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279. Underrated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce

279. Underrated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce

Raise your hand if you have whiplash from all the latest Instagram updates over the last couple of weeks. I covered the 2024 algorithm changes in last week’s episode but social has been a struggle for small businesses for a long time and that has only gotten worse over the last few month.

Because social media is so prevalent and we have a misconception that social media is free we sometimes forget that there are other ways to market our business. That's what we're going to cover today.

Fair warning, we’re just going to skim the surface of these in this post, but I've added other posts and resources you can dive into if you want to go deeper at the bottom of this page.

Prefer to listen to this episode? Click here

Direct Mail

I've touched on the power of direct mail before, especially about marketing your brick-and-mortar business. Speaking to a client on a strategy call the other day reminded me that most small businesses are not even considering direct mail in their marketing strategy though.

Whether you want to create a deeper connection with your existing customers or acquire new ones direct mail can help you do that. 

While direct mail is old school, it’s been around so long because it works. I used direct mail a lot at my previous day job for both new and existing customers and it always worked well

What’s great about direct mail is that you can get pretty granular when it comes to your targeting for direct mail, you’ll likely want to work with a full-service direct mail company for this, and you don’t have to have an in-person presence for this strategy to work.

That said, if you do have an in-person presence or just want to tap into your local market, direct mail is a definite yes.  

How to Use Direct Mail in Your eCommerce Business

While we can’t cover every use case for direct mail in today’s episode, here are a few to get those wheels turning. 

Promote Your Local Business

If you have brick-and-mortar, use direct mail. You can use it during your traditional campaign periods, or when you need a little boost in sales. If you’re expanding into a new market, direct mail is a great way to get eyes on your business. Depending on your budget you can do a coming soon and a grand opening one, otherwise, stick to the grand opening announcement. 

Target Areas You Used to Exhibit in

The client I was chatting with the other day that made me recommend direct mail is a jewelry designer. She creates super cool and unique jewelry that’s sold in art galleries and she used to do a lot of in-person shows, something she doesn’t have the energy for anymore. Direct mail is a perfect fit for her. Not only can she easily target her perfect demographic, older with money, she can target the zip codes around the galleries and shows she used to exhibit at. 

Target People Who Recently Moved

If you sell home goods or home improvement products, direct mail will be a great option for you. People who have recently moved are an easy segment to target and people are always in need of things when they’re settling into their new home or new area. 

If you sell a kids product you can target households with children. 

At the end of the day, you’d be surprised as how specific you can get. 

Like with any marketing campaign you’ll want to be strategic about the people you’re showing it to and the offer you’re making them, but if you’ve never considered direct mail, here’s your reminder. 

Use Direct Mail to Target Your Existing Customers

While direct mail is a great way to acquire new customers, it can also be used as an additional touchpoint with your existing customers. You can automate your direct mail with technology that integrates with your website and email marketing platform.

Reddit

Reddit is another underutilized platform that can be a big hit for the right business. Recently a student in the Lounge started diving into it, she sells sustainable home and self-care products and she started seeing traffic and sales from it basically right away.

While Reddit doesn’t have specific shopping features, it’s a go-to platform for product recommendations and feedback. In fact, In 2023, users added “Reddit” to Google searches 32B times as they sought answers from real people rather than traditional influencers, digital articles, or sponsored listicles. You can get more statistics about Reddit here.

The big trick to Reddit is you have to show up as a human, NOT a marketer. Redditors will sniff out shameless promotions immediately. It's important you lead with value and don't just run around the platform dropping your link everywhere.

While it does take some dedication and true community building to be successful on Reddit, it does have a lot of good things going for it.

  • The content is evergreen
  • You don't have to show your face or get on video
  • There are subreddits for every topic and industry which means your ideal customers are already hanging out in a group together

Again, it’s not for everyone. You have to dedicate the time and show up with value, but it’s an untapped platform for most eCommerce businesses. 

*Listen to the audio version of this episode for more details on utilizing Reddit for your product-based business.

Podcasts

While most people don't think of podcasts for eCommerce marketing, if you have a lot of value to share or you want to position yourself as an expert in your space they are a great option.

For example, if you sell CBD, you could do a podcast tour educating people about whatever your main marketing hook is, whether it’s about getting better sleep, managing pain, etc. If you sell sustainable goods you can talk about how people can take small steps to being more sustainable at home. If you own a boutique you can talk to people about how to build a capsule wardrobe or dress for different body types. 

Pretty much anything that can be a written blog post can work on a podcast. So many of us take our own knowledge for granted and think everyone already knows what we know – but that’s not the case at all. 

If you don’t think you have anything to teach about your industry, first I would say – are you sure? But then I would also say, maybe you just want to get on business podcasts and talk about the journey of building your business. The biggest consumers of small businesses are other small businesses so that’s a great community to get in front of as well. 

If you want to learn more about using Podcasts to grow your product-based business, check out episode 119.

Virtual Events

Whether you host your own or participate in someone else’s online shopping events are a great way to get in front of your audience and show off what you have to sell. Think of it like creating a virtual storefront with an actual sales associate – something your website doesn’t have. 

And you have a lot of flexibility in when and how you want to do these. Maybe you do them monthly, maybe you only do them for big marketing campaigns, it’s really up to you. The most important thing is that you don’t discount the value of creating a REASON for people to show up and buy from you. 

Public Relations

Public relations is another underrated marketing strategy that most small business owners are missing out on.

Typically they feel overwhelmed by the process and struggle to justify the time, effort, and investment because it doesn't always bring a direct monetary return.

Even though you can't always attribute direct sales to a PR feature it adds legitimacy and a cool factor to your brand. Plus, once you land a coveted holiday gift guide spot you increase your changes of direct ROI.

Most small business owners also don't realize they actually have a story to tell. That was definitely the case with the jewelry designer I mentioned earlier. When I recommended she consider PR outreach her immediate response was, “really?”

Yes! She's an artist who creates beautiful jewelry and has a unique process. She has a story to tell. While she has to make a few website updates before she's ready to start PR outreach, it's a great opportunity for her.

If you haven’t thought about PR for your product-based business, all I can say is what are you waiting for? If you’re listening to this in real-time, it’s May which means it's almost time to start pitching Holiday Gift-Guides.*

Wholesale

While wholesale is technically a sales strategy vs. a marketing one, I still wanted to make sure I mention it here today because I think there are a lot of product-based business owners who are hesitant to give it a shot. 

The most important thing to know about wholesale is that you don’t have to get into some crazy big box store to have success in wholesale. Even having a handful of small boutiques that order from you regularly can provide a nice little bump in revenue and once you get over the initial hump of building those relationship and snagging those accounts, wholesale can be a lot easier to manage than the day-to-day of selling direct to consumer. 

To learn more about getting starting with or optimizing your wholesale strategies, make sure you check out episode 51. Getting your product on store shelves with Katie Hunt and episode 270 Think like a buyer with Kristen Fisher

Kristen Fisher also did a guest training in the Lounge on optimizing your Faire store to get more visibility on the platform – you can find that in the workshops & guests section. 

Conclusion

This of course is not an exhaustive list of all the things you can do to market your eCommerce business, but they are the ones that I don’t see most eCommerce businesses taking advantage of and think you might be missing out on. Of course, I don’t recommend you try and do all of them. Pick one, max two depending on what it is and go all in to give it a real shot. Be thoughtful and intentional with the process, and most importantly be patient. Business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Listen to the Episode

Timestamps

00:00 Welcome and Instagram Updates Whiplash
01:17 Exploring Beyond Social Media Marketing
02:10 Deep Dive into Direct Mail Marketing
05:17 Leveraging Reddit for eCommerce Success
12:57 Podcasting: A Powerful Marketing Tool
14:35 The Potential of Virtual Events and PR
17:34 Wholesale Strategy: A Sales Boost for eCommerce
18:48 Wrapping Up: Diverse Marketing Strategies

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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About Our Audience

  • eCommerce business owners selling a physical product on their own website (Shopify + Klaviyo users)
  • Soloprenuers or less than 25 on their team
  • All revenue ranges, up to multi 7-figures
  • Mostly female

Who We're Looking For

  • Subject matter experts in eCommerce & Physical Product Marketing (ex. Social Media, Public Relations, Website Conversion, Copywriters)
  • Apps or SaaS platforms that can share marketing strategies that work even without their product.

Who We're NOT Looking For

  • Strategies to build ONLY a marketplace business
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