Back in the good old days, getting top search results ranking was as easy as slapping together a website with content no more sophisticated than that produced in an elementary school writing class. Splurge on a $50 package of 5,000 backlinks delivered within 48 hours and watch the money pour in. And pour in it did, creating countless digital millionaires until the day that the inevitable finally happened: Google grew up.
Google wasn’t the world’s first search engine, just the smartest. It saw links as “votes” cast by authority sites that could be used to determine the relative value of a site in providing a rewarding experience for search users. The biggest problem with this strategy came to light only after marketers realized that Google’s algorithm lacked the ability to distinguish quality links from bad, and began to hijack the search results with thousands of cheap, irrelevant, and low-quality backlinks.
Google Declares War on Spammy Backlinks
Google has been systematically eliminating one linking tactic after another through a combination of algorithm updates and manual penalties. Some of the most popular link building tactics that have fallen from Google’s favor include.
- Any form of paid links.
- Links with anchor text that has been over-optimised for target keywords.
- Links from low-quality, spammy websites, including directories, that are unrelated to the recipient’s industry or geographic area.
- Links gained through guest post blogging or through guest and forum commenting.
- Basically, any link that has not been editorially earned as a reward for providing relevant quality content.
The Dilemma of Google’s Anti-Spam Link Policies
On the one hand, Google has acknowledged that links will continue to be an important ranking factor in its search algorithm for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, Google seems to be saying that it doesn’t want webmasters to engage in any form of overt link building.
An estimated 80 percent of all websites are relative newcomers to the digital marketing arena. They have not had the opportunity to gain a favorable position gained through years of an online presence, or to acquire the backlinks that Google still demands but has so severely limited access to.
Perhaps Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, best defined the nature of the uphill battle facing webmasters today when he said: “link building is sweat plus creativity.”
Effective Link Building Practices
- More than ever, earning links today requires high-quality, relevant content. Content should be unique or at least packaged with a creative spin, or written to update or amplify previously published material.
- Before you even begin to think about creating a new piece of content, you need to think in terms of creating a linkable asset, one that has the value that someone will willingly exchange a link for.
- Identify the sites that you will be seeking links from as well as the type of content that would appeal to their audience.
- Start by creating quality content on your own website. Prospective third-party publishers of your content expect to see a solid body of articles that demonstrate expertise in your field as well as the ability to craft well-written articles.
- Emphasize relationships over one-shot pitches to acquire a link. If a blog is worth pursuing as a link source, it’s worth making the effort to build a long-term relationship.
So, you’ve put together a beautiful eCommerce store and are eagerly anticipating traffic to start trickling in.
At this point, many eCommerce merchants start to realize that, without doing the right types of marketing, this traffic may never come. It’s easy to feel frustrated or confused at the wide variety of different marketing channels available to you, but don’t fret. This guide is designed to present you with 5 of the most effective eCommerce marketing strategies.
eCommerce Marketing Strategies to Market Your Online Store
Invest in a High-Quality Content Strategy
Many eCommerce merchants view content only as an effective marketing channel but, for some, content is the lifeblood of their entire business.
Content is one of the most effective and rewarding marketing strategies out there because it connects with virtually every other marketing endeavor. For example, a simple blog post could be used in your email marketing, social media accounts, and SEO keyword targeting strategies while simultaneously helping to build your brand and position your site as an authority in a specific niche.
Your content strategy should primarily focus on creating valuable content that speaks directly to your audience. The backbone of your content strategy involves researching:
- A target audience. Come up with a persona that encapsulates your target audience’s needs and motivations. This makes it easier for your content team to visualize for whom they’re creating content.
- Your audience’s problems. This research can be found anywhere, from in-person interviews with stakeholders to browsing niche-specific forums such as Reddit. What are the pain points and problems your target audience is having? What are some roadblocks that cause people to hesitate before purchasing your products?
- Content audit. This assessment involves conducting an evaluation on your site’s current content. There’s no need to have a clunky site filled with mediocre content. Here are a few questions you should ask:
- Is it consistently good?
- Are there any lackluster articles?
- Are people engaging with your content on social platforms?
- Does this content do your brand justice?
- If the content is meant to convert, is it doing a good job?
- Competitive analysis. Once you have a firm understanding of where your content stands, take a gander at your brand’s competitors to see how they’re doing. You’ll likely find that many of the top brands do a phenomenal job at producing high-quality content. If they aren’t, you’re in an even better position. There could be a huge opportunity to create value that your competitors are failing to provide.
Create Facebook Ads Around Your Best Pieces of Content to Market Your Online Store
Content is just the gift that keeps on giving.
Merchants that create extremely good pieces of content are able to receive much more value from these pages if they advertise them rather than just leaving them. This not only allows merchants to drive traffic to pages and inspire likes and shares, but it also allows them to provide new users a valuable experience.
By creating content around your audience’s needs by answering questions, offering guidance or providing value in a variety of creative ways, merchants are able to make a positive first impression.
For example, let’s assume your store sells shoes. Instead of creating a Facebook ad campaign to blast out a product page for a few of your shoes on clearance, you could create a single piece of content titled “The 14 Best Athletic Shoes for Summer Under $50.” Now, instead of having to create multiple ads around different product pages, you only have to create a single ad for that specific piece of content.
On that piece of content, you could have links to your product pages and let the sales trickle in. Alternatively, a more value-driven piece of content could be “How to Find the Best Deal on Shoes,” with a guide that includes several options that aren’t sales-driven, and one or two links to your product pages.
Marketing has evolved past the point of constantly hard-selling, and the new age of digital marketing requires merchants to provide their users with value every step of the way. By advertising your most valuable pieces of content, you will be able to drive traffic that is interested in solving a certain issue.
This gives you the opportunity to insert calls to action (CTAs) throughout your content to either collect email addresses to keep the conversation going or to direct interested traffic toward a product page.
Email Marketing for Retention
Email marketing has been around for over 40 years for a reason: it works.
Merchants who are able to build a healthy list of subscribers can segment this list based on specific categories to send out effective messages for specific promotions. For example, if you’re a shoe site, you could send out an email that advertises your discounted sale to shoppers who have a higher propensity to buy from your clearance category and another email to your customers who tend to spend more money per order.
Email marketing in 2017 involves enticing your potential subscribers with potential value and then delivering it. By setting expectations of what they will be receiving and how often, merchants will be able to effectively set a foundation that will allow them to consistently drive traffic to new pieces of content and product pages.
This strategy not only allows you to reach your audience at any given time, but it also makes building a long-term relationship possible. By consistently providing value to your list through useful content, you will be able to build brand loyalty. The more effective your email marketing is, the more efficient your overall marketing strategies will be. Statistically, email marketing yields 4,300 percent ROI for businesses in the US.
Perhaps the most valuable component of email marketing is the ability to retain your traffic. This reduces the inherent risk associated with primarily relying on a single source for traffic that could potentially change its algorithm.
For example, a minor tweak in Facebook’s algorithm could drastically increase the cost of reaching a specific number of people. If a business is overly dependent on any one source, these algorithm tweaks could be lethal. Thankfully, email marketing has stayed relatively consistent while maintaining its effectiveness for nearly five decades.
Leverage Product and Social Media Reviews
Merchants often completely overlook their product reviews as a source for marketing inspiration. Organic and fair product reviews play a huge role in forming trust with your shoppers, and they shouldn’t be tucked away in some obscure corner. First and foremost, you should make sure that they are present on your product pages and every other page that is relevant to the buying decision.
However, the value of reviews doesn’t stop there. Integrating your product reviews in your email marketing and social media strategies in order to convince people that your products are worth a first or second look can help you bring in traffic that would have otherwise overlooked your email or ad.
It’s important that these reviews are user generated and genuine because, if they look falsified, your brand could end up making a negative impression.
Use Ad Retargeting
A shopper clicks through your site and finds a product they like. They add it to their cart and continue shopping. Suddenly … pop! A Facebook notification. The previously committed shopper rapidly changes tabs to check their Facebook alert and gets sucked into a conversation. The minute that customer ventures off your site, the chances of them completing a purchase greatly diminish.
Ad retargeting allows merchants to get another crack at making a sale. Dynamic retargeting allows merchants to send an advertisement based on a user’s certain actions. These ads can be personalized down to the specific action (i.e., cart abandonment) or be just a kind reminder of your site to a user who has spent a significant amount of time clicking around in the past. This strategy helps to fill in the gaps the short attention span of the average internet shopper.
There are a few more reasons that may have caused shoppers to bounce, other than distractions. There are likely a handful of products similar to yours, and the convenience of online shopping allows shoppers to browse different options with relative ease.
Retargeting ads are useful because they are 70 percent more likely to convert than any other type of advertising. This allows merchants to get more out of all their other marketing strategies by creating a retargeting net that helps to bring some shoppers back.
The strategy behind these marketing tips is to allow merchants to be able to reach new audiences while also building in a retention-based component. These two high-level strategies paired together play off each other in beautiful harmony.
The retention-based component lets merchants get another chance by retargeting missed traffic and, also, to “own” their audience through email marketing. This also makes the customer acquisition component much more effective and less expensive to run on a larger scale.
Utilizing these 5 marketing tips, along with other effective ways to add value to your eCommerce site, will not only help you to make more sales but provide an overall better experience for your shoppers.