So, let us assume that you have successfully set up your very own online store, complete with state-of-the-art digital bells and whistles, a great user interface, and everything else that your target customers could possibly need or desire, but now what?
How do you tell those potential customers that they have a new place where they can shop, i.e. your web store? What is the digital counterpart to sending pamphlets with newspaper dailies?
And most importantly, how do you capture, and keep captured, the attention of customers who must already be doing business with your competitors? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, digital marketing.
Tips that you can use to promote your online store
Understand your customers
Investing due resources in researching the behavior and preferences of your customers will go a long way towards providing you the insights you need for your marketing efforts to be successful.
Even before you set up your web store you need to know your audience in order to know the product variants that best suit them. Similarly, you need to spend some resources in market and competitor research to understand the gaps you can fill and the edges that you can smooth to provide your customers a better experience than is currently available to them.
However, the resources you spend in doing all this research will yield dividends by helping you identify your possible audiences and also the competitors who are selling similar products, how they are marketing them, and whether the business domain is saturated or not.
Once you know your audience well, know you will be able to predict their choices and that will help you provide them with exactly what they want, when they want it, thus creating the perfect brand-customer relationship and ensuring long-term customer loyalty.
Find a niche, or create your own
In today’s world where a number of alternative brands are available for virtually every product and service, you need to find and develop a niche space that your brand can occupy.
For example, there may be a hundred thousand brands that sell stationery products for school kids, and you might struggle to find any visibility among them, but if you go a step further and start marketing your products as eco-friendly (maybe the pencil-boxes are made from hemp?) then you have a niche opening that may appeal to children as well as their parents.
It may sound appealing in the beginning to have an every-product online store like Amazon or Walmart, but generally, it is much more profitable to be prudent and find the things you do extremely well rather than try to do everything.
Also, being in a niche domain can give you a lot of wiggle-room for applying out-of-the-box online store promotion ideas.
Focus on relationships
It is understandable that after investing so much money, time, labor, and love in setting up a web store you want to see the cash flowing in from day one, but this might be something of an over-expectation.
And, more importantly, it may not be the most productive thing to focus on while you are still looking at ways to market your store. Your focus would actually be much better placed on developing meaningful relationships with your customers.
This has a two-fold benefit—you retain the customers you already have, and the relationship you have with them motivates them to spread the word about your brand and play a role in bringing in new customers.
One of the most important things you can do to build a relationship with your customers is to address their issues in a responsible and prompt manner. You can allow them to flag their concerns on the channels where they engage with your brand, for example, social media platforms, and you can also update them regarding their issue via the same channel.
Apart from making customer experience, easier this has an additional benefit of showing your other customers and prospects the level of sincerity that you bring to customer service.
However, while it is important to engage with dissatisfied customers you should also not ignore the ones you are keeping happy. It is important to engage the customers who show you that they care about your brand.
So, send a thank-you note (or maybe a discount code, if you can afford it) when someone leaves a positive review, reply to emails from people telling you that they liked doing business with you, drop a friendly comment on social media posts that mention you, and soon these little gestures will accumulate and grow into long-term relationships that make up a loyal customer base.
Personalization is key
While you are brainstorming about how to promote your online store it would do you a world of good that regardless of the business domain, customers expect you to provide them a personalized experience.
According to Accenture, for instance, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. Similarly, Invesp reports that 56% of online shoppers are more likely to return to a website that recommends products.
In order to engage with your customers in a way that adds value to their shopping experience, you need to leverage your knowledge of them and provide them a personalized experience. It can be something as simple as addressing them by their first name in emails, and as intuitive as having a dynamic UI which changes according to the customer who is visiting your online store.
As the owner of your own web store, you must have a fairly good understanding of your business domain and by showcasing this knowledge in the form of content resources you can build credibility for your brand.
You can provide other people access to your expertise mediums such as blog posts, webinars, and guest speaking. By doing so you come out as an industry leader who is leagues ahead of the competition and you get to put your product in front of a lot of different audiences.
By using these strategies and tips we hope you will have a successful time marketing your own web store. Ultimately, just like a brick-and-mortar store, it is your experience with your industry and customers that will provide you the insights and motivation necessary to build a successful online store.