Common Mistakes in E-Commerce – Part 3 of 3 – Promotion & Marketing

The classic saying, “If you build it, they will come,” unfortunately does not apply to e-commerce sites. Millions of e-commerce sites are accessible on the internet, but unless you’ve directly contacted prospective customers and informed them of your site, they probably won’t ever know it exists. Therefore, e-commerce sites need well-developed marketing plans and carefully targeted investments that are aimed at increasing site traffic. A strong search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy to attract customers to your site is also a necessity. In this final part of our three-part series, we explore the common mistakes that new e-commerce sites make in creating and implementing their promotion and marketing plans.

Mistake #1: Inadequate Planning
How will customers know that your site exists? How will they know when it is functional? And unless you offer something truly unique, why will customers opt to visit your site versus that of your competitors? If your business does not have a plan in place to answer these questions, then your site may never have a chance at success.

All e-commerce sites should have a plan for attracting website visitors, whether that includes advertising, direct mail, promotions or marketing through industry associations. Identify complementary sites on which your companies advertisements would generate interest in your products. Evaluate whether a banner-ad, product placement, or pop-up ad would be most effective. Also, locate industry association sites where you can post press releases, make announcements, or place links to drive customers to your site. Also, consider conducting a promotion within your first few months of business that rewards buyers with a future discount if they refer friends and family members to your site.

Mistake #2: Little Focus on Market Targeting
Unless you have the capital to become the next Amazon.com, focus your time and energy on a particular market niche or segment. Your entire marketing plan, site design and investment should be directed toward this target audience. The product mix that your site offers should reflect the tastes and desires of this audience, and your promotional messaging and site design should be based created for this audience.

Without a specific target, your e-commerce site will be vague, unfocused, and ultimately unsuccessful.

Mistake #3: Low Marketing Investment
Without a doubt, the upfront investment needed to create and operate an e-commerce site is less than that needed to open a brick-and-mortar store. But don’t underestimate the initial investment required to develop a successful online business.

Most e-commerce sites allocate the majority of their funds to the technical side of the business and ignore other aspects of their company, like marketing and staffing. As we discussed in part two, it is critical to have an adequately sized customer service staff to respond to customer inquiries and orders. It is just as important to allocate funds to marketing, enhance link building, implement a thorough advertising plan and budget, and ensure that customers are driven to your site.

Mistake #4: Poor Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategy
Many new e-commerce sites decide that an SEO strategy isn’t important, or think that they can put it off for a while. However, a well-developed SEO strategy should be a large focus of your business plan. Failure to implement an SEO strategy means that customers will not find your site, will not browse your products, and will not purchase what you are selling.

Identify keywords that potential customers will search for when trying to find your product. Research and study the keywords and phrases that your target market is using to search for your items, and integrate them throughout your site. Do not assume that the words you use to describe your products are the same words that your potential customers are using. Your SEO strategy should be developed early on in the site-planning process, so that keywords can be incorporated accordingly into your website content.

In this three-part series, we have explored the common mistakes that e-commerce sites make, from poor planning to confusing navigation and inadequate order fulfilment. The internet gives customers millions of options for online shopping, but common mistakes such as these ultimately determine where customers spend their dollars and which online business will succeed. Develop a strong business plan, follow this guide, and you’ll be on your way to running a successful e-commerce site.