Setting up your Ecommerce: The Marketing Basics

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01 July 2021
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If you’ve already done the dirty work of brainstorming, budgeting, plotting a business model, attracting investors and branding, then congratulations: You’ve got yourself a startup. But you’re not quite there yet.
Building a website is one thing. Getting someone to visit is another thing entirely. Gone are the days of the old internet, that unique medium where anything seemed possible and nothing was boring. Now that the world has the internet in its pocket, even your revolutionary, game-changing, innovative goldmine of a website is one of many.
Unless you market that goldmine attentively, nobody will even know what they’re missing. Luckily, you only need to tread in the footsteps of others; our modern internet has seen its marketing potential maximized, so the tools required have already been made and tested.

SEO will be your guiding light as you refine your startup into a marketable brand. In short, Google is the internet’s gatekeeper, and you should do everything possible to gain its favor. Far from its origins as a simple web indexing search, Google is now the internet’s chief curator, serving as a de-facto middleman between consumers and web content. This is great for consumers, who are able to fluently make use of Google’s search engine to find what they’re after, but for businesses, it’s a mixed bag. If you don’t know how to play ball with Google’s search, you’ll see your website buried under pages of results. Who even reads past page two? 

Covering The SEO Basics
However, if you know what Google likes, its algorithms can work in your favor. What Google likes, unsurprisingly, is quality content. If your content isn't clearly laid out with relevant, searchable keywords, you’re out. If your website is too disorganized for anyone to know which link to click and where it will take them, your visitor engagement rate goes down, your visitor bounce rate goes up, and you’re out.

The Value of Links
One of the biggest indicators to Google that your site is a relevant result in search is the number of relevant links pointing to your site. These are known as inbound links. These links naturally occur as word gets out, but you can speed this along. Get listings in local directories, ask clients and suppliers to list you on their site and reach out to bloggers asking for coverage. This is enormously time-consuming to manage, which brings me to the more logical way to handle SEO — hiring a consultant.

Hiring It Out
SEO is a complicated business, but you don’t need to be an expert to begin optimizing your website for better searchability. There are plenty of firms specializing in making SEO improvements and people with deep knowledge of Google’s formulas, but before adding that to your startup budget, there are some basic steps you can take.

Google Ads
SEO is almost a mirror of traditional advertising. Instead of communicating directly to possible customers, SEO makes it easier for them to find you when they want to. We’re all consumers, so we can appreciate being able to find what we want rather than accepting what we’re offered. But traditional advertising is still alive and well, and it’s easier than ever to advertise with precision if you make use of Google Ads.
Google Ads is a search engine marketing system, and its most endearing quality is its performance-based payment model, in which ad fees are paid per click (PPC) rather than upfront. Several factors go into the ultimate visibility of your ad in a typical Google search, including the relevance of your ad to the search query, the past performance of your account, the quality of your landing page and, perhaps most importantly, the amount you’re willing to pay. Google Ads is basically a system resembling an auction, wherein account holders bid for visibility in situations where search keywords are in demand.
Google Ads and SEO together comprise a rock-solid online marketing approach, but for an e-commerce startup, Google Ads can become costly. However, the business return is theoretically instant and potentially significant. Startups should experiment with targeted ads on a small scale before committing a large section of their marketing budgets, getting a feel for what kind of return they can reasonably expect.

Social Media
Using social media to the advantage of your startup is about building an audience organically. Integration is your first move; your website should link to all of your social media pages and your social media to your website. Once that groundwork is done, think about your audience. Your social media presence is about communicating. Just like in a conversation, effective communication relies on understanding the other party’s needs. What kind of person is interested in your product? Who needs your service, and what else do they need? 
Being Authentic and Responsive
Try to be genuine in your social media presence, with every engagement appearing as organic as it does professionally. Posts should be friendly, inviting and positive. Embrace your DMs; speedy responses will make you look more attentive and approachable, even if you don’t have much to say. Building your social media image will take time, but you’ll benefit in the long run from having an audience that’s there by choice.

In conjunction with a robust social media presence, publishing a blog on your website will further your brand’s identity. A well-developed blog is like a gesture of goodwill; informational, legitimately helpful blog posts make your startup look more ambitious and dedicated to the client, demonstrating your expertise free of charge and advertising it at the same time. Convince your audience that you truly are an expert in your field. 
Blog posts are doubly useful as part of your SEO strategy because your blog is searchable content. Blogs rich in keywords will contribute to your web content and encourage people to visit, stick around and click around, increasing your user engagement. A well-written blog will make you look better to potential clients and more attractive to search algorithms.

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