So, you’ve realized it’s time to get to work on boosting those online holiday sales. But where to even begin? The options out there can seem endless and daunting with questions circling around “will this even work?” Not to fear! If you’ve been following our three-part series, we are here to help you break through the technological noise and parse it down to a few small essentials that can go a long way.
Your Small Business and You
This pandemic has given way for small businesses to really carve out their identity online, as the status of brick-and-mortar stores hangs in the balance. Perhaps you have a business idea, or have already built your online business and it is up and running just in time for these holiday sales.
With any luck, you are experiencing an uptick in sales as more people try to support small businesses with their holiday dollars. Maybe sales haven’t been as robust as you were hoping, but now is a great time to take inventory of available ecommerce tools and take note of other easily accessible tools to help nourish your business and grow it to its full potential.
Even if you’ve been pleased with your sales, you can still take advantage of these ecommerce tools to make sure your online business is continuing to thrive while encouraging growth and expansion.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Small businesses, with the right amount of marketing acuity and investment in creativity, can create engaging content to stake out your claim in the online business landscape.
A great introductory place to start your online business might be opening a store on Etsy or selling items on eBay. However, once you’ve made the decision to branch out on your own, where do you go from there?
If you’re looking to build your business online, there are plenty of e-commerce tools that have website building features, tools to reach your customer base and manage the day-to-day details, data, and information. Built-in marketing tools give users access to promotional tools such as a blog and SEO tools to help build your audience/customer base and hopefully encourage their patronage in the future. You can keep track of customer data and analytics and even build a platform for Point-Of-Sale purchases. If you’re concerned about User Experience, B2B vs. B2C sales, business insights, and other functionalities to make logistics easier, these e-commerce tools have what you need. Platforms such as Magento, Shopify, Wix, and SquareSpace offer a wide range of tools to make your business versatile enough for the 21st century.
Verb also has tools that can help, like verbLIVE, our effortless live e-commerce platform that combines Verb’s interactive technology with cutting-edge live streaming capabilities. It provides full visibility of participants as well as instant analytics, so you can collaborate, present or sell in real time, without limitations.
If you have always been a brick-and-mortar and are unsure about the leap to digital, Magento offers a case study to help guide your decision.
Optimizing Social Media Marketing
At this point, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are traditional methods of creating social media awareness around your brand. Neil Patel offers some social media tips and tricks in his article, 6 Clever Ways to (Ethically) Boost Ecommerce Sales. And don’t discount newer social platforms like TikTok. With newer platforms such as these, it’s worth putting some time into research, but it’s also the wild west of marketing; unexplored territory. So, it can behoove a marketer to let loose and get creative because you never know what might go viral and lead more people to your business.
An advantage to a small or locally owned business, is stronger ties to the local community. Engage other employees or friends and family in assisting with social marketing and have them post pics or tag your business in their social posts to increase awareness around your brand. This is defined by marketers as your organic reach.
In the past, reaching customers on a global scale has never been so inexpensive. The major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) offer paid advertising for a reasonable cost. As the business owner, you are able to narrow down the demographics of whom you would like your content to reach and which geographical locations you would like your digital ads to appear. This also requires some attention to analytics, which is often included with your website providers.
However, social media isn’t the end-all be-all for boosting notoriety for your brand. A strong website and good word-of-mouth are also essential foundations for growing a strong business.
Leveling the Playing Field
If you’re toying with a small business idea, there has never been a better time to put some elbow grease into it. With the rise of people turning to online shopping as a result of stay-at-home orders or staying home more in general, the playing field between large corporations seems to be at a more even level.
If your online business is up and running and you’re wondering how to take your marketing to the next level, there are plenty of free and inexpensive media tools to up your content strategy game. With businesses going online, this creates a more even or level playing field between your small business and large, corporate brands with big marketing budgets.
With many stay-at-home orders and an increase in people shopping from home, now is the time to invest in engaging online content. With the production of content, however, comes brainstorming and ideation around brand storytelling. Defining the purpose, mission, and a collective understanding of your brand for audiences to connect with is a great way to pique interest in your website or your social media. It can help put your brand on the radar.
Content Creation Tools
Video content, creative and eye catching photography, official-looking logos and good design skills are all essential to a cohesive marketing strategy. If you don’t have access to Adobe Creative Suite, inexpensive design tools and video editing software are available online, such as Canva, Adobe Spark, and VideoLeap. Programs are fairly straightforward and user friendly. Some products offer a free trial before committing to a paid version. If you decide to upgrade to a paid version, many of these are reasonably priced.
Of course, once you have all this great content, you want people to see it! So how to distribute these materials online effectively?
As a small business, your most powerful ally is your own network. Encourage family and friends to share your beautiful, new content on their social platforms and with their friends. To reach new customers, SEO and paying for social advertising can also go a long way.
Develop Better Relationship with Customers
Once you have a dedicated audience that has opted into receiving updates and messaging, it’s time to tap into email marketing. Available email marketing tools out there are designed to help you collect customer information, personalization options, and integrate with other platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and Facebook so you can plan social campaigns effectively. Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, and Drip are widely used email marketing tools that let you connect to your audience and disseminate your marketing collateral effectively.
For example, your video content, design work, and images can all be included in your email. Perhaps you would like to include shout outs from satisfied customers in your email campaign. Email marketing tools give you enough tools and data for you to get creative with how you approach your campaigns.
Playing the Long Game
It is important to note, many of these tactics require patience and won’t necessarily result in an increase in sales overnight. Now that you have some tools and marketing know-how at your disposal, it’s time to get to work on your business! As we mentioned in our first post in the series, it might be too late for this year’s holiday sales, but putting in the work to optimize your online business can be more lucrative in the long run. As the old fable between the tortoise and the hare goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Check back next week, as we end the year on a high note with some more tech ensight.