Running a small eCommerce business means doing as much as you can with limited manpower and funding. When your marketing budget is skinny but you still want to post fat sales numbers, you have to squeeze value out of every effort.
Here are some ways to get the most for your marketing money:
Cheap and effective email. Believe it or not, email can be one of the most inexpensive ways an eCommerce business can increase sales. Strategic use of this inexpensive tool can quickly turn visitors into repeat customers. In fact, Econsultancy found that online companies attributed 23 percent of their total sales to their email marketing efforts in 2014, up from 18 percent in 2013.
It may take some time to craft the perfect message, but it doesn’t take a Fortune 500 marketing guru to nail email. Start cultivating an email list from existing and potential customers, then send out regular fliers or newsletters. Don’t be boring, don’t drag it out — simply touching base with a sale or a new product can be enough to trigger new visits.
You can also use that email list to generate goodwill by sending out thank you letters upon sign-up. It might not seem like you’re doing much, but HubSpot showed that simple thank you emails generated a 42 percent open rate and a 12 percent click-through rate. In comparison, sales emails during the same period generated a 21 percent open and six percent click-through rate.
Social media ads stretch dollars. Having a social media presence doesn’t necessarily guarantee sales, but you can move buyers to real action with social media ads. Facebook in particular has developed an advanced framework for targeting exactly the right buyers with your marketing efforts. A well-developed advertisement can catch fire unexpectedly, lighting up your eCommerce platform with sale after sale, for a fraction of traditional marketing spend.
The beauty of social media ads is how easily they reach both mobile and desktop users. Mobile has long been a trick for marketers, but when you can subtly target a niche market using the powerful databases that drive Facebook ads, it simply becomes a matter of telling the software just who you want to target and where. You’ll spend a little extra to reach those mobile shoppers, but you can select a desktop only marketing options if you really want to save money.
Be ready for your customers. It’s one thing to sell a few handmade things on Etsy, but when you’re hoping to become the next big eCommerce retailer you have to be prepared to succeed — it’s the other side of effective marketing. If you don’t have help in place for a sudden surge in business, you risk damaging your reputation and destroying hard-won customer relationships.
Partnering with a full-service logistics company will give you the freedom to sell one unit or one thousand without having to worry about warehousing and distribution help. You can store your products at your 3PL and have them shipped quickly for much less money thank if you were to hire staff and rent warehouse space. You only pay for what you use, so if you don’t sell much as you’re starting out or your sector has peaks and valleys, you won’t overspend your budget.
Having a small budget shouldn’t derail your eCommerce marketing efforts. You’ll simply have to target smarter and use less expensive outlets to reach customers as your business grows. Pay attention to what you learn as your company matures and your budget will always be nicely streamlined, increasing your bottom line.