So you just finished a Kickstarter – crushed it out of the park I bet.
Well product companies need to scale.
How do you keep that momentum and build something sustainable? For crowdfunders that is the critical challenge.
I’m guessing you’re really good at product design, but this is your first foray into entrepreneurship, especially ecommerce. Did you have a cool idea for a product, bust your butt prototyping, building and testing and then go straight into campaign mode?
If so don’t worry, you’re like 99% of Kickstarter companies out there.
The BIG question now is whether it was your one shining moment or your opening act.
It’s my goal to help you make it the latter.
To do that though you’re going to need a strategy, a PROVEN way to grow and scale the business cause let’s face, volume is where the margins make sense.
So how do you do that? How do you get more customers?
But let’s begin by breaking down the common customer acquisition strategies.
The 6 Startup Strategies to Ecommerce Customer Acquisition
Let’s start with the 800lb gorilla that is paid advertising. Paid ads make up the VAST majority of ecommerce marketing.
From AdWords, PLAs and Amazon to Facebook and everything in between, all big platforms and media outlets turn a pretty penny with paid ads. But they’re not the only winners.
Ecommerce companies pour untold billions(profitably I may add) into channels designed to get customer attention. But big bucks and massive campaigns might not be for you, especially if you’re just starting out.
You can’t shy away either though. PPC is the fastest and MOST scalable strategy store owners have to grow. You’re spending money to make more.
- Easily scalable
- Instantaneous traffic
- Highly targeted
- Challenging to get started
- Competitive click costs
- Can quickly burn through ad spend
Tips: If you’re interested in starting paid traffic(which you should be) it pays to start small. Start exploring Google AdWords and PLAs as your primary ad spend avenues.
Both are great for buyer intent and PLAs in particular convert extremely well.
Surely by now you’ve heard the news – Content is King.
Or at least so they say.
Before you race off to start a blog, build traffic and explosively grow your business with content there’s a few things to consider though.
First, Google seems to be doing everything in their power to eliminate organic search results.
Proof? Paid ads keep taking up more and more of your precious search results.
So that’s certainly something to consider. The other thing though is relevancy.
To demonstrate this let me share a sad story.
So there was this guy, his name was Matt. He stupidly tried to build a dropshipping store(Note: never build a dropshipping store!) selling medieval armor and weaponry.
But paid traffic was a little TOO expensive so he had a brilliant idea: build a blog and get traffic. He wrote dozens of in-depth, historical posts covering all aspects of the Middle Ages.
Traffic soon picked up and Matt was ecstatic, it was working!
…but wait, where were all the sales? The mystical moneymaking WASN’T happening.
Turns out history buffs don’t necessary want to buy awesome armor…
So keep that in mind for your own site. Don’t follow in my follyful footsteps.
If content is key to growing your business and acquiring customers then focus on your target market and keep the content geared towards active buying behaviors.
Content Marketing Pros:
- Builds long term value
- Doesn’t require cash
- Positions your company as a thought leader/value brand
Content Marketing Cons:
- Takes forever to start seeing results
- Takes effort to create content
- Isn’t always high converting traffic
Search engine optimization was all the rage like two years ago.
Internet entrepreneurs were making big bucks quickly ranking sites and stores with shady linking practices…it was lucrative as hell.
The problem is Google’s pretty smart. They caught on, cracked down and now it’s nothing like it used be.
SEO certainly still helps your site rank but it’s more a small piece than any significant portion of the pie.
Most of your SEO cred or link juice as people call it will come from your content anyways so…
Marketers are making social media out to be the second coming of sliced bread…perfect in every situation and obviously incredible with PB&J.
Personally I’m skeptical.
I think it depends on what you’re doing and honestly social falls into two previous categories anyway…either your running paid ads or working the content side of things.
Either way though entrepreneurs usually lump social media into its own pool so we’ll do the same for your business.
So when does it make sense to get started with social – probably right away to be honest. It’s so easy to start, takes time to effectively learn and build up and can yield some killer returns in the long run.
But back to the here and now…and more importantly how. How do you get started?
Facebook and Twitter are pretty obvious but what other channels are worth pursuing? And for that matter what’s all the excitement about paid ads?
Here’s where advice will differ. Experts shouting THIS! THAT. THE OTHER…they’ve all got different opinions and their own reasons for boisterously showcasing their support.
So instead of blindly following the gurus, why not experiment with everything…see what works best. Tweets, pins, posts…you never really know where your message will make strides, you just need to get out in front of your ideal customers and see what happens.
Social Media Pros:
- Easily Targeted Ads
- Everyone’s on social
- Enhanced customer engagement
Social Media Cons:
- Time consuming
- Typically small ROI
- Hard to gauge vanity metrics
Word of Mouth
Let’s talk word of mouth(pun intended), the oldest and most effective of all marketing.
Word of mouth marketing’s built empires, imploded industries and created many of the big brands of today.
It’s the virality we all struggle to understand and achieve.
But what if I told you it was actually easy? What if I said the concepts underlining effective word of mouth marketing were preached and understood by entrepreneurs everywhere…would you believe me?
…don’t lie, you know you wouldn’t. You’d think I was nuts.
But wait a sec…
Why do Apple addicts line the streets why a new iPhone’s released?
Why are they constantly telling PC owners to get a Mac?
Why are these unpaid customers selling the bejezeesus out of a product they purchased?
It makes no sense…it goes against our gut.
Think about it out though, what creates these raving fans…?
BETTER BRAND EXPERIENCES!
That’s virality for you.
When customers love you, are overwhelmed and excited, enthusiastic and all these incredible emotions they can’t fully fathom…they feel that about your company, that’s virality for you. It’s an uncontainable outpouring of support, sharing and love which lifts the tides of a startup company.
But wait, what are some ways to actively encourage virality:
- Incredible customer service, seriously give a shit about your customers – think Zappos
- Outstanding product quality – blow away the competition
- Reward sharing – contests and shoutouts work wonders
- Create a community – think Cult of Mac
- Be original – just go crazy
If email marketing’s not a HUGE piece of your business, you’re leaving money on the table.
Autoresponders and email newsletters are powerful, scalable ways to effectively and profitably grow your business.
But I bet if you’re using them(and most entrepreneurs foolishly aren’t), you’re barely seeing an ROI.
Email marketing can be lucrative, but it’s also hard. With that though, successful companies can see a 4300% ROI on their spend!!!
How crazy is that?
But why’s your startup struggling and how can you profitably grow and expand with email marketing.
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s start at the beginning: what if you don’t have email marketing software?
First things first – go get yourself AWeber. It’s cheap, easy to use and will make you money.
You’re almost ready to start, but there’s two things you NEED know first. Email communication’s made up of two separate segments: autoresponders and email newsletters.
Odds are you’re already employing newsletters.
That’s great…but at the time it’s still not really working. You’re not fully engaging your audience with compelling, brand building content…
…or maybe the frequency’s not quite right.
Either way those newsletters need a retool.
But back to autoresponders…what exactly is an autoresponder?
Well in addition to being a powerful, automated way to engage customers and make money while you sleep, they’re also an incredibly misunderstood medium.
You know those automatic emails when you sign up for a site, reset your password or even purchase a product…that’s an autoresponder – sort of.
Boiled down to its most basic and ineffective form, that’s how they work for most businesses.
But – but – but…it doesn’t have to be that way. Heck, it shouldn’t be that way.
Autoresponders can quite literally cultivate customers, tell a story, create calls to action and build the bottomline and brand of your product. They put incredible interactivity at your fingertips and are a scalable strategy for repeat customer success.
Email Marketing Pros:
- More repeat buyers
- Better customer engagement
- Long term brand building and recognition
- Ridiculous ROI
Email Marketing Cons:
- Hard for beginners to succeed
- Long setup time
That’s all folks. That’s going to wrap up our overview for post crowdfunded customer acquisition.
If you’ve built a successfully startup and struggled through the hurdles of marketing and ads yourself I’d love for you to weigh in. What’s your thoughts on our tips for first time ecommerce owners to scale and grow their businesses and what questions, concerns or advice do you have to truly see business success.
PS. If you enjoyed or benefited from the post, please be sure to share it around so other inventors and entrepreneurs get the same support you do. Cheers.