Throughout the pandemic, government initiatives have helped small businesses to take their trading online. One such initiative is the recently renewed Victorian Government Small Business Digital Adaptation Program. The program aims to help retail businesses withstand the challenges of the pandemic and make the most of the eCommerce opportunity by transitioning to an online or hybrid business model.
The need for such programs is evidenced by the number of new shops on online trading platforms. For example, 100,000 merchants in Australia have used Shopify to start or grow a business idea.
As more entrepreneurs take up this opportunity by creating new online brands, testing fresh copy for landing pages, and building strategies to reach a borderless and more globalised audience, the next step is clear: Growth.
Once an online business is up and running, it’s time to start addressing the broad range of options to scale and grow that business, starting with driving more online visitors to the new website. But starting from scratch can be easier said than done, and there are a range of factors that need to be taken into consideration before throwing resources at the problem.
Investing in social media advertising
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and more are rapidly evolving to address the growth of social commerce, with consumers navigating through the social media apps they already use and love to find and purchase from brands that align with their interests. It’s a no-brainer to have social media ads as part of a broader marketing strategy to generate website traffic, and the key to success is being open to a ‘trial and test’ approach. Not only will some platforms prove more effective than others, but the time of day, creative content, copy and target audience on each of those platforms will also need to be regularly re-assessed for optimisation opportunities.
While these social media platforms can generate traffic from new visitors within a short period of time and for relatively minimal investment, ensure Google Ads (i.e. search, Google Display Network and YouTube ads) are also considered in this process. They can take longer to put together but are worth trialling and testing alongside social media strategies to get a deeper picture of how best to reach a target audience.
Engaging on social media
The low-hanging fruit for generating website traffic through social media in an almost cost-free way is to promote a product or website to friends and family, encourage them to share it with their networks, and keep engaged with this supportive audience over time. As well as getting some fast clicks, this is also a fantastic group to ask for feedback from in a transparent and constructive way. While the overall website traffic strategy is being implemented, it can then be iterated based on feedback from people who can be trusted and align with the business’ vision.
It is also worth setting up resources and processes to build and engage with a unique online community around the brand in the mid-to-long term. Whether new customers are posting photos about their newly delivered product, or existing customers are sharing a review about a repeat purchase, these are golden opportunities for brands to engage directly with each customer to increase their loyalty and connection to the business while also adding to the overall ‘buzz’ around the brand, which in turn will indirectly lead to greater brand awareness that could drive further website traffic.
Developing attractive content
Develop a content strategy based on the needs and behaviours of your customer, and ensure your brand is producing relevant content at the right time and is delivering via the right channels. It will be important for new eCommerce sites to balance their investments in paid media and social media with earned and owned media as well. Earned media could result from journalists being contacted and writing about the product, while owned media is all about the brand’s own platforms.
Owned media is a fast-growing space. As many consumers are fatigued by being ‘sold to’ via branded content, consumers simultaneously show a stronger interest in the story, values, and operations behind a business. Owned media is an opportunity for businesses to provide value to their audience through information, education or entertainment, instead of being purely focused on the product. This is where blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, video content, podcasts, and interactive content like infographics can help a brand stand out from competitors while also reaching and attracting new website visitors.
Lastly, make sure the website can easily be found. Get a clear understanding of what the target audience is searching for and cross-reference these with the website’s copy, meta descriptions, and other search-related content to ensure anyone looking for a similar product has a chance of finding this particular website.
While the world of eCommerce can be new and daunting for entrepreneurs and small businesses navigating digital retail for the first time, today, there are off-the-shelf and highly affordable solutions that can help a business get up and running within minutes. It’s all about embracing an entrepreneurial mindset, being open to trialling new things as relevant, and recognising that not everything will work, but the opportunities are there for the nimble and open-minded.
Read more: Let’s talk: Ecommerce
Read more: How to launch a Shopify store