These days, setting up an online store doesn’t have to take too much time if you choose a user-friendly e-commerce platform and align yourself with the right kind of service provider. In fact, you can have things up and running in a matter of weeks if you’ve got the right team by your side. What a time to be alive!
The real work actually starts once you’ve got your store up and running. This is when you need to do the legwork to get eyeballs on your awesome store. After all, those coveted first-page rankings in the Google search results do not occur overnight – search engines make you work for it because they want to give their users the best experience possible.
As such, your mission (if you choose to accept it), is to make the right moves to show off your awesome store, and to use all the handy marketing channels at your disposal to position your online shop in the best way possible. The good news is you don’t immediately have to start spending huge amounts of money to do so. There are clever ways of getting noticed while keeping expenses low.
To get the ball rolling, here are three cost-effective marketing approaches that will pave the way for some welcome customer engagement:
#1 Be active on social media & get your followers in on the fun
Start by doing research on which social media channels your target audience tends to use and craft a presence on those platforms.
It might be Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or even all of them. Aside from advertising your product or service, these platforms also provide you with the opportunity to build your brand and stay top of mind with your target demo by providing them with helpful content that pertains to your niche.
For instance – fashion labels can create videos that show how to style certain apparel items or how to upgrade certain core closet staples to be in line with the latest seasonal trends.
The good news is that you don't need to hire a professional photographer, model, or video editor at the outset if you don’t want to. Social media users are tired of fake, photoshopped visuals created in studios, and instead look out for authenticity and genuine human voices behind the brands they encounter and support. That is also why user-generated content (UGC) gets so much attention these days.
There are many UGC success stories from brands that leaned into the notion of supporting a strong, socially prevailing message based on a core human truth. This includes brands like the lingerie producer Aerie that launched the #AerieREAL hashtag.
Since 2014, when they initially rolled out this campaign, this hashtag has turned into a movement celebrating body positivity, inclusivity, natural photos, and body acceptance. It remains trendy and widely used on social media to this day, which just shows the incredible potential for longevity if your marketing message hits a zeitgeist sweet spot.
Besides campaigns underpinned by notions of social responsibility, brands with amusing UGC campaigns recorded significant revenue increases too. So, depending on your brand voice and the target audience, this could be another direction that could work.
As such, the key is to think of interesting, innovative ways to engage with your customers and create a user-generated campaign, whether it is through contests, discounts, or some trend you invent.
#2 Pursue content marketing
"Content is king" - you have probably heard this buzz phrase a lot, and what it really means is that relevant, high-quality online content contributes significantly to brand success. It does so by building consumer trust and brand credibility, creating an online community, promoting rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs), generating leads, and eventually boosting conversions.
An essential ingredient of content marketing is the value it provides to potential customers, either by educating them or providing entertainment. The best type of content establishes your authentic and engaging brand voice instead of employing aggressive, outdated selling tactics.
Content marketing can be done in many different ways and distributed via various channels. Some of the most popular types include:
- Blog posts
- Video content
- Social media content marketing
Blog posts can be used to answer key customer questions, offer solutions, introduce products, tell customers’ stories, share news, and position your brand as an industry expert - which is key to gaining trust and credibility. In addition, blogs are powerful SEO tools, a place to generate leads, promote new products and strengthen your brand.
Frenchie World is a fantastic example of a brand that really gets their target demo. This brand specialises in products for French Bulldogs and have leaned into this niche with gusto. Their online platform offers expert advice on how to take care of your Frenchie and gives answers to owners' questions and concerns.
With their strong Instagram community and assistance through practical information and support, they’ve become much more than an ordinary pet shop to their customers.
Podcasts are another excellent way to deepen relationships with your audience. As a long content format, podcasts make it easier to convey a brand message, raise brand awareness and increase customer loyalty by creating a more intimate atmosphere and stronger connections. It’s also worth considering partnering with an already established podcast that has a common target audience.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT MARKETING
All the content types mentioned above can be distributed through different social media channels. Naturally, depending on the platform you choose, the content type and the communication "language" will differ, but one thing, however, applies for all platforms – you have to create value for your end-user.
Passion Planner has an example of a brand that has this down to a T. Besides their diverse offering of planners, journals, and stickers, people can also find advice on planning better, setting goals, creating routines, and establish self-love rituals, which keeps them interested in staying with a brand.
BONUS TIP: Cooperating with other brands in the same industry is a good way to go. You can write guest posts for your partners' audience, be a guest in a podcast, or generate some content for their newsletter. And you can get all that exposure for no charge if you offer the same favour in return.
#3 Start applying some basic SEO rules
There's a whole science behind SEO (search engine optimisation), but understanding and applying even basic SEO rules can make a huge difference in your site ranking.
The good news is there's a lot of free SEO information available online, so start by researching how to optimise for voice search, facilitate mobile optimisation, as well as streamlining the text, images, and videos used on your online platform.
These are three of the cost-effective ways to promote your online store. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more of our top tips and tricks to get you to sales.