I have an open question for all: Let's say you have a small store up and running, and things are going well. You are successfully getting a small amount of traffic and orders. Now what? How do you grow the online business? Anything to watch out for that you learned the hard way? How do you advertise on a small business budget? Any good resources to read about growing a small eCommerce business?
This an area that I'm constantly trying to improve my knowledge. Some of you have real experience here, so please share!
My one bit of advice would be to watch conversion rates carefully. If you start paying for traffic that isn't converting, stop. Fix the conversion rate problem (perhaps it is just bad traffic, or perhaps there's something wrong with the site/product/server/etc.). Then proceed slowly again to retest.
I suggest to go for the following
I wonder if you (or anyone) can expand upon "Contact the local bloggers to write a review on your website". This is something that I get asked about a lot - how do you go about networking with bloggers in the very beginning? This seems awkward to do 'cold' and probably isn't effective if its just another junk email in their inbox. Thoughts or experiences here?
I have some experience with blogging, reviewing and networking from an Instagram standpoint. A ton of networking happens on that platform!
As far as ‘cold’ contacting goes, I don’t think it’s very awkward at all; I actually think it’s a pretty common thing to do. I have a fashion Instagram account and blog and have been contacted by boutiques and companies (that I’ve never heard of) to review their products. It’s pretty exciting to be contacted and I think most bloggers would be very flattered!
However, if ‘cold’ contacting feels awkward to you as a company, my advice would be to dive into the industry and do your research. Look up bigger brands in your industry and see who follows them and vice versa. Just start clicking around and following users that are relevant to your business. Start interacting with them by leaving comments, liking photos and following them. After a few interactions here and there, reach out to them via Instagram direct message or email if their address is available on their profile - or maybe even both. I would also suggest contacting users with smaller amounts of followers at first. Users with 1K-5K followers will typically jump at the chance to write a review. On the other hand, the more popular bloggers with 25K+ followers are going to be less likely to even answer or look at any of their messages.
There’s also a website called whatsblog.com that is helpful in finding appropriate bloggers to write reviews for your products. On this site, bloggers join for free and companies pay a fee to have their products on the site. Basically, bloggers browse the site and they can apply to be a reviewer of a product. For example, say I am a fashion blogger and I see that a company has a skirt that they want reviewed. I can apply (this usually just includes your social media handles, how many visits you get to your blog, etc.) and if I am accepted as a reviewer, the company sends me the skirt and I write a review on my blog.
There are a lot of factors that go into the process, and every blogger and company does it a little differently. Just remember that you can tweak the process as you go along. Hope this helps!
One of the best (and often the most overlooked) ways to grow a small store is to gain evangelists that will talk about you within your audience/niche. When a small brand or store gains the favor of a community, their sales can really jump up due to loyal enthusiasts jumping on board.
Let's say, for example, that you sell writing goods. Ballpoints, rollers, fountains, inks, papers...you get it. You've got the suppliers and the site, and you're getting a trickle of traffic, but Amazon still has the bulk of the orders. Of course they do -- they're Amazon. People go there first. But what does Amazon actually know about pens?
Get out there and be a part of your community. If you sell pens, go talk to people that love pens. There are forums, social media groups, YouTube channels, etc etc. Start a blog and offer some real insight into the industry you're selling in. With every order you get from these places, throw something in the packaging to remind them that they are your most valuable customers. Write a thank-you note, draw a doodle on the packing slip, or tie some ribbon around a Tootsie Pop. Better yet, do all three.
Any extra effort you can put into your community outreach, order fulfillment, and customer service will be noticed by your audience. There are enthusiasts out there for every niche imagineable that will sing your praises. That pen example is (basically) how a real store, Goulet Pens, blew up in popularity over the last couple of years.
I would add to this, if you have the time and resource, would be to produce video content. It helps to put a human face on your business, and video content can be a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
If you upload the videos to YouTube you can use this as additional SEO. You only need to look how popular 'unboxing' videos are.
By adding more and more video content over time you can establish yourself as a voice of authority within your particular niche. Videos don't just have to be product related, they could be 'how to' guides for example.
This is in conjunction with other marketing activities suggested by the way, not a replacement. No one said it would be easy! But if you put the effort in, the rewards should follow.
Cannot but agree with you on the point that you should always watch and analyze your traffic and conversion rate. There’s no better tool to do it than to use Google Analytics. It seamlessly integrates with your website and provides the fullest data on the performance of your website, traffic sources, conversion paths, user behavior, their location and many, many more. Afterwards -- read, learn, test, implement, repeat Google Analytics will allow you to keep the finger on the pulse of your store. Apart from that I would recommend:
My comment on this - once you have established a decent traffic, put some effort into optimizing the conversion of visitors, and improving the loyalty of the customers.
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If you are looking to advertise your small business then you have to start work with the SEO and SMO for promoting and advertising the small business. It really provides you the huge best result. For advertising you small business, you can also work with Google ads, it really provides you the huge big success.