Tony Hsieh, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Sophia Amoruso are three of the most successful online retailers in the business. But they weren’t always that way. As pioneers in the ecommerce world, they experimented with marketing techniques and business models, and they used social media to build brand recognition and a following. Their methods are time (and market) tested and helped their businesses grow bigger than many would have imagined was possible. So, whether you are just testing the advertising waters, looking to grow your business, or determined to break into social media marketing, you can benefit from the advice of these three ecommerce moguls.
1. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com
CEO Tony Hsieh helped build Zappos.com from a two-man business into one of the most successful online retailers in the world, netting more than $1 bn a year in sales. How did he do it? By spending the money usually reserved for advertising on customer service. It sounds like a risky move, especially since many ecommerce experts suggest that marketing is at the heart of business success. Of course, you need marketing to get customers through the door, but if they are dissatisfied with their experience, they’ll never shop there again (or worse—write a bad review online).
Zappos.com’s customer service is legendary. Their customer service workers are encouraged to make a deep and emotional connection with customers, they don’t follow a script, and during the holidays even Executives answer the phones. Hsieh relies on a word of mouth business model to spread stories of Zappos’s outstanding customer service, and an incredible 75 percent of Zappos orders come from repeat customers. Bottom line? Make your customers happy. Business will follow.
2. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerX
Wine mogul turned leading marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk grew Wine Library from a $3M to a $60M business in only five years by predicting consumer behavior and trends. His top tip for ecommerce entrepreneurs? Invest in video marketing. According to Vaynerchuk, if your business isn’t utilizing video content strategy for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube, your company is going to lose out on sales and customers from a highly engaged potential audience. While many companies have Facebook pages, they don’t produce videos marketing their products. Vaynerchuk, who proclaims Facebook as the greatest data company of all time for marketers, says the site is the best place to put your video advertising dollars in order to reach your desired audience. Facebook is now getting more daily watches than YouTube, and Snapchat has grown to over a billion daily views. Make sure your video marketing is following the latest trends to hit the largest audience.
3. Sophia Amoruso, Founder of Nasty Gal
The Founder and former CEO of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, built her brand on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, and used the momentum to launch a multimillion dollar online retail venture. Like Vaynerchuk, Amoruso pays close attention to consumer trends, finding ways to bring trendy clothes to consumers at an inexpensive price. What’s special about Nasty Gal is that Amoruso built the brand without spending millions on advertising or discounting. Instead, Amoruso created a brand that has an incredibly loyal customer base and catered to their aesthetic. More than half of Nasty Gal’s sales come from 20 percent of its shoppers, each one visiting the site more than 100 times a month on average.
How did she create such a loyal following? Amoruso says it came from offering customers value beyond the clothes they were buying. She included styling tips with her garments, helping her sell some of the more eccentric and outlandish looks. Her customers weren’t just buying one piece, they were buying a whole look. She became an indispensable style and aesthetic guide, keeping her customers coming back for more. That extra step helped her build the loyal following that keeps her company alive.
By focusing on your customers, utilizing social media and video marketing, and providing innovative, engaging content, you can establish and grow your ecommerce business. Someone is going to be the next Tony Hsieh, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Sophia Amoruso… why not you?