Everyone has something to say when it comes to what makes an e-commerce business successful. Most of these ideas are inspired by successes, but more often than not, they won’t apply to everyone. In fact, in some cases, creating your strategy based on what made another company successful could be your biggest mistake.
The following three misconceptions come up time and time again from clients when working on their digital strategy, so I’d like to break them down once and for all.
1. You have a great product that anyone can use, so you should target everyone.
Even if you simply get 1% of the market, you’ve made it, right? Wrong! One of the most common mistakes businesses make when starting out is not considering their target audience — that is, the people who are most likely to buy their product.
Knowing your audience and really understanding what drives their buying decisions is one of the biggest opportunities to gain a competitive edge.
I recently spoke with a company that makes these awesome kid swimming pool floats. “They’re so good that everyone will want one,” they said. Let’s consider this: Would someone without a pool buy a kid’s pool float? Probably not. How about someone who has no kids? Doubtful.
Who would actually buy a product like this? The kid isn’t going to be your audience, but the mom, the dad or the grandparents could be. Now, that’s a niche you can work on. Keep that in mind when you market. Be specific.
To put it simply, you need to create a buyer persona so you can develop content and messaging that appeals specifically to your buyer. Creating a buyer persona takes time and research, but it can make or break a brand, especially online, where it’s super easy to shop around.
Understand why people buy your products. Talk to your team about who they’re interacting with the most and what those people are telling them.
You’ll need to cover the basic demographics of your customer. Establish things like:
• Shopping habits
• Where they go for information and reviews
Above all, keep asking “why.” That way, you can build a full picture of the person who wants to buy your product. It’s better to be incredibly relevant to a smaller audience than somewhat relevant to a wider one. It helps you stand out.
2. Pricing is the No. 1 factor considered when making a purchase.
Wrong again. While it’s true that money makes the world go around, successful brands sell an experience, a feeling.
Take me as an example. I try to watch my weight, but every now and then I treat myself to some ice cream. This doesn’t happen often, so when it does, I buy the best ice cream I can find.
Last time, I ended up buying one that was in a clear tub, and it just looked so indulgent — at double the price of the generic ice cream and 50% more than the branded ones. But I just had to have it. I bet you have done something similar.
Researchers have said that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious — the price just isn’t as important as you may think, in most cases.
You see, everyone has different reasons for buying. If you consider the psychology of purchases, studies show that a consumer’s emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on their intent to buy a product than the ad’s actual content. This means it’s essential to think about the “why” behind the buy. Things like:
• Social cause
• Name recognition
If you manage to stand out because your brand or product is unique, then pricing 10%, 20%, or in some cases, even 100% more than the competition (like the ice cream) may not make a huge difference. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. What’s important is to identify the key drivers behind your customer’s purchases, and price is typically not at the top of the list.
3. This company in the same industry is crushing it, so I should follow their lead.
You shouldn’t. When you attempt to copy what a really strong player is doing, you’re making two mistakes. First, you’re assuming that you have the same unique value proposition (UVP) and/or audience. Second, you’re assuming that you’re even able to copy them.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider what they’re doing, but the big brands are ahead of you because they figured it out already. For that same reason, they have the budget, audience and reach to make certain things work. You don’t.
Instead, focus on your unique selling point — what makes your e-commerce brand stand out from the crowd. Find something you have that no one else does. Start asking yourself questions like:
• Does my brand stand for a cause or a movement that resonates?
• What is the story of the person who founded the company?
• What qualities do the products have that make them stand out?
Make a list, and make sure your audience cares about the items you put on it. I’m 6′ 7″, from Greece and I’m Jewish, so I’m definitely unique! But does my audience care about any of that? Not one bit. They work with me because of my results, my experience or my portfolio of successful web projects.
Your UVP needs to be unique, but it also needs to have value to your customer. I call this your “Unicorn Principle.” Anything from your list that another brand uses or that isn’t of value should be crossed out. The thing that remains is your Unicorn Principle. It is the one thing that makes you, your brand and your product unique and that your audience cares about.
Once you find it, if you use it consistently across the board with your marketing, then you’ll be on your way toward making a ton of sales. That’s how you crush it.
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John is the head of marketing at the 'Australian Marketing Agency'. John's expertise lies in creating outstanding and innovative solutions to help businesses reach their full potential by developing brand stories and user experiences which viscerally connects with the target audience and delivers mind-blowing results.