How to Go Viral: E-Commerce Marketing Strategies
Dec 1, 2015 10:49 AM PT
Once you've started your e-commerce business, one of the first steps toward success is to get the word out about your products. With all the different social media and other platforms available, however, effective marketing is more complex than ever. It's important, therefore, to have a balanced and far-reaching strategy -- one that's just as focused on reaching long-term goals as it is on going viral.
"To go viral you have to be out there," said Elyse McNabb, chief creative officer for Nourish With Style.
"They say you can't win it unless you're in it, so make sure your product is out there, ready for the chance to go viral. I think the goal should be to promote and sell your product, and if it goes viral that is a great side benefit," she told the E-Commerce Times.
One of the most exciting realms for contemporary e-commerce marketers is the social media world, since it's an informal and interactive place to reach customers.
"Instagram has been a tremendous marketing tool for our company," said Hindi Zeidman, founder of The Ollie World.
"There are a couple of avenues that have proved to be most effective within the Instagram world. The first is hashtags. By using strategic hashtags that marry your brand's message to terms that your target audience is searching for, you are creating an avenue for people to find you," she told the E-Commerce Times.
"We have also found collaborations with companies with similar branding and focus to be beneficial. By collaborating via exchanging posts or partnering on giveaways, you are able to expose one another's followers and, hopefully, find new customers to your company," Zeidman said.
Even when you find a social media marketing technique that works, however, it's important to keep up with trends and evolve as necessary.
"The marketing trends are constantly changing when it comes to e-commerce and reaching people via social media," Zeidman noted.
"Things that proved successful a couple of months ago may not work at all now. It is difficult to determine because trends are constantly changing. The only way to really help determine these things is to be present and interactive. Keeping your finger on the pulse is crucial in surviving and thriving," she said.
Nourish With Style, which uses a combination of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for its social media marketing, also makes a point of evolving with the times.
"You can't stay stagnant, and you always need your ear to the ground and eyes open to new trends, changes in social media, and new opportunities with different selling platforms," said McNabb. "What works today may or may not work in six months. Don't be complacent."
With customers accessing media on a range of devices, it's also important to make sure your marketing strategy is diverse and mobile.
"Such a cross-device approach to your operations should be reflected in your marketing plans," said Roni Anavi, VP of product for myThings.
"The thing to remember is that consumers expect to receive a unified message across all points of contact with a retailer, whether that's in app or on desktop," she told the E-Commerce Times.
This kind of strategy goes both ways; you can reach more consumers, and you can gather more information about those consumers as well.
"With cross-device retargeting, advertising is further enhanced by data that has been enriched with insights of consumers on different devices," explained Anavi. "If you know how a lapsed customer previously interacted with your site on their desktop, you'll be in a much better position to entice them into a sale on their mobile or tablet."
Be True to Your Brand
With all the marketing and advertising opportunities out there, it's easy to get caught up in what's hot and lose touch with the marketing strategies that make the most sense for your company. Therefore, it's vital to evaluate your options and choose only those that will provide the most value.
"A blanket approach to marketing should be avoided at all costs. Often, we see retailers who are not properly aligning their messages across different channels and subsequently do not see the sort of uplift in sales they expect," said Anavi.
"Advertising technology has changed dramatically in the last 15 years, but so too has the average shopper," she said. "We are inundated with ads all day, to the extent that we've become blind to many blanket forms of advertising."
Instead, create a customized, personalized strategy based on your needs, your customers, and your long-term plans for the business.
"Understanding the behaviors of your shoppers is fundamental to mounting a successful campaign," said Anavi. "I'd recommend that startups investigate personalization in their marketing initiatives at the earliest possible opportunity."
Finally, though going viral is an appealing goal, it's not the be-all and end-all of marketing efforts. Building customer relationships and establishing a trustworthy brand are, in the end, the elements that form the foundation for long-lasting success.
"All the focus on going viral can be very misleading," said Anavi. "It's a very elusive thing to try and achieve. While there are certain tactics you can use to improve your chances, this should never be your main objective, as it's ultimately unsustainable. Most companies that go viral happen upon this success by chance and find that it just doesn't last."