Sometimes working in e-commerce can feel like a giant game of Where’s Wally, and you’re the Wally.
On the one hand, you want to look for customer demand opportunities and sell something that’s hot. On the other hand, you want to be able to stand out in a market filled with other businesses that are pretty similar. What are the best ways to do that? Here are six suggestions.
1. Become (or hire) a good writer
“Yes, you would say that Adar, you’re a writer”. Ok I admit it, the creative copy side of marketing is my favourite, but I’m not the only one who knows it’s important.
While visuals can attract and intrigue your audience, your content is what builds trust, proves quality and tells your story. Content writing takes more than a solid command of the language you’re marketing in. It’s about understanding your audience, getting your point across effectively, and finding new opportunities to improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Your copy includes all the words on your website and brand - from product descriptions to calls to action, URLs, meta data and About Us text. Every word you put out there is part of your branding, and should have intention. Paying close attention to how your copy is written and perceived is a hugely important step in building your brand.
It’s important to write your own unique content, rather than using stock content you copied from someone else. Writing your own content and focusing on keywords and headings is a good way to improve how far up Google your page is getting.
Maybe it’s a bit silly, but one of my favourite Melbourne-based companies is Who Gives A Crap. Take a look at their landing page - their copy immediately makes you laugh a little bit. Nobody else is referring to “sexy toilet paper”. And the second you’re chuckling, you’re also reading short copy at the bottom that tells you the value of their company: a social enterprise, good value-for money, and environmentally friendly. You also immediately know where to click to start browsing, because of their clear call to action. It’s original, and it stands out.
Compare it to Makro, another company that delivers toilet paper.
They’ve also talked about their value proposition. It took them five and a half full lines of text and by the time you got halfway through the first one, you were bored, right?
How do I get there?
1. A big part of learning how to write good headlines and taglines comes from paying close attention to what grabs your eye. Take a close look at ten companies you love and read every page of their content, then practice yourself.
2. Take a look at interactive courses like these if you want a bit of extra support.
3. You can also hire an experienced content creator on freelance sites like UpWork or by asking for recommendations from similar companies.
4. Start Blogging
You can take a look at our post about why blogs are important for e-commerce companies, and how they can help your business beat out the competition (plus improve your SEO). Check it out, you already know two of the reasons!
5. Always run your content by others on your team or other friends and family to get their opinion before publishing, and test different copy with A/B testing if you’ve got the website traffic to handle it.
2. Be bold. Look excellent.
Yes, your written content is hugely important for standing out in a saturated market. But of course, your visuals are a huge deal. In fact, they’re probably the most important thing in getting people to pay attention to your brand. And that trend is increasing -- we’re consuming video content at higher rates and anyone with a clunky or visually unappealing website is at a serious disadvantage.
This means your photos, videos and website all need to be on-point, and your content and media people should be working together to make one seamless vision.
Here are a couple of examples of what I mean.
Feed Music has a landing page with a video of a cascading water flow. It’s gorgeous, philosophical, and definitely intriguing.
Nikita Clothing has a rolling carousel of fun action shots displaying their best-sellers. It’s a win. Their photos give the impression of casual, fun, adventure waiting for you.
I’m not gonna lie, I was completely mesmerised by this video. It’s just a key cover, but Bellroy managed to get me to watch the video three times before I moved my eyes.
3. Your mum told you you were special
Now it’s time to show your customers why.
Your “value proposition” or your “unique selling points” are your elevator pitch. Know what makes you different, and write it down. Even if you sell the exact same thing as someone else, are you doing it in a different place? For a different purpose? At a better price? With more environmental responsibility? With more social return? Let the people know!
How do I get there?
- Carefully choose your words. Value proposition should be the first thing anyone reads.
- Use Yotpo to put up customer testimonials and reviews
- Get sponsorship from influencers
4. Get this over to marketing
The point of marketing is to get people to know who you are, convince them that you’re interesting enough to spend money on, and make a sale. A solid marketing strategy includes things like targeted ads to the right people, sales and offers, and partnerships and exposure. Marketing doesn’t just happen on its own -- it takes a concerted effort, involving time, creativity, analytics and ad money. But don’t worry too much, you can do it in small steps.
How do I get there?
- Read this and other blogs about marketing. You’ll get a sense of what marketing trends are out there and see what strategies might work for you.
- Make a plan, including how much you have to spend, who you’re looking to target and what the next steps are for a well-defined period of time.
- Use an email marketing service, like MailChimp or Klaviyo, which can help you create beautiful email marketing campaigns. Pair it with pop-ups to collect more email addresses.
- Get on Facebook for business (and possibly Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter) to send ads out and understand your customers better
- Start tracking your data, which will tell you where you’re making sales and where you need to improve.
5. Be flexible and look for new opportunities
You might sell donuts. You might be really good at selling delicious donuts. But people won’t always want delicious donuts (unfortunately), or someone might make cheaper delicious donuts than you, or sell them in a more convenient way.
If you’re in a saturated market, it means there’s lots of competition out there. Know that your business is going to have to stay on its toes, and find new places to expand so you’re making a steady income.
New opportunities doesn’t necessarily mean new products. It can mean reaching out to a different kind of audience, offering a different kind of customer service, or partnering with a new related company.
Regularly update your marketing strategy to reflect what your data is showing.
How do I get there?
- Snoop the competition and see where it’s going (legally, please).
- Read this post about running a seasonal business, and get ideas about using your existing materials in new ways.
- Consider subscription services or other ways to sell your stuff for people who are looking for convenient delivery.
- Form good relationships with suppliers at every end of the chain - you might need to ask them to change stuff up as your business faces unforeseen pressures from the market.
6. Be good with people
One important way to stand out is to give excellent customer service. Customer service that really stands out humanises your business and makes people trust you.
How do I get there?
- Always respond kindly and professionally to feedback, even if it’s negative (here’s how)
- Show you’re available and reachable, with clear contact information and policies on your website
- Offer live chat on your website
- Give a shout out to people you’re working with or who are using your products on social media. Prove your company cares about the people you work with, and show the world.
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