Posted on April 2, 2014 in Archive

E-tailing is a simple formula, when it comes down to it


While it’s true that online retailing (or e-tailing) is a much bigger enterprise than it was ten years ago, it’s still difficult to find a giant of profitable e-tailing that isn’t everyone’s favourite frenemy, Amazon. This might be because we aren’t creating and marketing our content in a way that creates revenue. 

The Medium article, ‘They like our content but they don’t buy’, by Libert Froidmont, provides some excellent remedies to this, and actually helped explain to me some aspects of the marketing process that I was not previously aware of. The title really says it all – it’s easy to get people interested in a product on social media, or get them to say that the concept of your product sounds cool. But it isn’t so easy to get them to give you some money for that product. It’s the same (but different) as being in a physical store or shopping centre. It’s the same because you have to market your product to the customer, who has to see enough value to warrant signing away their dollars and livelihood to you (oh, pardon; I meant that they give you their credit card).

Online, it’s different because they can’t hold the product in their hands, sometimes it might not be a physical object at all (as is the case with ebooks and software, technological wares in general). Therefore, all the selling and marketing is restricted to what you can put on the product page, or what information you can get across to the consumer. So your marketing strategy has to be different.

So, there are several things you can do if you are struggling to market your products online. This could apply anywhere from ebooks to pasta sauce (don’t tell me you can’t find that online). If you are familiar with marketing and how to profit at online ventures, then this will probably already be familiar to you, but it’s worth reviewing, in any case.

  • Social media is the most obvious way to track interest and gain attention, but be aware – you actually need to have something to say! Content-heavy e-tailers need to make sure that if they are going to wax lyrical about their product on Facebook (without losing ‘likes’ on the daily), they need to make sure the content they do put up is worthy. But then again, if your content isn’t worth marketing without further investment, maybe you should be considering your initial product and marketing plan. Just a thought. As an example of brands investing in content as a means of generating content, Net-A-Porter has branched out from high-end online fashion e-tailer to magazines concerning women’s lifestyles in general. And high-end fashion that can be purchased online, of course.
  • Make sure your writing is suited to your target audience. This is 101-level stuff. You should have your market clearly identified, down to the niches if possible. You also need to realise that the writing style, content and tone should be meaningful to your audience – there’s no point posting like a stockbroker if your audience is for ebooks about holistic lifestyles. Write about stuff they will like.
  • Don’t get funnelled: Okay, so this might require a bit of clarification if you haven’t read the Medium article. Froidmont’s strategy involved a social media presence, newsletter and a magazine that would organically, slowly lead the consumer to the online shop. This didn’t happen – people stopped at the magazine. The funnel ceased to operate. The point of this is, always make sure there is a method to get consumers from the stage of exploring your content (free chapters available online, maybe?) to actually be happy to pay for it.
  • Be prepared to sell something! That’s what this is all about, after all. Make sure that your content creators are on track and on-message for selling something.

This could all easily apply to any kind of online retailing, but many self-publishers and e-publishers seem to struggle to get themselves out there and profiting. Froidmont is more technical in his writing and use of language, but hopefully this blog is something of a helpful step along the way. Happy e-tailing!