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E-commerce Marketing: 6 Questions to Ask in 2017

Ecommerce Marketing: Branding Tips in 2017

6 great questions to ask about your e-commerce marketing.

Don’t get left behind. Make sure that you keep your e-commerce marketing agile and supple by adapting to the shifting sands of e-commerce and embracing change. As we move through the first quarter of 2017, here are six key questions that you should be asking yourself to ensure that your brand is exactly where it needs to be.

1. What’s your multichannel strategy?

Multichannel means more sales but it also means more management. Develop a strategy to help you evolve and scale your e-commerce marketing presence.  Multichannel is about controlled diversification and meeting people where they are.

  • You need to be clear on what channels are worth expanding into, then ensure that your products and branding are the right fit. Entering a new channel without appropriate preparation will only lead to a drop-off in sales, and may even damage your brand.
  • Multichannel strategy is rooted in data management. Data allows you to support customers as they move from channel to channel. You want to give customers a smooth experience, no matter where, and how they first interact with you. Capture as much data as you can. Keep the purchase journey flexible with ‘save for later’ and wish list functionality. But don’t get overwhelmed by technology.  Customers are still at the heart of multichannel.
  • Moving into marketplaces? Ranking on Amazon (buy box optimization, seller ratings, stock levels), is very different to ranking in Google. Make sure that you are smart about your e-commerce marketing and optimization. Don’t waste money on techniques that aren’t fit for purpose.

2. How are you attracting user-generated content?

User-generated content is big for ecommerce marketing as it drives a powerful sales culture of genuine brand recommendations.  Make sure your brand has its own user-generated content strategy.

  • Focus on capturing community content by harnessing the power of social media. Actively ask your customers to share their product pictures, opinions, and journeys on social. In other words, make sure your social channels are crying out for comments, likes, and shares.
  • Include social media pictures, reviews, and comments on product pages to create a sense of community.
  • Videos are a great form of user-generated content because they feel real and immediate. Invest in some “content seeding” by working with vloggers. Product reviews are a great place to start as vloggers often share their purchases with their audience.
  • Use the power of the #. Encourage hashtags to help you find brand conversations.
  • Giving people more ownership over your online brand means that you’ll need to monitor your accounts more actively.  When there’s a problem try to diffuse and neutralize the situation. Never fight with a customer!

3. Is your brand aligned with your mission statement?

In today’s saturated market, the best brands are the ones who offer more than just a platform for selling products. Sell a lifestyle to take your business to the next level.

  • What lifestyle are you selling? What values do you want to represent? Dig deep into your consumer research to make sure that you’re marketing something that has a genuine audience.
  • Be genuine and honest about what you are trying to achieve with your brand. Allow yourself to dream big, and give back to people who have supported you. The best type of branding and e-commerce marketing is the kind that comes from the heart, not just the head.
  • Haven’t given this any thought yet? Start today and come up with a mission statement and some initial branding goals. Learn how to monitor your brand’s evolution with tools like Slack to make sure that you stay on the right track.

4. How do you stack up on the usability stakes?

User-experience and usability are at the core of a good online business. Investing in user-experience is crucial from an e-commerce marketing, SEO, and sales perspective.

  • Survey your core search and industry competitors and learn from what they are doing. Are they offering fewer buying options? How do they categorize their products? Does their site load faster? Armed with competitor insights, you will be able to start crafting an environment that offers customers the best possible experience.
  • Know that ecommerce UX is largely about seduction and trust. Learn how to balance sticky sales copy with trust builders like reviews, logos, and T&C’s.
  • Invest in usability audits in order to get an accurate picture of how your store stacks up. The best e-commerce brands go out and actively look for customer data, rather than waiting for it to drop into their laps.

5. Does your agility stand up to the competition?

E-commerce is incredibly competitive, with ‘start a business in a day’ hustlers muscling in on established markets. Make sure that you harness your internal resources in order to embrace agility.

  • Save money with e-commerce automation, outsourcing and software. Embrace new industry trends to help you be more agile.
  • Don’t slash your prices to compete. Focus on what you can do better instead. Look at larger product and e-commerce market trends and shift your efforts accordingly. Learn to move on when something simply isn’t profitable anymore.
  • Being a market leader is often about getting there first so don’t stall and lose the element of surprise. Why not start a sub-brand on a separate, easy-to-manage sales platform, while you weigh up the pros and cons of your new niche? A big mistake that brands make is sitting on their ideas for too long, and not moving with the times (look at all the ‘matcha millionaires’ who moved fast and made a killing).

6. Have you got any good stories to tell?

Brand storytelling lies at the heart of great content and great e-commerce marketing initiatives. Make sure to invest in people, not sales-first, marketing. Explore your product and brand journey from all angles in order to create a complete picture for customers.

  • Make sure you keep your stories compelling and seasonal with a proper editorial calendar and watertight content strategy. Innovate and be creative when you need to be, but never sideline proper content planning.
  • Great content exists on a continuum with marketing, PR, and SEO. Learn how a great content process can help you score PR and media wins in order to help you maximize content ROI.
  • Learn how to listen out for, as well as tell, stories. Stories that are already out there in your audience are powerful connective bridges. Find them and harness them for your marketing efforts.

Is 2017 going to be the year when you nail your branding, and find more brand advocates? How do you make sure that you keep your current branding fresh? 

Patrick Foster is an e-commerce entrepreneur & writer.  EcommerceTips is his personal blog where he writes about the challenges (and joys) of e-commerce. Connect with him on Twitter.

 

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