Ecommerce, as a burgeoning industry, provides a platform for businesses to flourish in an unprecedented manner. Both models of doing business onlineâ€”the â€˜brick and click' model as well as the â€˜virtual marketplace' modelâ€”face a competitive market where establishing a business successfully with good traffic and revenue is a task for the brave. In such a scenario, it is the small online retailers who suffer more losses because of a lack of lavish budgets and strong competition from the presence of established giants with high customer reach and satisfaction. Since, rigorous paid marketing or advertising becomes impossible because of stringent funds, they constantly look for other ways by which to garner traffic. Here are a few major ways in which such retailers can drive more traffic and revenue:
1. SEO and PPC
Search Engine Optimization is the basic step that is undertaken by any online business with a will to establish itself. It ensures that when a customer searches for products on a search engine (as a large percentage is liable to do), the â€˜keywords' allow for the site to pop-up on the first page itself and thus, be potentially clicked. For this, the content on the site should be methodical, clear and relevant with appropriate interlinking.
Pay Per Click advertising is the only foolproof way for the customer to be able to view the right hits in the first go. By literally paying for each click, it ensures traffic but only at a continuous â€˜cost'. Some large online marketplaces also allow for placement of ads on their very site for a particular sum of money. This way is yet again, not the most cost-effective, but a brilliant way for garnering traffic.
2. Listings in large marketplaces
A simple way to drive more revenue, if not as much traffic is to list small online businesses with the larger, more dominant and established market places. Since the latter are strong in terms of customer loyalty, traffic and revenue, smaller online retailers can acquire visibility on these sites, albeit gradually, and simultaneously ensure a rocketing of sales because of product placement in the most frequented shopping sites. This method is usually based on a strong established brand value, a large and loyal customer base and an equal playing field.
3. Social Media
Social Media, especially in contemporary times, has become a driving force in everyday life, which makes it a significant place for advertising and marketing. With the help of specific pages on popular sites, portals for customer reviews, blogs, tweets etc., online retailers can ensure visibility amongst the people and perpetually attract customers to the sites in themselves. Such forums also provide a personal touch to the transaction, with constant social presence, conversations and general influence through contact and feedback. These channels require almost no or very little money and thus, are budget friendly; they also provide scope for reach to a wider target group.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Mediated transaction through third party websites provides a very good way to be recognized by customers and increase revenue at the same time. Visitors are usually referred or tagged to home sites through these sites and every time a sale is made, one is required to pay the site a previously agreed upon fee. These websites usually garner traffic by either using PPC, SEO etc. methods themselves or by offering various deals, coupons, vouchers etc. to buyers. Some sites also operate by sharing such affiliate links amongst people and communities. Websites, which offer comparison charts (in terms of prices, logistics etc.), can also be a source for traffic for small online retailers, as long as their product is more reasonably priced/ delivered and their content is engaging.
5. Direct messaging
Although slightly old-fashioned, it is a very effective tool for advertising and driving traffic. At a minimal cost, retailers can build an email or mobile number database through which ads and emails regarding potential offers can be sent to people. This makes sure that retailers acquire visibility as prospective online portals for shopping, especially because it is a direct means of communication with customers. Businesses also produce newsletters, which are sent through these channels, which inform the customer about the overarching working of the business in a particular time period, thereby, triggering potential customer loyalty. Offering deals or vouchers in exchange for subscription is a subset of this way of online marketing.