eCommerce Insiders

How to Explore New Marketing Platforms Without Betting the Farm

In the midst of implementing new branding and marketing strategies in the new year, your marketing team might have considered branching out to new “platforms.”

There are a lot of marketing platforms available to ecommerce retailers these days.

A new marketing platform for you could be anything from a new email newsletter, video content, a blog, or expanding your brand to new social media platforms.

Whatever the platform itself, there are a couple things you’ll want to know before you dive in…

Broadening Your Reach

Let’s say that currently, your brand primarily uses email marketing in order to build customer relations, announce promotions, and feature relevant content. That’s great, but it’s even better when you offer shoppers options for engagement and action.

Sit down and think about where you’re dedicating most of your marketing energy. Then, consider where you need to create reach and engagement. But, before you go rushing into a new platform clumsily, consider how you can effectively communicate via the new platform.

People prefer to shop in a variety of ways, so provide them with options.

For example, some shoppers love shopping on the go, especially “showroom” shoppers (people who like to browse and fact-find at a retailer’s brick and mortar location before making a purchase online). These are often the kinds of shoppers who also like to browse via social media (Pinterest and Instagram are big for these shoppers).

You can harness their enthusiasm by making your products available to browse on these platforms, putting yourself conveniently in their path, instead of being one more email in the inbox.

Sure, your brand might be doing just fine by promoting your products via emails, or via social media, exclusively. But it doesn’t hurt to explore other options (while remaining conscious of your target audience, of course).

But before you before you go jumping all over the Internet with your brand, there are two key steps you’ll want to take to hedge your results.

Test your prospective new “neighborhood.”

You wouldn’t pack up your personal belongings and move into a new home (or neighborhood) sight unseen, would you? Would you make such a life-changing decisions based upon positive rumors and ‘good feelings’?

Or, would you make a couple of visits to your new property to learn the lay of the land? And, wouldn’t you want to check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and night to learn what you might be in for?

It stands to reason that you’d want to perform the same ‘tests’ with your marketing media. For example, while Facebook and Twitter may be no-brainers for any brand, other social platforms might not be right for your business, depending upon your brand’s culture and product offerings.

So, it makes sense to perform due diligence before you establish residency on a new marketing platform.

Think about the resources that your project will require. What would you require in order to move into your new home? How many hours would it take to unpack your belongings?

Using that  same line of thought, consider what type of resources you’ll need in order to perform well on a new platform. For example, do you have the technical skills or support? Will you need additional marketing materials? (If you’re jumping into Pinterest or Instagram for the first time, you may very well need new product and brand images).

Don’t over-extend your brand’s reach.

Again, not all online (or offline) platforms are created equally. Not all platforms are going to give your brand the best return on investment. Therefore, it might not be a good use of your marketing team’s time and resources spread yourself over too many marketing platforms.

Learn from the mistakes of other brands who took a “scorched earth” approach to adding new platforms to their mix.

One common one is a failure to understand the ‘language’ and ‘customs’ of your new platform. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing platforms. Bad things happen when your marketing team doesn’t educate themselves about effective communication within their new platform.

I discussed in an earlier article that smart retailers build enduring relationships with customers when they learn to “speak the language of the locals” and “learn the local customs”. For instance, strategies that might have worked in print or email media simply aren’t a good fit for social or mobile platforms.

Using another example, written content producers who have the latitude to indulge their creativity within certain platforms (like a blog) will be need to learn how to communicate in “Twitterese” or else will fail to produce results on Twitter.

Consider the unique strenghts and weaknesses of the platform, as well as its “culture,” and make sure its in line with your company goals and target audience before diving in. This will play a huge role in how effective your new campaigns will be.

Michael Price says it best within his recently published Huffington Post article on expansion within social media:

…Use platforms natively. In other words, pay attention to the content style of each social media platform and create content that matches those platforms’ intended purpose.

With thought, planning, and smart execution, expansion is a great way to expand your brand’s reach during the slower lull of the first quarter.

And if you start implementing this strategy now, you’ll have time to work out the learning curves and kinks that will get in the way of generating revenue during the ‘feast’ periods of the year.

*Photo courtesy of

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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