Creating a website development marketing plan is a crucial, but often overlooked, step for maximizing your eCommerce sales. If you don’t have a dedicated website and SEO strategy in place, you may already be missing out on business. Even if you sell your products at brick-and-mortar stores as well as online, many customers engage with a business’s website before making a purchase. Your website is, therefore, one of the most powerful marketing and sales tools in your arsenal.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to developing an effective marketing plan for your eCommerce site.
Image via Flickr by mkhmarketing
Audit Your Site
Before you even start thinking about marketing, make sure your eCommerce site maximizes your customers’ experience. A comprehensive audit of your site design, content, and responsiveness is a critical piece of any website development marketing plan that will help you figure out what you’re already doing well and what needs to be improved.
First, make sure that your site is easy for users to navigate by reviewing your sitemap and navigation bar. Organize the content to make sure that users are able to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. Make a list of all of the types of users who might access your site, such as new vs. existing customers, and make sure your site has the tools and information that each user type is looking for. You’ll also want to ensure that your site has enough information for visitors to understand your products and their value.
Second, take a look at site load times to make sure that user experience is not affected by slow-loading pages. If you would like to improve load times, consider condensing images and video on your site. Finally, make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Mobile responsiveness will help maximize your site’s SEO (see below) in addition to affecting user experience.
Optimize Site SEO
Once your initial audit is complete, the next step in your website development marketing plan should be optimizing your website for SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, affects the online visibility of your site via the unpaid results of search engines like Google. Optimizing your SEO will, therefore, help drive traffic to your site without additional costs to your business. According to Business Insider, almost 40% of eCommerce traffic around the world is generated from search engines, with 35% from organic, or unpaid, searches. This means that search engine traffic is an important component of any marketing plan.
There are a few key strategies you can use to easily improve your site for SEO. Generate keywords that are related to your business (Google’s Keyword Planner tool is one place to start). Once you have developed a list of relevant keywords, write content for your website that includes these keywords. Quality is important, so instead of simply stuffing your content with a bunch of keywords, make sure that they are purposefully integrated into your content.
Load times will also affect your SEO. Large images, theme structure, extensions, and many other elements can affect your site’s load time. Consider enlisting the help of an expert through IronPlane’s speed optimization and code review services to minimize load time on your site. Mobile site responsiveness can also improve your SEO in addition to making it easier for customers to make purchases on your site from a mobile device.
Once you’ve audited your site and optimized SEO, it’s time to build a plan for content marketing. Developing unique and engaging content will not only drive traffic to your online store, but will also help build a lasting relationship with customers who will want to return to your site again and again. Develop a strategy around the type of content you will create, whether that is blog posts, a video series, or e-books. This should include assigning specific team members to content creation and drafting up a calendar for publication of new content. Aim to publish quality content on a regular basis, so your customers know what to expect. While some eCommerce sites neglect content marketing, it’s an important element of creating a website development marketing plan.
Social Media Marketing
Now that you’ve optimized your website, it’s time to make a plan to promote it. Building a robust social media presence across multiple platforms will help build your brand and drive traffic. However, rather than creating a multitude of accounts, focus on building your company’s social media presence on a few key social media platforms that are most likely to be visited by your target customers. Once you’ve identified the best platforms for your business, create accounts and build up your profiles as much as possible to improve your rank in online searches.
Before you even begin extending your site’s reach, make sure you’re connected to existing customers by placing links to your social media profiles on your website, in newsletters, and elsewhere, and encourage customers to connect with you. Next, grow your social media following by posting engaging content, sharing promotions, and sharing links to other sites that your customers might find valuable.
Many social media sites also have specific ways to expand your following through purchasing ads. Facebook offers “sponsored story” ads and “page ads,” while Twitter features Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts. On YouTube, you can purchase in-video ads or pay for promotion by purchasing keywords associated with your content.
Finally, create an email marketing strategy as part of your website development marketing plan. Build out your email list by collecting the email addresses of existing customers. Create an email opt-in form on your website on the main page or through the checkout process. You can also place a CTA, or call-to-action, button on your blog or social media page to collect email addresses. Consider providing an incentive, such as additional loyalty points, coupon or a free e-book, in exchange for collecting customers’ email addresses. Magento offers a number of easy-to-use extensions to help develop an effective email marketing campaign. In particular, we recommend Dotmailer (full disclosure – IronPlane is an official partner of Dotmailer), as it is fully integrated into Magento 2.
Before you dive into marketing your eCommerce site, sit down and create a comprehensive website development marketing plan. This will help you strategically allocate your business’ resources in a way that efficiently and effectively drives traffic to your site, improves your customers’ experience, and ultimately increases sales.