[intro]Before you begin to build your EKM online shop, it's a good idea to create a plan detailing how you are going to promote your products to potential new customers. In this Guide, you can learn about the different resources available to you and how to use these to your benefit.

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[tips]At this point, it's a really good idea to open a Gmail account for your EKM online shop. This is so that you can use this account to log into free services such as Google Analytics and Google Ads, but also to use for setting up the social media for your EKM online shop too, so all of your login details for each are kept in the same place and are easily accessed whilst remaining separate from your personal email account. This will also help you in the future when you need to add your shop to Google My Business and Google Maps. Even if you don't have a physical shop, creating listings on these platform can help you become more visible in search engine results.[/tips]

Once you you have defined your target customers, your next step is to ascertain what social media you are going to use to promote your EKM online shop. This is a necessary step for a lot of reasons, some of which are outlined below:

  • People often search for products and services on social media platforms, as well as Google;
  • If people see their friends purchase/review something on social media, they are more likely to make a purchase (this is called ‘social proof’);
  • Links to your EKM online shop on social media will help your shop display in search engines results (search engines recognise that links to a website or online shop on social media have been generated by real people, so these links have a lot of ‘weight’);
  • A strong social media presence can help you be found easily by customers on the same social media platform and using search engines;
  • Social media provides a place for customers to give you feedback in the form of reviews and posts where they’re raving about your products;
  • Social media creates a strong foundation to work with should you wish to invest in advertising at a later date - either advertising within that social media platform itself, or by using Google Ads.

But I don’t like social media!

Even if you don’t use social media yourself, it is essential that you set up some to represent your brand, for the reasons listed above. To expect your shop to be successful without using social media to represent it is dooming it fail, so you need to learn about the best way to promote your brand that is both comfortable for you and appealing for your potential customers. You don’t need to create a personal account yourself in many cases and where this is a necessity, it is possible to make this personal account completely private so that none of your information is visible.

Creating social media for your EKM online shop does not necessarily mean that you will spend your working life ‘glued to your phone either’ - managing an online shop is a very busy role, and many shop owners combat this issue by automating their social media so that content is published automatically, creating the illusion that they’re sat at their desks or on their phones when in actual fact, they’re doing something else entirely.

Vital Statistics

If you’re still not convinced that social media is the way to go in terms of promoting your brand to potential customers for free, perhaps the data will instead? According to research published in the early part of 2019, 45 million (67%) of the UK population use social media, and of those, 39 million use social media primarily on their mobile phones. That means that when people are glancing at their mobile phones when they’re out and about, you need to have some kind of representation of your brand out there for them to find and you can’t afford not to use social media in the promotion and optimisation of your EKM online shop. 

Selecting the most relevant platforms

What you sell on your EKM online shop, as well as your target customers, plays a part in which social media platforms you use to promote yourself. The most popular platforms - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - provide a good foundation to begin with, and each has different benefits and features. 

Facebook 

This is still the most popular social media platform in the UK. 78% of UK internet users use Facebook, meaning that 40 million people can potentially see your paid advertising on the platform. Facebook Pages (which are different from standard Facebook Profiles intended for people) are used to represent businesses, brands, charities and causes, and it’s one of these that you need to create to promote your EKM online shop. When set up correctly, a Facebook Page allows users to follow you, leave reviews, purchase items from your online shop and much more. To set up a Facebook Page, this Guide will take you through the steps required. You will need to make a Facebook Profile first if you don’t have one already as this is used to create the Facebook Page, but when the Page has been created and published, the profile won’t be visible on it unless you wish it to be so. 

Twitter

24% of UK internet users are on Twitter and although there are many profiles for individual people, there are many more companies tweeting updates to their customer bases. With this in mind, if your online shop retails industrial and B2B products - which wouldn’t be purchased by an ordinary consumer who is not within the relevant industry - you may find that Twitter is better suited to your content, where businesses converse with each other comfortably. This Guide will take you through the steps required to open and customise your Twitter Profile, how the platform works and what kind of content you should be publishing. 

Instagram

42% of UK internet users can be found on the aspirational image site Instagram, where ‘lifestyle’ and ‘styled’ images reign supreme. Rather than publish online shop standard product images with a classic plain background - which don’t do as well on Instagram - images should be either ‘styled’ - where the product is displayed with accessories, like a magazine advert, or ‘lifestyle’ - where the product is actually being worn or used in an often aspirational image. 80% of Instagram users have followed at least one favourite brand or company, looking for inspiration from their posts, which is an excellent reason to use it. Instagram also allows users with a Business Profile to offer ‘Instagram Shopping’, where customers can purchase items from tags placed on products within a post. This Guide explains how to open an Instagram account whilst this blog post explains what kind of content you need to create to make your Instagram profile appealing for your potential customers. If you want to set up Instagram Shopping, you will need to have created a Facebook Page with a populated Shop Tab first, before following the steps within this Guide, where you’ll learn how to convert your Instagram into a Business Profile and tag your products within your posts. 

Pinterest

Pinterest - if you’ve never used it before - is an image-based site with a difference. Each image is called a ‘Pin’ and this often links to an external website, online shop or blog post. Pins can be pinned to a user’s personal ‘Boards’ for reference later. Famously used for wedding planning, house renovations, crafting and fashion inspiration, Pinterest is a fantastic place to duplicate your Categories into different Boards, with each individual Pin representing a different Product on you EKM online shop. Click here to learn all about Pinterest, how to set up an account and what kind of content you should be publishing on there. 

YouTube

Obviously, smaller businesses may not always suit having their own YouTube channel, but as the UK’s second most popular social media platform, it’s definitely worth considering. Flint revealed last year that 37.1 million UK adults use YouTube for a variety of different reasons. If you can use your own products in ‘how-to’ style videos, or your products are something where videos are a key feature - such as drones, Go Pros or similar - then it’s worth researching to see what kind of content you could create to share with your target customers. This Guide will take you through the process of creating your own YouTube account  - but you don’t have to create anything right away. Research what your competitors are producing for YouTube and what kind of videos are popular before defining how this could be translated onto your own brand and product lines. 

LinkedIn

There’s 27 million personal profiles from UK internet users on LinkedIn, which if you’ve not used it before, is a professional, corporate version of Facebook. Like Facebook, you’ll need to create a personal profile first before you can create a LinkedIn Page to represent your company. Bear in mind though that personal profiles can only be associated with one LinkedIn Page at once, so unless your online shop is your full-time employment, skip this step for now and use your personal profile to promote your products and services. Online shops retailing industrial and B2B products - which wouldn’t be purchased by an ordinary consumer who is not within the relevant industry - may find that LinkedIn is better suited to your content, where businesses converse with each other comfortably. This Guide will take you through the steps required to open a LinkedIn account and what kind of content you should be publishing to that platform. 

Social media strategy

Your social media strategy is how you plan to publish content to achieve the best impact and engagement for your target customers. Your strategy will include your blog and your social media, considering aspects like:

  • What am I promoting? (Is it a new product line, an offer or discount, an event, a new service? Your content doesn’t always need to promote anything - they can simply be conversation starters (‘It’s National Doughnut Day today - will you be partaking?’) or posts to celebrate a trending event, such as Father’s Day or Christmas, for example)
  • What kind of content will I create to promote it? (This includes blog posts, text statuses, text images, lifestyle and styled images, Boomerangs and videos)
  • What kind of images do I need to create? (Will it be a standard product image, a lifestyle image, a styled image, a video or a Boomerang?)
  • When will I publish it? (When are your followers most engaged? Can I publish different versions of the same content?)
  • How will I publish it? (Is it specific to only one platform or can it be promoted on others too?)

This Guide will help you formulate your social media strategy, identify what kind of content you should create to promote your EKM online shop and links to different free platforms that can be used if you wish to automate your social media. 

Planning content

When you have defined your social media strategy, you should have a plan of what kind of content you want to share to work with going forward. Of course, your social media strategy will change and evolve over time, but a strong strategy to begin with is a lot more effective than simply publishing posts ‘as-and-when’ with very little thought into them. Obviously, being consistent with your social media strategy is essential and it’s also a fantastic way to launch products on your shop.

[tips]Rather than upload all of your products at once, do it incrementally, and each new product or product line that is added can be promoted in a blog post and across your social media for best results. This also works well in terms of search engines too, as they favour online shops which are constantly updated over shops that are built in their entirety and left to age - so adding your products incrementally really can help you encourage interest and build a following on social media. [/tips]

Email Marketing

This is another fantastic method of promoting your shop to customers, and according to figures published by Marketing Week, email newsletters generate around £29 billion retail sales annually. In accordance with GDPR legislation, customers can sign up to a regular email newsletter where you can promote upcoming sales, discounts and new product ranges. Where customers have already purchased from you and have signed up to receive and email newsletter too, this is known as ‘remarketing’ - where you target existing customers on your EKM online shop. 

Email marketing is:

  • Very cost effective;
  • Helps to retain customers and encourages loyalty;
  • Increases brand awareness;
  • Offers a decent return on investment (also called ‘ROI’);
  • Is very user friendly;
  • Encourages customers to form a relationship with your brand and your products. 

In figures published in 2017, the return on investment for email newsletters was estimated at £32.38 for every £1 spent, so it’s highly recommended that Email Marketing is a tool you add to your proverbial marketing arsenal. Unlike Google Ads and Facebook Advertising - where sometimes it’s not practical to promote extremely popular and common products where the marketplace is already saturated by household name brands and companies - email marketing suits 100% of online shops, regardless of what they products they retail. This is because only customers who are already interested in your online shop will give their consent to receive a newsletter - your final step is to provide them with interesting, engaging content in order for them to make another purchase from you.

EKM’s Email Marketing feature integrates seamlessly with the online shop platform, offering customers three different opportunities to sign up for an email newsletter; between a pop-up window, a static form within the Theme of your shop or on the Checkout Flow itself, customers interested in your products will be targeted during their shopping experience, increasing the chances of them signing up.

Click here to read how to install and configure the EKM Email Marketing feature, which is free to use with 100 or fewer contacts (individual email addresses) stored within it. Alternatively, call EKM’s Email Marketing Team directly on 01772 957166, who will be able to help you set up your account, create a template for your first newsletter and show you how to set up a successful email marketing campaign.

At this point, you should have:

  • Discovered what social media profiles you need to set up;
  • Defined the social media strategy for your EKM online shop and how to best promote your products to potential customers;
  • Set up an EKM Email Marketing account to get ready for your first email newsletter campaign.

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[contact] If you need our help with your EKM online shop, contact your Account Manager or Customer Support, who will be able to point you in the right direction. We're open from 8am-6pm weekdays and 9am-5.30pm on the weekends. If you'd like to suggest a feature or an upgrade on any of the EKM platforms, please let us know on the EKM Suggestions board. If you have a non-account specific question ask the EKM Team, join us in ekmCommunity.  [/contact]