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By Tiana Byers

As we inch closer to the summer months, now is the optimal time to plan your ecommerce strategy for the holiday season and beyond. Sound too early? It’s not. A reported 40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping well before Halloween. What retailers prepare and plan in the summer ultimately impacts their success in the winter. Whether you’re a seasoned retailer or just starting out, these 5 tips will refocus your marketing and build a successful campaign for better sales year-round.

Keep your brand voice consistent.

No matter what you do, you’ve got to start here. To successfully build momentum and win better sales, you need to ensure your brand persona remains consistent across all social media accounts and sales channels. When customers engage with you, they need to feel like it’s the same person speaking to them through Facebook, ads or email newsletters. A dependable brand persona and subsequent voice will build buyer trust – which in turn leads to better sales and lifelong customers. And just so you know, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire new customers than to maintain repeat shoppers. If you are the CEO, sales associate and marketing manager for your business, keeping your brand voice in check is easier. If you have employees, it gets a little tricky. To check if you’re on the right track, have your employees write down what three words they think describe your brand. Not your product – your persona. If everyone comes up with the same three adjectives (or at least, words that are interchangeable for one another), then you’re good to go. If not, you need to get back to the drawing board. Make sure everyone understands the core voice of your brand. In order for any ecommerce campaign to be successful, now or in the future, your brand needs to be consistent and dependable.

Stick to “pull marketing” only.

Pull marketing – the act of creating relevant content that “pulls” your audience in, is the antithesis of push marketing, aka bombarding your audience with ads and flashing neon “buy my stuff” content. To master pull marketing, you have to create content that an audience of targeted buyers would find interesting. Don’t just spam them with product ads. That will drive away buyers and narrow your audience. For example, let’s say you sell wedding accessories. Avoid doing push marketing, which would litter your Facebook page with posts like, “Look at my products, look at how cool they are, you should buy them.” Boring and aggressive – a very bad combo for sales. Instead, put together a thoughtfully written blog titled “Hottest Trends for May Weddings.” Such a blog is far less promotional, and caters to the needs and interests of the target audience – couples planning for a wedding. By anticipating customer needs and producing content that addresses those questions, you will engage a wider audience of ready-to-buy shoppers. Pull marketing also helps shape you as a definitive expert in your space and encourages buyer trust, which will contribute to better sales long-term.

Team up for friendly co-marketing.

Join forces with a similar or congruent company in your industry, and run a marketing campaign together. Look for other reputable brands, and ask them if they’d be interested in hosting a joint webinar, contest, email marketing blast, etc. Make sure that your co-marketing is timely for your industry and mutually beneficial. I frequently see swimwear brands partner with sunglass retailers, skin care providers and other beach appropriate companies to offer giveaways throughout the summer. Usually, all contest entrants must follow each retailer on the social media platform where the giveaway is hosted, granting you a bigger audience. Oftentimes, they must also tag two to three friends who would be interested in the giveaway, which widens your audience further. Hosting co-marketing events is an inexpensive and fairly easy way to get more potential buyers interested in and engaged with your brand. And, if you can get another company to partner with you, you’re splitting up the work and making it a little easier on yourself. It’s a win-win.

Segment emails for success.

Building up a solid list of email subscribers is essential to your email marketing strategy. Just as crucial, though, is segmenting those emails for maximum impact. You can’t bombard all subscribers with a barrage of different emails, and you can’t expect each of them to engage with you in quite the same way. Some shoppers love getting daily deals delivered to their inbox – others would rather you butt out most of the time. Segmenting emails will result in about 39% better open rates, 28% lower opt-outs or unsubscribes, and 24% better email deliverability, increased sales and revenue. There are innumerable ways to segment your subscriber emails, and the success of each will vary business to business. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Segment based on customer longevity. New customers will want different content than long-term buyers. A welcome email is a good start for new buyers.
  • Segment based on previous purchase. If you sell household goods and a customer purchased a quilt, they may also be interested in sheets, pillowcases or duvets. Send them an email with content that introduces these similar products.
  • Segment based on level of engagement. Ask buyers to join a “club” of sorts, where in exchange for frequent emails, they are also sent exclusive members-only discounts. These are the buyers that are highly interested in your products, and will happily receive near-daily emails (as well as make the most purchases).

Invite customers to be ambassadors.

Get customers to promote your business by enlisting them as brand ambassadors. When you stumble upon buyers who share posts of themselves while using your products, reach out and ask them to be part of the “team,” so to speak. Many companies enroll dedicated brand ambassadors who will offer them (basically) free press by giving them discounts on subsequent purchases. When done correctly, you end up with customers who have an impressive social following and influence promoting your brand in an organic, unprompted manner. Marketing done through brand ambassadors can appear less salesy or pushy, and will pass the “can I trust this” test. If a business tells me to do or buy something, I may be leery. If my friend or an influencer I admire tells me to do or buy something, I am more inclined to listen. Case and point – Oprah’s Book Club. Or, Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list. Basically, anything Oprah endorses. Anything – like pie, for example, or these pretentious herbs – that gets her stamp of approval is guaranteed to sell out. Find the Oprah’s of your industry. Bring them on board as brand ambassadors, and let them introduce your brand to their followers.

Implement these strategies, and you will guarantee a more successful, highly visible ecommerce campaign. Start one-by-one or apply them all. Either way, you will strengthen your sales and get a leg up on your competition.

Tiana Byers is a content marketer and writer for ecomdash. Her favorite author is Oscar Wilde and she is a self-proclaimed Etsy addict.