Shopping and selling online

Attention is the new currency in business, and it is extremely scarce (Beck & Davenport, 2001). As multi-tasking, entrepreneurial yuppies trying to make it in the big bad world, we need to gear up. Here are five (5) great marketing communication strategies to help you sell online and up your game in e-commerce:

1. Create a distinct information scent.

To lure people into your online shop — whether on social media, shared shopping platforms, or in your own website — you need to leave an appealing information scent.

An information scent is how a user “senses” your business, perhaps favorably (fragrant/desirable) or otherwise — yikes (Nielsen-Norman Group in Yale University’s usability guidelines).

How do we draw pleasant information scents for users? Proper labels and digital organization are some of the essentials. Online users judge a book by its digital cover. Yale Univ. says that users look at the item’s title/heading/links first before deciding to go any further.

So it helps if we use titles, labels, and imagery that are attractive and familiar to our market segments. For instance, use soap instead of body bar; or “about us” instead of “company inspiration.” You can also use Google Trends as a tool to find out what term/phrase users look for more often.

Also, organize items coherently and don’t just leave cluttered lists for users to fumble with and get tired of. Familiar labels and coherently-organized lists help your users get what they need, fast. Two ways to organize are:

  1. Subjectively — i.e. by genre/category; and
  2. Objectively — i.e. alphabetical/numerical, such as by date added (to highlight new products), inventory or by product name.

In terms of navigation, a good rule of thumb is to make sure users can get to a page/action in three clicks at most. If users can’t get to the product page in three clicks or less, it could hurt your chances of getting a purchase. Overall, pay close attention to user experience (UX design).

Now that you’ve gotten the what and how out of the way, it’s about time to focus on the why.

2. Love and be your brand. Tell your story.

In business and marketing, the why is just as important as what you are selling. It could even be pivotal, making them shift from one business to yours.

Considering that you already know who your market is/are, branding is what will make your business stick in the long haul. It is such a common word, loosely thrown around, but what is it really?

Branding is a managerial process, making sure that people not only know about your business (brand awareness), but like it too (brand attitude).

A good brand creates a special cognitive and emotional bond with customers, strongly stamping your business into people’s hearts and minds (Rossiter, 2014).

In a nutshell, branding is the process, while a brand is the relational bond formed from that process.

Marketing communication is an investment, not merely a luxury. So when done right, branding will give you returns in ten-fold. Some businesses couldn’t care less to measure or evaluate these things, but it is definitely crucial and should be assessed at least yearly.

Here are some must-have branding tools for your growing business:

  1. Brand Management Guidelines
  2. Corporate Profile with strong mission-vision statements
  3. Media Kits for various clients and stakeholders

To start improving your brand and sell more online, have an internal conversation, as well as listen to feedback. Humanize your products/services to establish trust and empathy. For instance, ask yourself:

  1. What motivates you? Why this business and not others?
  2. Why do you care about your customers?
  3. Are your products and services ethical and responsibly-crafted?
  4. What do your clients think and feel about it?

Now, present your story well and go all out! Use all your platforms (face-to-face, print and digital) to share your story consistently and improve your brand.

Startups can begin with a basic social media page. But in case you have tight resources and don’t have the option to make a full-blown website or online store yet, consider free platforms such as Blogspot or WordPress. It could be a great start to your branding journey. Micro-blogging on social media alone won’t do your brand justice, especially if you want to scale up.

The beauty of the internet is that there’s always a way to sell online with a strong brand regardless of resources and tech skill level.

3. Promotion: organic vs paid

Lets first differentiate the two. Paid search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing is pretty self-explanatory, you basically pay to have your business showcased on search engines and other places on the web. It just follows the traditional advertising model.

On the other hand, organic SEO and marketing is the natural, unpaid way of getting online attention. This happens when people are naturally drawn to your content and they engage/promote it on their own accord.

Nudge this along by promoting your business platforms the good old fashioned way — sell online by word-of-mouth. Make a habit of sharing your online shop/website/social media pages, send email newsletters, and put your link on your business card, among other organic means of promotion.

Traditional paid advertising has always been a necessity in business, most especially when starting up, but also do focus more on organic SEO and marketing techniques for long-term gains.

Online conversion is the name of the game. Behavioral outcomes are what you’re after. The more sales/engagement/feedback you get from these promotional channels, the better your campaign is doing and you should be getting your branding ROI in time.

4. Gameify it – create incentives to keep ’em coming back for more

Activities like these can make engaging with our business fun and enticing:

  1. upsells/trial runs,
  2. bundles,
  3. freebies,
  4. loyalty rewards,
  5. referral incentives, and
  6. other similar gimmicks.

One economic/marketing theory related to this concept is the Game Theory, which I find sooo interesting that I might create an entirely separate blog article for it. Who knows. Watch out for it here on Luscious Mind.

Tried any of these game-like strategies lately to sell online? How did it go? Do share your experiences in the comments section below. We’d love to hear it.

5. Quality over quantity

On the internet, people usually clamor to get the most hits/views/clicks/etc. Quality had been lost in the rat-race to be on top of coveted online search lists. The result? Information overload and attention scarcity.

Nowadays, perhaps it is nice to dial back a bit and embrace the less-is-more mentality. At the end of the day, quality should come first. In turn, you will keep loyal, top-quality audience/clients as well in the long run.

Cheers to all you savvy entrepreneurs running your e-commerce game well and with honor!

References:

Davenport, T. H., & Beck, J. C. (2001). The attention economy: Understanding the new currency of business. Harvard Business Press.

Rossiter, J. R. (2014). ‘Branding’ explained: defining and measuring brand awareness and brand attitude. Journal of Brand Management, 21 (7/8), 533-540.

Yale University. (n.d.). Usability & Web Accessibility. Retrieved 10 July 2020.

Written by

May Gordoncillo

May earned her BS and MA degrees in communication from the University of the Philippines (UP). She is currently pursuing her PhD. This aspiring doctor of philosophy now unleashes her creative prowess in Luscious Mind.