Top digital marketing trend in e-commerce in 2017: start thinking, pause doing!

Here I am in the Vienna airport sipping my morning cherry black tea and trying to answer a potential client email before I take off. It may be the cherry flavour or the sunny winter vibe in the airport or maybe simply the wording in the email that I am reading… Not sure, but something about this context just seems so disturbingly familiar. ”I launched my e-commerce website and put a lot of effort in it, I work with an SEO agency, I have another agency doing Google AdWords for me and a freelancer that handles my Instagram and Facebook pages and still the sales just don’t seem to be picking up. I’ve been even doing discounts and my prices are even 20% below those of my competitors”.

Yeap, it’s definitely not the cherry flavour. It’s not even the perfume of patchouli and orange blossoms that fills the air when a nice business lady stops and decides to sit on the chair on my left. It’s simply the same scenario about the business owner that started the e-commerce business head-on with a brilliant idea, with a pinch of inspiration and vision and in the enthusiasm of the launch got lost in the to-do list and temporarily lost sight of the customer. I call this ”temporary digital fog”.

I tend to see, especially from my e-commerce training activity, that people (especially people who had little contact with the digital world before) tend to fall in love quickly with this amazing new world of possibility that the online world is. They tend to become overwhelmed with the huge number of digital marketing channels, the massive amount of digital tools available on the market, the amazingly-polished digital consultants that come their way and in the spur of the moment start getting lost in countless neverending to-do lists.

The ”we should try this too” virus that seldom gets the better of us all 

You surely know what I am talking about, you’ve been there. It’s the ”We should try this too” syndrom. And it’s great because this is what entrepreneurship should be about to some extent. It should be about testing, trial and error, being open to innovation and trends… But first of all, it should also be about customer-focused strategy.

Business owners just tend to get into the ”doing mode” and they quickly go through a whole ”digital to-do-list”. They attend a few digital marketing and e-commerce events, they join amazingly-inspiring and know-how-packed conferences like GPeC and they convince themselves they need to be doing Google Analytics, Google AdWords, dynamic remarketing, programmatic, Facebook Ads, SEO, mobile app, change their e-commerce platform to a more complex one and they should be doing everything tomorrow… even now, if possible…

From testing to thinking 

I am not saying it’s not great to test, to be open, to challenge your own assumptions, to be brave enough to change the status quo. I am just saying you should have some assumptions to begin with. You should start with the customer in mind and develop a well-thought and insightful strategy in the first place. Testing is great, but it should never come before thinking on your own.

Let’s start from the use cases and the MVP

In the tech products world there is this concept of the MVP (minimum viable product) that really applies to any type of business. And I think we should definitely apply it to e-commerce startups as well. Why not start with the basics? Who is your ideal customer? Where do we find him or her? How do we get his or her attention and how do we meet his or her expectations in order to get his/her trust? How do we get him/her to buy from us? How do we make him/her happy and make him/her consider us the next time as well?

Asking all these questions and repeating them in an insane way is the key to our world-class e-commerce marketing strategy. Getting a targeted MVP launched instead of a feature-and-product-packed online shop together with an extensive untargeted marketing campaign is the way to get closer to our customers minds, hearts and wallets. And this has nothing to do with digital, but rather with as-old-as-trade common-sense commerce.

So the first questions that will get you to the MVP you should be launching for your e-commerce business should be:

  • who is my ideal customer?
  • what products will they buy?
  • where do I find these ideal customers?
  • how do I get their attention?
  • how do I get them to like me and trust me?
  • how do I get them to buy?
  • how do I meet their expectations when they buy first?
  • how do I make them come back?

Let me make it clear. If you answer as simply as ”remarketing” at one of the above questions then you are not thinking deeply enough. I am not saying that, for example, remarketing is not great for repeat business. But annoying your customers with the same electric toothbrush they looked at some days ago and stalking them all over the world wide web with that toothbrush is rarely the answer. It matters how and when and where you do it, not if you do it.

The use cases are the most important. If my ideal customer will use the mobile version of my website mainly in order to check their order status, then this should be the center thing on my homepage.

Which is better for my business – Google AdWords or Facebook Ads?

I get this a lot. I love annoying the people who ask me by simply answering ”It depends”. I will do an article soon about the most frequent ”stupid” questions we ask ourselves in e-commerce. The marketing channel that is best for you is the one that takes you quicker and more effectively to your customer. If your potential client is searching for your type of product on Google in order to make a decision then Google is for you. If they are rather influenced by their friends and they are heavy internet users, then Facebook may be more effective in terms of ROI for you.

Less is much more when you are doing the little that needs to be done

If you start from your use cases, you don’t need to have huge budgets or to be seriously creative. You just need to make your customer happy and this will make you and everything you do more relevant and more effective at the same time. When you focus on the important features of your product, on the important marketing channels and the important messages, you become a big fish in small pond.

Are you everywhere? Or are you where you should be?

One of the main things I hear from clients who have bigger marketing budgets and who want to become one of the top players in their category is that they ”want to be everywhere”. Or even better ”they want to be everywhere where their competitor(s) is/are”.

Switch from doing stuff to actually strategically thinking stuff. And then doing the things that bring you the best results.

Discounts are not doing anyone a favour

Nope. Not you, not your business and not your customers. Everyone thinks that all customers are there for is discounts. But even though the best things in life are free, those we want and spend money on are rarely free. This brings us to a quote I love by Seth Godin that sums it up best: ”The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about”.

The trend in digital marketing in 2017 is minimal customer-focused & well-done campaigns. Because it is not about trends. It is about the customer. And your business as well as your marketing should always be where your customer is. And then your strategical thinking should find the best way to use your resources in order to acquire and retain your customer.

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