Isn't this what all online retailers want?
To work less, spend more efficiently, and produce more sales?
Well, it's not as difficult as you think.
There are several key differences I've noticed in my experience how startup retail brands generally behave and approach marketing versus established, big brands.It comes down to acting BIG, even if you're small which is a great primer for future growth. A.K.A Your future version of your brand will thank you for being so disciplined + efficient!
This seems simplistic but I am constantly shocked at the high percentage of online retail start-ups that DO NOT create, or create and do not adhere or track a marketing budget.
When I worked at Colgate, I had to create a purchase order (PO) for every bit of marketing spend on my multi-million dollar budget. Every expense had to be coded to a cost centre, and justified. Our budgets were often cut more than they were amplified (an ongoing joke for CPG marketers!) to make quarterly profit goals.
In addition, there was an extensive process in October to set the budget for the next year.
This also means to have a budget, you MUST have a marketing plan.
While you may not want to apply that high degree of rigour to your retail brand, I encourage you to start to implement some budgeting process, and at least a basic marketing strategy and plan to implement for your upcoming year.
As you grow and add more employees it will become increasingly difficult to manage your marketing spend without you controlling it all.
Having a budget means that you have something to cross-reference to reference when people approach you with marketing opportunities (I.e. you get to say, Sorry, it's not in my budget.. soooo professional!)
Tracking your expenses makes sure that you are focusing your marketing spend on the most efficient channels.
A second tip is to keep tracking of your marketing efforts and their results.
Be it calculating ROI, or tracking conversions on google analytics. This is IMPERATIVE.
Without tracking or measuring your results, you are just spending money, and more importantly, your time on potentially ineffective marketing efforts.
It's a waste.
You are likely only a one or two person operation, and you need to direct your impact towards the tasks and things that will have the highest return on time invested for your business.
Install Google Analytics NOW. Do not wait. Do not pass go.
Did you install it?
My point of view is that you should not do any more online marketing until that, or something comparable is in place.
Then, you'll know exactly where the traffic that is converting on your website is coming from, and you can focus your efforts on THAT space.
I often see Entrepreneurs jumping at every new marketing opportunity - free or paid.
Advertisers know that we are an easy target. Largely, because of the above reasons.
If I gave product, or paid for advertising on every blog, magazine, or website that approached me, my ad spend would greatly outweigh my sales.
My last piece of advise is to demand proof.
Ask for results.
If an advertiser, blogger, magazine, or brand approaches you with a partnership opportunity - ask kindly as to whether or not they've done similar things in the past with other brands, and ask to see white-labeled (i.e. non brand named) results.
While asking for previous campaign results, even if they are positive based definitely does not guarantee your future success, it in the very least shows that potential partner tracks and reports on their campaigns.
If you're going pro by setting a budget + tracking your performance, you need to work with partners who are doing the same.