Throughout history, there have been significant world events that have changed society and re-written how we live our lives. And it’s probably not a stretch of the imagination to see how 2020 is shaping up to be one of those life-altering times.
Over the past few months, we have been forced to rethink each and every facet of our lives. How we do our groceries, how we socialize, how we enjoy our lives. Perhaps one of the most significant changes has been to the way we earn our living.
Aside from the most essential workers, a huge majority of the world’s population have either lost their jobs or have had to make drastic changes to how and where they undertake it. While many have seen doom and gloom during this time, these forced changes have given rise to a new wave of entrepreneurs; those who have taken money-making matters into their own hands.
It has never been easier to start a business. Between affordable eCommerce marketplace builders, the accessibility of products (albeit with potential shipping delays!), and the new-norm of shopping online, people the world over are making lemonade in this seemingly lemon-shaped world.
In fact, Forbes reported that eCommerce has seen 4-6 years of growth since the pandemic began. eCommerce giant, Shopify, showed an incredible 97% revenue increase in Q2 2020. And PayPal recorded the highest monthly revenue in the company’s history in April 2020. Essentially, two things are clear; more people are buying online and more people are selling online.
But, with opportunity comes oversaturation. With swathes of new businesses introducing themselves and their product to the market, and existing businesses doubling down on marketing, how do you stand out? In a world where more people are spending their disposable income online, how do you ensure they spend it with you?
While there are a number of variables that will see your store triumph over your competitors, there are three solid things that every eCommerce business can employ right now. These three things will ensure that your business not only survives but thrive through the pandemic and beyond.
You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but it is now more important than ever to define your niche and make sure you are positioned to sell to them. With an abundance of products and services flooding the market, customers can afford to be picky about where they buy them from. So, if you’re not positioning yourself as an expert within a certain niche, your customers will likely find someone who is.
So many business owners worry that by niching down, they’ll reduce their market share and limit the number of customers who will buy from them. The opposite is, in fact, true. People want to buy a product that feels like it was made for them, that speaks to their individual challenges, desires, or needs, and that it’s from a business who understands those things on a deep level.
Remember, you can’t be all things to all people.
What’s more, getting super clear on your niche can help you as a business owner too. Gaining clarity on your niche helps you further align your business and marketing with your demographic. It’s this alignment that will see you start to drive more traffic to your site and convert them when they get there.
If you are already running an online business, you probably (hopefully!), already know your niche. But even established eCommerce stores could benefit from a ‘niche audit’. If it’s not abundantly clear who your product is for or why they need it, then it’s time to reassess.
Again, this isn’t something you haven’t heard before, but you can’t just throw up some ads and expect them to convert to sales. A combination of clever targeting and focused and engaging creative/copy are needed if you want your business to stand out above the blur of ad-noise your demographic is accustomed to.
As an eCommerce marketer, it’s not pandemic-specific that you need to be using targeting tools to your advantage. It’s a no-brainer that you need to put your ads in front of people who will be most likely to buy them, not just now, but always.
But one thing that will help you outshine your competitors when it comes to marketing is to think about the current state of the world. Right now, your ad copy and creative need to reflect your audience’s new way of life. Has the pandemic put them in a unique situation? Has it impacted them negatively? How has it made them feel?
This is your opportunity to leverage those new-found thoughts and feelings to show how your product or service helps them overcome or enhance them. That said, it’s a fine balance between aligning your messaging with their COVID-impacted life and being too on the nose.
COVID marketing exhaustion is becoming a very real reality. While it was once a novelty to see ‘stuck at home during lockdown?’ type ads, the evidence is showing that consumers are already turning off to this messaging in favor of a more subtle approach. So, although you need to acknowledge the situation, you need to be creative about how you do it.
Finally, let’s look at your store itself. While it’s not a revolutionary concept that your store must have everything in place to ensure customers convert, it is, surprisingly, an area that so many eCommerce stores just don’t get right.
Your job as an eCommerce business owner is to remove every single barrier to the sale that would prevent your customers from buying. It’s about ensuring your site is designed to show your demographic that your product is the one they should be buying. It’s about increasing your average order value so you can reduce your marketing costs and keep more money in your pocket.
The truth is, you don’t want the time, effort, and money you’ve spent on driving customers to your site to go to waste when they leave without making a purchase. While the world of eCommerce is becoming more lucrative, it is also becoming more cut-throat. If you’ve not ticked all your customers’ boxes, and quickly, they will leave.
Sometimes though, you’re too close to your site to properly identify any issues, and no amount of reading tips and tricks for conversion rate optimization will help. But there are people out there who are willing to pick it apart for you!
Join a business-specific Facebook page and ask its members to give you feedback. Be warned though, this exercise is not for the timid. Comments can be brutal! But remember, the feedback you’ll get here is just what your audience is thinking when they land on your site. So, put your feelings aside and take it on board. Make sure you’re a little selective here though; you’ll need to wade through personal preference type comments and thoughts of those who don’t exactly understand your demographic.
The opportunity to build a successful business online has never been greater, but competition has never been fiercer. Consumers are more likely to buy online than ever before, but they are taking advantage of the abundance of online retailers, becoming pickier with their purchasing decisions.
If you’re not giving them an effortless shopping experience, showing them exactly why they need your product and showing yourself to be a reputable brand, they can, and will, go somewhere else!
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