Direct Marketing Article
The Sales Approach Your eCommerce Store Is
Probably Missing (Using social marketing to overcome the most common cause
of eCommerce failure)
By Rudy DeFelice, CEO, Bizinate.com
Over 20,000 ecommerce stores are opened every week in the U.S. Most of them
will fail. And most of those will have one thing in common - they neglect to
tap their best audience. It is not what they are selling, but who they are
selling to, that matters most.
Finding your best audience
It has long been understood that social phenomena - fashion, a new band, a
viral video - spread through social relationships. Malcolm Gladwell talked
about "influencers" in the seminal book The Tipping Point. Influencers spot
and adopt trends and through their adoption influence others in their social
sphere to do the same. Geoffrey Moore articulated the spread of ideas
through early adopters - those that are inclined to try new things early -
in his masterpiece Crossing The Chasm. The common thread between these
teachings is that ideas are cultivated by planting a few seeds in the right
fields, and that only certain fields are receptive to those seeds. As those
seeds sprout, they spread seeds more broadly. But you can't just scatter
those to the wind - they rarely take.
So what does that mean for the 20,000 ecommerce stores that open each week?
Their first, most important market is their own social circles. These are
the fields in which they should plant their seeds first. People that know
you - that trust your judgment, that care about your success - are your
"early adopters". These may be friends and family or your broader personal
network, or they may be professional acquaintances, depending upon your
eCommerce business. But you should have a strategy devoted to tapping this
market and enabling them to spread your message.
Why is your social network so critical?
Today it is so easy to buy almost anything. Do a search for your product or
service and you're likely to find millions of results. How do you cut
through the clutter?
A primary differentiator in a purchase decision is the customer's feelings
towards the merchant or brand. When you can buy anything anywhere, the
relationship with the merchant matters. Major brands spend millions of
dollars to try to simulate that a relationship with consumers. But with your
own social and business networks, you already have an authentic
relationship. It's an important asset. So taking advantage of that authentic
relationship is the most powerful first step to success in your own
Of course, you can open your store and hope that people find you. That's
what everyone else does. And that's the problem - you'll be lost in the
great mass of options available. (Try searching for your products in Google
- you'll likely find millions of search results competing with you.).
So you should have an affirmative market strategy, where you're reaching out
to a core group of people that know you, and trying to set a viral chain in
motion. If you make those people happy, they'll spread the word to their
networks and you'll be on your way.
How to reach your best market?
Knowing whom to reach is one thing. How to reach them is another.
Fortunately, it's never been easier. As the wide variety of choices has made
connection between a buyer and seller increasingly more important, various
social media tools and social behavior have made it much easier to reach
people and tap that connection. Consequently, a few simple steps can get you
in touch with this important market and should be part of your strategy:
• Get personal with social media tools: There have been few areas in
marketing that have created more confusion than how to use social media
tools. There are certainly benefits to blogging and accumulating Facebook
fans, but those are very hard to trace and if they lead to transactions at
all, it is usually over a long period of time.
Still, social media tools are quite valuable for reaching large numbers of
people you know easily. They make the mechanics of contacting people easier.
In a few strokes you can reach a whole network. The average Facebook user
has 256 ‘friends'. That means your message can be in front of 256 people,
and depending upon their response, their friends, almost instantly.
• Have something new to say: It is said that in retail, the product stays
the same so the audience must change, or the audience stays the same so the
product must change. In tapping your social network, a relatively constant
audience, you'll need to continually change the product. That can be an
actual change of the product - let's say you grew your inventory by adding
new products or added some products that complement your services business
(an IT service company that is now selling electronics, perhaps).
Alternatively, perhaps there is something new to say about existing products
- an upcoming holiday or change of seasons makes an existing product
relevant in new ways. The important thing is that when you're tapping a
constant audience over time that you say something new and of value and
interest to that audience.
• Increase your online presence: Whether you are considering building an eCommerce site or have one already, you should consider existing platforms
as possible forums. If you don't have a commerce site, these platforms can
get you up quickly. If you do have an eCommerce site, third party platforms
can create an additional online home and give you access to additional
Three you can check out are
a) Shopify.com ($29 - $179/mo.). Sophisticated inventory tracking and many
plug-ins to manage customers. Imposes limits on products and storage at
various price points.
b) Volusion.com ($19-$149/mo.). Offers eCommerce sites as well as web design
and marketing services for an additional fee.
c) Bizinate.com (Free). Simple set up in 3 minutes or less. Offer services
or products. Includes an inventory of products and ongoing daily deals you
can add to your items.
All of these providers will give a professional looking site that offers
additional marketing presence and access to social media tools easily.
Your goal is to build awareness first from people who know you, trust you,
and have an interest in your success. People have a relatively short memory
for new things, so you need to keep a consistent, ongoing effort. When
someone has a need for your services or products, or someone they know does,
you need to be top of mind. By leveraging your broader social network you
are tapping your best source of customers. If you live up to your promise
with this group, they will help you spread your message. Don't be one of the
20,000 stores that fail each week.
About the Author:
Bizinate.com is on a mission to help launch a million new businesses. It
provides the easiest place to launch your eCommerce company, providing a
high quality web site, payment processing, marketing tools and business
cards for free. You can be up and running in 3 minutes or less on Bizinate,
selling products or services. Bizinate provides an inventory of products and
promotional deals that you can sell along with your own products. Bizinate
has been featured on CNN, ABC, Fox Business News, WSJ.com, Entrepreneur.com
and other major media outlets. Bizinate is based in Los Angeles, California.