Essential e-commerce insights for 2019

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By Andrew Witkin, founder and president of StickerYou
Credit: NordWood Themes on Unsplash

The retail landscape is constantly shifting. Whether it’s the disruption of e-commerce and customization, or the changing moods of consumers, nothing in retail stays the same for long. Because of this, it’s imperative to stop on occasion and take stock of how  your company is doing, and whether its goals are aligned with the current reality of the market.

As we move toward the second quarter of 2019, there are three things that savvy e-commerce business owners should know about online retail that will shape where advertising dollars are spent.

For low rankings, paid search is still the best option

Modern ad-tech is increasingly flashy and targeted, but even with all the bells and whistles, organic search is still the top way users find your site. That said, paid search is your best bet to deliver new audiences to your website via first click conversions. For most e-commerce sites, non-branded paid search will deliver the most attributable conversion for new audiences.

If your e-commerce site still ranks lower than you’d like for critical non-branded keywords, the best paid advertisement channel for your business is likely paid search. At StickerYou, paid search is considered to be mid-funnel, as people have already indicated intent to learn about or buy a product or service-related keyword. Statistics have shown that audiences that know what they want and search for it display conversion rates that are 5-20 times higher than those that conform to a core user’s profile, but at that moment in time haven’t yet made any moves that show intent to buy or a need for your products.

Re-targetting and affiliates both may convert better than paid search, but bear in mind that they also deal with audiences that have either indicated intent to buy, or have demonstrated knowledge about your product or service. When it comes to cost-effective awareness creation with new audiences, social and native are great, but they don’t convert as well.

Omni-channel is a solid investment

When e-commerce disrupted traditional retail, it set in motion a series of ripples that forever changed the way that business sold products and how consumers purchased them. Now, this change has come full circle, with a number of e-commerce giants, including Amazon, and medium-sized e-commerce businesses, such as Shopify and Warby Parker, diving back into the world of physical retail as they pursue omnichannel strategies. The combination of brick and mortar stores and e-commerce is drawing in many retailers who consider omnichannel strategies as offering a better holistic customer solution. Business owners are observing that physical stores can be more than just a location for shipping and returns. They can be part of a larger marketing, interactive and unique trial experience, and boost a company’s brand awareness while driving online sales.

StickerYou sells customized stickers. It’s a simple concept – we built proprietary technology to make the creation and ordering of top-quality die-cut custom products such as stickers, decals, patches, labels and temporary tattoos easy and efficient. Though the concept is simple to grasp online, there is something lost in the transaction that becomes obvious when encountered in a physical store. Handling a high-quality sticker in person is a powerful, tangible testament to the quality of the product that we are offering. Being able to feel the thickness of a sticker, to weigh it in your hands, to be able to touch and feel the difference of what we offer is a compelling experience that can’t be replicated with the 10,0000 images on our site that users can access to make a custom order.

Not only can people be inspired by the quality of stickers, a brick and mortar opens up the opportunity for inspiration in myriad ways, from observing the creativity present in the stickers on display, to creative events that galvanize the community, to chatting with staff in-store about the possibilities of stickers and everything they represent. This type of brand awareness can count against online ad spend, and even if the store itself doesn’t have a solid ROI according to traditional sales-to-operating costs metrics. It can still be ROI positive when considered against the costs of current online ad spend. Which is why we will be opening a retail location in 2019.

Content marketing is a key component of an effective marketing strategy

Content marketing, also known as native advertising, is a buzzword in marketing circles these days. Traditional advertising is falling by the wayside. Not only is it difficult to measure the efficacy of traditional ads, the media space is so saturated with them that customers have learned to tune them out. People want insightful information. They click on articles, not banners.  

The rise of content marketing has happened because of two main problems. With traditional ads, in regards to audiences that are not existing customers or purveyors of your website, the issue is that you are funneling money into something that few people will be able to recall, and that few people will click. With public relations, the issue is that money is spent on a service, or internal time is spent delivering ‘awareness’ via ‘news’ that usually doesn’t get useful amounts of coverage. When there is coverage, news gets clicked more than ads, but to break through the enormous amount of online news and become newsworthy to a large audience is very, very challenging.

Content marketing rests in between both advertising and PR. The content is similar to news but it can be purchased, like an ad. At StickerYou, we have seen CPC performance with content marketing that exceeds that of banner advertising by up to 5 times.

Efficient and effective content marketing gives the audience something useful, information that is valuable to them and their lives. It’s less about a visual or gripping slogan, and more about helping an audience learn, become inspired or provide information that informs them more thoroughly of your products and services, and how they solve problems for them. In today’s online space, authentic interactions are important, meaning that content marketing has to be useful and well-researched. Content marketing done right can be one of the best ways to reach new audiences and strengthen the loyalty of existing audiences, so that they will remember and engage with your brand.

Bio: As the founder of a global e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products, Andrew Witkin is widely recognized as a leading authority on ecommerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. Andrew has also served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.