A guest post by Kayleigh Alexandra of MicroStartups
They may say that all people are created equal, but anyone who’s ever suggested the same of businesses (whether thinking that’s how things are or how things should be) should be ignored. From the very earliest concept that gets the ball rolling, each business has unique strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into account for its maximum potential to be reached.
In the world of online retail, though, this can be forgotten all too easily due to the low barrier to entry, the use of generic tools and products, and the sheer saturation of the marketplace. Budding sellers uncertain about what they bring to the table can paint every attempt at eCommerce as a simple crapshoot. That way, if they fail, they can chalk it up to bad luck and nothing more (though they’ll still take the credit in the event that they happen to succeed).
This doesn’t help anyone. Those who want to sell online need to understand that success and failure aren’t arbitrary, and there are inevitably great reasons why some stores achieve success very quickly while others grow much more slowly (or don’t grow at all). And if you want to join the group of speedy successes, you need to do the right things — so let’s look at those reasons:
They’re built on better-optimised platforms
The most basic reason for two stores to be destined for different levels of success is a significant disparity in the optimisation of their platforms. While there are many decent store systems for merchants to choose from, they all have different areas of focus — and then there are the many weak platforms that get chosen because they’re extremely cheap (or because the merchants in question didn’t really know what they were doing and made bad decisions).
A top-notch eCommerce platform will offer various things to help a business grow. Excellent native SEO functionality, superb mobile-first design, robust performance, and even access to convenient plugins (Shopify, for instance, has over 4100 apps in its curated store). Some platforms have other things to tip them over the edge, of course: WooCommerce gets a lot of interest because it’s built on the most dominant general-purpose CMS in the world, WordPress.
They’re paired with stronger content marketing
Simply putting a great online store into place won’t achieve much if you don’t get it noticed. You might be able to eventually get some traffic without active marketing, but it would take a long time. You’d need to wait until Google indexed your site, keep updating it to ensure that it seemed active, and hope that you’d eventually pick up adequate rankings to get some visits.
That could take months if it happened at all. The more visitors you get, the better your site looks for Google, and the more likely you are to get first-page rankings. So how do you get your site noticed? You can use PPC campaigning, of course, but that’s a short-term solution. These days, content marketing is a far stronger strategy overall.
You should have a blog attached to your store (not under a subdomain), which is another reason to choose a CMS like Shopify or WooCommerce. You should update it regularly, focusing on creating high-quality content that answers queries and covers key topics within your online retail niche. You can then use some of that content for outreach: if you can get it posted on some suitable high-authority sites, you can win some essential back-links.
They understand their audiences better
Every eCommerce niche has a different audience, and every seller ultimately has a unique set of followers. This means that trying to appeal to everyone will work against you. You need to know what the members of your specific audience are looking for. What content do they like to read? What topics do they like to see covered? What tone do they like brands to adopt?
This ties into the need for digital marketing auditing: reviewing it from top to bottom to gauge how well it’s performing, keeping the target audience in mind. If the analytics indicate that the content isn’t making much of an impact, it’s cause to radically rethink the strategy — and in the end, the successful online stores are those capable of rapidly adapting based on results.
They’re launched at more suitable times
Lastly, one reason that mustn’t be overlooked is just timing. If you’d launched a mediocre store selling fidget spinners just before the fad caught on, you’d have made quite a lot of money. If you’d launched a fantastic store selling fidget spinners just as the fad lost its momentum, you’d have made far less money. Timing really does make a huge difference.
Does this mean that success is somewhat out of your hands? Well, success is somewhat out of your hands, but not entirely due to timing. Much of timing can be predicted. You can look at trend charts and know fairly well which products will rise and fall in popularity. Many seasoned sellers know how to read the market well in advance of launching additional stores, and time them very carefully to take advantage of demand. You should do the same.
In the end, some stores take off faster than others because they’re built better, marketed better, and/or timed better. You’ll never be able to account for all possible factors, but don’t let that convince you that it’s all arbitrary. Your destiny is in your hands.