There were many replies: search engines (paid and organic), social networking, trade shows, print ads, and online wedding directories.
You might believe that the ideal way to publicize your company is through a diversified marketing strategy — and it ought to be. But how many paths should you focus on? There are so many alternatives. Not all of these, though, will generate leads that convert to sales. The trick is to narrow down where your prospects are and concentrate on those areas. It will vary based on your business and market.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs must focus on where their traffic comes from, what social media outlets their target clients use, and other sites their clients tend to go to. A B2B ecommerce website may find LinkedIn to be a fantastic source; a jewelry website may find Wanelo generates the most leads; furniture retailers might find that Houzz generates the most traffic; and a wedding company could find Pinterest as a leading source.
For my organization, Google (via organic listings) generates the most leads and conversions. Pinterest is second. In our discussion group, a photographer said that wedding Wire (a wedding directory) attracted her the most traffic and also a disk jockey said that visiting wedding expos (trade shows for brides) generated the most leads for him. But even though I belong to the exact same wedding directory and have attended expos, I didn’t get the maximum sales or leads from them.
So how do you decide where to market and what approaches work? To start, create a list of all of the alternatives to test — from the cheapest to the most expensive. Here are 10 areas which might be worth analyzing, for your ecommerce website.
- Social Networking sites. Social networking marketing can take a whole lot of time. Additionally, it needs to be carried out consistently to reap the maximum rewards. The best part is that it is free, if you don’t use paid ads. But don’t spread yourself thin and promote across all platforms. Market just where your prospects are. That may mean just a couple of social media sites. I find for my wedding industry that Pinterest works best. As a writer, Twitter and Goodreads are my best platforms. Not every platform will work for you. Do not spend time on networks which don’t generate leads.
- Public relations; word of mouth. Excellent customer service and compelling services or products can generate many leads over the long run. How you react to customer service issues on the internet is a fantastic way to boost your image. Mentions in media outlets may cost nothing if you pitch to the correct editors, start looking for a service such as HARO (Assist a Reporter Out, which is free) to create quotes and links in the media.
- Organic search results. I have previously addressed my method for do-it-yourself search optimization. It is relatively cheap to develop a website with current architecture that’s current on search engine optimization. I run a few WordPress sites that rank well in search engines which cost just the yearly hosting fee. You do not need to purchase expensive search engine optimization solutions to rank organically. There are numerous tools (blogs, books) where you can learn the fundamentals.
- Blogging; Blog advertising. Some businesses are conducive to blogging. I understand crafters, do-it-yourselfers, mom-bloggers, photographers, and foodies that do well with blogging. If blogging is not for you, consider advertising on sites; it may run from inexpensive to thousands of dollars. However, it might not be a bad investment. 1 blog where we bought a sponsored post (in 2009) always brings us sales and leads.
- Strategic partnerships. Creating partnerships can be free and can benefit both businesses greatly. Identify which companies can help you reach your targets. Reach out to those companies. Over time, you might grow it to an exclusive partnership, to get an edge over the industry. By way of instance, I have partnered with catering halls, corporations, and Vegas resorts to be a favorite vendor.
- Email advertising. Collect email addresses and be certain that you send out regular newsletters to keep your name on your recipients’ minds. While there’s typically a monthly fee involved, it may (it should) lead to repeat clients. Think of all of the emails you receive on a daily basis. If email marketing did not work, the large companies would not be doing it.
- Directories. While directories could be in the grey area for SEO, they are not bad as long as you don’t oversaturate your company in each directory you find. Pick a couple of top performers in your business and see if they generate traffic for you. I advertise in a single general wedding directory (Wedding Wire) and a market LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) directory since that section is growing.
- Retargeting. Many customers likely visit your website and leave without buying. How can you get them ? This is where retargeting comes in. Retargeting will put a cookie on their computers and if they visit another site that shows ads from the retargeting network, your advertisement will be shown. This can become quite costly and the return on investment may or might not be worth it — but it is great to test. AdRoll is a favorite retargeting company.
- Trade shows; expos; occasions. For a fixed cost, you rent a booth or table and market to your target audience right. This helps because the men and women who attend are coming for a particular reason and will be interested in what you have to give.
- Direct mail; print advertisements. This is among the pricier advertising tactics we attempted, without much success. We tested with a voucher code unique to the advertisement, but the ROI wasn’t worth the expense. But, direct mail and email marketing can work well together with the leads from a trade show or expo.
These are simply a few of the avenues I’ve tried. Some were more successful than others. For your own business it will probably require trial and error to find out what works best. Is there an advertising strategy you’ve tried that well?