You know your new business isn’t going to survive without some marketing, but after getting everything started, the funds aren’t exactly flowing. Don’t worry; you are not alone. Maintaining a strong marketing campaign while just starting out is a challenge many e-commerce companies face. It’s not easy, but if you have some time to spare, it can definitely be done.
Of course, you should take some time to optimize your website for the search engines with high-quality content and keywords, but there are a lot of other things you should be doing if you really want your business to succeed — and most of them won’t cost you a dime.
Join the Conversation
Forums can be found on a wide variety of websites. These online gathering spots are filled with people looking for information. Seek out forums or LINKED IN groups in your industry and offer expert advice on the topics being discussed. Provide solutions to common problems, give insight into your market, and just be helpful in any way you can. However, American Express points out that you should never use the forums as a place to directly sell your product. Once people realize you are the specialist you claim to be, they will likely click on your profile, where they will discover the link to your website.
Go the Extra Mile
Customers love to feel like they are valued. It’s a simple fact: if they feel appreciated, they will repurchase time and time again. If you think customer service is not applicable to your online business, you should rethink that. First, you want to make sure to personally make phone calls or send emails to upset customers. Additionally, Microsoft believes that you should include a hand-written thank-you note and/or a free sample of one of your other products in any orders you send out.
Offer Free Information
Another great way to attract customers is to give some of your wealth of knowledge away for free. Forbes suggests creating short e-books that are applicable to your business. Offer them for free to anyone who is willing to give you their email address. It is also a wise idea to design one-page tip sheets that are aesthetically pleasing, include your company logo and website address on them, and then promote them on image-centric social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram.
Participate in Social Media
Speaking of social media, you also want to make sure you have a strong presence on all of the heavy hitters, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. That being said, you need to be using the sites to build relationships with your users, not to throw your product in their face over and over again. Post engaging content that is meant to inform or entertain your audience, and reply to the comments you receive. You should only promote your e-commerce site once per week, if that. When you establish trust with your followers they will be much more likely to turn into paying customers.
Consider Affiliate Links
Instead of putting all of the pressure of marketing on yourself, why not recruit others to spread the word for you? By offering people a percentage of the sales they can bring to you, you will encourage them to share your site with everyone they know. Obviously, you don’t want to give too much away, but the more enticing you can make the percentage offered, the more willing people will be to share.
Be Active at Trade Shows
Just because you do all of your business online, that doesn’t mean your marketing efforts are limited to this platform. Trade shows are one of the best places to network and introduce your product to a new audience. Find as many trade shows as you can within your industry and rent out a booth. Yes, it may seem expensive, but the ROI is unbeatable. To capitalize on your investment, put in the extra effort to make your booth stand out from the crowd. It is also wise to give away some sort of promotional item with your company’s name and website on it so people can easily remember you after they leave. The more unique you can make this item, the better your chances of making a lasting impression.
As you can see, there are many ways you can spread the word about your new company, even if you don’t have deep pockets. Just an hour per day spent on your online marketing efforts can produce results that make it all worth it.
About the author:
Mark Ditteaux is the President and COO of Mark-it-Smart, Inc. Bag Warehouse, a subsidiary, supplies conference bags to businesses based on their unique promotional needs. The company brings more than 15 years of marketing and promotional experience to help with your promotional marketing campaign.