Growing an ecommerce brand from the ground up and transforming it into a profitable business is not easy. It takes a lot of work. It’s true that there’s never been a better time to find, nurture, and convert online consumers—but it’s also true that it’s getting much more competitive for ecommerce businesses everywhere. The playing field continues to be leveled more and more, and each day, new ecommerce brands pop up out of nowhere.
To set yourself apart from all the other companies trying to go after the same audience you’re going after, you need to get people talking. Unfortunately, implementing what used to be innovative digital marketing strategies is no longer enough—you can’t just participate on social media and have a great, functional website and expect your efforts to successfully drive awareness and skyrocket sales and growth for your ecommerce business.
In order to get the kind of traction you’re looking for, you have to be more creative. You have to be willing to test, willing to fail, and willing to get outside of your comfort zone.
So, where do you start?
Here are 8 creative ways to get people talking about your ecommerce shop:
1. Tell Amazing Stories
One of the best ways to get people talking about your ecommerce shop is to take the time to tell amazing stories about your company, your products, and the people who buy from you.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, ecommerce brands face the unique challenge of never getting to meet and interact with their customers face-to-face. In order to connect with potential customers, you have to go out of your way to help online consumers understand who you are, why you’re doing what you’re doing, why they should care, and what they should expect if they were to ultimately decide to do business with you.
Stories can help you build trust, nurture relationships, and convince visitors to ultimately buy your products.
So, the question is: what kind of stories should you be telling to get people talking more about your ecommerce shop? Here are few ideas:
- The Origin Story – The story that helps people understand why you started your business, how it came to be, what challenges you faced, and who you are.
- The Customer Story – The stories that help other online consumers understand who your customers are, what they care about, how your products make their lives better, and why they chose you and not the other guy.
- The Product Story – The stories that help people understand how your products are created, what makes them unique, and why you created them in the first place.
- The Employee Story – The stories that help prospective customers understand who your employees are, why they choose to work for you, and what they think about your company and your products.
- The Partner Story – The stories that feature any partners you work with that help make your business what it is today.
- The Personal Story – The stories that help people understand who you are on a personal level. These are the stories that help you humanize your brand and connect with people on a deeper, more genuine level.
Not sure how to start crafting stories for your ecommerce brand? Read my other blog post, The Art of Storytelling in Ecommerce Marketing.
2. Create a Hashtag
Another way that ecommerce brands are driving more word of mouth is by creating unique hashtags that customers can use when they want to show their support on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.
Creating a unique hashtag for your business might seem like such a simple idea, but it can be incredibly effective in driving brand awareness when executed the right way.
So what makes a hashtag work for ecommerce brands? Let’s look at two examples:
Some ecommerce brands use hashtags to promote a movement or exclusive community that customers can rally behind, as seen in the Chaco example below:
Chaco uses a hashtag that represents community and adventure. Customers can use it to share stories and photos of the journeys they take with the footwear they purchase from the brand.
Other ecommerce brands create and promote product-specific hashtags, as seen in the WILDBIRD example below:
WILDBIRD uses the hashtag #mywildbird to promote and categorize their products, but they also feature product-specific adaptations of the hashtag to promote specific items within their inventory. In the example above, their using #mywildbirdwoodpecker to promote their Woodpecker baby sling.
Creating hashtags for your customers to use allows you to build community, encourage sharing, and organically reach more potential customers that you otherwise might have never been able to reach.
3. Work With an Influencer
If you have the budget for it, another creative way to get more people talking about your ecommerce shop is to hire an Instagram, YouTube, or blogging influencer to create sponsored content about your products.
Social influencers are valuable to companies for their ability to access and communicate to a massive group of loyal followers.
If you’re selling products that fall into a very specific and easily-identifiable niche, like makeup, nutrition, or fitness, it might be worth it to find, hire, and collaborate with an influencer who can help other people find your store.
There are a number of tools you can use to find the right influencer to work with. Here are a few resources worth checking out:
- FameBit – connects you with influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
- InstaBrand – connects you to a network of influencers and helps you create the right message for the right audience.
- BrandSnob – provides a convenient self-service option that allows you to build campaigns and select influencers on your own.
A word of caution before diving into this idea: make sure you follow all relevant rules and laws enforced by the FTC. In the last few weeks, the organization has been cracking down on influencers who do not properly inform followers that a post is sponsored or has been paid for (read this post to learn more).
4. Incentivize Sharing
If you haven’t been seeing a lot of organic mentions about your brand or products coming through lately, it might be time to think about offering incentives and rewards to customers in exchange for helping you spread the word about your shop.
The easiest way to incentivize sharing is by creating a customer referral or refer-a-friend program for your ecommerce store. Customer referral programs are fairly straightforward: in most cases, they offer an attractive reward to both the person who referred you business, and to the person who was referred by their friend.
For example, you might offer every customer the chance to get 10% off their next order if they share their unique referral URL with their followers on social media and successfully drive any of them to visit your store and buy products from you. In this scenario, anyone clicking the unique referral URL would also be offered the 10% discount as an incentive to get them to buy.
There are a number of tools you can use to build refer-a-friend programs for your ecommerce store. Here are a few options:
Friendbuy shared a great example of a refer-a-friend program that was incorporated into the Nice Laundry shop. In this example, customers were offered a free pair of socks for every friend they refer (socks would be given only once their friend made an actual purchase).
Online consumers love the idea of exclusivity and getting free stuff. To get them talking about your brand, offer them attractive rewards that they couldn’t possibly pass up.
5. Launch a Giveaway
Another popular and creative way to drive brand awareness and word of mouth for your ecommerce shop is to launch a giveaway for customers and prospective customers to enter.
To make giveaways successful, you should avoid launching them all the time on your website, otherwise they tend to lose their appeal. Instead, focus on offering one giveaway each quarter, and offer a really big, really enticing prize—big enough to grab the attention of anyone who falls into your target audience and who stays relatively active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The prize you ultimately tie to your giveaway should relate to your products in some way, or at least the niche area or industry you’re operating in.
If you’ve never ran a giveaway for your ecommerce brand before, there are a number of great resources you can explore that will help you get started. Here are a few of my favorites:
- How to Grow Your Business With Giveaways and Viral Contests from Shopify
- 5 Ways To Grow Your Store With Giveaways And Contests from LemonStand
- Growing An Ecommerce Email List By 4.1k Subscribers With Just $75
- BeardBrand’s Huge Growth With Gleam
The purpose of launching a giveaway campaign should be to drive awareness for your brand, capture new leads, and boost sales as traffic to your website increases throughout the duration of the campaign.
I’ve spent some time writing about the importance and power of customer delight on this blog before (see here), and I want to bring it up again in this post. Why? Because it’s one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to transform one-time buyers into lifelong customers.
Here’s how this tip works:
If you want to get people talking about you, give them something to talk about. To do it, you need to be investing in customer delight. Customer delight is the act of surprising customers with rewards, appreciation, or special freebies for no reason other than you wanted to make their day. As an ecommerce brand, you can delight customers in a number of ways, such as:
- Sending handwritten thank you cards to every new customer
- Sending a personalized email to every new customer asking them for feedback on your business and products
- A free extra product that you throw in with the rest of a customer’s order
- A totally unrelated gift card that your customer is likely to love (think Starbucks, Amazon, etc.)
Your ultimate goal in delighting your customers is to build loyalty and boost customer happiness. If you can take actions that help you achieve that goal, your customers will inevitably share their experience with their friends online, write you glowing reviews, and buy from you again.
7. Collaborate with Other Brands
To spread word of mouth and awareness beyond your own followers and network, consider building a partnership or working on a product collaboration with another brand that targets the same demographics that you target. To find the right partner to work with, ask yourself these questions:
- What other brands do my customers respect?
- What do my customers do in their free time?
- What are other brands that I really respect?
- What collaboration would my customers be most excited about?
- Which brands or companies could provide me with the most value?
- Do I have any existing connections to other brands I want to work with, or do I know anyone who might be able to connect me to a brand I want to work with?
Spend some time jotting down your answers, then make a plan for reaching out to the partners you’ve identified.
Here are some examples that might help you think about what kind of collaborations would make the most sense for your ecommerce business:
TOMS partnered with The Hill-Side to create an exclusive line of footwear.
Ray-Ban partnered with Ferrari to create an exclusive collection of sunglasses geared toward a very specific audience.
When you collaborate with another brand, you instantly build trust with an entire group of people that you might not have ever really gotten direct access to.
8. Support a Cause
The final way to get people talking about your brand is to support a charity or cause. Online consumers don’t just shop for products—they look to support businesses that are interested in making the world a better place. If you have a cause or can identify a nonprofit organization that you’re passionate about (or one that aligns closely with the types of products you offer), work to donate a percentage of your proceeds to further the mission of that organization or cause.
Once you have the program in place, make sure your customers and website visitors know about it! Feature it prominently on your homepage, on product pages, in welcome emails, in pop-ups, and anywhere else where you think it might make the biggest impact.
Here’s a great example from S’well:
This particular message appears on their homepage, and links to a blog post that explains what they are specifically doing to support the restoration efforts of forests in the U.S.
By choosing to support a cause or nonprofit, you’re convincing your customers and potential customers that you’re not just in it for the money—that you actually care about helping people and making the world a better place. That’s something worth sharing.
Over to You
What else are you doing to get people to spread the word about your ecommerce shop? Tell me in the comments below.