starts with having unique products.

Amazon exists to sell commodity products. They don’t sell products that have unique value proposition or require a certain level of explanation to stand out in a crowd. So investing in a unique voice and products that solve unique problems will help you build a brand that stands out.

What qualifies as unique?

Businesses are no longer fought in the trenches, but in the niches.

The experience and customer service you provide needs to be catered to your individual customers’ needs. That’s the new baseline for consumers and they will expect your business to provide unique customer experiences.

People can get products from anywhere in the world, and they don’t want to make generic purchases for generic solutions. They want specific solutions for their specific problems, and your ecommerce store has to come to bat for that.

So be self aware enough to ask if what you’re offering truly is original.

Check your long-tail exponential curve to find where you stand out among similar searches. Then pick two or three corners in niche keywords to build your brand. Choosing the right long-tail keyword can help you define your individual space.

For example, while the term “dog food” could bring in a lot of traffic to your site, the users doing a long-tail search for “organic grain-free gluten free dog food for small breeds” is more niche.

Niche searches may be fewer, but they’re much more specific. And the more specific the keyword, the more likely it will result in action.

Related: 3 Ways to Target Super Niche Markets Successfully

PC: E2M Solutions

2. What can help you bring in and keep customers?

Successful ecommerce stores don’t sell retail, they sell relationships.

You can build relationships with consumers and influence their buying decisions when you engage with them with things like:

  • Guides
  • Blog posts
  • Buy requests
  • Reviews
  • Mailable samples
  • Demos and free trials
  • Custom fitting or detailing
  • Real-time chat options

Your goal is to give people a small bite of your product or service before they have to go all in. Help them understand the different values and attributions of your products (plus what it’ll be like working with you specifically), and they’ll be more likely to commit to a big purchase.

Make these educational tools a regular part of your sales funnel so you can demonstrate that you’re an expert at what you have to offer (instead of just a salesperson who is pitching what you have because you have it).

Just remember to promote your products in a way that’s honest and realistic. Consumers will be wary of content that is entirely slanted toward your company. You’re most likely not going to be the solution to every problem they have, so if you present yourself that way they will be suspicious.

PC: Alexa Internet

3. How can you use paid media to pour fuel on your fire?

Discoverability is a challenge, especially when you’re selling something niche. People are great at finding products they’re already searching for (like clothes or car parts), but it’s much harder for your product to reach consumers when they don't know to look for it.

This is where paid ads come in. Ranking organically can be a slow process, but you can rank first for a term through paid channels overnight!

So start with your keyword research. Use the analytic tools, like Google Analytics and Google Trends, to figure out who is already looking for your related terms and how often. Once you know the terms and how expensive they are, you have the layout of where opportunities are.

Google ads are usually your lowest hanging fruit with consumers who are already at the first part of the sales funnel. They recognize their need and are actively searching for the keywords you researched.

From there, you move down the funnel in terms of opportunity by building your brand across social media so you can be top-of-mind and circumvent the search for your products. You can also advertise on social media if it's a product that doesn't yet have a big market.

How often should your business be active in putting money toward paid channels?

When will you see a return on your paid ads, and how do you know if they’re working?

That comes down to attribution, which can be difficult to track because most conversion paths have multiple ad networks and devices. For example, a customer may see the ad on their phone, but they buy it on their desktop.

You’re not going to be able to flip a switch and immediately see results. So you need to continuously ask yourself:

1. Does the ad meet your campaign’s objectives?

2. Are you able to find the right people in the right places at the right times?

3. Are you selecting the most effective keywords for your campaign?

4. Are you tracking your ad’s clicks correctly?

5. Are there outside factors, like demand or website optimization, that are keeping your digital ads from being more successful?

A smaller budget means it’s going to take longer for you to see results. But with competent ad management you can expect to notice some traction at about the three month marker.

Related: [Podcast] 5 Musts to Effectively Navigating Digital Advertising

Challenge your assumptions about your customers and competition.

There are so many variables at play whenever a store is digital. Not only do you need to ensure that you have something unique to offer, but you also have to explain the demand and entice customers to buy it without physically being in front of them.

Rarely does an ecommerce store fail because of the quality of what it's offering. Instead, they usually aren’t targeting the right audience that will champion their brand.

Are you truly the only person offering your products? Always challenge your assumptions and revisit:

1. Who are your competitors?

2. Who is your product valuable to and why?

Look for opportunities to build communities around your brand and focus on marketing that will resonate with your target audience.

Related: [Podcast] 4 Steps to Creating a Loyal Brand Community