Running an e-commerce website is probably the most straightforward and barebones way to make money online. You effectively set up a shop and try to sell as many products as you can while adhering to the vast majority of rules that have governed retail business for millennia.
One huge part of running a store of any kind has always been marketing and in the e-commerce world, the majority of it will happen online. Unfortunately, many e-commerce business owners believe that digital marketing is nothing special and that anyone can just pick it up. As a result, they end up making mistakes that undermine their business and any positive marketing efforts they make as a whole.
Today, we will look at the five most common and harmful digital mistakes you have to avoid as an e-commerce business owner.
1. Going At It Alone
This is something that has already been hinted at in the introduction, but it is such a massive mistake that it needs to be talked about some more. Namely, due to an enormous number of “digital marketing experts” that write collective tomes online, many e-commerce business owners think there is no skill or expertise to digital marketing.
They start following half-baked advice from a self-proclaimed guru and they end up wasting tons of money on various digital marketing practices that do nothing for them.
There is a reason we have digital marketing agencies and people who make a living from it. They know how it works, they know the numbers, and they know the best ways to accomplish certain goals. Even if you are not planning on doing anything spectacular marketing-wise, it is still a good idea to consult a digital marketing expert or agency of some kind to do an audit of your website and recommend a few practices down the line.
2. Ignoring SEO
Search engine optimization is still surrounded by an aura of mystique and, for some people, it is still a half-tolerable practice that is used by people who wish to “fake” the results in search engines. E-commerce business owners who happen to think this way will soon find themselves in all kinds of trouble, if for nothing else, then because everyone else is doing SEO.
SEO has become an integral part of the online existence of any business and for e-commerce websites, it is perhaps even more important than for others due to the brutal competition online.
All SEO efforts should start from the website itself – getting the right domain name, setting up an SEO-friendly sitemap, being careful with meta descriptions and alt tags, using robots.txt file to prevent indexing of duplicate content and more.
Some e-commerce website owners also invest in paid Google and social media ads, while others go the content marketing and link building way. The important thing is not to ignore SEO and to at least incorporate some basic smart practices.
3. Neglecting Email Marketing
Email marketing has become undeservedly maligned some time ago, probably because most writers still see it as this outdated, ancient method that goes to spam and is of no use.
In reality, every digital marketer understands that email marketing still gets the job done, at a certain steady rate, providing a solid return on investment that can be easily tracked and that allows for simple tweaks to make it even more efficient.
Besides a proven track record and a certain stability, email marketing has also become far more versatile than it has been in previous years. For example, it is now used to increase customer loyalty, to reward oldest customers, to reduce customer churn, to retarget customers who didn’t make a purchase and much, much more.
It is also important to point out that people actually want their favorite stores to send them email updates, as opposed to being bombarded by salesy stuff on social media where it feels intrusive.
4. Misusing Social Media
Social media is not ad space. The sooner everyone realizes this, the better we will be off. People tend to filter out the vast majority of promo material on social media, especially if it is done half-heartedly and without any tact.
Unfortunately, this is the way most e-commerce businesses do it.
Social media is about interacting with customers and potential customers, allowing them to engage with your brand and become more than just people who spend money on your products. Many e-commerce companies even use social media to provide customer service and help out their customers as quickly as possible.
Of course, you will be promoting your company and your products along the way, but it should never be the primary reason for your social media presence.
5. Falling For Hype
If there is one thing you should definitely avoid as an e-commerce business owner, then it is falling for various iterations of digital marketing hype. The reason why a certain practice or idea gets hyped to oblivion nowadays is that new stuff attracts clicks and everyone jumps on the bandwagon, from website owners to writers to aforementioned “digital marketing experts”.
And while these overhyped practices and ideas have their use in certain situations and for certain companies, they are almost never something that can be transplanted to just about any company on the web.
Before you get swept up in the latest digital marketing craze, stop and think long and hard whether it makes sense for your e-commerce store. For instance, account-based marketing, a perfectly effective B2B marketing technique will have absolutely no sense for an e-commerce store.
Be critical of new ideas. Do not be crusty or dogmatically negative, but make sure you have vetted every idea properly.