Online Basics To Influence Consumers
The online retail world keeps getting increasingly competitive. It's growing more difficult for online retailers to know how to best promote themselves. Truth be told, as the online landscape continues getting competitive the opportunities to reach your consumers in a credible way keep getting slimmer. You might think that everyone is doing the same thing to compete for your audience’s attention. But, are they really?
Let’s talk about some of the top challenges with online advertising and how to sidestep them with proven strategies to influence consumers.
Challenges in Online Advertising
We Keep Buying More Ads and Reaching Fewer People
One of the mistakes many retailers, especially newer businesses, make is buying more and more online advertisements. While there was a time when pay-per-click advertisements, banner ads, and social media ads were a major revenue source for online retailers, those days are past. When you check the results for each advertisement campaign, you'll likely notice a sizeable decrease in the number of engagements the advertisements garnered.
Just because you're online advertisements are netting the engagements you'd like, it doesn't necessarily mean you should stop using them altogether. It just means you need to get smarter about how you’re using online advertisements. Pay attention to the location and content of the advertisements that are generating a response and focus your resources on those. If an advertisement hasn't gotten a full ROI after a couple of weeks, it's time to pull it.
More Consumer Use Ad Blockers
The use of ad blockers is on the rise and it's creating problems for retailers. Forbes recently reported that 22.7% of online consumers use ad blockers and that the number increases by about 47% each year. Not only does this mean the online retailers who rely on online advertisements aren't getting noticed, but that the websites that rely on the money they get by allowing the ads on their websites are struggling to generate any revenue.
The best way for online retailers to work around the problems created by ad blockers is by changing the way they promote themselves. Today's consumers believe that online retailers shouldn't get something for nothing. They are attracted to the type of promotional material that is also informative or entertaining. This means that instead of dedicating all of your advertising efforts to PPC ads, use some of it to generate high-quality blog posts, website content, and articles.
So how do we move past these challenges? Let’s talk about how to influence consumers today – and in the near future.
Influencing Consumers Today
Online retailers spend a great deal of time trying to come up with ways to influence consumers beyond digital advertising. Here are a few of our favorite strategies.
Work on your domain authority
Domain authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz, a popular SEO expert site. It predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). According to Moz, “Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the "ranking strength" of a website over time.
Nevertheless, Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs, but it does take into account influential factors that you are going to want to work on to get good search results, such as backlinks.
Backlinks are one of the most important SERP factors, and the best way to get backlinks is to produce good, influential content. So work on your content. And then work on distributing your content. Incorporating links into your content will bring good karma. Give what you aim to receive. Being nice always pays off 😉
Here are a few places to check your domain authority:
Get some @s and PR love
Being tagged and mentioned can be even more impactful than full-on media coverage. That being said, get some media coverage as well. The old saying rings very true here “What’s better than talking about yourself? Having other people do it for you.” Good, old-fashioned PR (and it’s modern @ equivalent) is a surefire way to build credibility.
To get those media and influencer relationship going, reach out! Make a list of websites and publications that your target audience read. Get in touch with an editor and send them a short pitch. Make it about the consumer; tell an interesting story, highlight how your product is solving a problem in a unique way… generic “my product is the best thing ever” emails will not get a response. Sometimes, you’ll be directed to the Sales department (coverage for ad), but if you have a good story you might be able to get some free media coverage.
Working with influencers is a whole other deal. Your best bet here is to reach out to a few that you know your audience follows (and trusts), and ask them how they work with brands. Their cost per post will most likely depend on the number of followers they have, but you’ll also want to take a look at their engagement to make sure you’ll get as many eyes on your product as possible. Don’t discount up and coming and local influencers, they might be more willing to barter for mentions and have a deeper connection with your local community.
Don't Build a Community, Build a Cult. It's better!
Building a community with a cult-like passion can mark the difference between making it or not. Getting your audience to actively rally behind your product or service is crucial nowadays. We all know that people are skeptical of brands and blatant advertising. They are more quickly to trust what other consumers have to say. So make sure you give them a platform to speak about your brand – or several.
Social media is the obvious choice – for most. It will depend on what you’re offering and to whom. For example, social media might not be as impactful for highly technical B2B big-ticket items. Retail, on the other hand, can thrive or die in social media. Make sure to adapt your content to each channel, you can recycle the same content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Incentivize your followers to interact with you by offering thought-provoking posts, innovative content and asking for their opinion. But most importantly, don’t make it all about you – make it about your followers and how you fit into their world. And for the love of (insert your biggest love here), engage with your followers. Respond to their comments, share their relevant content, tag them when it’s appropriate.
The ability to leave reviews spans far wider than just review sites. Yes, Yelp and Google reviews can be decisive factors when making a purchase (again, depending on the product or service), but think beyond this to incorporate customer reviews. Actively request testimonials and reviews shortly after purchase. Make sure to include some on your website, collateral, social media, email drip campaigns, even advertising.
We want to include email newsletters as a strategy to build a community. Before you say “what the…”, hear us out. Newsletters are one of the most powerful resources any company can have. We don’t agree that email is dead. And while consumers are moving to a more proactive buying experience, the ROI a good email campaign is unmatched by any other strategy. You build a community by contributing to your audience’s life. Email is a powerful tool to do this. Have you ever curled up with a nice cup of coffee to sort through your email? Do you have certain emails you always skim through when they pop up on your inbox? Have you ever replied to the author of a piece of content you read in an email? This is engagement at its finest – on a one on one level. Your email relationships are intimate, think of them this way. Don’t just blast out generic content, make sure you’re speaking to your people, to your community, and encourage them to answer back.
SEM & SEO
We can’t talk about influencing consumers without mentioning SEO & SEM. Most online retailers are familiar with SEO and understand the importance of making sure they have the highest possible search engine ranking, but surprisingly few of them are familiar with search engine marketing (SEM) and how it helps connect them to members of their target market. SEM does more than simply focus on your web content. It embraces every single aspect of online promotion, including:
- Paid advertisements
- Content marketing
- SEO practices
- GEO targeted ads
Strong knowledge of SEM enables online retailers to generate a maximum ROI on their marketing efforts. SEM is not as simple as it may seem, our best advice is to get an agency that knows their stuff and let them do the heavy lifting.
SEO is still important, it’s fundamental. But you have to look at SEO this way: Owning the right keywords through high-value content is a base to build upon, it’s not enough to throw good content out there and hope that Google will push it up the ranking ladder. You have to help it along with solid technical and on-page SEO and Schema markups.
Prepare for Voice Search
It’s coming, trust us. With the rise of AI assistants, natural language voice commands are increasingly important. Alexa and Siri are not serving up the first page of Google Search, they’re serving up ONE result, the one that they deem as most valuable. Now is the time to make it yours.