Marketing may be the single most important task an ecommerce business must tackle.
To paraphrase Sam Hill and Glenn Rifkin, the authors of Radical Marketing: From Harvard to Harley, Lessons From Ten That Broke the Rules and Made It Big, an ecommerce business can survive using an Excel spreadsheet for its only account software, a folding table as the shipping department, and a garage as a warehouse; but it cannot survive without customers. And without marketing there will likely be few of those.
There are certainly some tried-and-true forms of ecommerce marketing. My personal favorites include email and pay-per-click advertising, but to succeed at marketing, companies have to be willing — from time to time — to take something of a chance.
In this article, I am going to share three crazy new marketing ideas that you can try at your ecommerce business, if you’re brave enough.
Give Away Products to Everyone That “Likes” Your Store
There are a number of estimates regarding how much a Facebook “Like” is worth to a retailer. For example, according to Jean Pascal Mathieu of Digital for Real Life, group-publishing platform ChompOn places the value for a “Like” at $8.
Separately, Syncapse released a report in June of 2010 stating that Facebook fans spend an additional $71.84 per year on products they “Like,” are 28 percent more likely to be loyal, and are 41 percent more likely to recommend a product.
If those sorts of numbers hold true for ecommerce businesses, a “Like” might really be worth something.
So give the folks that “Like” your store on Facebook something for nothing.
Imagine that you have 2,000 Facebook “Likes.” Start by announcing that when you reach 5,000 “Likes,” you will give everyone of your Fans a free product, shipped directly to the Fan at no charge. You should even prepare a big banner for your Facebook welcome page indicating the same.
Continue to promote the giveaway, until you hit reach the goal. Then provide a form on your Facebook page that “Likers” can fill out to claim their free gift. Next send the gifts, along with a 10 percent off coupon for their next order.
Go On Tour
Social media is altering human behavior. If you don’t believe that premise, see foursquare, SCVNGR, Yelp, or Facebook Places. Part of that change, in my opinion, is a willingness to engage with acquaintances. So take advantage of that willingness by taking your ecommerce business on tour.
Here’s the crazy idea. Schedule a series of shows, concerts, or classes. For example, if you sell skateboarding equipment, travel with a half pipe and offer a show and a trick clinic at each stop. If you sell grills, schedule a series of cookouts in public parks.
At each stop have a computer set up so that event-goers can check out your site, and be sure to give away a trinket with the store URL and logo on it and a 10 percent off coupon, so that you can track sales related to the events.
You should market the tour on your site, on Facebook, and on location-based services like foursquare. You’ll also want to blog about the adventure on your store blog.
Produce Your Own Television Web Show
I was impressed to learn recently that Sig Ueland, a writer for Practical Ecommerce, is also a writer for the web series Space Hospital.
This bit of information about Sig and a recent encounter with the 1950’s radio program The Alka-Seltzer Show starring Martha Tilton got me thinking about title sponsorships on entertainment programming.
So here is the third crazy marketing idea. Produce your own, store-branded web series — The “Insert Your Store Name Here” Show.
There are several, relatively low budget web shows that have huge followings. Consider modeling your series after one of these gems.
In this article, I have presented you with three crazy marketing ideas. But the truth is that I think each of these have some merit. Please share your own crazy ideas in the comments below.