The past year has seen every aspect of daily life change, including how people shop and buy. Social distancing measures and lockdowns have meant that consumers are embracing all things e-commerce and adapting to a primarily online shopping experience.
For both survival and as a long-term strategy, businesses have gone 'all in' by transitioning into the digital sphere. However, this mass move has meant greater competition and saturation across markets. Small or young companies with limited resources are finding it difficult to attract, engage and convert new customers -- especially when up against seasoned giants with disposable profits.
Still, there are affordable and effective ways to attract customers to your online store. Here are a few of them.
1. Collect qualitative data by promoting organic content
Your most loyal customers want to engage with you -- so why not reward them for it? By now the story of the skateboarder who lip-synced to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" while taking swigs from a bottle of cranberry juice has become something of a ubiquitous example of a well-established brand realizing they can market on a platform they weren't entirely familiar with.
Ocean Spray took a moment to jump on the idea of making a commercial from TikTok users imitating the viral video, but once they did, marketers everywhere took note, asking: "Well, what took them so long?" It then became apparent that companies who don't have a strategy based around engaging with their most loyal customers' fan-generated content are already missing out on something big.
And that's not to say this phenomenon is wholly inclusive of TikTok as a platform specifically, or that you should take a too-broad view of video content as a marketing medium in general. But all that user-generated content based around your brand offers a rich trove of qualitative data for you to readily tap into.
The simplest way to do this is to ask targeted questions of your biggest fans online in an open-ended manner and monitor the results on social media. Those questions can include:
- How do you use our product?
- Can you show us a video of some creative uses we haven't thought of?
- What's one way we make your life easier?
2. Invest in a good social CRM
There's no point in outreach if you're not going to collect and organize that data in a way that flows with your business and allows you to set and reach long-term goals. The best way to do this is to integrate your marketing content strategy into a social CRM that meshes with the type of qualitative data and user-generated insights from your social media accounts that you need to make strategic moves.
There's a lot to choose from when selecting the social CRM that's right for your business, but many of them offer similar services such as social listening, sentiment analysis, social selling and social marketing. By integrating your content strategy into a social CRM, you'll be able to harvest insights generated through customer interaction and gain a valuable edge. This is key when it comes to analyzing the deeper meaning behind why your customers seek to engage with you organically through user-generated content.
The spike in user-generated content created by housebound consumers during the pandemic and the new shift toward social media marketing as the new word of mouth is real and here to stay. Tracking what people say about your company is now just as important as attracting customers to your online store in the first place.
3. Attract traffic with a competition
Enticing customers to your website can be tricky, so you need to take a route that grabs people's attention and shapes playful interactions from the very beginning. Competitions are ready-made for this; users are drawn in by the prize and your business gets greater visibility.
The competition you run should reflect your brand personality and mission. If it's too vague, users won't connect it with your business and you'll lose the positive association. Try to incorporate your tone and vision in the competition copy, be consistent with formatting, and of course, offer your product or service as part of the prize. For example, The Real Show BBQ held a competition on Father's Day giving away its steak and burgers to people who nominated their dads and said why they were worthy of the goods. By positioning their food as a sought-after prize and linking people's sentimental emotions with their product, The Real Show BBQ competition had hundreds of applicants and a noticeable traffic uptick.
Caption competitions -- like this clever contest from Super Moose Toys in which users submit a sentence and hashtag for a photo, video or post -- have proven to get good traction as well, as they encourage people's creativity, and make them relate to your brand more strongly.
Timing is crucial
Moving online might sound scary, but you should view it as an opportunity to maximize your business's reach, welcome new users and offer an updated experience for previous customers. That said, timing is crucial. The earlier you can establish a solid online foundation, the better your footing will be to experiment and build on top of that success as you move forward.
About the author
Boris Pfeiffer is the CEO and co-founder of Riddle.com. Before launching Riddle in 2014, Boris was heavily involved in the online gaming industry with a focus on sales and marketing -- first managing European operations of Kabam, then setting up his own game studio. Boris has deep roots in the global startup space, having created tech businesses in Asia, the U.S., and throughout Europe. He's a published author of Facebook Fan Pages (2011) and Quizmaster (2017), married and father of two, and in his rare leisure time, can often be found enthusiastically (if badly) swinging away at the local golf course.