Posted June 26, 2020 By Taylor Rogers

E-Commerce for Small Businesses

Creating an online platform for your business may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The world has been trending towards online shopping for years now, but with the recent developments concerning COVID, that trend has since accelerated. It’s important for small businesses to be prepared and set up for success as we enter this next phase of digital commerce. If you’re unsure of where to start or are looking for some tips to elevate your online presence, we’ve outlined some things below that can help you today. 

Develop a Strong Digital Presence

It’s important to be thoughtful in your marketing approach and to make sure that all of your marketing is cohesive. The best way to organize this is to create a marketing plan where you can easily lay out topics for each month. Make sure that your blogs, emails, website updates and social posts reflect the topic you’ve outlined. Bonus: This will help to eliminate the headache when you are busy selling and are unsure of what you’d like to promote for the month! 

Your marketing plan doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, in fact, we usually recommend creating an excel spreadsheet that can be shared across the company. Start by listing out any ideas, topics or sales that are relevant to your business in the coming three months and then organize how and where you want to share that message. For example:

As you start to think about your messaging, make sure that it is relevant and important to your customers. Develop a strong, personal voice that you can use in all of your channels (the more personalized the better). Your social media presence should reflect who you are as a company, what you stand for, and allow an inside look at your day to day. If applicable, take advantage of the new features on Instagram that allow you to sell directly to your followers. People are more likely to buy when it is conveniently placed in front of them, instead of having to search around for the desired product or service. Your email marketing and blogs should be more informative and be used to promote deals or events. You can use email marketing platforms to automate campaigns to take the stress off of you. It’s important to always remember to use a strong call to action that can be easily tracked so you can directly see how your efforts are paying off. 

One important note: We believe in quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how big your email list is, if they are not actually interested in your product the chances of them converting to being a qualified buyer is slim. 

Communicate Effectively to Your Customers

Have you ever driven to a store on your lunch hour in hopes to grab a specific item, only to get there and learn that they are closed or their hours have changed? Would you be frustrated or be wary of shopping there again? For most, we would answer yes. Time is valuable, so it’s important to be respectful of it. Communicating with your customers doesn’t always mean on social media or through email marketing. It could mean ensuring that your hours of operation are updated on your Google My Business page or on your website. 

Right now, every sale counts and many of us are walking a thin line between making it and closing our doors. We want to empower you to take full advantage of your marketing power online to promote your business and yourself in the best way that you can. Sending out relevant, useful content to your audience will help to lay a strong foundation on which you can continue to build. We don’t recommend bombarding your email list or social followers with tons of content every day, but rather curating thoughtful content that they will be excited to read. 

Transparency is also key during these times. People are stressed, emotions are heightened, and there is a lot going on, however they are also very understanding. The more up front and honest that you can be with your audience the better and they will appreciate it in return. We’ve seen many companies, especially in the retail sector, using this tactic when it comes to shipping times. Using empathy in your marketing communications will help to relate to your audience and create that personal connection which will only boost your brand in the long run. 

Create a User Friendly Website and Landing Page 

If your customers can’t easily find you, how will they buy from you? The competition isn’t what it used to be and as more people are turning to online platforms to buy even basic, everyday items, we urge you to do your best to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to have a user-friendly and functional website. Here are our top five tips to help you create your space to sell:

  1. Properly set up your page titles and meta descriptions on your site. This will help to ensure that search engines can find you, and so in turn, your customers will too. 
  2. Use beautiful imagery and accurate content that displays the products or services you are selling. 
  3. Have a clear and easy way for customers to contact you. Then make sure that you follow through with them. 
  4. Integrate your social feeds onto your website. We suggest Facebook or Instagram as they are both visually pleasing platforms.  
  5. Make sure all of your information is up to date, and continues to be. Especially during this time when information is changing daily, it’s important that your customers don’t have to dig around for updates. Make sure all of your social channels, Google My Business page, and website are all current. 

Invest in the Right Tools  

Whether you are just starting out in the e-commerce world or you are looking for ways to streamline your process, the first thing you should be doing is looking into the right tools. Having the right e-commerce tools will help you significantly to automate tasks which will help to save you time and increase efficiency. Sounds great, right? 

Our recommended platform for clients to use is Shopify. Shopify is one of the most user friendly and affordable systems and allows you to customize the interface to match your branding. The single dashboard makes it easy to manage everything from orders to shipping. You can even hire a Shopify expert to help when you need guidance. 

You should also be investing in proper marketing tools along with your management software, such as email marketing and paid advertising. As mentioned before, you need to create a cohesive message across all of your marketing channels. Work smarter not harder and start taking advantage of the tools that were created for this specific reason. Creating automated email marketing campaigns through platforms like Emma or Mailchimp and utilize programs such as Hootsuite for scheduling your social media posts.  

We always want to empower our clients to make their marketing make sense for them. If you find strategies that work for your business, run with them, even if they are different from the norm. Find and test different tools until you find the one that fits your needs. One shoe doesn’t fit all, so something that might work for others may not work for you. 

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