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How To Ethically Market Your E-Commerce Store Online

U.S. ecommerce sales in 2023 generated $1,118.7 billion, and with consumer preferences increasingly moving online, opening your own e-commerce business has never been a better idea.

This has proven an excellent way for many Americans to become their boss and thrive.

However, it’s not enough to build your website. That’s like hanging an advertisement for your spaghetti business in your kitchen or lounge room. While the website communicates something, no one can find and buy from it without effective online marketing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Building trust with your customer base is crucial in ethical e-commerce marketing. Transparency in business practices, product quality, and pricing can foster a loyal and satisfied customer base.
  • Utilize the power of social proof and customer testimonials to boost your credibility. Honest feedback from real customers can be a compelling marketing tool.
  • Engaging in responsible advertising is critical. Avoid misleading claims or deceptive visuals in your marketing materials.
  • Invest in content marketing to provide value to your customers. Informative, engaging, and high-quality content can attract and retain customers.
  • Prioritize customer privacy and data security. A robust and transparent privacy policy can help establish customer trust and protect your business from legal issues.

Learn the Rules of the E-Commerce Game

Regarding sales and marketing, e-commerce is a game. You must learn and apply the rules your competitors know to play. Like in sports, chess, and poker, there are ethical and unethical ways to market your site. 

Fortunately, the ethical strategies for increasing traffic are more effective in the long run and will bring you the best return on investment (ROI) over time. The black-hat (i.e., unethical) tricks might get exciting short-term gains, but they can sink your website over time.

Find Your Niche

According to commercial estimates, approximately 2.1 million online retailers in the United States sell through their e-commerce channels and shared marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. This may sound daunting, but the trick is to narrow your pool of viable competitors. If you target your marketing according to sector, location, specialty, unique selling propositions, and buyer intent, you’ll find that your competitor list isn’t as long as you imagine.

Beyond that, you want to create a superior experience. Part of ethical marketing for e-commerce is tailoring your products or services to your target market and solving a real problem that they have. Do this better than anyone else, and you’ll have a successful business.

Identifying the Gap in the Market

As a prime example, Wix entered the web hosting market in 2006, launching in the same year as Amazon Web Services and three years after WordPress, Name.com, and Bluehost. By 2021, Wix had grown to become the second-largest content management system (CMS) in the world, second only to WordPress.

How did they achieve this? Wix offered users the chance to create a website simply through drag-and-drop selections—a feature that WordPress couldn’t compete with. While WordPress is still at #1 with 44.29% of the CMS market share, entrepreneurs who want to build their website quickly will tend to go with Wix.

Focus on Values

Values speak louder than words, which is just as accurate for online commerce as for a brick-and-mortar store. 

Imagine taking your car in for a service to an oversized automotive garage with colorful signs and balloons out front. After you wait two days for your vehicle and finally receive the bill, they overcharge you for the service and order several unnecessary parts. 

Now imagine that the next time your car is due for a service, you go to the local, independent garage where the aging owner-mechanic greets you warmly at the front door, shakes your hand, and offers you a cool glass of lemonade. At the same time, the assistant mechanics get started on your car. A couple of hours later, the entire service is complete, and the bill is precisely the price you were quoted when you walked in the door.

Even though the local garage might not attract as many new customers as the more oversized garage, their honest, warm, and reliable service will earn their customers’ loyalty for life. And when it comes to selling products online, repeat customers spend more money. Playing fair pays more enormous dividends in the end.

How to Market Your Values to Customers

At a minimum, customers expect you to provide an honest, transparent, and reliable service. That means offering a high-quality standard, free and fast shipping (if possible), easy returns, and a money-back satisfaction guarantee. It also means being available for questions and resolving problems quickly. Any claims you make on your website must be substantiated with evidence, or visitors will label the company as a sham.

Beyond the bare minimum requirements, your company will have more specialized values that you can use to hone your target audience. Perhaps you use biodegradable packaging, employ people with disabilities, or pay an ethical living wage to everyone involved in your product supply chain. Whatever the core value that underpins your company’s raison d’être, amplify it by donating to a related charity and communicating this value clearly on your site.

Once you’re ready to move into marketing on social media, target your core values in your ads and your criteria selection for customer interests. Not only will this help your ads reach your ideal market, but it will also help to build a community of customers who are fiercely loyal to your brand.

Increase Traffic and Reap the Rewards

Once you’re sure you’re ready to offer your customers a red-carpet experience that’s ethical, genuine, honest, and reliable, it’s time to put your brand out there with intentional marketing that reaches your audience.

There are two primary ways to boost your traffic: organically (through SEO) and via paid advertising. 

Search Engine Optimization

The first step is to optimize your website for its main product and category keywords to appear higher in Google search results. For most websites, this will mean:

  • Unique, keyword-optimized content on each page
  • Keyword-optimized title tags and meta descriptions that meet strict character counts
  • Alt-text and filenames for every image used on your site
  • Regular blog posts that are well-researched and that educate your target market about your products
  • An effective link-building campaign that stresses organic, high-quality inbound links 
  • A mobile-friendly and user-friendly website that loads quickly and follows all best practices for back-end SEO

When executed correctly, these strategies can boost your rankings and organic traffic in a few months. You will likely need to hire professional eCommerce SEO services if your vertical is competitive.

Paid Ads That Work

The second strategy that should go hand-in-hand with search engine optimization is paid traffic that directs visitors to your site.

The most popular kinds of paid traffic include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads. All three social media platforms allow you to specify the location, gender, age, and interests of the people who will see your ad. 

You should begin with a small campaign of at most $50 per ad and see which ad performs the best. You can invest more funds into your most effective paid social media campaigns.

Consistency Is Key 

Ethical marketing for e-commerce aims to deliver the best products within your niche with the best service and the most targeted marketing. But remember that these efforts are never finished and should never be put on autopilot. 

You must make a concerted effort daily to compete in today’s hyper-saturated marketplace. Work consistently to define and represent your brand values, dedicate ample hours to advertising and SEO, constantly improve your product or service offerings, and never stop learning about your customers and their needs. With enough diligence, you’ll make tremendous strides.

Essential Industry Insights for Further Reading

Amazon Advertising: Ad Types And How To Approach Your Strategy [2024]

Amazon Advertising: Ad Types And How To Approach Your Strategy [2024]

Viable E-commerce Business Ideas For 2024

Viable E-commerce Business Ideas For 2024

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