The e-commerce market is fiercely competitive, with big brands like Amazon selling almost everything on their platforms. Even big box brands like Walmart are selling their products online. So, how can other brands thrive in this market?
E-commerce is not just about the biggest platform or fanciest marketing campaigns. In the end, it all boils down to how connected you are with your customers. Here is where inbound marketing helps brands drive engagement with potential and existing customers. It enables you to create long-term value that allows you to add to your revenue while expanding your reach.
In this guide, we will look at a few strategies to help you use inbound marketing to reach your potential customers. Remember that these are not one-off activities and need to become a regular part of your business.
Let’s dive in!
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing uses strategies like content marketing, social media, and search engine optimization to attract customers to your e-commerce website. These forms of pull marketing help potential customers find your brand.
Inbound marketing is a break from the hard sell of a brand and is geared towards creating brand awareness and generating leads. It gives your brand more visibility, targeting your potential customers by providing them with valuable content and experiences. Inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing in that it is focused on relationship-building first and selling second.
Source: Adobe Blog
So, how does it work? Take the example of software company Adobe (pictured above) that uses its blog to publish industry insights and interviews that cements its position as an opinion-maker. A customer might come to the site for the informative content but might retain the brand’s name when making their next purchase.
Seven strategies to use inbound marketing for your business
There are several ways you can use inbound marketing to boost your brand awareness. Instead of pushing the customer towards a sale, inbound marketing is all about starting a conversation with your target audience. Since this kind of marketing is all about organics leads, it is perfect for small businesses with budget constraints. All you need is substantial content, a brand that tells a story, and a website that amazes.
This section will look at how you can use inbound marketing to get more eyes on your brand.
1. Identify your buyer
Who is your buyer? What do they like? Where do they spend? Before you can create any marketing strategy, you have to know who you are aiming to reach. A buyer persona is a representation of your target audience. It is created from data collected on your site about customer preferences, behavior patterns, and why they buy.
Knowing your audience also helps you create a brand identity that will connect with them. Just like you want to know about them, a potential customer wants to know what drives your brand. Your brand’s voice is one of the most important things to factor in inbound marketing. It will form the basis of your content, website design, and how you engage with your customers.
Source: Clever Tap
An excellent way to collect buyer data is to use the RFM method, which stands for recency, frequency, and monetary. It segments the data to collect information on all three fronts, helping you create a complete buyer profile.
2. Focus on your product
At the center of all marketing activities is your product. Adopt a product-first attitude where your product itself becomes a central talking point with your customers. It is not essential to see a unique product or offer personalized services (although that would help you stand out), but your product has to be good. Otherwise, no one will look for it no matter how hard you try to market it.
Inbound marketing will only convert to a sale if the consumer thinks your product is valuable and your service the best in the industry. Whether you have online course platforms or sell products, your aim should be to give the customers the best.
Take the example of furniture store IKEA. A trip to its store is an experience in itself, and they have taken this one step further by introducing augmented reality to their shopping experience. Customers can now use AR-powered IKEA Place to see how any piece of furniture would fit in your home.
3. Strong SEO game
Search engine optimization (SEO) driving traffic from search engines like Google. There are countless businesses online, and the search engine is usually the first place a potential customer starts their journey when they want to research a product or make a purchase. A strong SEO game helps you climb up the search results and feature on the coveted first page.
SEO has two main parts: first, the content itself. Use a lot of high-volume, detailed keywords. Longer and more specific keywords attract customers with a higher intent to buy. The second part is for the search engine’s benefit, including meta descriptions, page titles, and tags that tell Google what your site is all about and help you get to the first page.
Moz has an interesting article on SEO for beginners and lists down the steps you can take to improve your search ranking. It also has an interesting take on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, SEO edition!
4. Email marketing
Social media and search engines are not the only places where you can attract potential customers. Their email inboxes are also a great place to send customized offers, follow-ups, requests for feedback, and product recommendations.
The email list can help you stay relevant. From email newsletters to exclusive offers on your products, you’ll entice new customers to make their first purchase while giving your existing customers to buy from you again. Email marketing best practices also include recommending related products to keep previous buyers engaged. Email newsletters are particularly useful in improving your relationship with your customers and giving them a peek into what makes your brand what it is.
5. Smooth site journey
From the landing page to the checkout page, every part of your website should delight your customers and includes three main areas: navigation, security, and products. Invest in the right e-commerce software to ensure your site runs without any glitches.
Is it easy for the visitor to search for what they are looking for? Is the site easy to browse? Is your product catalog adequately categorized? After you have the visitor on your landing page, the ease in browsing will help determine if they make a purchase. A poor user experience may also deter them from coming back again. The same goes if the pages load slowly, causing the customer to leave the site and not return.
Source: Game Marketing Genie
When a customer buys from you, they entrust you with important information like the payment details. Make sure your SSL certificate is up to date, and your payment getaways are secured.
Lastly, we look at the reason the consumer is on your site – the products. Divide your products into three categories-
- Top-selling products- they drive high traffic and have a high conversion rate.
- Mid-selling products- they don’t have high traffic but convert into sales frequently.
- Low- selling products- they don’t drive traffic and they have a low conversion rate.
It would make sense to have your top-selling products on the landing page or homepage to ensure the visitor can easily see them. For the mid-selling products, it is evident that there is demand but requires more promotion. Encourage your visitors to take a look at this range to prompt a purchase. You can consider not giving prime real estate on your landing page for the last category.
6. Use AI and customer feedback for engagement
Artificial Intelligence is no longer the next big thing in e-commerce trends but is an essential part of your customer service. AI-enabled live chats and customer care systems can help automate routine queries while giving your customers round-the-clock service.
Ask your customers to leave you feedback on your products and services to see where you can improve. A simple scale of one-to-five stars at the end of their purchase or a detailed survey of their website experience can throw up some invaluable data that can help you.
Use the Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer satisfaction, to see how customers respond to your brand. The NPS uses a scale of one-to-ten that measures how likely you recommend the brand to others. The NPS is a reasonable measure of how well you connect with the audience. Take, for example, Tesla, which had an NPS score of 96 in 2019! No wonder they have overtaken big auto companies like Ford and GM in market value.
7. Reduce shopping cart abandonment
Cart abandonment is losing your customer on the last step of the purchase. They liked your product, chose to buy, but left without actually making the purchase. One of the most common reasons for abandoning the cart is high shipping costs. Unfortunately, no matter how good your product is, there will always be someone who does not want to pay for shipping.
Another reason for cart abandonment is the payment process. Is it confusing? Are you asking them to sign up or do you allow shopping as a guest? Do you have enough payment options (online wallets are a must)? All these reasons can contribute to people leaving the checkout page without a purchase.
One way to tackle this is through email marketing. Send automated emails 1-2 hours after abandonment and follow up with offers and reminders to complete the purchase. Remember, you are a guest in their inbox, and the cardinal rule is not to spam them. Toe the line between helpful reminders and spam by sending these reminders at least one day apart after the first one is sent out. A cart abandonment sequence should have three emails in total at the most.
You could also use social media for remarketing to your audience with customized messages based on where they are in the buyer journey.
Another way to reduce cart abandonment is by tackling the shipping cost problem head-on. Use free shipping as an incentive to upsell and encourage customers to add to their cart. This way, you add to your average order value while they enjoy free shopping. Win-win!
Inbound marketing is a great way to connect with your potential customers by highlighting your brand’s value. But, before you do that, you have to know who your buyer is and how your brand can connect with them. Your product is an essential part of the brand’s narrative; ensure that both the product and your customer service is the best in the industry.
A vital part of creating a good user experience is the customer’s site journey. Your website should be easy to use, showcase your best products, and be secure. Use AI-enabled live chats to automate frequent queries.
In addition to the site experience, drive customer engagement through email marketing to target cart abandonment and encourage repeat custom. Email newsletters are also a great way to tell your brand’s story while also promoting your offers and new launches.
Since inbound marketing is all about creating long-term value, feedback and reviews can also improve your service. Finally, make sure all your content gets an SEO boost, making it easier for potential users to find your business. Use these techniques to make your brand more visible and drive engagement. So, what are you waiting for? Leverage inbound marketing to grow your business today!
Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO and co-founder of 3dcart, an e-commerce software to build SEO-friendly online stores. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.
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This Article is About:
- Inbound Marketing
- Inbound Marketing for Your Online Store
- Strategies That Will Be Key in 2021 and Beyond