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by Tom Howlett on 16th April 2012
Some of these platforms work well alongside your main website, some have replaced the need for an ecommerce site entirely and work as a standalone solution for Internet-based sales and promotion.
Facebook is a site many of you should be familiar with. One of the most effective ways of selling products if you can make it work is to be active on Facebook. Sharing news, connecting with fans, throwing competitions and persuading your fans to share information is great for getting your product in front of the right eyes. This is generally more time consuming, you have to keep at it to see significant increases in sales but it can work if you put the time in.
Twitter is another popular social site you can use to increase sales and promote products. Once you have a number of followers, you have people who are interested in your brand or your products and you can promote any new products or information to this audience. If they like what they see then there is a good chance that they will then share the information you tweet with other followers. Similar to Facebook, Twitter requires a lot of time put in for it to have a significant effect on sales. You also have to be sure to avoid being too self promotional so as not to annoy your followers.
Pinterest is a relatively new platform that has exploded onto the scene lately. The whole platform enables users to create theme focused boards to which they can pin images to from across the web. Considering the ease of creating a new pin and the number of people who use and are willing to re-pin things they like, it can be great for exposing your products and website to a whole new crowd. The platform is completely free and is easy to set up which means that it is worth regularly posting; even if you do not see much from this initially, it only takes a few people re-pinning your pins to get a decent level of traffic from it.
There are quite a few daily deal sites around nowadays, the most notable being Groupon and Living Social. These sites are centred on offering consumers great deals on products, gifts and holidays based on a certain number of people purchasing. If companies choose to use the platform for promotion, they can create a lot of sales in a fairly short period of time and also increase the awareness of the brand. There is a good chance that these people may return to purchase again after the initial daily deal purchase. It is worth noting that there have been times where people have underestimated the number of sales that can be achieved through these types of platforms and have found themselves in a position where they cannot fulfil the orders.
All in One Platforms
Shopify is a complete ecommerce and hosting platform that allows you to set up your own shop, selling whatever you like without having to attempt to build your own site or to spend lots of money getting this done. You can easily build your store and customise it as you like and there are various pricing solutions available to you to suit your needs. It is more expensive than hosting your own site, however you can potentially save a lot as the development cost of an ecommerce site can be quite high.
Big Cartel is much the same as Shopify however it is mainly aimed at clothing designers, jewellery makers, bands etc. This solution offers full customisation of the sites and does not take a percentage of the sales generated through the site which makes it a good solution for smaller, independent, from home-based businesses.
Google Shopping Results
If you are actively selling products online, one great way of promoting the products is to get them listed to display on the Google shopping results. These results are sometimes displayed on the Google search results pages for various product queries. It can be a great way to gain more business and send more traffic to your website, especially if your business offers products cheaper than your competitors.
To start using the Google shopping results you will need to be signed up to the Google Merchant Center and upload data related to the products you sell.
The power of videos is still largely underestimated. There is a huge audience on sites like YouTube and other similar platforms where people are likely to search for products and related reviews. If you create some well thought out, informative and good quality videos, you may be able to capture the attention of an audience that previously might not have found you.
Videos also appear in the search results within Google and other search engines. They typically get shown on the first page which could be a good way of gaining an audience for more competitive keywords or just dominating that page if you are already ranking for that keyword.
Reviews can help send traffic to your site, they can also persuade someone to make a purchase once they arrive. There are various ways in which reviews can be utilised for your benefit. Firstly you can make sure you are listed on the many external review sites so happy customers can find you if they wish to comment on a good experience, some examples include Review Centre and The best of. This can help send visitors to your site if people are using these directories.
You can also display reviews on your own website to help improve the number of sales you are likely to receive. People are much more likely to purchase if they can see that others have previously used the site and have been happy with their experience or products. If you have a number of good reviews on your website or other external sites, you can draw attention to these by using Rich Snippets. This will display the average rating within the search results and help encourage searchers to click through to your website.
Ebay is still a great way to sell products online. You can run an Ebay shop alongside your other sites and methods of selling products. It will cost you a bit more for the privilege of using the Ebay platform, but it will help get your products in front of more people, especially as it has millions of users.
Even though email is a comparatively old technology within the internet world, it can still be a great way to build awareness of new products to existing and new customers. Usually if someone has given you their email, they are already interested in your products. This gives you a chance to entice them with special offers or highlight to them products that they might like.
Everyone loves to get something for free; this can be a useful way of gaining new customers. There are various ways of doing this; some platforms enable the user to get the free item if they enter their email or if they send a Tweet to their Twitter followers. Free products can easily lead to organic promotion if done successfully and gain you long term customers. The food company Graze do this well by offering people who sign up a free first box with an easily acquirable voucher code.
Creating an affiliate program can help expand your reach to gain more sales and customers. Why not have people interested in your products do some promotion for a bit of commission for referrals that result in a sale.
Landing Pages & PPC
Pay Per Click (PPC) offers a guaranteed way to get visitors to your website. It ensures that you have full control over the amount of money you spend and if you have a rough idea of the percentage of visitors that convert when visiting the website, you can make sure that you always return a profit. By combining a well optimised PPC campaign with targeted landing pages you can make sure that each visitor is likely to be interested in the products you are selling. It is then down to the landing pages to convince them to make the purchase.
Remarketing is a strand of PPC. It will create a list of visitors to your website and is able to track them with a cookie. Once you have built up a list, these people can be targeted with ads on other websites they visit. As they have previously visited your website, you can be fairly confident that they are interested in your products. Targeting these people with a banner campaign can be a useful way to build awareness of a promotion or sale, promote any new products or just create a second chance to convert them into customers.
Girl holding bowl of lemons via BigStock