Practical Ecommerce

The Case for Launching Sub-Niche Websites

One strategy to grow your ecommerce revenue is to spin-off a subset of your product line onto its own website. With this “sub-niche” website, you can focus your branding, ads, and presentation to the customer who is looking for what you have to offer.

This is not a strategy for the ecommerce novice. In fact, if you have not yet developed one successful ecommerce website, don’t make the mistake spreading yourself too thin by launching several others. But, if you have some ecommerce experience under your belt and have the right kind of products, the sub-niche strategy can reap rewards.

The Reason to Sub-Niche

A successful sub-niche website depends on identifying a particular product line from your main site that (a) has high enough search volume to drive significant traffic, and (b) is substantive enough that you can build an entire website around it. Products from a certain manufacturers, or products for a particular purpose, are excellent candidates. For example, if you have a costume website, 1970s-vintage costumes could be a sub-niche worth focusing on. Or if you sell pond supplies, you might want to make your name as the go-to site for a particular manufacturer of pond pumps and related accessories. Taking your main product line and targeting it at specific geographical areas is another strategy that could make sense in certain cases.

Research

Before committing yourself to creating a family of websites, I would look at your current analytics data as well as using one of the keyword tracking tools, such as WordStream or Wordtracker, to build a set of targeted keywords and get a sense of how much traffic you might be able to drive from these prime phrases. Theoretically, your conversion rate on a sub-niche site should be higher than your general site, assuming you do a good job in creating a professional presentation and offer competitive pricing. But if you find that there is not a rich enough market to justify the added work of building and maintaining another site, then you will be better off focusing on making your main site be the best it can be.

Branding

The strategy of sub-niching relies on the fact that a customer will arrive at your site and immediately realize they have reached the best possible place to buy the exact product they are looking for. Don’t be shy in pointing out your expertise and asserting your leadership in the niche industry you are targeting. Ideally, you will deploy all the same trust elements that you have on your main site and put some energy into developing unique, rich content. If all you have on your site is products, and nothing else that is compelling, your success will depend on your pricing. In a world of large, aggressive retailers, that might not be a game you can afford to play.

Technology

Before forging forward, ensure you have the expertise in place to cost-effectively deploy multiple domains. Likely your sub-niche domains will not achieve the overall revenue of your main domain. A successful sub-niche strategy assumes you are using an ecommerce platform that can handle multiple domains – and all that it implies. Managing products and inventory across multiple sites can be labor-intensive unless you have a database in place that can push your products out to multiple websites and take care of the order processing details.

Marketing and Driving Traffic

You need time to gain search engine traction with any new website. Do you have search marketing expertise, or do you have a team in place that does, to push out additional SEO/PPC campaigns? The success of a sub-niche site relies on driving enough targeted traffic to bring in sales. If you don’t have someone on your team who can effectively build out your marketing campaigns, you likely will find your new site falling short of expectations.

Don’t think that you can just roll out 10 websites with the same product mix and monopolize the first page of Google for your top keywords. Gaining multi-site traction in Google requires building out unique content and product descriptions on each site you are deploying. It can be done, but it takes some work and planning. The bottom-line lesson is that you can’t outfox Google. Take time to build valuable, unique content on any site you deploy and you will be rewarded.

Peripheral Issues to Consider

Having multiple domains can be cause for confusion, both internally and with your customers. Be sure you have considered how to handle processing of orders, email confirmations, and answering email/phone inquiries, so your customers are not left wondering who they are doing business with. You might also need to check in with your payment processor to make sure the way you are doing business with multiple websites complies with its requirements.

Summary

A sub-niche site can be an excellent way to leverage the ecommerce success you have already built and give you a competitive advantage in the eyes of customers who are searching for specific products. As long as you have a strong platform in place and see evidence that you can attract a large enough market with a more focused site, sub-niching can be another avenue for you to build your profits.

 

Michael Stearns

Michael Stearns

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