Fashion + Ecommerce, Part 6: Developing a Marketing Plan

Congrats! You’ve added all your products, you’ve set shipping parameters and you’ve created your new social channels. But now it’s time to show the world what sets your store apart with a dynamic marketing plan.

Let’s be real. There are a ton of fashion brands out there, and the competition has never been fiercer. You have to define what makes you special. Do you have a great customer service team? Are your designs super chic? Do you have a compelling backstory? Maybe you are known for only using ethically-sourced materials. Whatever it is, your unique selling proposition should be at the core of your marketing plan.

Once you’ve identified your store’s secret sauce, think about your audience. Who are they, and where can they be found? Great marketing plans are all about how you can convey your message to your target market through various mediums. Search engine optimization, social media, paid search ads, email marketing and blogging are all important marketing techniques for fashion entrepreneurs.

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So put your thinking cap on and start doing your research. Pinpoint which marketing avenues your target market prefers and create a plan. Developing a content calendar or a three-month tactical plan can help you determine what and when you should advertise and where you should promote your website.

If you’re selling clothing to a younger, millennial market, social media is the way to go. About 90% of young adults, ages 18-29, use social media. And for tech-savvy Millennials, social media is actually the preferred communication tool for connecting with businesses. Post engaging content and photos on fashion-forward networks like Polyvore, Instagram, Wanelo, Tumblr and Pinterest. Maybe even set up some social media ads! But be sure to get involved and get engaged with potential customers in your target audience.

If your store caters to an older demographic, try paid ads or a tried-and-true email marketing campaign. Email marketing actually offers the best return on investment and generates more leads when compared to other advertising campaigns. Add your social buttons to your emails to bring your marketing efforts full circle.
When you’re just starting out, earning traffic can be a real pain. But don’t get discouraged if you only see your friends and family browsing your site. Start out small. Concentrate on getting traffic to your site through search engine optimization. Once your store has been established, work on turning those visitors into loyal customers.

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Getting SEO-Friendly

Search engine optimization can be a slow and steady process. When creating a new business, you’re probably anxious to start making sales. So you may be thinking,
“I ain’t got no time for that!” But chill for a sec. SEO is an essential marketing tool that can help boost visibility to your online store organically.

The sooner you implement search engine optimization best practices to your site, the sooner Google can index your store and start directing relevant traffic your way. Obviously the more people who see your store, the more chances you have for visitors to purchase.

So where do you start? Before you do anything, get set up on Google Analytics immediately. It’s free and it can give you a wealth of information on the status of your site. It tracks where traffic is coming from and collects data on the visitors coming to your store.

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Once you check Google Analytics off your list, start making category pages and products SEO-ready by writing unique, engaging and informative product URLs, titles and descriptions. Include descriptive, relevant keywords that could lead searchers to your products. But be specific! For instance, a little black dress is not JUST a little black dress. Is it a black cotton fit-and-flare dress or is it a black lace bodycon dress? Insert important adjectives into the product titles such as material, color, design and brand name to make sure users have all the information they need. This increases conversions and limits the amount of people returning items to your store.

Detailed titles and descriptions also make it easier for search engines to crawl this information on your site and serve your products to relevant prospects.
Ensuring all of your products and category pages are SEO-friendly definitely takes more than a hot minute. It can be a big process, but the earlier you start, the earlier your store will be in great shape. If you’re looking for more of an instant return, paid search campaigns like pay-per-click advertising and product listing ads can satisfy your “get money now” appetite.

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Get Going with PPC

Pay per click advertising (PPC) is a great way to hit the ground running with your new store. These are ads that appear at the top (and bottom) of a search engine result page. You heard us right – they’re at the top of the page. That’s prime real estate! As such, this makes PPC one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your name out there and get people visiting your site.

The best part of all this is that you only spend what you’re comfortable spending. While it is true that pay per click ads will cost some money, you don’t have to empty your bank account for it. You set your daily budget and the amount you are willing to spend for a visit to your site. You create ads, and tell Google what types of phrases you want to show up for in search. When someone uses the Internet and searches for those terms and keywords, your ad has a chance to be served up to potential shoppers. When someone clicks on that ad, they’re brought to a corresponding category page on your site, where they can browse and start buying! It’s that simple.

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You’ll have to create an AdWords campaign and input your billing information to get started. Don’t worry about keeping track of a new username and password – you can set this up under the same email address you used for Analytics. Once you do, you’ll see that there are a few different types of ads you can create within AdWords. Some of the coolest ads are product listing ads, which incorporate information like your product price and pictures right in the ad! We’re sure we don’t have to tell you that being able to show shoppers pictures of that dress you’re trying to sell is a huge advantage, and it leads to buyers that are more engaged and on board with what you’re selling right from the get-go.

You can even make special ads for people that have already visited your site, making your store more memorable, and possibly even getting someone to change their mind and splurge on those shoes they were iffy about.

Paid ads can be great for bringing traffic to your site right away, and the revenue you generate can help you out while you work toward a long-term marketing project like SEO. With the myriad options of ways to promote your products, as well as the flexibility to pay what you want, there’s no reason not to give it a shot!

TO SUM IT UP

  • FIGURE OUT YOUR MARKETING PLAN. There are probably plenty of companies out there that are similar to your own. Which is why you need to find what makes you special, and then let everyone know about it. Who is your market, and how are you going to show them how awesome you are? For a younger audience, social media marketing is your best bet. Do your customers skew older? Try your hand at email campaigns.

  • SEO IS A MUST. Navigating the world of search engine optimization can be confusing at first, but you’re gonna have to do it if you want to get ahead of the Google pack. Start off by downloading and familiarizing yourself with Google Analytics, which will help you see how you rank for your key terms. And be specific as possible with the item descriptions on your site; search engines love attention to detail!

  • GET INSTANT GRATIFICATION WITH PPC. Pay per click ads cost money, but they’ll also get you immediately showing up in search results. Familiarize yourself with Google AdWords and see if PPC is the right option for your store. This can be a good way of getting eyeballs to your site while you’re still waiting for your SEO to kick into gear.