Marketing connects customers with products. Despite that simple explanation, marketing can feel pretty complicated. To the internet you go, but once there you find another problem—there’s a whole lot of advice out there.
These days, the ability to filter signal from noise is now more important than access to information. You need to build your own curriculum from hundreds of blogs, websites, and videos offering advice. We’ve noticed that when it comes to marketing, people are quick to filter all of their advice by channel—email, ads, content marketing, you name it. But it’s not the channel that consistently matters, it’s the stage your business is in. Why? Because the real value of advice is its relevance, or if it helps you figure out what you need to know at the right time.
That’s why we organized all of our must-read articles for independent business owners by stage of growth. From first scale to full scale, here are 21 articles on marketing to help you at every part of your entrepreneurial journey.
Popular marketing articles for every stage of business growth
Marketing reads for the pre-product stage
One of the core tenets of product/market fit is that a great market can actually pull out a strong product. In other words, deeply understanding the real demand of the people you’re selling to can help you create a great product. And, of course, even a best-in-class product can’t survive without a market for what it solves. While you’re gearing up to launch, make sure to check out these marketing articles on how you can best prepare beforehand.
It all starts with a big idea. And then, a name! As brand strategist Marty Neumeier says, “The right name can be a brand’s most valuable asset.” While there’s no surefire way to pick the perfect name, there are some consistent elements of easy to understand and catchy brand names that every new business owner should consider. And if you’d like additional ideas to get the gears turning, be sure to try our free business name generator.
Real product validation only happens when money changes hands. However, the next best thing you can do is build a waiting list of subscribers who have shown an intent to buy your product. Enter: the coming soon page. While you’re finishing your best-laid plans, a compelling coming soon page can let you get a head start on marketing, build a waiting list you can launch to, and help you get early feedback on your idea.
Every appealing business idea feels like a blue ocean of opportunity. But before you dive in, it's best to know who already inhabits the waters. Competitive analysis helps you understand the current landscape, market shifts, and trends. By filling in the spaces with known competitors, it also becomes easier to spot areas where you can have a competitive advantage. But, competitive analysis is much more than stalking other brands on Twitter.
There’s nothing more discouraging than pouring sweat equity into a product you think people will love, only to hear the sound of crickets when you finally launch. The simple solution is to validate your product ideas before you fully commit to a business. How? Well, by ringing the cash register. But if you haven’t done that, we have a few other ideas to try.
When the math doesn't work, the marketing doesn't work.
You’re finally launching your Shopify store after all your hard work. It’s exciting, but can quickly become overwhelming. Deep breath. It’s time to create a checklist. Take a methodical approach to your launch, ease your mind, and stay organized with this handy Shopify store launch checklist
Samantha Renée is a former Merchant Success Manager and current Course Producer at Shopify. She’s helped thousands of new business owners grow their business, and if there’s one consistent pattern she’s noticed, it’s that most founders struggle to understand search engine optimization (SEO). While it can seem like black magic, the reality is there are a few fundamental things you can do to your store today (right now!) that will help make your website more visible in Google.
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Marketing reads for landing your first sale
Coffee is for closers, and you’re about to join their ranks. Once you’re ready to ring the cash register for the first time, it’s best to have a clear message for your product, a high-converting product page, and above all, a plan. Below, we’ll cover how to start acquiring your first customers consistently and profitably, so you can build your business for the long term.
At Shopify, we’ve found that, with the right product, a typical store can expect to get their first order after roughly 372 sessions from relevant sources of traffic. You may already be on the road to your first sale. To help you get there, we put together a simple checklist you can follow for 30 days to help you stay focused and accountable.
Too often, founders, and even marketers, assume a value proposition is a headline on a website or a tagline on a brand, but it goes much further than that. A value proposition is a distillation of why people buy from you (or should). When your value proposition is clearly defined, it doesn’t just show up on our homepage—it influences every single point of contact with your brand.
Whatever path your customer takes, all roads eventually lead to your product page. It’s here, on this crucial location, that a customer decides whether or not to buy. In short, product pages matter. But before you go looking for the latest “must-do” tactic to increase conversions, start with the timeless stuff. In this article, we run you through our checklist for tuning up any product page on your store.
If you can’t acquire customers profitably, you soon won’t be able to acquire them at all. One of the most important concepts in marketing is understanding what you spend to get a new customer versus what they usually end up being worth to your business, especially if you can encourage repeat purchases. Knowing the numbers helps separate marketing math from myth, and will help you create a profitable strategy for getting new customers in the door.
The classic traffic jam. If you’re getting unique sessions to your online store but can’t quite seem to close the deal, there are a number of common culprits. Some of them are harder to address and answer, like if you’re selling a product that just isn’t appealing enough. Sometimes, though, certain aspects of your store design, copy, or overall messaging are holding you back. If your symptom is no sales, this post will help you get a diagnosis.
To build your business for the long term, start with repeatable, profitable forms of customer acquisition.
Remember the 4P’s of marketing from back in school? Either way, know that pricing is an incredibly important part of marketing your product. Your product’s price affects your cost of customer acquisition and profit margins, and as we’ve covered above, if the math doesn’t work, the marketing doesn’t work. Your price also affects the demand for your product. Price too low, and you won’t capture enough value to say in business, but price too high and you may scare too many customers away.
Businesses still underestimate live chat. They shouldn’t. Research from Forrester found customers who chat with a brand convert three times more often and have a 10-15% higher average cart value. Live chat helps you guide customers from conversation to conversion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be available to chat 24/7. Read this marketing article to learn about the right locations (and times) to greet your customers at the proverbial door.
Facebook has around 2.45 billion monthly active users, making it nearly unique in terms of how many people you can potentially market too. While Facebook’s advertising algorithm gets smarter (and easier to use) all of the time, Facebook ads can still be very intimidating to newcomers. If you’ve been in search of a turn-key guide to follow in order to learn the ropes of Facebook advertising, read this article.
There are two assets you can own on the internet: your website and your email list. Email is an especially valuable channel because it can directly influence the three main levers of growth: increasing the total number of customers (C), increasing the total number of purchases per customer (purchase frequency, or F), or increasing average order value (AOV). If you need a crash course on all things email marketing, be sure to check out this article.
Marketing reads for driving sustainable growth
“Do things that don’t scale” is excellent advice—until you need to scale. Once you’ve covered the essentials and have started driving a few sales per day, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll scale your acquisition efforts while keeping costs down. Also, now that you have a few customers, wholly new forms of marketing (and remarketing) are available to you.
Scaling your Facebook advertising means increasing your ad spend while maintaining a positive return.It sounds simple, but it isn’t always so easy. Typically, successfully scaling your results on Facebook from $50 to $5,000 will require you to expand your audience, build your funnel, increase your overall budget, and develop new creative.
You’ve seen those statistics. It’s cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to find new customers. What you may not know is that a retention strategy is never one-size-fits-all. There’s a right and wrong time to lean into retention, and strategies that work best at different stages of business growth. In this article, we’ll share how retention marketing fits your product (and business) along with the top five strategies to consider.
When a visitor lands on your website, there is a sequence of events that you’d probably like them to complete before leaving. Naturally, not every visitor will make it all the way through to the end of the journey. On average, only 2% of website visitors will end up making a purchase. With sequential retargeting on Facebook, you can ensure visitors who stopped by your website and left see a variety of ads as they move through the funnel, increasing your chances of converting them.
“Do things that don’t scale” is excellent advice—until you need to scale.
Welcome to Google Ads, one of the most misunderstood platforms for paid advertising. To get a firm grasp of this channel, you must understand the ad types available to you, as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses. In this marketing guide, we’ll share the essential terminology to know, along with what you can realistically expect from each campaign type.
Lifecycle emails are so effective because they can be based on behavior—once your customer takes a specific action, you can send them a context-relevant message through email. And there are some heavy-hitting campaigns in this category, including abandoned cart emails, win-back sequences, and re-engagement emails. Schedule once and prepare for revenue.
Along the path to conversion, your customers will encounter many touchpoints with your brand. Do you know which of those touchpoints have the greatest influence in closing the sale? Marketing attribution can help you peer through the fog and learn more about what’s really working and what isn’t. Before you can learn what’s working, you have to learn how things work, and understanding attribution helps you do exactly that.
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This article originally appeared in the Shopify blog and has been published here with permission.