We all want to our ecommerce websites to grow with a nearly vertical trajectory. Many wannabe ecommerce billionaires waste their time searching for that ecommerce El Dorado. They want the elusive silver bullet to make it happen quickly. That is exactly why these people will never make it past, at best, a sufficient business, and certainly will never become even millionaires from ecommerce.
At the heart of successful ecommerce is a clear approach to acquiring customers. If you can master that, you have mastered everything. You become the dragon warrior in the Kung Fu Panda world of ecommerce.
Product Confidence Is Key
First and foremost, I, the customer, need to be sure that you are:
- selling what you say you are selling
- selling at the right price
- fulfillment by an acceptable mode, and in a reasonable period of time
- accepting my preferred mode of payment
- offering effective reverse logistics if the need arises
- concerned about my privacy
- conscious of my security.
It Is Not Just the Quantity of Traffic, But Also the Quality That Matters
Every ecommerce marketing professional I have talked to understands the need for traffic on the website. But I do not find an equal emphasis being placed on the quality of traffic. That is why blind faith in SEO is commonplace in the ecommerce world.
Some go so far as to claim that the most important determinant of ecommerce success if SEO. I disagree! SEO must yield this privilege to customer confidence. If you get them to come, but you cannot get them to believe in your product, then they will not buy, they will not return, and they certainly will not spread the word. All you have done is pad your website hits.
It Is All About Growing the Business, Not Necessarily About Growing It in a Specific Way
Look at businesses success in the ecommerce paradigm through the following lens:
- You could market offline, but make the sale online
- You could market online, but make the sale offline (i.e., your ecommerce website is more of a brochure site, not a transactions site).
- You could market and sell online, but transact offline (e.g. over the phone, or at a pick-up counter as in the case of the click and collect system offered by Tesco.)
Acquiring Customers: Let Your Product Show the Way
If you are selling digital goods the game is quite different than if you are selling physical products. For example, if you sell art, you can present samples at art exhibitions and sell them at art fairs. You argue that this is not ecommerce, but this is where you could be grossly wrong. The art fair can act as a promotional vehicle for your ecommerce business, assuming your communication in the art fair highlights your website as your storefront.
Forum Marketing: Talk to People Where People Like to Talk to People
A rich source of customers can be forums where people are discussing products similar to yours. It may be a threatening place to try to drum up business, but just start posting. Read what others post, especially your competition. Be helpful. Do not simply post to sell. Post to join the conversation. Look for creative ways to present your product, without violating the policies of the forum.
Acquire Customers by Networking
Talk with people you already know, and tell them about your products and services. Business professionals who you already do business with are a good start. Show them your passion. Do not inflate your success, but show them that you are on fire. They will likely catch this fever as well. If they are just throwing skepticism your way, then stop pitching and move on to others. You will find some people interested in your products.
Networking is nothing more than using the contacts you have to find customers. You might say, "I have no contacts to network with" or "all of my contacts are already customers of mine." I would say that your business circles are far too limited, then. You need to find business activities and events where you can meet others and build acquaintances.
Acquire Customers Through Advertising
Advertising is always an important part of any good marketing plan. If you have no money budgeted for advertising, then you are limiting the growth of your ecommerce business. It will never grow beyond a certain point. Diversity and steady cash flow into your advertising campaign are the keys to a successful advertising strategy. A strong advertising campaign will carry a marketing campaign on its wings to success as well, and will grow your business at a healthy pace.
Acquiring new customers is difficult, but it is an extremely important aspect of your ecommerce activity. It requires full-time dedication to be effective.