If you want to sell products online, you need to figure out how to market them effectively.
There's really no way around it.
It's a busy, crowded world out there on the internet.
People have so many stimuli coming at them from every direction, each thing vying for their time and attention.
You have to actively promote your products, getting your brand name out there in front of people.
Whether you're focusing primarily on SEO, PPC, social media marketing, or something else, marketing is a must.
To start out, you need a robust marketing plan that lays out a blueprint of what you're going to do to promote your products.
It begins with figuring out your goal.
From there, you'll need to conduct market research, evaluate your competition, and then start creating and promoting content.
Your ecommerce marketing plan is like a road map you can follow. It's the kind of thing you want to have from the get-go.
Always know where you're going.
In a recent article from A Better Lemonade Stand, the author breaks down marketing plans into a simple seven step process.
What Should You Include in Your Ecommerce Marketing Plan?
Here’s a 7-step framework to follow.
1. KNOW YOUR MAIN GOAL.
The first step to a framework for your marketing plan is to know your goals.
But it’s also important to know how you plan to accomplish your goal. That’s why you need to create a simple quant-based marketing plan.
2. GET FRIENDLY WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Now that you know what your goal for content marketing is, you need to get an idea of who are the customers you are serving. This is called a “buyer persona.”
Buyer personas help you to create the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
If you have customers, you should survey them.
Offer the last 300 customers who bought a product from you a chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card. Then have them fill out a survey, asking open-ended questions about who they are.
This gives you hard data about your customers. Don’t create personas based on who you think they are or what car they drive. Ask them.
3. FIND THE COMPETITION’S WEAKNESSES TO BUILD YOUR STRENGTHS.
Good research about your competition will help you know where opportunity lies to grow your business faster.
Read their 2 and 3-star reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or any other review site. What are customers complaining about? Is this a problem you would like to solve with your product or content?
4. CREATE A KEYWORD RESEARCH PLAN TO EASILY RANK IN GOOGLE.
Now that you know who your competitors are, learn how to easily out-maneuver and outrank the competition in Google.
Your goal is to find keyword phrases that your customers use and is easy to start getting traffic from Google.
You will want to have enough keywords to fill your content calendar.
Once you have a list of keywords to target, you should focus on how fast you think you can get the most traffic.
For example, in general, you should target a keyword that gets 5,000 searches a month before a keyword that gets 2,500 searches a month.
5. CREATE TRULY USEFUL CONTENT.
To start, you need to write the best answer to your customers’ questions. Put yourself in a customer’s shoes. What would you want to know if you were doing research on this topic?
A solid article should lead potential customers to a solution to their problem. Creating a list of 120 possible solutions isn’t useful if your customer only needs one solution.
Finally, you should find out what content is already working and use parts of it to make your content shine.
- Buzzsumo is a great tool to find the most shared content on any topic.
- Reddit is a forum of forums, called subreddits. You can look at each subreddit to see what topics get the most votes and comments.
- Like a Q&A (and “PG”) version of Reddit, Quora allows users to ask the community questions based on many topics. Simply look for questions with 50 or more followers.
- Stack Exchange began as a Q&A platform for programmers. Since then, it has expanded to over 160 communities, with topics ranging from personal finance to martial arts.
6. PROMOTE THE CONTENT.
When it comes to promoting content, SEO is the most effective traffic source to scale. There are five ways people come to your site:
- Direct (a visitor types in your URL).
- Email (a click from an email).
- Referral (a click from another site).
- Social (a click from a social media site).
- Organic Search (a click from a search engine).
Many ecommerce stores do PPC. And while some ecommerce stores do content marketing, most solid content marketing for ecommerce has been in the form of product pages or a YouTube channel. And when everyone zigs, I zag. So that’s why I will spend my time on SEO.
If your keyword research game is strong, it’s a lot easier to grow search traffic fast. I do this by climbing up the SEO chain. I start by targeting 3-5 low competition keyword terms. After getting some traffic from those terms, after 90 days, I optimize the article for a more competitive keyword that gets more traffic.
The burst of traffic helps Google to know to crawl your site.
7. BIGCOMMERCE VS. SHOPIFY VS. WOOCOMMERCE: HOW I CHOSE MY ECOMMERCE PLATFORM.
When choosing an ecommerce platform, there are many things to consider, such as:
- How will the platform help or hurt SEO?
- How easy will it be to scale the site as the business grows?
- How secure is the site?
- What tools can help scale growth?
- What is the support like?
My decision was between Shopify, Bigcommerce, Magento, and WooCommerce.
My Ecommerce Content Marketing Plan Checklist
There’s a lot of information to process in this guide, so here’s a quick checklist you can go through:
- What is the ROI of my work?
- What do I need to do to achieve that goal?
- Buyer Personas
- Can I survey my customers to know the questions I need to answer?
- Since I don’t have customers, what questions do I assume they would like answered?
- Competitor Research
- If you have customers, who do they say are your competitors?
- If you don’t have customers, who are five competitors you know about?
- Keyword Research
- Look for keywords that are easy to rank.
- Prioritize them by which words you think will get you more traffic faster.
- Creating Content
- Offer the best answer to your customers’ questions.
- Ask other industry experts.
- Look at other articles written on the topic to find gaps in your content, and in their content.
- Make your article thorough and useful.
- Find proven content to borrow ideas from.
- Stack Exchange
- Content Promotion
- Solid keyword research.
- A burst of traffic.
- Internal links.
- Optional: Partner with influencers
These are the kind of things you need to plan for before you start your business.
You can learn more about creating business plans for ecommerce businesses over at A Better Lemonade Stand.
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