The new year is upon us, which means it’s time to set some new year’s resolutions and maybe revisit a few from last year. One of the most interesting trends that became prominent last year was the rise of online businesses, particularly online stores. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 62% of American consumers shop online at least once a week, with 14% resorting to online stores almost every day. Furthermore, nearly all of those surveyed said they plan on continuing to do so in the new year. This presents a fantastic opportunity to reach a largely untapped audience and build a profitable online business.
The Basics Of Online Marketing
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either an entrepreneur who’s just launched an online store or are thinking about doing so in the near future. Since the basics of online marketing are quite similar to those of traditional marketing, you may be wondering what sets an online marketer apart from a traditional marketer. While there are a few nuances, at the end of the day, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same: identify an audience, reach them, and convert them into customers who will purchase your product or service. To best serve your audience, you’ll want to find the right channel for your marketing message. If you’re looking to break into the lucrative world of online marketing, here are a few tips on how to get started.
Find Your Niche
When you’re starting an online store, the absolute most important thing you can do is to find your niche. What is niche marketing? Essentially, niche marketing is the practice of marketing a product or service to a specific audience within a certain demographic, usually within the context of a particular industry or category. For example, if you’re in the health and wellness industry, you might want to target women between the ages of 24 and 44 who live in urban areas. Within that niche, you’ll want to develop product offerings that speak to this audience, preferably through the use of data and insight so you can truly understand your customers’ needs and wants. Once you’ve found your niche, take some time to research and determine how best to position your product or service within it. For instance, if you are a coffee company and want to enter the health and wellness niche, you might decide that best fitting within that niche is a product that is highly caffeinated and consequently has a high energy content. This will allow you to draw comparisons to coffee and thus boost your brand recognition among this particular demographic.
Make A Plan
When you’ve found your niche, you’ll want to make a plan. What is a marketing plan? Essentially, marketing plans are blueprints – an outline of how you’ll carry out strategic marketing activities to reach your audience and what resources you’ll need to make it happen. Developing a marketing plan is extremely similar to developing a business plan in that it provides you with a framework for your thought process. Just as you would in developing a business plan, you’ll want to consider what products you can offer to best serve your audience, the pricing for those products, and the projected sales you can achieve. In developing your plan, it’s also important to focus on measurable results so you can determine if what you’re doing is actually working. You can use marketing analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track the success of your marketing efforts and identify areas in which you can improve. For instance, if you notice that your blog posts are gaining a lot of traction but your actual sales are lagging, you might want to consider revising your blog posts to speak to a more mainstream audience or switching to a different type of content to drive more traffic.
Set A Budget
One of the most important things you can do to ensure your online marketing efforts are profitable is to set a budget. What is a marketing budget? Essentially, a marketing budget is the amount of money you’re willing to spend on marketing a product or service. A lot of entrepreneurs and business owners underestimate the importance of setting a marketing budget and consequently run up huge bills without even realizing it. Just like with any other part of your budget, it’s important to consider how much you can afford to spend without risking financial hardship. Setting a marketing budget doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to a certain amount of money but rather allows you to consider how much you can afford to spend without risking failure.
Diversify Your Income
As I mentioned above, finding your niche and developing a marketing plan are both extremely important. When you’re starting a business, it’s important to consider how you’ll pay for things, particularly in the early stages when you’re trying to establish your brand. One of the easiest and most effective ways to diversify your income is to become a brand ambassador. What is a brand ambassador? Essentially, a brand ambassador is someone who promotes a brand or product for free while earning a commission on the sales of that product or service. For example, let’s say you’re a fashion brand and you notice a famous designer’s clothing line has an opening for a brand ambassador. In this case, you might want to consider applying for the position since you’ll be able to promote the brand while earning a commission on any sales. It’s a win-win for both you and the brand.
Use Multiple Channels
If you’re trying to reach an audience, it’s important to use as many channels as possible. What are the different channels? Essentially, a channel is a way to reach your audience. Traditional media such as TV, radio, and print matter still have a place in today’s world of marketing but so does the internet and social media. You can’t limit yourself to just one form of media to reach your desired audience. Use all of them and use them all the time.
Make Sure You Measure The Right Things
If you’ve measured the right things and set a benchmark for your ideal customer, you’ll know when you’re reaching them. In other words, if you’ve taken the time to figure out what’s important to your target audience, you’ll be able to determine with certainty whether your marketing efforts are paying off. Measuring the right things is extremely important and will make a huge difference in your ability to grow your business. To start, you might want to consider using analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track the success of your marketing efforts and identify areas in which you can improve. For example, if you notice that your blog posts are gaining a lot of traction but your actual sales are lagging, you might want to consider revising your blog posts to speak to a more mainstream audience or switching to a different type of content to drive more traffic.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things. If you’ve found a good formula for success, don’t be afraid to stick with it. What is an entrepreneur? Essentially, an entrepreneur is someone who takes a chance on a new idea and makes it a reality. If you’ve found a way to make money online and you’re not risking financial hardship, why not try and see how successful you can be with it? As long as you’re not harming anyone and are acting in good faith, I doubt anyone will have a problem with you experimenting a little bit. Just make sure you’re prepared to pay your debts and obligations when the time comes.
To wrap things up, let’s review the basics of online marketing one last time. As I mentioned at the beginning, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same whether you’re online or not. To begin with, identify an audience. To do this, you’ll want to consider demographics such as gender, age, and location. Since we’re marketing to the general public, you might also want to consider other factors such as social status, interests, and hobbies. Once you’ve found your audience, reach them. To do this, you’ll want to create content that speaks to these individuals and drives them to your store. You can do this through the use of channels such as TV, radio, and the internet. Diversify your income. Use as many channels as possible since all of them have the potential to bring in customers. Be brave and experiment. Just make sure you’re prepared to pay your bills when the time comes.