There are a lot of challenges facing a startup eCommerce business. Every difficulty you go through as entrepreneurs is pointless if your potential customers don’t know you exist. The biggest problem for eCommerce startups is awareness. You might be asking, “How can a nobody become a somebody? How can I become a household name?” Fear not, there are ways to grow your business and increase brand awareness for little, to no cost.
When Ballistic Agency was in its infancy, we worked with our clients on social media marketing strategies to get customers interested in their brands and shopping on their websites. Back then, the social media algorithms didn’t hide your fan page posts from your audience, and exposure was quickly gained organically and via affordable social media advertising. We managed many accounts with millions of followers and looked like rock stars to our clients. As time went on, social media platforms began turning into pay-for-play arenas that only benefitted businesses with sizable advertising budgets. The big brands got bigger, and the small brands got nothing. Not much has changed since then.
Eventually, after looking at the data, we stopped offering our social media marketing services and focused on affordable, predictable, and useful activities. Though not an exhaustive list, here are several areas that an eCommerce startup can focus on to increase awareness by potential customers and gain a foothold in the marketplace. These methods perform well, but require diverse levels of commitment and effort from the business owner.
- Word of mouth. There is no advertising more powerful than word of mouth referrals from a friend, family member, or trusted professional. If you’re hoping to grow your new business, it pays to deliver a very high level of service and customer care to encourage word of mouth advertising. By being patient, helpful, and generous, your delighted customers will tell others about you.
- Search Engine Optimization. There are specific standards for website code formatting, product information, and keywords that put your website in an excellent position to be ranked highly by Google and other search engines. Enlisting the help of an SEO expert early on when your site is small can earn a healthy return on investment as your site grows.
- Partnerships with Other Brands. Partner with other businesses that you know or that stand to gain something from your success.Something as simple as including a business card or printed flyer in every package that goes out to your partner’s customers can help you achieve name recognition. Try to return the favor in a way that creates mutual benefit for everyone involved.
- Affiliate Marketing. Leverage the audiences of influencers on social media and let them work for your brand. For the small affiliate fee of about 5% or so, you can get others to do the heavy lifting for you regarding awareness and traffic generation.
- Other Cost-Effective Advertising. There are many smart ways to spend money to promote your business. We’ve seen some of our clients effectively and affordably advertise by sponsoring small sub-forums and blogs that have already attracted a similar customer base.
- Content Marketing. You’re probably already a subject matter expert, so consider freely sharing your knowledge with the world. You gain trust, put yourself in front of interested audiences, and help shoppers make a purchasing decision. Do this on your website, social media, and blog. Also, consider taking your knowledge to other channels where it’s needed by offering to post on a blog, volunteer as a podcast guest, or even writing in the comment section of websites catering to your potential customers.
- Investing in your startup is investing in your future. We’d love to help you get off on the right foot, and choosing a robust and affordable eCommerce platform is vital. We recommend BigCommerce. Contact us today to get a quick demo and see if Ballistic Agency and BigCommerce are right for you.