When you’re new to eCommerce—or even if you’ve been an active player for a while, but you want to become more updated with the current market—it’s a little like everyone’s using a secret language. A series of inside jokes and gobbledygook that, at first, can be pretty hard to sift through. Like any new language user, you’re facing a bit of a barrier as you learn new vocabulary and broad concepts.
As a company that’s aiming to maintain a professional standard and reputation, it can be pretty hard to admit that you might need help navigating that new lexicon, that you could use some advice. But ignorance isn’t bliss, and there’s no shame in learning more about how eCommerce works.
Here are seven answers to seven questions about eCommerce that you might have been too embarrassed to ask:
1) What’s SEO, and is it important?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which sounds a lot like a phrase Star Trek would throw into a line of dialogue to make the scene seem more science-y. Search Engine Optimization is, however, a fairly easy concept. It’s a strategy that tries to ensure that your site lands on the first page of a search engine’s results so that you improve your site’s traffic—and hopefully broaden your audience and customers.
SEO is a popular and proven strategy for online marketing. Excitingly, it’s not payment based, which is excellent news for anyone who likes to save money. Instead, SEO is content based—but more on that later. Essentially, content allows you opportunities to use keywords that are put by Internet users into their search engine of choice, which then sends them to your site. Check out our post on Google Keyword Planner, which goes a little more into what SEO looks like and some tools to help you master it.
2) What’s branding, and how do I find my company’s “brand?”
Branding is everything that establishes an identity for your company to your customers: your advertising, your core values, your logo, your customer service, everything. Consumers want to know that what they’re purchasing aligns with their own personal beliefs surrounding that service or product. Your company’s brand immediately lets your intended customers identify with your business and your product. Forbes describes brands as “psychology and science joined together in a promise.” Brands outlive products and trends. Brands survive economic shifts. Branding makes your company feel less like a faceless business and more like a trusted friend. It helps you establish a long lasting relationship with your customers. And having a powerful brand makes you financially powerful—just look at this chart of the financial value of the most valuable brand names. You’ll probably recognize a name or two.
3) What’s content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation of original content to attract new customers to your company. Content creation is pretty vital in online marketing today—check out our article on why you should be creating content for some solid examples why. The short version? Original content uses keywords to attract viewers through SEO, gives you a platform to establish your brand, and advertises your company through providing interesting or entertaining media for your viewers. Content can be anything from text posts to photographs to graphic media to videos. It’s your way of sharing your company’s product and voice in innovative and personable ways.
4) Should I be on social media? Which platforms?
Social media is an incredibly useful tool for online businesses, and the best part is that nearly every popular platform out there is free. It’s a great method of quick, easy content creation, and social media can help your business reach an incredibly wide audience of Internet users. It’s a wonderful way for an online business to advertise, and it also helps establish your brand increase your audience, and more—
Choosing social media platforms can be a bit tricky. Take a look at your company’s brand, and then look at what content best highlights your product—text, photo, both? And then go from there.
Also, stay tuned. We’ll have more tips on social media soon.
5) How do I get more traffic? Why are things moving so slowly?
Building an online following can take a bit of time—don’t be discouraged if it seems to move a little slower than you’d hoped. We’d all like to imagine that our company will automatically rise to the top of its field and that our websites will instantly receive thousands of hits. But establishing your company as an expert resource and a valuable product takes time and planning.
You can get more traffic through careful SEO and by creating good, useful, and interesting content to back up your excellent product or service. It’s sort of like you’re Kevin Costner, and your webpage is The Field of Dreams.
Except, you know, “he” is your viewer base.
Be patient, and let your good work and attentiveness bring your audience to you.
6) What are some eCommerce faux-pas I might accidentally be making?
Interruptive Advertising—Sticking traditional style advertising on the Internet can be a huge turn-off for your viewers. When Internet users are online, they’re seeking out content that serves a purpose for them, whether it’s informative or simply entertaining. By disrupting their web time through impersonal, pop-up style advertising, you might be chasing off more customers than you’re gaining.
Using Social Media Incorrectly—Not all platforms are created equally! Make sure you’re differentiating your content to best fit the needs of your audience from platform to platform, and make sure you keep up with what’s trending on each platform to take advantage of site traffic.
Trash-talking the Competition—No one likes a bully. Don’t use your social media or general content to bash your competition. Your viewers usually won’t think very highly of it, and there’s no faster way to seem really, really immature.
Ignoring Feedback—When your customers take the time to reach out to you, listen! If they make a suggestion for your company or product, take it into consideration. Your audience’s advice can be an invaluable tool for improving your business. And don’t ignore negative feedback, as tempting as it is.
Warning, though: this doesn’t mean get into fights with Internet trolls. Do not engage.
7) Can I do it alone?
Sure, you’re very capable!
But doing it alone can be incredibly stressful, and it can impair your efficiency. There are a wide variety of resources available to you as an online business, and your life will be made infinitely easier by reading up on eCommerce trends, setting aside resources to manage and strategize your online interactions, and by checking out some hosted solutions that make operating your online business less overwhelming.
And, of course, by not being afraid to ask questions—even if they seem embarrassing.
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- User Testing the Waters: The Scoop on Usability Testing Your eCommerce Website