Stealing a march in e-commerce with multi-channel marketing

There is a wide range of online marketing tools that can level the playing field for
early-stage businesses in e-commerce, says Robert Durkin

There is a wide range of online marketing tools that can level the playing field for early-stage businesses in e-commerce, says Robert Durkin.

More savvy businesses however, are using the diverse range of online channels as low-cost and low-risk tools to quickly establish their e-commerce presence and convert web traffic into sales. These types of online marketing activity provide a powerful means for early stage businesses to compete with larger, more established players.

Shopping around

Google Shopping is arguably the most important for smaller e-commerce brands because it provides a huge source of free traffic. As a seller, you can submit your products for free and should achieve a prominent position on search engine results pages as well as within the Shopping section of Google. 

The fact that many shopping comparison sites put a weighting on the quality of the listing means you can potentially outperform other e-commerce sellers simply by ensuring you provide accurate information on your product’s attributes, price and availability. Google Shopping certainly seems to actively reward e-commerce sellers highly in their search results for uploading accurate information that’s in the right format and includes all of the product attributes they ask for (a format known as a ‘data feed’).

Google Shopping’s ‘Merchant Centre’ includes a tool that assesses the accuracy of your data, so it pays to ensure the information you upload scores ‘100 per cent’ for data accuracy.

Shopping comparison websites, such as Kelkoo, Pricerunner and Shopping.com, also provide a good place to start with performance marketing but as these sites tend to charge for traffic, you need to be careful you optimise your activity with them accordingly.

Paid search

As well as trying to optimise their positioning in natural search results on Google, many e-commerce sellers also pay for sponsored search results for keywords relating to their products. Payment is made on a ‘cost per click’ (CPC) basis, which means you will pay for all traffic driven to your site by Google.

Given that paid search is competitive, it is important to focus on using keywords specific to your product, or long-tail search terms. If you bid on generic search terms such as ‘buy TVs’ for example, it could prove very expensive because you will be competing against many other sellers and much larger players with bigger CPC budgets, while traffic conversion will most likely be lower. Specific search terms, however, like model numbers or unique product titles can be much cheaper to buy and are also more likely to convert because a user searching for a very specific product has probably already decided they want to buy it.

Other market places

It can also be cost-effective to tap into the larger online brands who offer ‘marketplaces’, such as Amazon and eBay. A marketplace allows businesses and individual traders to sell products and services through their e-commerce system, for either a percentage of the sale or for a listing fee. The sale system employed will vary, but is most commonly an auction, fixed price, classified ad or store front.

As with comparison shopping sites, marketplaces enable early-stage businesses to get their products in front of large audiences. However, since there is a cost involved, optimisation is required. Again, a high-quality listing will ensure you stand out from the crowd. On eBay for example, your listing must look professional and include as much detail as possible. Amazon is slightly different, as the listing is limited in size and appears as a buying option for a product they already stock. Thus, your information must be accurate and clear, while you need a good seller rating and price to be attractive to potential buyers.

Affiliate marketing reduces risk

The affiliate channel is another attractive form of marketing that can provide early stage e-commerce brands with access to a large pool of publishers. Affiliates promote your product in exchange for a share of your revenue and charge for traffic on a cost per acquisition (CPA) basis (i.e. if they generate a sale through your website, they charge a small percentage of the value of that sale).

There is a wealth of publishers who are prepared to work in this way, and the best way to get access to them is through an affiliate network that will create your affiliate programme and recommend/recruit relevant affiliates. Affiliates range from price comparison websites, review websites and large content publishers to voucher code sites, paid search agencies and email marketing providers – so this channel gives you access to a diverse range of advertising options, all on a low risk basis. The channel is also extremely innovative, with new publishers appearing all the time and competing against each other to win you sales!

Innovate to accumulate

There are a number of other channels rapidly growing in popularity such as social media and mobile commerce (m-commerce) and if you can think of an innovative way of selling your product through these channels, you stand a great chance of gaining the jump on larger retailers. In the mobile space, tie-ins with partners enabling location-based services or voucher code and QR code offerings can prove highly successful, regardless of the size of your business.

Similarly, social networking sites such as Facebook provide the opportunity for creating quirky propositions and potentially viral campaigns that could catapult your brand into the mainstream and quickly accumulate a large volume of traffic. However, it is important to recognise that these sites were designed for socialising and whilst there seems to be limited appetite from users to transact in this environment, there are myriad ways of engaging them in a way that encourages buying or strengthens your brand.

Channelling your online focus

Crucially, as an early stage business looking to harness the power of the web, you need to take a strategic and low-risk approach. This means creating a plan and sticking to it, having a good understanding of the marketing channels available and proving the market for your product or service.

In the world of digital marketing, innovation is constant so small e-commerce brands can easily steal a march on their larger competitors by being quick and nimble with their activity.

Robert Durkin is the CEO and co-founder of FusePump

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

Early Years Foundation Stage Primary Teacher in Lytham St.Annes

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Early Years and Foundation Stag...

KS1 Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: KS1 Primary Teacher Jobs in Bla...

Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition