Oct 24, 2016

5 Ecommerce Sales Channels to Fuel your Company’s Growth

by Digital Marketing Institute

The growing adoption of digital channels has brought about an increased emphasis on ecommerce. For many businesses, it makes sense to not only market their products and services online, but to sell them too. Across the world, internet usage and smartphone ownership rates are growing, and consumers are becoming more inclined to do everything from conducting research to making their final purchase decision online.

If you want to keep pace with the competition, and continue to grow your business, you need to incorporate ecommerce into your overall digital strategy. Below, we’ve listed some key channels to consider that are easy to implement and will help you fuel your company’s growth.

1. A company blog

In our most recent post, we discussed the risk that many businesses run by over-producing irrelevant articles on a company blog in an attempt to improve their SEO. However, when executed appropriately, company blogs can be an easy and cost effective method to drive more traffic to your website and acquire more customers.

The key to blogging success is relevance. If you can produce an article that resonates with your target audience, anticipates their needs, or answers any questions they may have, that piece of content will enhance your brand’s reputation and establish it as an authoritative source of information. Regardless of your product or service, try to avoid an overt hard sell in favour of content that closely ties in with your business’s unique selling points and offering. If you can demonstrate a willingness to provide your target audience with agendaless, valuable content, they will be more inclined to trust, and ultimately purchase from you.

61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers customer content.

Similarly, avoid creating blog articles that provide news or information about your business – a post about your office’s charity fundraising efforts may be of interest internally, but it won’t influence a potential new customer (unless they happen to be incredibly philanthropic!).

A helpful place to start with high-quality blog content creation is the ‘how-to’ article format. Regardless of your industry, whether your article is titled ‘How to Make Hummus’ or ‘How to Sew a Button’, this type of content is highly informative and can serve as the perfect vehicle to subtly promote your brand. For example, if you sell sewing kits, you might want to link to a specific product page within your ‘How to Sew a Button’ article, if it feels natural.

Whether you have the resources to produce a blog article once a week or once a month, it will help to increase your business’ search ranking and provide interesting, unique content that can be promoted through social channels to further raise visibility and generate more sales on your website.

2. Comparison shopping engines

Comparison shopping engines (CSEs) are another powerful ecommerce channel that can be leveraged to drive more sales for your business. Comparison shopping engines aggregate product information and prices from a variety of vendors and display the results on single webpage. This allows shoppers to quickly and easily compare products descriptions, prices and shipping options and make a thoroughly informed final purchase decision.

Google Shopping is one of the largest and best known CSEs. Merchants list their products on the service, which is integrated with Google Search. This means that your products will be displayed to a large, untapped audience of searchers and potential customers, and you are only charged when a user clicks and lands on your product page. Similar services include shopping.com and Shopzilla.

Google Shopping is one of the largest and best known comparison shopping engines.

However, it’s important to note that with comparison shopping engines often comes the pressure to lower your product prices in order to draw a favourable comparison between you and your competitors. Because of this, you may have products that you’d prefer to advertise via CSEs because you don’t mind reducing their prices. Otherwise, you may want to focus on submitting products that are particularly unique, with special characteristics that you are confident set them apart within the marketplace. You can always rotate product listings and use different CSEs to gauge which will deliver the best ROI for you.

Though it might take a while to find the right formula, the benefit of using a comparison shopping engine lies in the fact that you are given the opportunity to showcase your products to the right audience (that is already highly engaged and already looking to buy) at the right time.

3. Video content

74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.

For any business, particularly those with an ecommerce function, video content is now an essential component of effective customer engagement and conversion – it’s no coincidence that YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine, with upwards of three billion searches every month. It’s the perfect, creative medium through which you can share dynamic product demonstrations and compelling brand stories with your audience.

To showcase the lifelike colors in their new monitors, tech brand LG created video content that was centered upon tricking the occupants of an elevator into thinking the floor was falling away:

Not only did this video serve as an innovative product demo, the video has enjoyed over 25 million views on YouTube to date and significantly boosted LG’s brand visibility.

However, many brands are often deterred by what they assume is a time consuming and expensive content format to create.

It’s easier than you think to create compelling, converting video content on a limited budget. Whether you use a basic camera, an iPhone or a desktop, there are countless applications and pieces of software you can use to make the editing process as quick and painless as possible. For tips on how to create outstanding video content on a budget, you can check out our article here. From there, once you’ve incorporated a punchy Call-To-Action, you should notice a positive impact on your online sales.

4. Email

When it comes to generating return on investment, email marketing has always been a channel that has reigned supreme with a 3800% ROI – that's $38 for every $1 spent.

Because of the permission-based nature of email marketing, it serves as an impactful conversion channel, mainly because the audience you are communicating with have consciously chosen to hear more about your brand and its products and services. It’s a direct channel that allows you to foster a more personal customer relationship that you can leverage to drive more sales. With this in mind, it makes sense to try and grow your subscriber list as much as possible. You can do this by optimizing your website with prominent Calls-To-Action on your website, to incentivize visitors to sign up to receive high-quality content.

By repurposing blog articles and video content, your business could easily coordinate a regular newsletter that demonstrates your thought leadership and value to the customer. Once you’ve built a healthy list, you can start adding in an occasional promotional message, be it a special offer, discount, or link to a new or existing product page.

If you can build your reputation and reach for delivering quality content consistently to your target audience’s inbox, they will be infinitely more inclined to purchase your products.

5. Mobile

As digital channels inspire enhanced levels of interconnectivity, the rise of mobile commerce has been somewhat inevitable. 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase. This means that all businesses now have a responsibility to consider and incorporate mobile into every aspect of customer experience.

Mobile provides your business with the opportunity to interact directly with customers anywhere at any time. You can send special offers, discounts and personalized messages to them based on their location, in an attempt to get them to purchase there and then.

In order to capitalize upon the ability to convert customers entirely via mobile, it’s important that your business’ website is fully optimized for a range of devices including smartphones and tablets. How easy is it to fill in a contact form? Or search for a product? Or complete a transaction?

If any of these critical actions are difficult to complete, it would be worth rebuilding your website with a mobile responsive design, which means the site will automatically adapt to suit the device on which it’s being viewed. Similarly, you should also seek to ensure your checkout process is as simple and streamlined as possible.

Avoid forcing users to create an account before they make a purchase, and ask them for as little information as possible. The average mobile shopping cart abandonment rate is 97%, so if you want to maximize your sales and take full advantage of the channel, you need to avoid poor design, complicated processes and limited payment methods to name a few – aim to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.

What other channels are you using for your business’ online sales? What successes and failures have you experienced? Share your ecommerce-related insights with us in the comments section below!

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