10 Startup Marketing Ideas to Bootstrap Your Ecommerce Store

In the world of eCommerce, many new stores struggle to get even a small piece of the market. When you are running an eCommerce store, marketing is the biggest part of your job, and it has the most direct impact on your bottom line. As any seasoned eCommerce veteran will tell you, your online store needs a sustainable, long-term marketing strategy in place, instead of short-term growth hacks. With this in mind, here are 10 solid startup marketing ideas to bootstrap your ecommerce store.

Marketing Ideas for Startups

1. Launch contextual marketing campaigns

Contextual marketing campaigns are aimed at nurturing prospect relationships, and making people more likely to buy. Any info that you gather about your customer’s profiles, behaviors, and context can help you deliver highly relevant, and personalized content to the right person at the right time.

You can gather this data by:

  • Setting up analytics on your online store and tracking user behavior
  • Asking your store visitors and customers to fill out a form/survey
  • Using a marketing automation system in the back end

2. Promote user-generated content

Online consumers tend to place more trust in reviews, ratings, photos and other forms of user-generated content than they do in the traditional modes of marketing and advertising like TV and radio. Shoppers want first-hand experiences of customers who’ve already purchased that product. This is primarily because they people believe user reviews are more authentic and credible than an ad-campaign.

3. Build more relationships and partnerships

Do you know any online store owner or offline business that sells a complementary product? Partnering with them to sell packages/bundles could help new customers gain awareness of your store, and drive new traffic to your site. It won’t cost you or your partner anything extra, and yet you will both benefit by bringing new customer awareness to each business’s online presence.

4. Create videos that show customers how to use your products

YouTube channels are certainly a fun way to connect with your potential customers. People love the interactiveness of how-to videos, tutorials, and glimpses behind the scenes. Peeking behind the curtain makes people feel like they are getting to know you, and therefore they’ll be more confident about buying from you.

5. Give away products, and create a buzz

You can offer your products for free or dirt cheap in exchange for a glowing testimonial or review. Think ‘review bloggers’! The more of a following these reviewers have, the better. For just the cost of your product, you’ll be able to reach a wide audience. You can also host giveaways on social media to generate buzz. Something as simple as asking people to share a photo of your product in exchange for an entry to win said product could create a pool of raving fans. Speaking of social media …

6. Drive engagement with your audience on social media

You don’t need to spend hours on end daily to promote your online store via social media channels. In fact, some of the best social media campaigns take less than an hour per day to execute. Keep it simple by beginning with the platform your target market is most likely to hang out on. The key is not to have a dormant site. Respond to inquiries, comments, and reviews.

7. Segment and target key audience personas

Identify who is visiting your online store, and then cater directly to them. You can then create ad campaigns that speak to this type of person, showing them relevant content that would make them more likely to buy.

8. Launch an affiliate program

Joint venture and affiliate marketing campaigns encourage other people to sell on your behalf. They take a commission and you get more customers. It’s a win-win. Some affiliate marketers have large email lists that you might not yet have. By giving them a portion of the proceeds, they are doing all the heavy lifting for you.

9. Build your own email list

Email marketing is one of the best marketing channels for driving targeted traffic to your store. For someone to give you their email address, they are likely already interested in your product, making it that much easier to convert them into customers. And, email gives you enough space to mention things that you just can’t fit into a post on social media.

10. Launch your store on multiple platforms

From Ebay to Amazon, Etsy to Shopify, there are many options for hosting an online store which can act as an extension to your main store. Large platforms such as these may make it easier to spread brand awareness, while allowing you the opportunity to drive traffic back to your personal website.

Final Thoughts

While running marketing campaigns isn’t the only way to guarantee your online store’s success, it’s a great way to put your brand name out in front of hordes of potential customers that are still out of your reach. If done correctly, you can leverage the store’s brand awareness by launching unique digital marketing campaigns. Always remember that ideas for marketing campaigns, especially for startups, should aim at inviting, encouraging, and rewarding customers for engaging with your business. Keep relationship building at the forefront and your marketing efforts will be rewarded in no time.

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How to Define the Right Marketing Mix for Your Retail Store

In the most basic terms, the marketing mix definition is placing the right product, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right price in front of your potential customers to see and buy it. The trouble lies in doing it well, in order to make the most sales possible. How can you define the right marketing mix for your retail store?

Let’s break this down a little further, shall we?

Have a Plan

Your first priority in defining your marketing mix is to create a plan. Now, this plan isn’t necessarily set in stone, it may evolve as you go along, but creating a road map will at least give executable steps to follow in place of spinning your wheels. In the plan you’ll want to include things like sales goals, anticipated timelines, metrics to measure success, and information about the product you want to sell. For each product you plan on selling you want to know who your target market is, the value of the product, the price of the product, how and where you are selling it, and how you will promote it.

Product and Price

Things you should consider regarding the product are:

  • The value and price of the product, and potential discounts that could be offered
  • When people will want it (for example, can it be a gift for the holidays?)
  • How often they will want it (i.e. a repeat purchase product)
  • Accessories or bundle purchases that work well with the product
  • Sizes and colors, etc…

Promotion and Placement

Odds are your product will be placed on your retail shop’s website, but if there is a specific product you are trying to push, will it be given special treatment? By that I mean, will it be prominently placed on your homepage? Will it have a separate landing page that you will drive traffic directly to? Will this product be featured as part of a set? Then, how will you promote the product?

Factors to consider for promoting your product include, but are not limited to:

Paid vs Organic Search

In truth, we could write an entire article on the pros and cons of paid vs. organic search, but the best marketing mixes include a blend of both. The idea is to get as many eyeballs as possible on the product’s page, and fill that page with as many relevant details as needed to get the customer to click the purchase button.

Social Media Promotions

Where are the people that would be most likely to buy this product hanging out? For example, if visual promotions would work best for your product Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram may be good choices. However, if your best promotions are going to be an article or blog post explaining the product, links via Twitter, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn may be better options.

PR Campaigns

Is it possible to get your product on the news or in a local publication? If so, can the outlet link back to your product? What makes your product newsworthy?

Email Campaigns

Do you have a mailing list of leads? Perhaps creating a strategic email campaign for promoting the product is in your best interest.

Partnerships for Promotions

Perhaps an affiliate program or some other joint venture campaign would be best to promote your product. Thinking outside the box could generate more sales.

Consider the Sales Process

One of the biggest mistakes retail shops make is not in promoting their products, but in the sales process after the customer visits your shop.

CBS News reported that “nothing can kill sales success faster than a lousy sales process.”

If you’re too pushy, they leave. If you’re not informative enough, they leave. If you don’t guide them along in the process, they leave. If it’s not incredibly simple to purchase, they leave. Are you seeing a pattern here? For people to part with their money, they want the entire process to be as seamless, and pain free as possible. They don’t want to guess or worry about any step of the sale.

Once they buy, the ending stages of the sales process should be seamless as well. Products should be delivered as promised, and in a timely manner. Any errors or issues should be addressed promptly, and courteously so the client will come back. According to Forbes Magazine, as many as 49% of people find alternate companies to purchase from due to poor customer service. Don’t let that happen to you.

Finally, once the sales process is complete, don’t forget to follow up. People want to know that you care about them. So, check in and make sure they are happy with the purchase. It also doesn’t hurt to offer them an invitation to return for more purchases and/or to ask them to refer customers to you.

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Riding the Back-To-School Wave to Retail Success

Anyone who’s been in the retail business knows how important capitalizing on the shopping wave during the back-to-school, or BTS, season is. Depending upon which expert you ask, this potential boom in sales is the 2nd, or 3rd, biggest one during a calendar year.

As summer camps draw to an end, parents start a frenzy of last-minute shopping for school, which, combined with back-to-college shopping, translates to a whopping $68 billion spent. This means that merchandising and marketing strategies, and the ever-important multi-channel shopping experience at retails chain, all need to be tweaked.

Let’s take a closer look and delve deeper into seasonal retailer and e-tailer techniques for riding the back-to-school wave, and what exactly BTS and BTC mean for retailers.

Understanding the Significance of Back-to-School Shopping

The BTS season is a little different from the boost in sales during ‘normal’ holiday seasons. In a nutshell, it’s longer than these other ‘boosted sales’ periods.

Parents may begin their research on products, prices, and promotional offers — usually online — as early as July. They compare the collected data and make their decisions by the month of August, making the purchase around the same period. Last-minute frazzled trips are usually done and dusted by September. This means that retailers have a longer window of potential sales compared to other big sales days, such as (say) Black Friday.

Products that receive a boost during the BTS shopping window include office supplies, apparel, electronics, and books. This long list of products, and the relatively longer sales window, make strategies a little more complicated during the BTS season.

Brick-And-Mortar Stores Rejoice!

As more and more e-tailers take over territory originally occupied by brick-and-mortar retail outlets, you could be forgiven for assuming that retail stores won’t be doing much business. To the contrary, though, it’s these stores that will see more traffic than their online counterparts. While parents will head to their laptops to buy devices and wearables for their kids, all other purchases will get them walking into brick-and-mortar stores.

School supplies such as notebooks, textbooks, and writing materials drive parents to stores, with kids in tow. Stores are the primary choice for parents buying writing materials and books (87%). These are followed — in terms of brick-and-mortar store demand — by shoes (80%), jewelry and accessories (64%), and clothes (64%).

Even as store-based retailers gear up for wars with e-tailers during the upcoming holiday season, they are set to receive a boost in sales from BTS parents.

It’s easy to see why: parents need to shop with their kids to accommodate their preferences, and most feel this is best done at a store, rather than online.

Tailoring Your Strategies Accordingly

Since we’ve already discussed the massive potential of this season, let’s take a look at marketing — and merchandising — strategies designed to help you achieve optimal returns.

First, you’ll need to understand that customers are primarily concerned with who offers the best deals. As a retailer, your first priority would be to think along those lines, and come up with a strategy that helps you put your brand right there. Even Apple — not a brand known for offering sales — caves in during the BTS season, offering discounted ‘student’ and ‘education’ prices.

Clothing giants such as Urban Outfitters and H&M target children from middle-school through college age with carefully planned ads. Take a closer look at textile e-tailer websites, and you’ll probably see smiling school and college kids, with huge blurbs advertising discounts up to 70%.

Take a look at your competitors, and make sure you stay ahead of the game. Build marketing strategies around the BTS shoppers, and you’ll see your sales numbers rise.

E-Commerce-Specific Strategies, Techniques, and Ideas

With so many consumers spending so much of their time online, the retail industry today — while still relying on in-store interactions — has grown to depend on big data and online transactions.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to embrace social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. In fact, that last tweet-broadcasting platform now has a ‘buy’ button, letting you sell products right off your Twitter timeline. If you aren’t aware of what the ‘Twitter’ timeline is, your brand’s social media game is in need of some serious updates this BTS season.

Seeing as 41% of college-goers base their buying decisions on smartphone-based research, M-commerce is another concept that needs to be embraced in order to ride the BTC wave.

Wherever your potential customers spend their smartphone browsing time is where your brand needs to be front and center. For instance, the humor app ‘9GAG’ had 164 million visitors in December 2015 alone. Considering that most of these users are college students on their phones, this is a great place to advertise.

You can use retail analytics software providers such as Intelligence Node to help you build strategies based on big data and competitor trends.

Embracing concepts like new social media platforms and big data, and understanding the significance of a strategy tailored to buyer trends in the BTS season, you’ll be able to capitalize on the buying trends of parents scurrying to stores with school-going kids close on their heels.

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How to Forecast Risks in the eCommerce Supply Chain, Automatically

Whenever you run a product-based business, the concept of supply and demand immediately rises to the top of your growing list of concerns. After all, the efficiency of your business greatly hinges on your ability to plan for the uncertain future. To do this requires a deft handling of your supply chain and all that entails. In the world of eCommerce, it’s easy to get caught up on either the front and back ends of your software infrastructure. However, it is actually the middle in which you must focus your attention, as this is where supply chain forecasts enter.

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The Best Times to Use Free Shipping to Increase Online Retail Sales

For obvious reasons, consumers are naturally drawn to any way in which they can save some of their hard-earned cash. So it stands to reason that free shipping has become such a popular feature to promote eCommerce sites. In addition to the built-in appeal of giving customers the chance to cut down their purchase total, such a tactic has a tremendous impact on customer service and, in many instances, may directly lead to the formation of long-term customer relationships. However, like any marketing tool, free shipping delivers the best results when used strategically to accent your business.

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As the Seasons Turn, Turn, Turn: Seasonal Sales Strategies for Online Stores

Without fail, sleigh bells start ringing in the final quarter of each year, and yet, the holiday season doesn’t simply end with “Auld Lang Syne.” When it comes to sales cycles, there’s typically some seasonal angle your business should be taking at any given time of year. Whether that extends to something as broad as the beginning of summer or the ever-popular back-to-school season, there are countless ways in which you can capitalize on the changing calendar.

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6 Ways to Drive More eCommerce Traffic with Automation

Traffic. For most people, the word simply pertains to that everyday headache faced during your daily commute. However, for anyone working within the world of eCommerce, traffic is the most critical element of business and the one on which everything hinges. Regardless of how stellar your products are or how meticulously designed your website is, your business is all pomp and circumstance signifying nothing unless you find a way to connect with your intended audience.

However, attaining the attention you need to make your business a success takes more than simply worthwhile effort and a solid foundation upon which to build a customer base, especially in today’s increasingly competitive environment. Key processes must be in place to ensure that you earn the eCommerce traffic you need to maximize conversion and boost the bottom line. Thankfully, automation has become the name of the game in recent years.

How Automation Can Impact eCommerce Traffic

Online businesses may be continually searching for new and inventive ways to attract users and keep their traffic on the rise. From media outreach to an even more grassroots approach, eCommerce sites have struggled to remain relevant in the face of an incredibly mutable marketplace. Circumstances have forced many sites to consolidate their operations and take on multiple paths toward fostering growth. That’s precisely why automation is currently all the rage, as it allows optimum results for minimum effort. In tandem with traditional methods, automation can propel your business forward and streamline your processes.

Here are a few ways automation can boost your business:

  • Automated email campaigns: Regular communication with customers, of course, is a proven way to stay top-of-mind within your market, but automating your email campaigns provides the chance to deliver your message at the optimum time. Newsletters are perfect to send special offers, tips relating to your niche and reminders to participate in a current sales or event.
  • Content publishing: The key to any successful business is consistency. There’s no better way to build trust and develop a relationship with current and prospective customers alike. So consider implementing an automated system for your content marketing efforts in order to ensure that you have a regular schedule in place.
  • Search engine optimization: Despite the current emphasis on search engine optimization — better known as simply SEO — many businesses fail to capitalize on the benefits it offers. Now that so many key elements of SEO can be automated, there’s little excuse not to up your SEO game and expand your reach as a result.
  • Social media management: Just as search engines have proven to be an invaluable part of keeping your business thriving, social media has similarly become inextricably linked to eCommerce traffic. Nearly all major sites have a major presence on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Don’t miss out on your chance to optimize your activity on these social networks to reach the widest possible audience.
  • Leverage your wishlist: eCommerce sites almost universally have a wishlist function designed to help shoppers keep track of items they may be interested in purchasing down the road. However, most businesses fail to recognize the potential in this feature to drive conversion. Incorporating an automatic reminder to refresh shoppers’ memory of their pending purchases often proves more powerful than you might realize.
  • Abandoned carts: Similarly, abandoned carts are a tremendous missed opportunity for many sites. Whenever a shopper leaves products in their cart without finalizing a purchase, it’s a wise move to set up an automated message system that removes that lasting bit of buyer hesitation. Sometimes, simply a reminder will suffice, but you might also pitch a discount or incentive, such as expedited shipping. You’ll be surprised with the difference this simple step makes.

Shifting to Automation

As the technology continues to evolve, the role of automation in everyday business is only set to increase in the coming years. Now is the perfect time to integrate these systems into your existing processes, especially as your competitors may already be up to speed with the latest time-saving innovations in your field. Don’t risk your chance to stay ahead of the curve and lose the valuable ground you’ve worked so hard to establish in the marketplace. After all, automation is fast becoming the way of the future, and your eCommerce traffic may very well depend on your ability to adapt.

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Capture More Retail Customers with Automated Price Monitoring

Ask any consumer what rationale guides their decision-making when it comes to retail purchases, and pricing will almost certainly emerge as one of the most prominent considerations. Because of this, business owners understand that the strategy they apply to their pricing can make all the difference in the long-term success they achieve (or don’t achieve) with their customers. However, though the importance of pricing is well-known, the tools available to optimize it may not be in place when it comes to your business. In particular, automated price monitoring may prove to be a major factor in boosting your sales.

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Showrooming and Webrooming: Moving beyond buzzwords

Showrooming is the practice where shoppers examine items during store visits, but choose to buy them online because they are cheaper there. Online retailers are in a position to offer better deals as they don’t have to bear the same operational costs as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Effectively, traditional retailers unwittingly act as showrooms for ecommerce portals.

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Relevance Commerce: Survival Of The Slickest

Retailing as we know it has undergone a sea change. The siloed nature of legacy retailing is re-structuring from brick and mortar to clicks and swipes at a fiercly rapid pace. Retail trade entities have started moving towards what is now commonly referred to as ‘Omni-Channel’. Omni-channel, the holy grail of retailing is supposed to provide consumers a seamless and personalized shopping experience.

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