How (and Why) to Diversify Your Ecommerce Marketing Channels Before It’s Too Late
Is your ecommerce business relying heavily on a single marketing platform? (Hint: You probably are.)
If you’re seeing high ROI on one channel, it’s tempting to put on your blinders and focus on the one channel that’s bringing in the most money.
Let me tell you: That strategy works until it doesn’t… and by then, it’s too late.
Take Facebook, for example. It’s no secret that Facebook ads don’t perform the way they used to. The space has become more crowded and algorithms have changed, making ads more expensive and significant ROAS difficult to achieve. As Facebook sees more and more restrictions on their access to data (and as privacy becomes more important), Facebook ads will continue to decline in performance. The brands that rely solely on Facebook for customer acquisition are particularly vulnerable to these changes.
As the marketing landscape continues to change, you don’t want to rely too heavily on a platform that’s out of your control. Just imagine: What would you do if your Facebook ad account was shut down unexpectedly? (It happens a lot.) Or if the platform itself was shut down?
If you want stable, healthy growth for your business, make marketing channel diversification a top priority. Even if your ads are performing well at the moment, now is the time to create a diversified marketing strategy.
In this post, we’ll outline the first steps you should take toward diversification and which marketing opportunities every ecommerce business should consider.
How to Diversify Your Marketing Strategy
Here are 5 simple steps to start diversifying your marketing strategy today:
1. Shift Your Mindset
We all know that long-term mindsets win, but most ecommerce businesses are operating from a short-term mindset.
When you can run an ad and get a purchase in an instant, it’s easy to become addicted to immediate ROI. The emphasis on attribution data doesn’t help, and neither do the gurus who say you should only put your money into what’s working right now (don’t listen to them).
In order to diversify, you must first break your addiction to immediate ROI. Diversification is an investment in the long-term growth and success of your business, not an instant win. Exploring new marketing channels requires some investment without any expected return.
2. Identify Your Budget
Continuing with our point above, identify your budget for this first phase of diversification before you begin. It’s important to know how much money you’re able to invest in testing several different opportunities without any expected return.
You have an R&D budget, right? Budgeting for R&D is crucial for your business’s growth. One of the purposes of your R&D budget is to delegate resources toward marketing with no needed return. When you remove the pressure of ROI, innovation can happen.
As you begin diversifying your marketing, you’ll need to test, assess what worked, and then test some more before you can expect to start seeing a return on ad spend.
3. Check Your Message
No matter where you invest in marketing, the sale comes down to getting the right message in front of the right audience. To do that, you need a deep understanding of your product’s place in the market, the defining pillars of your brand, what your promise is to your customers, and who your customers are.
People often think that ad platforms are like magic: If you can get an expert to set up an ad campaign, then BOOM—sales will magically roll in.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. At the end of the day, your brand, its story, and its message are what will sell your product. The platform you choose is just a tool to help reach your audience.
Pro Tip: Make sure that your message matches the intent of the platform! For example, since Facebook is an entertainment platform, your message should also be entertaining. The way you present your message can—and should—change from platform to platform.
For more tips to help you define your brand and message it effectively, check out our Branding Survival Guide, Brand vs. Wild.
4. Select Your Channels
Diversifying your marketing channels is much more than adding another paid advertising platform. A healthy, diversified marketing strategy often requires a blend of paid advertising, email marketing, organic social, content marketing, influencers, and more.
We’ve put together a list of the marketing channels that are relevant for any ecommerce business. Your business may be overutilizing some of these channels and underutilizing others. Or maybe you’re using all of these channels, but you may not be using them correctly or to their fullest potential.
Review the options below and decide which make the most sense for your business to prioritize. Which is the lowest hanging fruit? Which are the most obvious potential wins?
Email marketing is highly underrated and extremely vital to ecommerce success. It’s an owned channel, giving you complete control of how and when you reach your customers. The only expense is what you pay for your email service provider (i.e. much more affordable than Facebook ads). It’s also our top method for driving real customer relationships and increasing the lifetime value of your customers.
If you don’t have an email marketing program, or if your program isn’t generating significant revenue, this is a great first step toward diversification. We even have a guide book that will walk you through every aspect of building a successful email program, step by step. If you’re looking to scale your business, you need this asap!
Another way to diversify your marketing is by handing the storytelling over to your current customers. In other words, incentivize your customers to refer friends, family, or peers to your brand. Your loyal customers will be able to sell your product much more effectively than you can —people trust their peers over a business any day! If you can invest in a simple referral program today, this could provide a good stream of new business over time.
It’s easy for business owners to put developing their own content on the back burner since it doesn’t drive immediate revenue. But the truth is that developing your brand voice through content marketing is a real asset. For more on this, check out our post, The Ecommerce Executive’s Guide to Content Marketing, where we dive deep into what content marketing really is, why it’s valuable, and how to put together a simple plan for launching a successful content marketing program.
If your team hasn’t taken the time to establish an organic social presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Youtube, now is the time. This isn’t a job to hand off to your marketing intern. It requires an experienced, thoughtful strategy, informed by good content marketing.
Beyond your current paid ads, consider investing in additional paid channels. However, always do your research to determine if a platform makes sense for your brand. To be effective on a new channel, your team will have to navigate learning curves, be adaptable, and identify room for growth. For example, if you want to try YouTube advertising, you’ll need to be able to produce high-quality videos in order to compete with other advertisers. Or, if you’re looking at Google ads, you will probably need to find an experienced partner to run them for you—it requires a special skill set!
Ambassadors, Influencers, or Partnerships
Starting an ambassador or influencer program or investing in partnerships are great ways to increase brand awareness and bring in new customers. If you can find influencers or partners that have a substantial following, this is a great way to find pockets of customers who will become passionate followers of your brand too.
One brand that we work with, Groove Life, has seen a lot of success from working with ambassadors and partners. They have partnered with well-known CrossFit athletes, influencers in the hunting and fishing world, rodeo athletes, outdoor brands, and more. Individuals who follow these influencers and brands have become niche audiences that respond really well to Groove Life’s Facebook advertising and email marketing.
Before you write off traditional advertising as “irrelevant,” give it some thought. We’re seeing ads on TV, radio, and billboards becoming more popular, even for online brands. Why? It’s not as crowded of a space anymore. While attribution is challenging, it is getting more affordable and could be an option for you.
Shift Efforts to Current Customers
One of the best ways to diversify your marketing is by changing your strategy from focusing on new customer acquisition to increasing the lifetime value of your current customers instead. What if your business spent more time engaging with current customers, creating brand fans, encouraging them to buy again and share with their friends? That will make you less reliant on spending marketing dollars to acquire new customers. You’ll also be less vulnerable if—or when—your top marketing channel for acquiring new customers experiences a disruption.
5. Get Started
Truthfully, you have to choose to get started today, otherwise you can spend months and years in the steps above. The only way to find success is to get going.
If you’re feeling stuck, remember that progress is more important than perfection. And if you’re worried about failure, don’t be. Failure is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be devastating. Every failure is one step closer to reaching your goal.
You don’t need to dive into all of these channels at once, but pick a new opportunity to invest in as soon as possible.