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Whether you’re starting your first online business or you’re going at it for the tenth time, it can be daunting to know what to do first when it comes to your business. Sometimes, it’s great to go back to the online marketing basics to steer your business in the right direction.

Online marketing is always changing, and staying up to date can be time-consuming and downright confusing.

Don’t be a deer in headlights with all the choices out there. We’ve rounded up the 3 online marketing basics that will work for any kind of ecommerce business. Some of these are old favorites while others are trending techniques that you’ll need to have for a successful year ahead.

Let’s get started.

1) Email

Sometimes, old friends are the best friends. Email has been in our lives since the early 90’s, and unlike some things from back then (scrunchies, Vanilla Ice, Hypercolor t-shirts) it’s evolved into something that we just can’t ‘business’ without. Email is super versatile and immensely effective. Here are just some of the ways that you need to be using email for your ecommerce business.

Abandoned cart emails.

What is it? Abandoned carts will capture the email address of any customer that gets part way through your store’s checkout, and then send them a friendly, automated email inviting them to finish their purchase if they abandon it part way. You only need to set it up once, and then it does all the work for you.

Why use it? Research shows that around 68% of customers abandon their carts in ecommerce stores. Sending out an abandoned cart email helps to bring those customers back to your store to finish off what they started.

How to use it? Easy! Simply install an abandoned cart app to your store and set up the kind of automation that you want. They key is to craft an enticing email that your customer can’t say no to. We’ve got a template that you can use for the best results.

Mailing list

What is it? A mailing list is a list of emails that you collect either from visitors to your website or past customers. Using an email marketing tool like MailChimp or AWeber, this will be your list that you send any promotional content to. You might use it to promote sales, news, or share knowledge with people that are keen to hear from you. It’s an opt-in only setup, so whatever you send out via email is exclusive to those who have chosen to be on your list.

Why use it? Direct email is still the most effective way to market online, and it’s not going anywhere. It’s also the best way to ‘own’ your own customer data and relationship, unlike a social media relationship which is owned by the social media platform and is subject to their terms.

How to set it up? First you need to pick an email marketing tool to use. MailChimp is super user-friendly and it’s free when you’re just starting out with a small email base. Create your list and start adding to it! Use a lead magnet (we’ll talk about those later) on your website to hook in subscribers and use our free MailChimp app to automatically send customer data to your list. Then it’s up to you to regularly communicate with your subscribers. Check out our guide for more basics of email marketing.

Customized receipts

What is it? Every time you buy something from an online retailer, you’re sent a receipt to your email address. Smart online stores will make sure that piece of communication isn’t wasted by customizing the message that you get, along with your purchase info.

Why use it? Existing customers are more likely to buy from you than a brand new customer, so it makes sense to offer up another opportunity to buy from you (especially while they’re in the shopping zone). It’s a great time to offer them a discount on their next purchase as well as give those post-purchase good feels with your distinct branding and voice. We love bundling products at a discounted price or anchoring products to influence another purchase.

How to set it up? Like the abandoned cart email, this one just takes a few minutes to set up and then you’re set! All you need to do is add the app and then configure your email.

2) Social Media

Instagram

What is it? Instagram is a photo sharing tool which is the proven most effective social channel for converting ecommerce sales, particularly in the millennial female demographic. It uses all the usual social media functions like following, liking and tagging, but its real power lies in hashtags, which do the work for you.

Online Marketing Basics

Why use it? Instagram is by no means new, but because it only recently added advertising and multiple account switching to its functionality it still has a genuine and untarnished feel. Followers of brands and high-level influencers on Instagram are fanatical: They like, share, buy, and see the channel as a way to keep up to date with the latest trends and news. It’s almost purely a visual tool, so if you’ve got a product or brand that lends itself to beautiful imagery, then Instagram can work wonders for your brand.

How to use it best? Beautiful images and genuine engagement are what it’s all about in the Instagram world. Social Media Examiner agrees that hashtags are particularly valuable on Instagram so they’re worth using strategically within your niche. While it is a very simple tool, there are a bunch of things to consider when firing out those posts. We’ve got a free ebook to get you growing your business with Instagram.

Facebook

What is it? No explanation needed here. With over a billion users, chances are you (and your grandma) are already using Facebook. It’s a standard basic online marketing tool for most businesses.

Why use it? Facebook is almost an expected component of any businesses online presence. While changes to the way they allow business pages to interact on the platform in recent years have been criticized by business owners big and small, it’s still a great place to interact with potential buyers. Part of this is simply building trust—buyers are more likely to trust a brand that has a Facebook page with follower engagement, and therefore more likely to buy from them. It’s also an excellent place to actually sell from.

How to use it best? Consistent, regular updates and responding to comments and questions in a timely manner will get you far on Facebook. If you’ve got a decent following there then it makes sense to make your store available on Facebook too, so that your buyers don’t have to leave your page to make a purchase.

3) SEO

The dark knight of online marketing, SEO isn’t as sexy or fun as other marketing techniques but it’s one of the most effective things you can do to get your business found online.

What is it? Search Engine Optimisation basically refers to ways that you can push your website up the ranks on Google. It can be complex depending on how deep you want to go, but there are absolutely some simple steps that everyone can take to get started with SEO.

Why use it? There’s more to starting a business than simply throwing up and online store or website. The key to your success is getting found, and the more people that find your business, the more sales you’re likely to make. 91% of all clicks in Google search happen on the first page, so it’s well with doing everything you can to get there.

How to use it? Keywords are the first port of call for SEO. Think about what kind of words a buyer might be using to search for the kind of products you sell. For example, if you sell snowboards, what would your buyer likely be searching for when they’re looking to buy a new board? Chances are they have a brand or feature in mind, so you might want to include phrases like “Burton snowboard”, along with “Rocker” or “Alpine” to indicate the style. Getting specific isn’t a bad thing, it just means that you’ll be able to target potential buyers that are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Make sure you include your keywords in your image descriptions, product URLs, and any meta descriptions. If you’re using one of our Design and Pages themes then you’ll be able to all this info to every product description.

We’d love to know what else you’d like to learn about, or what you’d like us to dive deeper into. Let us know in the comments below!

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About the author

Melissa Whidjaya

Melissa Whidjaya

Melissa is the co-founder of Bloombox Co. Bloombox Co works to connect flower growers and flower buyers, creating a distribution system that reduces waste, improves profitability for growers, and removes barriers to consumption, providing flower lovers with a fresher, more sustainable product than ever before.