If you are launching a new e-commerce site or bringing your current brand online, like a lot of brands during Covid, you are no doubt trying to figure out what is the best marketing channel to get started. The answer? Of course, it depends. I will do my best to give an overview of the most popular marketing channels and how to approach them.
Google Ads and Other SEM
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tends to be a higher intent marketing channel. When you are looking to buy something, let's say running shoes, if you search for "blue running shoes for people with high arches" you have already done some research on what kind of shoe you want to buy. This means you are closer to making a purchase. This makes Google Search Ads great for niche products you know there is a market for, more specifically, you know people are searching for. Google Ads Keyword Planner and Google Trends are two great places to see if people are searching for your product. But don't forget the most essential step, just google a description of your product, see what comes up. If you see similar products to yours, you know you have a ready market, but your competition might be stiff.
Google Ads work on a bidding process, where you bid on keywords. The more advertisers who are bidding on that keyword, the higher the price. Longer, more specific phrases tend to be cheaper, as fewer advertisers are bidding on them. "Running shoes" is probably more expensive than "blue running shoes for people with high arches." But the more detail the description, the higher intent of the buyer. So try and bid on more detailed keywords to find buyers for your products.
But what if no one is searching for your type of product? Keep reading 🤓.
Instagram and Facebook ads are great for new brands and even better for new concepts. What do I mean by this? If you aren't selling an item people know they need, like running shoes, they will need more convincing as to why they will want your product.
Take fitness trackers, like Fitbit. All runners know they needed running shoes to run, but before fitness trackers became popular in the early 2010s, they had no idea of the benefits of Fitness trackers might be useful. This is where social media ads become helpful. You can target runners, people who like Nike, or readers of 'Men's Fitness' to find users who might be interested in a new device for tracking running.
Facebook has some of the best demographics and interest targeting in the industry. This advanced targeting makes Facebook perfect for launching new products and finding new users.
Facebook is also useful for bringing site visitors back to your site. Ever notice how, after visiting a website, you start to get ads from that site? This is from a cookie Facebook placed on your browser, which is triggered by the Facebook Pixel on a brand's site. One of the best forms of Facebook retargeting is the ability to show a user the product they were just looking at on your site. Even better? Show the product and a discount code.
Everyone loves talking about SEO. Mostly because of the perception it is free. This is far from the truth. In both time and money, SEO has a cost. First off, Search Engine Optimization is a long game. Getting to the top of Google searches takes time. Google is tracking your site for keywords, backlinks, and clicks. This takes time to build and time for you to see traffic from organic search. Search traffic is excellent for building an engaged audience over time, but it isn't the best channel for driving a ton of traffic on day one.
While there are a lot of SEO strategies out there and gurus with the latest algorithm updates, the most important aspect of SEO is the original content that is readable by humans. Google is most interested in showing content people want to read, which is relevant to what they searched for. The only way to stay ahead of algorithm changes is to put out content people want to read, and eventually, users will show up.
Email is a channel you simply can't afford to forget; every business should be utilizing email marketing. In most cases, email is supplemental to other channels you are using. Unless you have a large email list from a related business, email is not a good starting point. Also, NEVER buy an email list, more on that later.
For most businesses, email is a way to recapture traffic that has left your site. 99% of visitors won't purchase their first visit to your site (SAP). When was the last time you bought something from a new brand after visiting their website for the first time? And no, your panic buy of toilet paper off the dark web doesn't count🏃♀️🧻. When you find a new brand, you more than likely visit the site and then come back after doing research and getting encouragement. This is where email comes in. EVERY business needs to be collecting emails of visitors. Start with a simple pop up.
And just to be clear, you should NEVER buy an email list, for several reasons. First, it is illegal in most cases. Countries, particularly EU nations, are becoming more strict on data privacy and can fine business 4% of all revenue for privacy breaches. If that isn't enough reason not to, just think about it as if you are a customer. When you look at your inbox, are you more likely to open an email from a brand you know or one you never heard of? At best, an email from a strange brand will get ignored. At worst, you will get blocked and leave a permanent bad taste for your brand.
So, if you only had the budget or time for one channel, what would I pick? As a rule of thumb, go with Facebook/Instagram if you are introducing something new. And high fashion tends to do better with visual Instagram. If you are selling something that has a lot of keyword traffic, go for a search like Google or Bing. But always make sure you are building an audience with email or social media to keep those users you paid for coming back.
Of course, each brand is different, and it is impossible to make a solid recommendation without testing audiences and channels first. If you are interested in testing out marketing channels, reach out to our team. Hey, we have to try with the sales pitch 😉