“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”
When it comes to being a successful eCommerce business, you absolutely need to know what you are doing. Proper market research, creating an effective website, and providing exceptional customer service go a long way towards your success.
However, knowing business fundamentals – and even online business fundamentals – won’t drive your business on their own. You still need to grow your brand if you want to see improvements over time, and there’s no easier way to position yourself for growth than to grow your network.
Your business network consists of partners, customers, and even your competition in some cases. The further you can expand your network, the more influence your company has and the better you can leverage your relationships to boost your eCommerce businesses.
Below are 4 strategies to building a bigger network for your online business.
1. Partner with Blogs and Authority Sites
Just about everyone online is looking for ways to get more traffic to their website. While you can pay for advertising to earn some short-term customers with PPC ads, the long-term effects are going to be lacking (and incredibly costly!). However, there is a way you can earn more customers for the short AND long-term through partnering with another site.
If you’re an online business, you make your money from people visiting your store and buying your products. However, not everyone is looking to run a business.
Amazon Affiliates is one of the most popular forms of earning income online for people of all types. These websites – often writing informational articles about specific topics within your niche – aim to earn as many clicks as they can by people who want to hear what they have to say. This primarily comes in the form of “top product” reviews and buyers’ guides that earn them commission through affiliate links, and can even include entirely information pieces that don’t sell anything. Overall, when done correctly, they can drive a lot of traffic.
When it comes to search engine optimization and appearing on Google to reach more customers, backlinks are essential. Links to your store from other websites that Google has deemed “safe” (such as high-ranking blogs) can really help you move up in the search results, and if they’re not selling anything themselves, they make the perfect partner for you.
Consider reaching out to a blog or authority site in your niche and see if they’re interested in working together. They can review some of your products (and provide backlinks in doing so), while you provide them with a commission for any customers they drive to your site. As long as you beat Amazon’s affiliate rates, it shouldn’t be a hard sell. Plus, it’s mutually beneficial!
2. Network Through LinkedIn
Not all businesses are business-to-customer. If you’re a business who provides business-to-business services, building a bigger network is even more important to your success because you don’t benefit as much from the standard marketing strategies. You need to target professionals – and LinkedIn helps you do just that.
LinkedIn is essentially a social media platform for helping businesses and professionals network with each other. You can build and accumulate a network, providing important information to your feed about a variety of things, similar to a blog. Most people on LinkedIn understand the importance of having a network regardless of their industry, which means that they’re just waiting to hear from you – especially if you can help them in some way.
To make the most of this, search for some people on LinkedIn that relate to your industry or niche. Add them (or accept their request if they add you first) to build a larger network of connections, increasing your reach and the chances of your online business appearing in front of the right person. You can also join groups to more easily find relevant connection if you’re not looking to search for specific people.
Then, create valuable content that is relevant to what your niche, focusing on selling points for your products or valuable, shareable information that can help you grow even further.
3. Implement Guerrilla Marketing
Regardless of who you’re targeting, you need to advertise in some way to grow your network of customers and partners alike. When your budget is low, you need to get creative.
Guerrilla marketing involves using low-cost or free methods of advertising to increase visibility of your brand. People see dozens of advertisements each day, so making yours stick out is essential to cost-effective guerrilla marketing.
You have a few options for implementing guerrilla marketing, but two of our favorites are getting physical with your ads and going viral.
Physical marketing is always going to be more engaging than online advertisements. When you hold something in your hand, you’re far more likely to remember it than glancing at it on a screen. That means that whether you’re selling to businesses or customers, you can use contact information like newsletters, mailing lists, and order history to send people physical products like stickers. You can also send a sample to someone you really want to partner with – it’s a way better way to make an impression than an email!
Viral marketing also helps to increase your exposure, therefore increasing your potential network growth. It is not possible to make something go viral, sadly, but you can increase your chances of your name getting in front of the right people by making it shareable, using tags effectively, and promoting it. With every interaction, the potential for virality increases.
4. Make the Most Out of Social Media
Are you looking for the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to expand your business’s network? Here’s a hint: billions of people are on it – partners and customers alike.
Social media allows you to reach a wide array of people with the potential for exponential growth and exposure. When you share something, it reaches your followers. When one of them share it, it reaches their followers, and the cycle continues until you’ve got a ton of impressions that all stemmed from a single share. There is simply no other medium where it is this easy to go “viral”.
As building your network has to do with reaching the right people, using social media may not be the most efficient method for targeting those ideal connections. However, social media allows you to connect with almost anyone, which means that even if you don’t reach your target now, there’s nothing that says your content won’t end up on their feed thanks to another share. Just ensure what you’re posting is relevant – authority pieces help reach professionals while giveaways and other contents help you reach more customers.