A complete E-Commerce business guide to get you started!

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Looking to start your own ecommerce business?

E-Commerce retail sales are estimated to grow by more than $6.5 trillion by 2023 and the trend shows no signs of slowing down! As a result the potential for profit in the ecommerce business is tremendous.

The market is brimming with opportunities, but as usual, all that glitters is no gold! In order to increase your likelihood of success you need to get informed and be prepared.

This guide will provide aspiring business owers with a complete eCommerce checklist to work on before they get started! First things first:

Factors to consider BEFORE you start your eCommerce business:

  1. Define your business model

  2. Understanding your customers

  3. Product Selection

  4. Platform selection

  5. Payment gateway selection

  6. Optimise your online presence

  7. Launch, Iterate and optimise

Let’s go through each one together.




Define Your Business Model

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We strongly recommend to use the Business Model Canvas as a guide (image above).


Questions to ask:

  • Who is your ideal customer?

  • What problem(s) are you trying to solve?

  • How is your target audience going to benefit from your products or services?

  • How are your customers buying your products and services?

Answering these questions, will enable you to identify your target audience, your unique value proposition, and estimate the amount of resources you need to get started ith your E-Commerce business. The business model canvas would act as a guide that enables you to make informed decisions aligned with your business goals.


Do not seek complete answers at this stage, but rather note down your initial understanding of your business, customers, revenue streams and all resources you need to get started.

You can download the business canvas here.




Understanding Your Customers


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Market Research


It is now time to deep dive into your target audience. Understanding your customers is the backbone of success for every E-Commerce business. But what how can you get started? There are a few areas we recommend you to deep dive in and some handy online tools that will help you to uncover valuable customer insights:



Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights allows you to understand your target audience by exploring insights beyond the basic demographic information. The tool will allow you to identify users who are more likely to convert to paying customers based on interests, social media habits, location and languages they speak.


Keyword planner

Google Keyword Planner allows you you understand what users are searching for, when it comes to your product and services. The tool provides important information such as the monthly search volume and competitiveness for each keyword by targeted location. It is imperative that there is a reasonable search demand for the products or services you are offering.


Use Keyword Planner and Audience Insights to decide if you should capitalise on existing demand or if there is a need to generate product awareness in your target market.



Quora and Reddit

Platforms like Quora and reddit are an information goldmine to gain insights into your target market’s goals, obstacles, and pain points, as well as the language they use while researching for relevant porducts and services. Leverage these information for your copywriting, FAQs and creative direction.



Google Trends

Google Trends will help you to uderstand the seasonality behind the product you are selling. In other words, iot will enable you to understand when is the peak season for your business. Moreover, by observing the relevant search terms and topics, you will be able to predict the demand for your product based on past trends.



Competitive research

Competitive research saves you the hassle of having to reinvent the wheel. As a first step you need to identify your competitor's strengths, weaknesses, value proposition, unique selling points and pricing. From there it is imperative that you come up with your unique market positioning and differentiation point.




Product Selection

# 1 Choose products wisely

While making the right choices when it comes to inventory can be incredibly profitable, it is sometimes difficult to determine which are the items to focus on. Pro tip: Prioritize products using the ABC analysis. It allows you to understand which are the products that require the most attention from an inventory management perspective, which would allow you to manage your cost by avoiding overstocking.



# 2 Logistics and Logistics Cost




A necessary evil! E-Commerce and logisitics go hand and hand. The success of any E-Commerce business is to a very large extend attributed to seamless logistics and operational excellence.




Platform Selection


First of all you need to plan how you are going to distribute your products. When deciding on the platform on which to set up your online store, consider the nature of your products and your audience demographics While it may be tempting to have your own website, some businesses can benefit greatly from the existing customer pool already visiting popular third-party E-Commerce retailers.


Option 1: Build a custom website Pros: Complete control of the entire customer experience, built in accordance with your design, copywriting and SEO requirements. Cons: High development costs and can be hard to maintain or manage.


Option 2: Template website (eg. Wix.com, Shopify, Woo Commerce) Pros: Low-cost, easy set-up, pre-fixed templates and functionality you can immedeately use. Cons: Limited customisation options, tend to be poorly optimised for search engines (not always the case, make sue you choose wisely!)


Option 3: Third-Party Platforms (eg. Amazon, Etsy, Shopee etc)

Pros: Access to a wider audience and benefit from third-party platforms’ marketing, easy to set-up, benefit from third-party’s site traffic, resulting in a lower marketing cost.

Cons: Less control over customer experience (ie. how products are displayed), high competition, and lack of owned data (analytics).


Third-party platforms are generally recommended for new ecommerce businesses that are operating on a limited budget as they are starting out. Using a third-party platform is equivalent to starting your shop on a busy street that already has a steady flow of traffic.




Payment Gateway Selection


A payment gateway helps ecommerce sites to process payments via credit or debit card payments for a fee. Like a digital cash register, it provides a secure and convenient way in which transactions can take place.


Factors to consider when selecting your payment gateway provider:

  • Does it allow payments via all credit cards? (VISA, MasterCard)

  • How much do they charge per transaction?

  • Are they compatible with my country of origin (bank account location)

  • Are they allowing payments via my website or do they redirect users to their website?


Paypal, Stripe, and Square are some of the top payment gateways most commonly used by ecommerce businesses.




Optimise Your Online Presence


# 1 Photography

93% of consumers consider their purchase decision heavily influenced by the photos, as images are one of the fastest ways in which we gather the relevant information about a product. Every element in your image should speak in a clear and consistent voice that resonates with your target audience. Two options available:

1) Clean-cut, white background, product-only images



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2) In-context or lifestyle photos


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# 2 Copywriting

This is where your market research efforts pay off. When it comes to copywriting, knowing your audience and search intent is key. By paying attention to how the keyword is used in a query would allow you to craft persuasive item descriptions and copies that speak directly to your audience.


E-Commerce copywriting best practices:

  • Know who you are writing for and why are they looking for your products

  • Employ the power of brand storytelling

  • Magnetic headlines

  • Focus on benefits instead of features


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Barkbox is an excellent example of a business that truly understands its target audience. By adopting the language of its audience and addressing the pain points and wants of dog owners, the copies portray the brand as a supportive partner seeking to provide the best life for dogs all around the world.


# 3 Marketing

Selecting the right marketing platform not only saves you time and effort, it also ensures that you are devoting your resources to the channels where you could expect the highest returns in traffic and sales.


How to select the right marketing channels for your E-Commerce business:


Audience Preferences Select channels based on where your target audience usually hangs out. Producing content for those particular channels ensures that you are having the highest possible returns for your efforts and resources. Eg. Linkedin for B2B SaaS, Instagram for apparels and accessories


Business Type Choose the channel that is appropriate depending on the nature of your business. You could expect promoting Anti-virus software on TikTok to be less effective when compared to having the product advertised on Linkedin.


Customer Journey Context matters greatly when it comes to marketing. As user behavior and social norms differ from channel to channel, understanding how users utilise each platform would allow you to speak to your audience at the right time, in the right tone, and with the right message.




Iterate and optimise


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Execute, observe, optimise. Rise and repeat.


Steps to optimising your E-Commerce marketing efforts:

  • Identify points/sources of friction

  • Develop a testable hypothesis

  • Run test

  • Make improvements

  • Continual Monitoring and testing

Important pages to prioritize:

  • Homepage

  • Product page

  • Check-out page

Consistent testing and optimising different parts of your sales and marketing funnels based on the data collected will increase your traffic and conversion rate indefinitely. Have more questions or need extensive E-Commerce marketing support? Contact us to discuss your project.


Image Credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash



There is no shortage of marketing resources on the internet.

That said, having to run through a deluge of sub-standard content with contradictory information can be pretty exhausting.

We have saved you the hassle by compiling a list of the best digital marketing resources available, across all core marketing disciplines:


  1. Performance Marketing

  2. SEO

  3. Social Media

  4. Podcasts



Performance Marketing Resources


Search Engine Watch

As the name suggests, Search Engine Watch keeps a close eye on all things Search Engine related. Besides being a great resource for marketers looking for information on Search Engine related topics, Search Engine Watch also provides valuable resources on other aspects of marketing, such as a guide to Omnichannel Marketing Automation, webinars on display advertising, and insights to changing marketing trends due to Covid-19 etc.

Search Engine Land

When looking to boost one’s marketing knowledge, Search Engine Land remains one of the most recommended resources by marketers. Similar to Search Engine Watch, users are able to catch up on the latest updates in the marketing world and find plenty of helpful articles and guides devoted to various topics beyond Search Engine Marketing and Optimisation. Some of the useful tools available for download are the SEO Periodic Table, PPC Periodic Table, and buyer’s guides such as the Enterprise SEO Tools: A Marketer’s Guide.


PPC Hero

When it comes to performance marketing, one can always count on PPC Hero to save the day. From addressing burning questions such as strategies to building customer loyalty during a crisis, to uncovering the most important metric businesses should be tracking to supercharge their marketing strategy and efforts, PPC Hero is a repository of well-researched and user-centric articles and tools that any marketer would benefit from.




SEO Resources

The Ahrefs Blog

The team behind the All-in-one SEO toolset that has helped countless companies rank on search engine result pages (SERP), also puts out high value content for free with the goal of helping individuals of varied professions improve their SEO efforts. Be it an aspiring blogger who’s trying optimise her website, or an established business looking for tips to enhance its SEO strategies, AhRefs has the answers. With its content neatly into broad categories such as SEO Basics, Keyword Research, and Link Building, users are able to quickly locate articles that address their queries. Some of the helpful articles include actionable SEO tips, link building strategies, and a guide to doing keyword research etc.

Google Webmasters Blog

Google Webmaster Central Blog provides regular updates regarding the Google index. According to an article by Moz, Google releases an average of 9 updates to its search algorithms every single day, with the occasional broad changes known as “core updates”. The goal is to ensure that Google is consistently presenting relevant and authoritative content to its searchers.

The Webmaster Central Blog communicates the important changes in articles written in an informational yet concise manner. Addressing topics such as mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, and the importance of page-experience etc. First time readers who feel slightly disorientated by the vast amount of resources available on the blog can start here.


Income School

For those who prefer to consume their content in video format, Income School does videos addressing a wide range of topics that most users would benefit from. Be it SEO Tips or strategies to growth hack your way to a successful Youtube Channel, Income School delivers valuable information and actionable tips in bite-size format that condenses all that you need to know into short clips that are usually 15 mins or less.

A perfect resource suitable for those who favour videos over written content.



Social Media


Social Media Examiner

One can’t discuss social media without mentioning Social Media Examiner; the world’s largest social media marketing resource that specializes in helping companies harness the power of social media for their businesses. Besides well-researched reports and topical articles, Social Media Examiner also produces video tutorials and experts interviews that are brimming with insights and tips which audiences would greatly benefit from.

No matter if you are dipping your toes into the pool that is social media marketing, or searching for ways to enhance your already wildly successful social media marketing strategy, Social Media Examiner got you covered.


Facebook for Business

One of the most powerful tools at the disposal of every business is Facebook. If users are an adequate metric to gauge valuation, Facebook’s reign as the king of social media continues in 2020 as the platform boasts a staggering 2.6 billion active users every month. For businesses looking to capitalise on Facebook’s ubiquitous reach, Facebook for Business offers courses aimed at educating businesses on ways to set up ad campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram.


Hootsuite

One of the big names when it comes to social media marketing. From branding building to delivering customer care, Hootsuite allows brands to dominate social media marketing with ease. Filled with image-filled articles organised neatly into categories, Hootsuite enables readers to deep dive into the sea of social media chatter without the fear of drowning.

Be it branding strategy and tactics, or research and trends, Hootsuite allows businesses of all sizes to incorporate social media marketing with its invaluable resources.




Podcasts


The Digital Marketer

Bringing valuable insights to listeners on a weekly basis, The Digital Marketer Podcast addresses topics regarding the ever-changing marketing landscape. Delivered in a conversational and light-hearted manner, the hosts (Garrett Holmes & Jenna Snavely) discuss various aspects of marketing with industry experts who dispense practical wisdom and personal experiences that are bound to resonate with every listener.

Some of the topics of discussion include crafting the perfect email newsletter, fundamentals of course building, and technical SEO for newbies etc.


Marketing over Coffee

Catchy headlines and juicy discussions are the bread and butter of Marketing over Coffee. Beyond the attention-arresting headlines, listeners can expect nothing less than meaningful discussions with authors and subject matter experts on topics such as context marketing, leadership, and category design.

For the uninitiated, Marketing Over Coffee’s light-hearted and topical approach makes it an invaluable resource that’s easily digestible at any time of the day.


Rainmaker.fm

Ah, a personal favourite!

The day the team behind the widely influential Copyblogger decided to dip their toes into the podcast space, marketers around the world shed a tear (of joy). Like dining at a posh restaurant, the copy wizards and content strategists of Rainmaker.fm consistently deliver high-quality content to its audience with every new episode.


Each episode of Rainmaker,fm is jam-packed with insightful goodness and topped with a headline that encapsulates the core essence of the discussion,allowing listeners to search for the answers they need with ease.



Share your favourite digital marketing resources with us!


Which resource do you find the most helpful?

Did your favourite resource make the list?

Is there a resource you feel we should be adding to the list?

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!


and off course, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to access our very own digital marketing content, including practical tips to bring your digital marketing strategy to the next level.




Updated: Jun 5


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash


Business owners often feel like firefighters trying to put out fire in different parts of the house on a daily basis.


When there’s a need for owners to juggle twenty tasks simultaneously like an octopus, desperately trying to keep the business running like a well-oiled machine, taking time out to contemplate an effective content marketing strategy may not be amongst the top 10 items on your to-do-list. However, content marketing is essential!


If you are looking to:


● Establish a brand identity

● Market and promote your business

● Attract the right audience

● Build a returning customer base


You MUST HAVE a well thought of content marketing strategy.


This actionable guide is written specifically to help you achieve that.



Three Pillars of Digital Marketing



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To create a sustainable and effective content strategy, it is imperative that we understand the three core pillars of digital marketing, which will allow us to take stock of the resources at our disposal.


Owned Media: The channels in which you create and control. Channels such as your company blog, Instagram account, Facebook page, and Youtube Channel etc. Even though you may not technically possess ownership of your Youtube channel or Facebook Page, being able to use them for free qualify them as Owned Media.


Paid Media: External marketing efforts on third-party sites and social media platforms that require a paid placement. Paid Media includes PPC advertising, display ads, and influencer marketing etc.


Earned Media: Your content that’s shared by consumers, the press, and the public via word of mouth and digital avenues. Earned Media often acts as the organic vehicle that drives visitors to your owned media channels, as consumers act as advocates for your brand.


Key takeaway: A digital marketing ecosystem must comprise all three types of Media, though the focus and allocation of time, effort, and budget will look different for each organization.



Bigger Isn’t Always Better


Of course, businesses that have a strong presence on every platform available reap tremendous rewards.

Large companies with the resources for a full-fledged content marketing strategy have the capacity to be omnipresent, always engaging consumers on every platform in a multitude of ways.


The danger arises when small businesses attempt to replicate what their larger counterparts are doing. Without the same amount of resources, time, and manpower at their disposal, implementing a full-on content marketing strategy will be unsustainable and even counter-productive.

Smaller businesses with limited resources can achieve effective results when their content strategy is laser-focused; and their objectives crystal clear.


So, what’s the solution?


You don’t have to do everything, you just need to go hard at what works for your business.



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Choosing The Right Channel(s)


The next step in formulating an effective content strategy is to narrow down and determine the right channels and type of content.


Things to consider:

● The nature of your product/services (B2B or B2C)

● Where does your audience like to hang out

● Consumer behaviour on each platform

● What has worked well for you

● What has been working for your competitors

● Which are your competitors’ best and worst performing content and platforms

Choosing Channels


Every piece of content has to be conceptualised with the context of each platform in mind. Users expect content on each channel to be contextually appropriate.

Eg. An audience that is looking for a few laughs after a long day of work will not respond well to your request for opinions on serious issues that require much brainpower.

By asking these questions, coupled with some research, you should be able to identify your target audiences’ preferred channels and the type of content they respond to.


Creating Content


Even after you have narrowed down to the select few channels, attempting to produce content for multiple channels on a consistent basis can sometimes feel like a doomed endeavour.

Here are four simple tips:


#1 Content Hub and Cluster Content


Brainstorm for content ideas and categorize them into content hubs and cluster content. Content hubs are either an in-depth guide or resource on a broad topic.

Cluster content is a piece of subtopic content that allows for more expansion and details.

Eg. If Keto Diet is the content hub, examples of cluster content would be “the side effects of Keto Diet” and “Keto Diet for beginners” etc.


#2 Repurpose Content


Develop a content pillar.

A content pillar is a substantive piece of content on a specific topic or theme that can be broken into many smaller pieces of content that can be published on other channels.

By focusing on creating a single content pillar, you can create an enormous amount of content by repurposing that report or Youtube video into shorter blog posts for your website or short-form content for various social media channels.

Eg. Repurposing an 1 hour long interview into several short clips for Instagram/Facebook, or transcribe parts of the interview and use them in your blog articles.


#3 Play to your strength


Are you able to write well? Produce blog articles that address your audience's burning questions.

Are you blessed with the gift of the gab? Consider shooting videos for Youtube or starting a podcast. Do you have adequate skills in photography or design? Try creating interesting infographics and share them on your social media platforms.


#4 Scalability


Often the channel with the largest amount of audience is the one that you should be focusing on. Having a substantial amount of audience on a particular platform is an indication of an audience’s willingness to engage your brand on said platform.


Key takeaway: Due to having a comparatively smaller budget for Paid Media, small businesses should capitalise on the power of Earned Media by creating extremely shareable content that resonates with their audience on their Owned Media channels.



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Performance Tracking


Unless the performance of each implemented strategy is tracked, businesses are throwing spaghetti (resources) at the wall.

The upside of staying laser-focused on just one or two channels is the benefit of having fewer metrics to track.


Page Views

To understand which piece of content resonates with your audience. This would allow you to tailor your future content to your audience’s interest.


Unique Visitors

Allows you to have a gauge of the size of your audience as well as the number of repeat visitors.


Average Time on Page

High average time on page is an indication of interest. Conversely, low average time on page signals poor engagement, which would require you to either enhance the content or direct your efforts to work other better performing content.


Pages Per Visit

This metric tells you how valuable and engaging the content on your site is in general.


Behavior Flow

Helps you understand how users navigate through your website, hence allowing you to identify and optimize your site for maximum user retention.


Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors who leave only after viewing one page. If bounce rate is high, it is advisable to investigate the technical factors such as page speed, as well as the quality of your content.


Return Rate

Having a good return rate is often an indication of having good quality content on your site that your audience finds valuable, which can then also inform you of the current stage your audience is in with regards to the customer journey.


Follower count

A growing follower base on your social media channels is often a good indication of growth that brings about an increase in traffic, brand awareness, and engagement.


Social Media shares and likes

Having social listening tools set up will help you understand which piece of content resonates with the audience, hence saving you from all the guess work.


Comments

An even more accurate measure of engagement than “Likes” are comments. As comments often require more effort and thought to execute, it is a useful indication of emotional investment an audience has in your brand.


Key takeaway: Depending on your objectives and KPIs, the metrics that you track should always provide you with valuable insights which you can use to understand and optimize your content marketing strategy.


Conclusion


It is essential for every business to have an effective content marketing strategy in this digital age, where content is the knife that cuts through the sea of online chatter and gives visibility to your business.


While the small businesses often can depend on Owned and Earned Media for sustainability, those looking to scale their business would be required to have a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, as well as an effective Paid Media strategy in place.


Whether you are looking to get started, or require additional support to optimize and scale your marketing efforts, do not hesitate to schedule a meeting with us as our team of experienced marketers are eager to join you on this exciting journey.


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