Chapter 1: Introduction to Promoting your Online Store
“Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons”
Promotions are essential to every business, whether it is an online store or a physical building. Tackling the challenges of an online business can be difficult to start, but with the help of this guide you’ll be a promotion pro in no time!
To begin, what is a promotion? Promotion is a term that most people hear thrown around a lot, and it usually incites ideas of commercials, billboards or coupons in the circulars for physical stores. Some more tech savvy people might think of the annoying ads that pop up on websites, or maybe a celebrity plug on social media.
All of these ideas and more are correct: Promotions are defined very simply as an:
in most dictionaries. Basically, a promotion is anything and everything you do to tell the world what your online store is selling and why they should buy it.
Let’s Get Started
Now that you know what promotions are, you are probably thinking, “Okay, I have social media for that, I don’t need to read the rest of this guide, I’m set!” Which is awesome- you already started promoting your store with a heavy online presence platform. It’s a great start- but only a start.
Are you using your social media to its best advantage? Are you using the right platform or are you hindering yourself because you don’t know the tips and tricks of the platform you are using? What about other forms of promotion-such as emails? Do you have a subscription service for your store? Have you ever placed an ad? There are tons of ways to promote your online store.
Limiting yourself to only social media sets you up to get behind on your competition. This guide will describe each method in detail and assist you in getting started on promoting your online store and on keeping the promotions running effectively.
The key to a good promotion, no matter the style it is presented in, is to have a unique hook. Why should people shop at your online store over someone else’s? What do you offer that is found nowhere else? This is the hardest part of promoting yourself for a lot of people.
You have to take your online store and sell it to people that you can’t see in person. Think about what attracts your attention when you see ads around, whether they are billboards on the highway or ads on side of your computer screen. Compile a list of things you look at more than once: bright colors, catchy slogans, and an amusing gif for example; and then apply those to your unique store hook.
After taking the talk you have to show the product to it’s best advantage. The product customers are considering purchasing is a picture; they can’t physically pick it up and discern its value right away. Having a well–lit picture of your product from various angles in a pretty, enticing environment is the first step to catching a customer’s attention. Pictures attract the customer’s eye to your promotion, and then it’s up to your hook to get them to click on your online store.
Promotions can come in all shapes and sizes. Social media offers a multitude of platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the standouts, but SnapChat, LinkedIn, YouTube and numerous other platforms also have great attributes to use.
Sending out mass emails can be another way to entice new customers, if you do it without becoming a spam machine. Sending out a monthly subscription with updates to your store or just general fun information builds your connection to your customers, and creates a loyal following.
Ads are of course the universal promotion tool, and this guide will help you figure out where to best place an ad for your online store, and how to phrase it to attract customers instead of turn them away. Good old-fashioned paper ads in magazines and newspapers can attract customers even in this digital age as well.
Once you know what promotions are available and how to use them, determining the viability of each promotion is also great knowledge. There will be ups and downs, but in business downs can be costly. Learning to spot a promotion that isn’t pulling its weight is a skill that can save you money in the long run.
An Online Store Owner’s Biggest Mistakes
This Founder’s Guide is meant to teach online store owners how to create and use promotions, but before we begin there are two things to keep in mind.
The biggest mistakes in promotions are doubt and fear of change.
Self-doubt is a major inhibition to having a successful online store. It’s hard to get out there and promote yourself if you compare your store to others, or feel like you are unqualified to do all the tiny detailed jobs running an online business requires.
When you feel this way, take a step back and remind yourself why you began this online store:
- What is your goal?
- Whether your online store is your main source of income or a side hustle, what does your online store do besides bring in money?
- What makes you passionate about running this online store-and why are you the best for it?
Use the answer to these questions to quash that self-doubt. When you are comparing yourself to other stores, keep in mind what you are envious of and use that to help in your own promotions.
Don’t steal or plagiarize- but do find the root of the envy, such as their use of bright colors, or the way they promote to an audience effectively, and allow it to spark your own promotional ideas.
Fear of change is another mistake that can be costly. After reading this guide, you might find one promotion method that works for you. Use it and master it, but don’t use it exclusively. Experiment with all forms of promotion to change up your look or gain new customers from different backgrounds.
Some risks might fail, but others could open up new possibilities that you hadn’t previously considered. It’s fine to have a fallback method that you know works, but don’t stick to it at the expense of something new. Pay attention to your customer base- if they change you need to adapt and change with them to keep their continued patronage.
Now that we’ve covered the mistakes, let’s get started.
Chapter 2: Promoting your Online Store with Social Media
“Why use Social Media? Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.”
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Social Media. Everyone is on some form of social media, and the platforms are easy to use. Social Media is so convenient too- just open an app on your phone to start connecting with customers around the world!
Don’t check out on this chapter just yet- are you using the right platform for your business? Do you know all the platforms available? What about older platforms? Let’s throw social media platforms into 3 categories: Pictures, Words and Stand Alone’s.
Almost all social media platforms have a spot for pictures- after all; a picture is worth a thousand words! Having great pictures of each of your products is essential to get customers to purchase from you. A well-lit picture of your product with an attractive background gives customers a solid look at what they could have if they bought from you.
Pictures should be well lit with the focus on your product. Everything in the background should indicate how great their lives would be if they bought this product from you. Have fun with the background! If it makes you happy, or is very stylish, or brings up a sense of nostalgia it will make your customers feel that way too.
Instagram allows you to continually post photos of your product. Put up pictures of your products on a regular basis, and follow lots of people to spread news of your online store.
Don’t just put up lone pictures of your products- show fun pictures of people using your products. Show customers the life they could have if they had what your online store is selling.
Use the stories function to have a post of your product at the top of their screen for 24 hours at a time. Do a little research to find popular hashtags that fit with your store and use them to your advantage.
Make your own hash tag specifically to your shop, and ask customers to tag themselves using your product. To get your hash tag started, offer a discount to customers who promote your store. See more ideas on discounts and coupons with the Founder’s Guide to Discounts & Coupons.
Pinterest works in a slightly different way: The photos are constantly up and constantly circulating around the website without you having to post regularly. You still should post often, since the more content you have the more your content gets seen and shared.
Pinterest also features trends, so pay attention to those. This social media platform is also great for seasonal use and showing how your product can be used for holidays. Specific parties like birthdays, weddings, and baby showers are pretty constant all year round so don’t forget those.
Pinterest is great for getting traffic to your online store since the picture is the link- all customers have to do is double click the photo and they are sent directly to where they can buy it! Pinterest has a buyable pins option that you can link your products to as well.
Tumblr is a blog platform that you can post photos on, and link your store description in them. If you search and follow the right communities on the website then you can usually target some customers and get a following going. This would be an excellent project for a rainy day, and it is easy to leave to its own devices. Check on it once or twice a week, and post relatively regularly.
SnapChat is best used with the Story feature, which allows all of your followers to see it at once whenever they choose to throughout the day. This would be a great platform for after you have a following on other platforms- direct your customers to see what you are up to in real time.
Show videos or photos of you unpacking new inventory, creating your product, or whatever is going on in your workspace. A connection to you and how passionate you are about your product is always a good incentive for customers to buy from you.
Videos are great too. Instagram and SnapChat allow for short and sweet videos, but for longer ones, create a YouTube account. YouTube is a great platform if your product requires instructions to use.
Kat Von D is a great example of how to use YouTube to instruct and promote your products. Her makeup tutorials show how to use each of her products and promote how great they would look on her potential customers.
Showing customers how to use your product gives them somewhere to start, and might bring them back for your other products as well.
Twitter and Facebook are both really word-driven social media platforms. Pictures can be added, but the main function is to capture attention with a fun hook or some clever saying that gets people to want to follow you.
Twitter can be great to keep people posted about new updates to your shop, when coupons and discounts are available and when a favorite product is back in stock. Throw up a few pictures of your best selling products, or a really fun picture of how to use a product.
Think along the lines of using an inflatable pineapple at a pool party- fun, flirty and everyone wants to be there during the summer. Add the link to your store in each of your posts.
Be aware that the link will automatically make itself 23 characters long, either shortening or lengthening the URL to fit this mold. The 23 characters also count in your 140 amount of characters, so keep your message short. Also, be sure to have the link to the store in your bio.
Facebook is the most widely known social media for people of all ages. Everyone and their aunt is on this social media, so it’s essential to have an account for your website here to spread the news. With Selz you can even add a store right to your facebook page and sell directly to your fans.
There is also a business category to put on your Facebook so people can find you easier. Make sure to fill in all the about sections on the side, and have an easy link to your website even with the marketplace option.
You can never have too many paths to your website! The simpler it is to reach you the more customers you get.
Stand Alone’s are social media platforms that really don’t need to be updated regularly. Check in on it once or twice a month to make sure everything is still running smoothly. These platforms won’t haul in customers like the busier sites will, but if it takes you 10 minutes to set up and gets 1 or 2 customers then your time was well spent.
Make your online store a Wikipedia entry, and make sure to have a section on your popular hash tag meanings just in case someone decides to Google their meaning. It would be a good idea to have a paragraph on why you decided to open your online store, and whenever you feel that doubt creeping in, open up your Wikipedia page to remind yourself that you are a great online store owner with a purpose.
LinkedIn and Google + are also two platforms that can be set up and left to function without constant supervision. People aren’t generally looking to buy products from these platforms, but again if it gets a few customers to traffic your website the small amount of setup time is worth it.
How to Decide which Platform is Best
Each of these platforms has something different to offer. Having a picture of your product is always great, but if it is simply an item that has one purpose there is no point in having a bunch of the same picture over and over again.
Figure out how to incorporate it into trends. If you sell home goods, have a nice picture set of your product on Pinterest and talk about home remodeling or something similar on Facebook and Twitter.
Tell the customer what you can do with your home good product, and why. Follow similar blogs and spread the word out to the customer base there that is looking for your product. Place your product in a “this could be you” type of mindset to entice your customers in.
With all of these social media accounts, make sure to check your settings and have them open to the public. Have a friend or professional go through each of your accounts for feedback on what to change, fix or improve.
Plan on updating your accounts regularly- review your about sections and other areas to reflect how your online store has grown. Also, keep on the lookout for new avenues of social media to promote yourself in- technology is always improving and entrepreneur online sellers need to stay at the forefront of it to continue staying in the game.
In Chapter 3 we will continue the technology theme with Emails and Subscription Services. Think about how often you check your email, and now apply that to how many customers could be seeing you in their inbox regularly!
Chapter 3: Email Blasts and Subscription Services
“There is no formula for the perfect email-authentic and honest messaging works.”
Email? Seriously? Think about how often you check your email a day. Gmail even has a specific mailbox just for promotional material! Email and Subscription Services can be a huge boost to getting customers, and more importantly getting one-time customers to return and buy from you again.
Emails are a great way to stay in touch with previous customers. Send out notices when discounts and coupons are available, when you have new inventory, or when a favorite item is back in stock.
These emails should be fun and friendly, and not be too wordy. Get your point across, insert a fun picture and leave it as simple as possible.
Go through your promotional emails you have and take notes- which ones do you open and which do you delete immediately? Why? These items could be a flashy header, a specific font or overuse of the same deal every time. Have a list of things that attract your attention, and a list of things that don’t. What you don’t like to see is just as important as what you do.
When you type up your email, make sure to have the lists handy. Use one or two things from the good list, and double check the bad list to make sure you don’t add something you don’t want by accident.
To get customers emails, have a few spots available where they can give it to you. Always have customers email address as a mandatory part of checkout- those customers are worth hanging on to, since they already bought your product once. Have one or two pop-ups or places customers can click on to give their email for discounts and coupons, and also have a pop-up that allows them to subscribe to you.
These emails should only be every once in awhile, no more than twice a month as you get started. If people want to see you in their inbox all the time, they will subscribe to your subscription service. Many customers are unhappy with all the promotions spamming their inboxes daily, and often remove or unsubscribe from frequent annoying email promotions. Don’t be one of those online stores! Be courteous, and don’t spam.shoudl
Subscriptions are timely emails that read more like a fun magazine article or a letter from your best friend rather than some promotional material. These can be used to promote blog posts, give personal tidbits, and entice your email list to click through to your site.
Choose a time format- weekly, monthly, bi-annually, etc. to send out a short and sweet subscription to your customers. This gets them thinking about your online store and what it has to offer, but with a gentle nudge that makes them think it was all their idea rather than a shove by you.
What to Include
Your subscription emails should be an easy read for your customers. Have fun with it- readers can tell when it’s forced and you are struggling to connect. Have a short about section that you include every time for new subscribers, somewhere near the bottom or side where it’s optional to read.
Designate sections to make it easier for you to know what to write about, and to allow your readers to choose what they want to skim. Sections you can include are a what’s new area, a new inventory/restock section, or a sales corner.
Most customers won’t diligently read the entire page, and even those who are very interested will still skim over the page and only pick up on a few things. It’s not that most customers aren’t actually intrigued by what you have to say, it’s just that most people read differently when the writing is digital. Small phone screens, too many words and short attention spans can all affect how customers read your subscription.
To combat this, have a simple format that emphasizes the items you want your customers to notice. Bold headlines stand out the most, and readers go to them first to decide if they want to read what’s underneath.
When you are creating your subscription, make catchy headlines. Think of the ads that filter through the side of your screen on Facebook- “You’ll never guess what happened!” or “What she did next surprised everyone!”
These are tacky and annoying ads, but they spark your curiosity. You do want to know what happened, and you want to snare your customers the same way. “This customer used my product in a way that’s never been done before!” or “Check out how great this looked/how awesome this party idea is/etc!”
Be sure to have a nice header with the name and logo of your online store at the top, and have a signature at the bottom. Outline your sections with a simple straight line on the inside to make it clear and easy to follow. You can go crazy with the outside border, but keep everything near your words clear of busy extras that distract your reader.
The most important part of your subscription emails should be you! Your personality and humor should shine through. Emails are for online store updates and business news, but your subscription should be the fun stuff.
Promoting your store should seem like a side effect of reading your subscription. Morph your everyday work into captivating stories, tell of your adventures, and show your triumphs. Don’t be what people expect you to be or be like someone else- be yourself and others will appreciate the honesty. The true connection will make people want to be friends with you, and staying true to your own personal self will make writing your subscription fun instead of a chore.
Emails and Subscription Services are some work to do, but once you streamline the process it gets easier to do every time. This kind of promotion creates a personal connection between you and your customers, enticing them to continue to purchase from your online store.
Chapter 4: Ads
“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”
Ads! The promotional plug everyone knows, because ads are everywhere! On billboards, benches, buses and all over your computer screen. The world of ads is massive, and even smaller online stores can get in on the action. We’re going to focus this chapter on digital ads, as offline advertising can get expensive and may not be the best avenue for your online store.
Getting Started Making Digital Ads
Start with the basics. Have the name of your store, your logo, an image of your product, a catchy headline and a call-to-action to click on your digital ads. These things must be on every ad, and must be easy to see.
Take a look at other ads that you like. Take the lists of good and bad items from your email research in the previous chapter and expand from there. It doesn’t matter what kind of ads you get ideas from. Billboards might have a fun saying you like, tv ads usually have a jingle and online ads use bright popping colors to get your attention. All of these methods can be applied to your digital ads.
Imitate (don’t copy) a few ads for practice, and ask friends to look at your mock-ups for feedback. You can even post some practice ads on your online store and ask for customer feedback. After all, they are the target audience.
Posting your Ads on Relevant Blogs
Once again, it all starts with research. Go to other online stores that sell similar items in your price range and Google them. What kind of ads are they promoting? Where are they promoting them?
Look up blogs that are in the genre of your online store. Examples include: for makeup products, look at makeup blogs, for home goods, look at interior decorating blogs, and for pet products, look at pet blogs. See how much traffic the blog gets, and that’s the potential for views your ad could have.
Check out the ads they have, or more importantly the lack of ads. Some bloggers have an ad page, where they have information on how they can write a review or post an ad about your online store for a fee on their blog. If that looks promising, go ahead and work with them.
Other blogs are new or don’t have ad posting information, but it’s always worth asking the owner of the blog about posting your ads anyways. You could get a great new way of reaching your customer base, or they could say no. At least you tried!
Send them a friendly and polite email or private message about how they feel on posting your ad. Do not post a request in their comments section. Business deals are between you and the blog owner, not the rest of the viewers, and if you ask publicly other online stores might also ask and outbid you. Send a professional private email!
Before submitting an ad, check out the blog website’s aesthetic appeal first. If the colors are bright and popping, make your ad white to stick out from the background more. If the website is white, do the opposite and make it colorful. Your ad should catch readers’ attention because it sticks out!
When asking for an ad post on someone else’s website, be prepared to pay for it. Have a budget set aside specifically for ads, and have a way to pay online. When you start paying someone for an ad, start small. Pay for a month at a time, then up to 3 months, then 6 and then to a year to make sure you and your online store are compatible with the blog.
The blogger might not post your ad in the best spot, or might be difficult to work with. Starting small and working up gives you both a safety net to work within until any issues are solved.
Social Media Ads
Scrolling through your social feeds you start to notice that there are tons of ads. It’s a great idea to get your online store in on the action.
Facebook and Instagram are the most popular places to post social media ads (but don’t be afraid to look at other options). Your potential audience is huge, and with the right design and copy, your ads could pull quite a bit of traffic to your site. Make sure to look up the requirements for each platform as you start creating and designing your ads.
A/B testing is also very important for all of your digital ads, but especially your social media placements. Create 2-3 versions of each ad with differing copy, headlines, and images. Track each ad closely to see what type of visuals and text your target audience responds best to.
The trick to social media advertising is monitoring and testing. Keep a close eye on how all of your ads are doing. Don’t be afraid to have an ad flop, it’s just a learning lesson. Create and divide your budget throughout your placements so you can see which ads have the best ROI.
Does your Online Store Really Need Ads?
Depending on your methods, your products and your online presence, this is a question that is really based on your specific online store. Ads require a budget, so if you are just starting out you probably can’t afford to have ads just yet, and that’s okay!
Make a business plan, and set a time in a year or so when you think you’ll have enough extra money to tackle ads. In the meantime, use free social media discussed in Chapter 2 to promote your online store, and use your time now to research blogs you would like to have ads on.
If you’ve had your online store for a while and have a budget, ads are another option to bring in new customers. If you monitor your ads and stick with high traffic areas online, it can be a very profitable venture.
In situations where your budget is nonexistent, or very tight you might be able to work out a collaboration with a blog site. Maybe the blog could post your ad, and you could post about their blog on your online store as a trade.
This kind of deal is great since you both get publicity, but it can be tricky if one person feels they are getting short changed. Keep the communication channels open, and be fair. Don’t let them take advantage of you and be polite as possible. A good relationship with them is good for business, and you can’t afford to have them give a bad review of your online store if things go south.
Ads are a great promotional tool, and the more you have in your budget the more you can post in higher traffic areas. Start small, experiment with your ads and figure out a method that works before diving into the big money.
Another place to plan for a budget is with paper promotions, which are still very popular even in this digital age. Keep reading in Chapter 5.
Chapter 5: Paper Promotions
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
Paper Promotions are the original method of getting the word out. Big businesses send out mail to large suburban areas because this method is still so effective! Look around at all the paper promotions we’ve grown used to everyday; junk mail, brochures at checkout counters, and, magazines all have a ton of promotional material. Don’t count it out of your range just because you have an online store!
Really? I have a phone in my pocket all day and I need business cards? Yes, you do! When you meet someone in person, how are you going to explain what your online business is? Don’t expect them to remember the website or any other pertinent information off hand ever. Having a business card with all of the details they need to find your online store is essential to gaining an in-person customer.
If you are looking for investors, future employees or another business venture then you need business cards to look professional and have people take your online store seriously. While you are fashioning your business cards, take the same information and make it into an email signature to continue your professional theme.
There are tons of websites online that help you create and order business cards, often with discounts on the first batch you order. You are online all the time for your store, so you have no excuse to not have business cards!
Flyers and Brochures
Flyers and brochures are other great paper promotions to have handy. Create a flyer and brochure in your spare time to have ready to go on your computer when you need it. You can order these online too, or plenty of print shops have good deals on color or white prints for relatively low cost. These are not essential to have immediately, so you can plan ahead and stall for a coupon or discount at the print shop to save some money.
Why would I need to have flyers or brochures anyways? The same reason you need business cards, for in person customer encounters. A store might let you leave your brochure on their check out counter, or you could pass out flyers at a county fair. For a small amount of money and a little foresight, you get exposure to a wide range of customers of all ages and backgrounds that you aren’t getting online.
This method also gets you involved with your community. Newspapers and local events have sponsors who they post ads for. Ads for these usually range from small to larger by pricing, so you can get exposure within your budget.
Check out local activities, like county fairs, farmer’s markets or winter carnivals to promote your online store at. Local coffee shops, gas stations or libraries often let stores leave flyers or brochures for customers at their counters.
How to Make a Flyer or Brochure People Will Read
Since you spent some money on getting printable promotions, make sure you have a promotion people will actually read! Have your name and contact information in at least 2 places. Have pictures and color strategically placed to catch their eye. A bright colored photo midway down the page usually captures their attention first, so put a picture of your best selling product there.
Keep it clean and uncluttered, with pictures and descriptions of what your product can do for them. Think back to your email or subscription service, and use the most popular items from there on your flyers and brochures.
Newspaper ads were mentioned above, but what about wider readership circulars like magazines? Magazines are another high-budget item in most cases. Magazines usually have a range of ads and prices, but the smaller ads get put in the back and are often not seen by the customers you want.
A larger, full-page ad is the way to go, but these can be costly! Find a magazine that fits with your brand, and is specific to your online store niche. If you want to test the waters first, start with a smaller magazine that is well known but not a huge company. The pricing will reflect the size.
Delve into some paper and online research before pitching an ad to them. What do the ads they have currently promote? What does your competition look like, and how can you stand out from the crowd? What issue of the magazine is the most purchased, and what kind of content does the magazine have? Tailor your ad to fit the magazine while still maintaining your online store brand to get customer’s attention.
Should You Save for Magazine Ads?
Magazines are great for most products, since they sell a wide range of items in each issue. If you are selling a specific product, like hiking backpacks, look at survival and adventure magazines.
For organic soaps or food items, look at health and wellness magazines. A wide-use ranging product sells excellently in magazines, but if you are selling a very specific product your promotion budget might be better spent elsewhere. For example, if you sell figurines then specific blog sites would bring in more traffic for you.
Magazines are meant for products that fit into a general category- beauty, fitness, outdoors, or fashion for example. Products that are meant to be used in various ways, for life improvement, or on a regular basis sell much better in a variety of magazines.
That being said, magazines that exclusively market specific figurines or collectables in smaller circles of readers are relatively common. Those kinds of magazines would be great for online stores selling these products to get ads in, since the customers are usually looking to purchase the items shown. Do some investigating to see what kind of magazine would work best with the products you are selling online.
Paper promotions have a pretty wide-ranging readership and allow you to prepare for in-person meetings. Professional paper promotions make your online store reputation significantly more legitimate, and allow you to make a personal connection with unexpected customers. Don’t discount the old fashioned way of promoting; it worked very well for businesses before the digital age! Having online and physical paper promotions covers all of your bases and expands your audience.
Now that we’ve covered multiple forms of promotions, the next Chapter will tell you how to create and continue eye-catching promotions to use for years to come.
Chapter 6: How to Create and Continue Eye-Catching Promotions
“Creative without strategy is called ‘art’. Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’.”
– Jef I Richards
Now that you know where to post ads and what kind of ads could work for your online store, how do you make ads people will actually look at? After you’ve made your lists of good and bad items in ads you’ve seen, as suggested from the previous chapters, where do you go from there? This chapter will help you get started making ads, and continue creating ads people want to look at.
Creating Promotions that Pop
Colors are always great to use to catch attention. Bright colors stick out from a dull background and immediately draw the eye to your ad. Keep it clean, bright and true to your brand of online store.
For example, if you are a homey, country styled shop, don’t use crazy neon colors to advertise your earth toned coffee mugs. The style difference will be jarring and confusing to readers. Instead, choose your pictures of your products that you want to use and match colors from there. Pull a pale but still bright yellow from your coffee mug picture to use as a border color instead of neon.
Colors that stick out from the rest of the page your ad is on while staying uniform throughout your ad look professional and eye catching. Have very clean, straight lines to mark spaces within your border. The border itself can be wavy or wild, since you do need to stand out, but keep the portions people will be reading free of stray squiggly lines.
Something else to consider is that everyone who makes an ad uses bright colors, so how do you get your ad to stick out from the rest? The answer: use your space wisely.
A cluttered, crazy ad is difficult to read and understand for many customers. In this day and age no one has time to stop and figure out what the ad is trying to tell the customer to go buy. A million other ads that are easier to read are right next to the crazy one, so that is what the customer will go for.
To prevent being cluttered, use your space well. Don’t have it all blank, unfilled space, that is just as bad as too much stuff. Customers aren’t going to look at a boring ad either. Take clear, nice pictures that showcase your product to its best form and put them strategically in your space.
The first thing the customer is going to notice is a picture or the title, so use that split second connection to make them want to keep reading. Put the photos in the middle of your space and slightly off to one side. This guides their eye down the photo and on to the next part of your ad.
Wording in your ad should be short and sweet, and detail everything your customer is looking for. The title should be catchy and make the customer curious. It should make them rethink their current status in life a little bit.
Maybe they are a little indecisive while getting dressed in the morning, and need the clothing item you are selling. Or they didn’t anticipate how much they missed when they remodeled their house. The idea with the title is to make them stop and read your ad.
Other information to include in your ads are any discounts or coupons you are offering, testimonials or reviews from previous customers, and any new items in your online store.
Continuing to Create Ads
Your online store should stay true to your central brand theme, but you are going to always be adding new items and improving constantly to keep up with all the customer preferences in the world. Once you get the hang of creating and posting ads it should be relatively easy to keep creating and progressing with your new ideas.
To stay relevant and fresh, keep an eye on trends and upcoming events. Depending on what your product is, your ad can reflect both your brand and the trend for increased attention, which leads to increased sales.
A quick side note, try to stay away from or handle any political trends very carefully. The wind shifts in politics very quickly, people jump to all sorts of conclusions, which can destroy the reputation of your online store.
Creating your ads is just as important as placement of your ads, so spell check and then double check all your work before posting. After all of the work you put into your ads, how do you know if they are working as effectively as you hope they are? In the next Chapter, we will discuss how to determine if your promotion was a success, and what to do if it wasn’t.
Chapter 7: Was that Promotion Successful?
“There is no such thing as a permanent advertising success.”- Leo Burnett
After all the work you put into creating and placing your ads, and sometimes all the money you spent getting your ad in a high traffic area, how do you know if it was money well spent? How can you quantitatively determine if your ad worked as hard for you as you did creating it? Read on to learn if your ad worked, or if you need to go back to the drawing board.
How Do You Know if Your Ad Was Successful?
The main reason you created your ad in the first place was to bring in more paying customers, so how can you figure out if it did? The first thing to start with when you begin an ad is to look at your website traffic count. Has it increased more than usual since you ran your ad? If it has, your ad is working!
Start a spreadsheet devoted to keeping track of your ads. Include the date you posted the ad, where it was, and how many click throughs your ads are receiving. I would recommend checking these numbers daily to make sure every ad is performing to it’s full potential.
The date and time of year you post your ads can be very significant to your views, so take notes if more customers showed up around holidays or specific times of year. This information will be very useful next year when you can post more ads during the busier traffic times to get even more attention to your online store.
Social Media Ad Success
Social Media Ads are easy to see if they are successful. If you are running paid advertisements on sites like Facebook and Instagram, you will have access to all sorts of data. From like counts, share counts to click throughs, you can quickly determine how successful or unsuccessful your ad was.
Even though likes, shares and comments are a great determination of success, click throughs are your most valuable metric. You could have a thousand likes on your ad, but if no one actually clicked on the link to your store then it wasn’t a very successful ad.
Word of your online store was spread throughout the web, which helps future promotions, but isn’t effective to your sales. Evaluate a way to make clicking on your website link as easy as possible on your next ad.
Move things around a little so your store name and CTA are more visible and inviting. Also, make sure your ad is fun but definitely a product they can buy. Having fun, story-telling photos is great, but if the customer doesn’t know that you are selling a product it’s just a story, not an ad.
How to Bounce Back From a Poor Promotion
With paid ads, breaking even to the ad is an alright compromise, since you technically aren’t out what you put in, but this still isn’t the success you are looking for. What breaking even tells you is that the ad worked to some extent, but it didn’t draw in the number of customers you were hoping to get. In the next ad you place, change your ad around. Include a better picture, make your CTA stick out more or make your colors brighter to attract the attention you want.
It’s a terrible feeling to shell out money for an ad that ends up not being effective, but it happens all too often. Despite the research and effort you put in sometimes would-be customers are finicky creatures and the ad just doesn’t work.
When this happens try not to get discouraged. Even huge companies with an entire floor of employees devoted to statistically promoting ads have failures; it is just a fact of business. The best message you can take from your failed ad is make notes about why it happened and move on to a different method. Take note of the time of year you posted, where you posted the ad, and who your target audience was.
With Social Media ad flops, check your hashtags and your target audience. Are the hashtags you used still popular and relevant? What are new tags that you could include in your next post? As cliché as it sounds, check out what the young people are doing these days to get your next idea for your ad. In most social media platforms, trends start with the teenage or college aged posters, which then trickles up to older users.
For more attention, follow more people in your area of sales. If you sell makeup, follow some famous makeup artists or makeup video creators, for clothes follow models and other fashionable celebrities, and for home goods follow HGTV show runners and magazines. When you break into the big areas of followers more people will notice you.
Now that you know how to create ads, where to post them and how to determine their efficacy you are ready to tackle the world of ads. However, there is one more chapter for you! All of this is a lot of work and a lot of information to handle at once, so what if there was a business platform designed to help you out?
Chapter 8: How to Promote your Online Store with Selz
Selz is a simple to use ecommerce platform that makes starting and running an online store a breeze. With Selz, you can start an online store from scratch, add buy buttons to your existing site, sell from your social pages and more. If you aren’t sure if Selz is right for you, or you want to check out the features before you commit to the payment option, you can try Selz out for fourteen days for free.
The numerous features Selz offers can be used in a multitude of ways for most of the promotional information discussed in this Founder’s Guide. Read on to learn how to make Selz work for you!
Selz Social Media Software
Back in Chapter 2 we discussed how to run ads on social media platforms. There are tons of platforms to choose form, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each platform takes time to set up, and then can take up most of your day continually posting your ads separately to each website.
Selz offers social sharing to use to post once on all the social media platforms you have. A few clicks can submit the ad to all of your social media and save you tons of time that you can use to work on other aspects of your online store, like finding the right magazine for your ads or creating those business cards.
Email Lists and Subscriptions
Chapter 3 was all about how email and starting a subscription service can work as a promotion for your online store. Selz easily integrates with email marketing software like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber and more. When you connect your Selz store to an email marketing platform, it is easy to regulate email lists.
When you link your Selz Store, you can automatically send your new customers’ information into your software of choice. That means you can easily send them welcome emails, thank you emails, promotional emails and subscribe them to your newsletter.
With all of these different programs to choose from and use, you’ll have lots of customers to send your subscription out to!
Adding Social Proof to your Selz store
Selz has partnered with Fomo to give your Selz store social proof. Why is social proof important and how does it increase conversions?
Have you ever been even more excited to try a new restaurant because you see it’s busy and popular? Have you ever bought a shirt after seeing someone wearing it on Instagram? That’s social proof.
Social proof is when users see their peers taking an action, and repeat it. Whether it’s negative, like an empty restaurant (not going in), or something positive, like a shirt on Instagram (buying the same one), social proof has a major effect on how people not only perceive your business, but how they buy as well.
How does social proof increase conversion?
You can have a great marketing program, amazing ads, even a perfect product, but when it comes down to it, people trust their friends’ and peers’ recommendations over all of that. And it doesn’t even have to be known friends, influencers and even strangers can have sway on a user’s decision.
You can see this effect on any ecommerce site right now. Would you rather buy a 3-star product or 5-star product on Amazon? Consumers make choices based on others’ opinions online every single day.
When you use social proof on your site, you’re essentially letting your customers do the pitching for you. There is more trust from verified users than any well-written ad, blog, or product feature. This is a great way to kickstart your online promotions. It’s easy to integrate and happens automatically once set up.
Adding Reviews to your Online store
Reviews are also extremely helpful to promoting your online store. Have you ever made (or didn’t make) a purchase because of the reviews on the product? It’s second nature to trust previous buyers before making a purchasing decision.
With Selz, adding reviews to your online store is seriously simple. Review apps such as Disqus Comments or Yotpo Reviews can be added to your online store with Selz, and you can use information from your reviews in your ads.
Tracking Promotional Success
Selz has a built in tracking program to show you how many views your website received, what the averages are, and whether or not those views came from your ad. If you have trouble keeping an ad-tracking journal up to date or have difficulty calculating your number of views to your website these programs can be very beneficial to your online store.
With Selz, you can also easily integrate Google Analytics with your store. This gives you access to even more information about your online store and your Google ad performance.
For online store owners who have the budget for magazines or high traffic ad campaigns, a sales analytics section can help you determine if sales increased during your promotion.
In addition to all of these software programs and services, Selz also has a blog called FounderU, which is where this Promotions Guide is located. Tons of other online store business information is available for your perusal, and it’s all free.
Check out all different categories, including Business 101, Getting Started and Boss Design. If you are having difficulty with social media, check out Hacking Social for tips and tricks to get your ads front and center. The Hustle section is good if you are feeling overwhelmed with online selling details or need some advice on connecting with customers. Email Marketing can help you with wording those promotional emails and running your email list like a pro.
Founder U is one of the best websites to visit for online sellers, with a huge wealth of information tailored directly to small startup entrepreneurs. The articles are written by people who have their own small online stores or businesses, so they know what they are talking about and have hands on experience. This is a valuable resource to explore for specific issues you need help on, or to just peruse to find new ways of innovating your online store.
Selling online can be a tough, thankless job sometimes. Since you are your own boss and your own employees you have to handle it all, and do it with professional ease. All of these tips and tricks listed throughout this guide can take the confusion out of managing a small online business.
Hopefully this Guide to Promotions will help you start making ads for your online store, or will help maximize the potential of ads you already run for your online store. Downfalls are part of the process, so learn from any setbacks and keep going! More ads will be successful than will fail, and continuing to make ads increases revenue to your online business. Good luck!