SEOs and PPCs are the business ABCs… While we may know the key assets to drive commerce to one’s business these days, there are still corners of the online market still heavily untouched. Here are already existing and thriving communities to tap into.
Reddit is often considered the front page of the Internet. A giant social bookmarking site, Reddit caters to just about every interest in the world. These interests are divided up into various categories called “subreddits”. There is a subreddit for everything from a specific tv show, to make-up, fishing, video games, and just about any hobby, interest, or niche.
Reddit has a unique system to keep its content fresh and up to date. Posts are upvoted and downvoted, and posts with the most upvotes appear at the top of each subreddit page. The higher a post is, the more popular it is.
It’s an accurate way of seeing what is currently the most relevant news within one’s market.
To participate on reddit, one must tread lightly. Redditors (as the site’s contributors are called), are very hostile to spammers and thus any ingenuine posts are immediately called out and the user eventually banned, potentially causing more harm than help to one’s brand. Contribute to reddit as one would in a forum, share relevant and valuable content to increase ‘upvotes’, leave helpful comments, and engage with whomever you interact with in already existing threads.
The best use of Reddit is to begin an AmA, an “Ask Me Anything” sub-reddit where a user can have commenters ask questions pertaining to that person’s expertise or chosen topic of discussion. A co-founder of the company Pixel Press recently did an AmA for the release of their latest app, bringing awareness to its new product and also building interest and buzz directly its target market.
Check out writer Sean Ogle’s reddit guide on how and why one should navigate the active site.
Forums may have fallen off the Internet front page in the past few years due to excessive spam bots, however, forums are an oft-overlooked way of talking directly to your customers and finding out what they are talk about.
When marketers usually research a niche, they hit the usual places. Social media sites and keyword searches, for instance. Forums, on the other hand, are specifically for a dialogue exchange on a given topic and can be a pool of knowledge for a company.
Find a forum pertaining to your product and enter the conversation. The goal with forum posting is NOT to advertise your company, as those on the message board will automatically see through the advertisement. Instead, focus on helping the target market. Answer any questions with your expertise. Provide detailed information on a product. Make corrections where necessary, and provide support. If and when acceptable, drop a link to a helpful resource or product on your website.
Writer Don Rhoades has put together a must-read ruberic on using forums to build ecommerce links
To look for appropriate forums, try Googling keywords such as keyword + forum or search through verticals. If you sell a high protein shake powder, one could look at health-based forums targeted to beginning weight lifters.
The more specific you can be with choosing forum prospects, the better of a response you will get. TheHullTruth.com is a popular boating forum and all the sub forums within the site are sponsored by different boating companies. Many of the companies are active on the boards, establishing a reliable and reachable presence to their most dedicated consumers.
Blogging… but not on your blog
The problem with most ecommerce store blogs is they’re boring. The content is stale and don’t provide any new or unique inputs. Most stores blog simply because they should be blogging, not because they want to, resulting in dry, unreadable posts.
Instead, why not flip blogging on its head and try something new? Consider running a guest post, featuring a well-known public figure, popular internet influencer or trendy blogger. In the flipped model, one could run more guest posts than original posts. This pulls the guest’s social media following directly to you. Participate in guest blogs as well. Provide advice or quotes on your niche to an article or feature. This helps connect one’s brand with an existing, engaged audience and builds SEO.
The Podcast world is a thriving and growing community and Ecommerce companies have yet to catch on.
Here lies the opportunity: Podcasting can be used as a medium to build and launch a product and/or help bolster an existing brand. If one’s business is associated with an already active fan base or community, then those listeners will tie ones company with that interest or product. Find a podcast whose theme or subject is geared toward your company and appear as a guest. Or simply sponsor an existing podcast show for a broadcast brand shout-out during episodes.
Terry Lin, host of the Build My Online Store podcast, is in the process of launching his own product called the Balla wallet, which he is able to easily garner awareness for via his podcast platform to the exact audience who would benefit from the product most.
Group buying is when you sell an item at a deeply discounted price, but the orders only get fulfilled if a certain number of people buy. This makes for a giant mathematical gambit, so make sure you’ve done your numbers correctly and set your goals before you run a campaign like this. Goals can vary, ranging from gaining 500 new customers to ridding of 300 pieces of inventory to making a quick load of cash.
Ideally, the best kind of product for a group-buying experiment (especially through sites like Groupon or LivingSocial) is either a perishable or consumable product. Browse the deals on Groupon and see that activities, classes, services, or food are most of the deals offered, all of which are “samples” to try and rope in long-term customers.
An example breakdown: If your product has a profit margin of $20, decide what’s the lowest you are willing to go and how that fits into your overall goal. If it’s:
- To gain 500 new customers that one could expect to buy in the future, discount the product below $20, assuming one will make up the difference when that customer returns.
- To get rid of additional inventory that are costing more to stock than to sell, price the item well below $20 to see some investment back.
Of course, the beauty of group buying is that you aren’t obligated to fulfill the orders until the conditions are met!
Coupon sites like RetailMeNot that document existing coupon codes for various sites are customer’s secret weapons. When purchasing any item online, many consumers immediately keyword search the company and promo code to turn up any existing coupon codes to use. When they go looking, why not make sure there is something waiting for them?
Coupon sites are also great ways to push promotions that you are running, especially to get rid of old stock and closeouts. Instead of spending precious ad dollars on promos, you can leverage coupon sites to show these offers instead.
In addition, RetailMeNot users love to share the codes, so the more coupons appear with great offers, the more likely that the merchant will rise to the top of the site. Merchants who don’t allow sharing generally experience a drop in views and click-throughs, therefore no rise in sales.