Throughout this blog emphasis is made about the benefits of e-commerce and how it can serve to propel a business forward in terms of sales, convenience, and added value to the customer or end user. Today I would like to share some thoughts about a very distinctive and complimentary partner of e-commerce: Digital Marketing. If we consider e-commerce functionality to be the celebrated feature which allows a business to extend an added layer of convenience to customers, then digital marketing is the messenger through which you may bring that needed awareness to your target audience and provide or coordinate opportunities for potential customers to engage your brand’s products or services.
For this exercise, let’s orient our thoughts around Company A which represents a retail business who has evolved from a traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ presence to also offering an online e-commerce presence where customers may purchase items through their online store front. We may also extend this example to include Company B which represents a startup without the brick-and-mortar presence. In both cases, each company has an e-commerce website which has the potential to increase sales for the merchant and offer added value to the customer. How does companies A and B reach their respective target customers? The answer is through digital marketing.
Digital marketing utilizes the fundamentals of traditional marketing practices in its general use or application of the marketing funnel paradigm. The marketing funnel defines a strategic approach business may use to engage customers in four distinct stages:
- Stage 1: Awareness (i.e. Customer’s Awareness of your Brand)
- Stage 2: Consideration (i.e. Customer’s Consideration of your Brand)
- Stage 3: Conversion (i.e. Customer’s Conversion to patronize your Brand)
- Stage 4: Loyalty (i.e Customer ‘s Loyalty to the Brand)
Cumulatively, these stages provide a visual representation of the process through which a customer first encounters your brand to becoming a loyal or repeat customer.
In engendering brand awareness, a concerted effort must be spent in first conducting relevant market research. One has to determine who their specific target audience is and thereafter consider what are the best marketing channels at their disposal to reach those customers. Tools such as paid digital ads, social media channels or email are some of the channels that may prove to be effective in reaching your target audience and increasing brand awareness.
Once we’ve established awareness of your brand, the objective is to advance to the ‘consideration’ stage where the goal is to maximize the probability that the customer will be comfortable in making a purchase from your online store front. Some customers at this stage may sign up on your website and provide a contact email address. They may even browse the products on your site and give some thought to your offerings. A good digital marketing strategy at this stage would take advantage of a customer’s curiosity or interest by serving up ads to that customer based on the products they were viewing. They can also be served with specific blog posts that can provide more detailed information that may help them to arrive at a positive outcome and purchase your item. At the end of the day, you to want build trust and help them to remain interested in your brand.
With trust, the way is paved with an opportunity for the ‘conversion’ process to occur. During this stage, your online store should be optimized to ensure the purchasing process is simple and as seamless as possible. In web development we use terms like ‘user experience’ to emphasize that regardless of the manner or creative design or site architecture, it all must serve to create a hassle-free process through which you may allow a customer to purchase your product or service.
Achieving ‘loyalty’ means you’ve now met the customer’s needs and hopefully, you may have even won over a repeat customer. One who feels confidence in your brand and who is comfortable in engaging your business from time to time. Even more importantly, you would have enabled someone to speak or share a positive experience with someone else. In St. Kitts Nevis we always have a saying that ‘word-of-mouth’ can serve to bring new customers at your door. It’s always best when your reputation is so professional and trustworthy, that you attract others to your brand. With proper and careful execution, digital marketing that bring these opportunities closer than you think.