Online Retailers

Online retailers—especially dropshippers, who may sell the same products as other stores because they use the same suppliers—are particularly dependent on marketing. People can window shop with brick-and-mortar businesses, but the ecommerce landscape is so saturated with online sellers that it can be tricky to distinguish yourself from the crowd. You know that if you want to make sales, it’s imperative to connect with customers—so what are a few things you will need to do it?

A Niche

Every business needs a niche. When you need to buy something online, do you turn to a generalist that has a few of many different kinds of products, or a specialist that has many types of a few products? This sounds like you are limiting your potential audience size,  that is true—but it’s also okay. You cannot and will not appeal to everyone, so embrace the segment of the market that is most likely to find you interesting. Plus, you will spread yourself too thin if you attempt to market yourself too broadly, so save yourself some time and effort and focus on people who are passionate about the same things you are.

Knowledge about your audience

Once you know what your niche will be, you need to know more about your customers. What are their likes, dislikes, and habits? Larry Alton from says:

“Knowing your customers lets you in on the secrets of what your specific audience loves to see and what annoys them. It gives you an insider perspective on the type of marketing content you need, the media sources you should be using, the sales conventions needed on your website, and the kinds of products and services you should be developing.”

The goal of any business is to fill an unmet need. So, the more you know about your customers, the better you can identify what that need is and how to approach filling it. There are many ways you can get to know your audience and customers (they are not necessarily the same because people who follow you on social media may have never purchased from you). One pragmatic way is through social media analytics tools: some of the best, like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social, can provide you with actionable insights into how your social media campaigns are performing, what posts strike a chord with them, and what you can do better.

A detailed—but flexible—marketing strategy

Once you know a thing or two about your audience (including demographics like occupation, age, and location; as well as income and pain points), it’s time to put it in action with a detailed marketing strategy. The first thing to do is set a goal: what do you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts? Vague statements like “I want to make sales” or “I want lots of social media followers” are not enough—it helps to have concrete goals to work toward, such as, “I want to make X sales by Y point in time.”

Determine the ways you will accomplish said goals. Blog posts, interviews, behind-the-scenes looks, and other kinds of content that answer questions about your business and industry are excellent ways of keeping your audience informed and spreading the word about your store. Video can be an effective medium (such as for producing Instagram stories or running a YouTube channel), so look up “video editing software free download full version” to get started creating high-quality material.

And of course, keep using your social media analytics tools. They can tell you a great deal about which parts of your strategy are effective and which need amending.

User-generated content

User-generated content is content that your audience makes for you. It might be a creative work—in which case, you should always ask for permission before re-sharing it—or it might be something like a tweet with a hashtag you started, or someone tagging you in an Instagram post. Even reviews count as UGC. According to Bootstrapping Commerce, 77 percent of shoppers would rather see photos from other consumers instead of professional ones when shopping online because it gives them a better idea of what products look like in real life and in practice.

Some ways to connect with customers through UGC include hosting contests (in which people create material in hopes of winning a prize), posting testimonials on your website, and publishing a Q&A section on your website with questions from past customers. If you want to build connections with people, it helps to show that you care about what they are saying.

There are many ways to connect with customers, but there are a few things that you’ll need at the beginning to help you out. How will you establish relationships with your audience?