It has never been easier to start a business. Anyone with a website, a solid product and a PayPal account can become an entrepreneur. However, just because starting a business is easy to do doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do well. The eCommerce landscape is littered with current competition and the remains of failed startups. So what can you do to help your business stand out in such a crowded field? Here are a few tips that will help improve your small business marketing so you can succeed in today’s ultra competitive online marketplace.
Select the Right eCommerce Platform
Online entrepreneurs have no shortage of options when it comes to selecting an eCommerce platform, but each has its own unique target audience, mission and fee structure you need to take into account. Make sure to select the platform that fits your brand and you feel most comfortable with using. Thoroughly examine cancellation policies and user reviews of any site you’re considering before narrowing down your search to the options that best fit your business’ needs.
Ebay and Amazon work well for manufacturers of products, while artisans and crafters who specialize in custom and handmade items have the most success with sites like Etsy and Bonanza.
The Need for Branding
A company’s brand is the promise it makes to customers and the home for its reputation. Make sure to protect your company’s brand at all costs. First, design a Brand Overview (a statement that outlines your company’s mission, vision and values) that is straightforward and free of industry lingo. Then create a Brand Guideline document (color scheme, logo, tagline and messages) that is easily understandable and repeatable, so you can store your business’ details together. This will help establish everything else you do as a business, and provide a clear company overview for current and future employees.
Photograph Your Products
In the world of online shopping, customers make decisions based heavily on the product photos posted on your website. To create a great looking photo of your products, take shots that will cause a potential buyer to think, “If I purchase this item, I/my home/my life will resemble these pictures.”
Keep your photos clear of any distracting elements (i.e. unnecessary decorative items or patterns). Use natural light and display your products in a natural setting (i.e. appliances in a kitchen, clothing on a person). Take a wide range of photos including close ups and detailed shots, as well.
Customer Service Matters
One of the biggest determining factors behind a purchase is customer service, especially online where the customer expectation for a personal experience is greatly reduced. Potential customers will typically look for companies that have solid reviews and rating. They’re looking for actual opinions and voices from real former customers to help them navigate through such an impersonal world as online shopping. That’s why it’s invaluable for a business to create a human connection whenever possible.
Experiment with adding personal touches to your shopping experience, like including a personalize thank you note or product sample with each order. Paying attention to these types of small details can help build customer loyalty and establish lasting relationships that encourage referrals and outstanding reviews.
Name & Description of Products
Your product descriptions and names rank as major factors in search engine queries and can significantly effect your position in some marketplaces.
Most marketplaces include product titles as part of the URL, which enables search engines to find your products. Try to be as descriptive as possible when writing your product titles. “Leather Sofa” lacks descriptive terminology and is less likely to yield a result in a search query when compared to “Vintage Black Full Aniline Leather Sofa With Detachable Seat Cushions.” The more descriptive title will show up in search results for “vintage,” “aniline leather,” “black,” etc.
Try keeping product descriptions informative yet simple. Add any important details (i.e. shipment timeframes, care instructions, color options, dimensions). Also make sure to describe what they product does and how to use it. While this may seem obvious to you, don’t assume it’s obvious to the consumer.