Proud family man, global traveler and creator of award-winning agencies Weberous and Generate Culture serving clients worldwide @rafaelromis
You’ve finally decided to launch your business online—great! What do you do now? Well, there are a lot of things you shouldn’t do. And that’s what I’m going to focus on in this article.
According to Statista, e-commerce sales are expected to hit $7.4 trillion worldwide by 2025. While those numbers can seem overwhelming, the truth is most business owners are overwhelmed with where to start. Below, I’ll cover three major mistakes brands need to avoid if they want to capture a piece of that e-commerce pie.
Mistake #1: Not Thinking Through Your Store Platform
When you’re launching an e-commerce site, you’ll need to figure out what platform you want your site to run on. You’ll find that platforms are either open-source or software as a service (SaaS):
• Open-source: With open-source platforms, you have 100% full access to the code and can ultimately do anything with it. As exciting as that may sound, 95% of the time, you don’t “need” full access to the code. Most versions of Magento and WordPress would fall in this category, among others.
• Software as a service (SaaS): With SaaS platforms, your access will vary. Ultimately, you’ll have access to the front of the site but not the inner workings of the platform itself.
Before you spend time trying to figure out the “best platform” (hint: there’s no such thing), consider how you plan to drive sales. Are you going to need to integrate with any third-party platforms (i.e., a Google Shopping Feed)? How are you going to manage or fulfill your orders? Do you need to connect to warehouse software for fulfillment? Are you planning to have a rewards program for your customers? Do you need to personalize their shopping experience? If so, how? Answering these questions will help you evaluate each platform based on what you’re looking to achieve.
A good rule of thumb is to choose the platform that’s easiest to use and with the least required maintenance but that can still cover all of your needs based on your planning. Do a demo with each platform you’re considering, and get a feel for how it works for you. You’ll be using it, so it’s important that you like running your business through it.
Mistake #2: Not Identifying Your Online Audience
You might know your offline customers very well, but your online customers may be different. Crafting an effective e-commerce strategy begins with understanding your online target market. This means you’re likely going to have to update your messaging to speak to your online audience.
Even if you have a unique product to offer, you still have to build a unique connection with your digital audience. You need to know everything about them—not just demographics like age and gender but also what their preferences are. The beauty of online marketing is you have access to a vast sea of data to work with.
Start by identifying your core customer. Thankfully, you’re not starting from scratch so you already have an advantage. You know what makes your offer different. Now it’s time to match your product to a segment of potential customers in the digital world.
You can leverage different Google tools to understand more about your audience. Google Keyword Planner will help you by suggesting related keywords to your niche so you can funnel in new customers. This will help you gather intel related to your audience’s interests.
Another option when you’re building your online presence is to use surveys. You can add a survey on your site so that your site visitors can give you first-party data on your market. Bonus tip: To speed up the process, invest in Facebook Ads to promote your survey. This is a quick way to get your survey into more hands.
When you understand your online audience better, you can present the benefits of your offer better, which means converting more prospects.
Mistake #3: Not Developing A Traffic Strategy
So you’ve launched your website. You’ve done some initial research on your online audience so you can speak to them better. And now the sales will start pouring in, right? Well, not exactly.
You’ve built your site. Now you have to generate traffic. You could create the greatest offline store in the world, but if people don’t know it exists or how to get there, it will fail. The same holds true for your e-commerce store.
For a new site, the three biggest avenues for generating traffic are:
• Social media.
• Paid advertising.
You should use all three. But start by mastering one or two. Not sure which road you should go down? If you have more time on your hands than money, you’ll want to dive deep into social media and SEO.
• Social Media
Social media is a great way to generate quick eyeballs to your site. Create profiles on all major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. Stick to one platform when you’re just starting out and post consistently.
Make sure you’re providing valuable content rather than just posting about your products. The best non-salesy content is either informative, entertaining or personal. About 80% of your posts should be non-salesy.
SEO is a great way to generate traffic to your site through search engines like Google and Bing. You can do this by creating valuable blog posts and articles. It’s a very cost-effective way to get traffic to your site.
It’ll take a bit longer to get some momentum than social media, but you own the content since it’s on your site, so you can think of each blog as a digital asset.
• Paid Ads
The two most popular paid ads platforms are Facebook and Google. If you have a budget to work with, you can get your company in front of new traffic (or people who haven’t interacted with your site before) almost instantly.
Most merchants make one or more of these mistakes when transitioning to e-commerce. Avoid them and you’ll be ahead of the competition by default.
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