As the holiday season begins, the stakes have never been higher for online retailers. The eCommerce landscape is intensely competitive, and your ability to thrive will depend on how well you can position yourself in the eyes of potential customers. On that note, it’s time to take a look at some of the crucial weapons you need in your arsenal.
Search Engine Optimization
On paper, SEO was supposed to fade in significance when paid search came along. The hard reality suggests that’s not the case, nor is it going to be in the foreseeable future. An elaborate process involving a host of techniques for improving your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), SEO is still as relevant as ever.
Jason Boyd from Evolve Digital believes this is particularly true for eCommerce merchants. “Search engines still receive the majority of initiatory product searches. An effective SEO campaign will get you ranked higher than your competitors, and in the perfect position to draw visitors as they commence the shopping process. Your online store will basically become the go-to solution for their needs.”
Remember the last time you were faced with unfamiliar product choices? Or found yourself with more options than you could handle? What if there was someone you could trust to nudge you in the right direction? Would be such a huge relief, wouldn’t it?
That’s influencer marketing in a nutshell. You promote your products to an unfamiliar audience with the help of popular, credible and authoritative figures; bloggers, celebrities, popular social media users, or anyone else who can sway public opinion within a particular niche. By endorsing your brand to their own followers, an influencer expands your reach very quickly, and without having to put in as much effort as you’d need on your own. Influencer marketing can be particularly effective when you’re trying to make headway into uncharted territory.
Forget social media for a minute — YouTube is where all the magic is happening. It’s the second most popular search engine behind Google, its parent company, with a monthly active user base of 1.9 billion. And YouTube’s potential doesn’t just stem from numbers either. It’s a highly flexible platform with a handful of options you can choose from:
– Skippable and non-skippable video ads that play prior to/in the course of streaming content.
– Sponsored ads: Use these to highlight products featured in other videos — such as those made by your influencers — via cards.
– Discovery ads that are mixed in with search results and alongside suggested videos.
– Overlay ads: A semi-transparent format that displays on part of the content frame.
Your YouTube marketing strategy can be comprised of any one or several of these mediums, plus the content you upload to your channel. Make the most of the platform by charming the audience with funny, interesting and creative video ads that showcase your brand. If you’re lucky, the ads will go viral and you’ll become an instant hit.
AdWords is a platform that displays paid ads on Google’s search results pages and partner websites. You start by bidding for keywords related to your brand or product offerings, then come up with relevant ads; these will appear at the top of Google’s SERPs when people search using relevant phrases.
But why AdWords? Why pay for search visibility when you’re already invested heavily in SEO? A key benefit of AdWords is speed; your ads begin to appear at the top of search results the minute your campaign gets up and running. This can be very useful for merchants who’re trying to get a foot through the door (launching new products, breaking into a new niche, or even commencing operation). AdWords lets you hit the ground running, bringing instant visibility as you wait for your organic tactics (standard SEO) to bear fruit.
AdWords can be just as beneficial for seasoned eCommerce players. Offering a wide range of targeting criteria, the platform lets you home in on segments of the market that’d be most interested in your products. And because your ads are displayed to consumers who’ve already started the shopping process, they become a direct route towards fulfilling one’s needs. Most crucially, AdWords gives you a host of metrics that help you fine-tune the campaign plus your other marketing initiatives.