Free 100 actionable marketing ideas for your new online store
We get it. Marketing a brand new ecommerce store can be overwhelming.
You’re staring at your shiny new store dashboard and you don’t know what to do next. You’re looking at your top competitor’s Instagram feed and feeling lost. You’ve only just started, but already SEO is giving you a headache....
How about 100 actionable marketing ideas to help you get this show on the road?
We have road-tested and break-tested pretty much all the ecommerce marketing strategies out there — and now we want to pass that wisdom onto you.
We’ve broken down 100 of the best ecommerce marketing ideas out there and collated them into this handy 4-part guide.
We remember what it’s like to start from scratch — so here’s (some) of our secret sauce to help you propel your store into success.
We all start somewhere..... Begin your ecommerce journey with these 100 proven-to-work marketing hacks.
This is the essential ecommerce comfort zone. If you aren’t doing these, do you even online store?
A strategy is essential for ecommerce marketing, as without a proper plan you will end up wasting precious startup budget.
Focus on a few core channels and strategies as you grow your store, but make sure you have covered all the basics first to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Really lay the foundations for your brand: set up those social profiles, create those email addresses, launch those first blogs, and get your store ready to rumble.
Three essentials of a successful ecommerce marketing strategy:
Three Essentials of a successfull ecommerce marketing strategy
A good ecommerce marketing strategy will focus on sales (duh), but will also take into account brand consideration and reach, as well as metrics like CLV (customer lifetime value) and NPS (net promoter score).
In a nutshell, it’s not all about sales, but about the quality of the customer relationships you are building. Keep this in mind when you set out to market your online store.
Buyer personas aren’t just one of those marketing buzzwords — you do really need them.
Customer profiles will help you determine the following:
Document your buyer personas and feed them into your marketing strategy.
Be specific about details like what online publications your customers are likely to read, and what time of day they check social media. Little details like that will help you maximize marketing ROI by aligning your strategy with your core customer group.
This is a basic — but 100% still effective — ecommerce customer value proposition. Having a minimum order value on your free shipping offer is a savvy way to encourage customers to add to their basket — but keep the MOV as low as possible.
As well as free shipping, consider adding in more premium next-day or same-day delivery options for those customers who just can’t wait.
An oldie, but goodie. Voucher codes that you share on social media (why not put one in your bio?), emails, external sites, and even on your website will increase purchases.
It’s simple really — we all love a good deal.
Make your vouchers interesting, specific, and timely
Building your ecommerce website doesn’t need to take forever! We’ve put together a list of the top 100 ecommerce tools that will save you time and money. From design tools to chatbots and automation - these tools will take your site to the next level.
Popups are handy. They might get bad press, but they still help convert visitors to customers. They are a low-cost way to let visitors know about special offers, new products, and personalized recommendations.
Exit intent popups can help reduce shopping cart abandonment — why not make your popup something funny like a cat GIF? Or a last minute offer that’s only valid if they act now.
There are a ton of easy-to-use popup tools, apps, and plugins to help all store owners make the most of popups. Start with something simple at first and build on it as you grow.
Start a blog. Do it now. Like yesterday.
Blogging is an easy and low cost way to increase web traffic to your store, and when done right, it can also be a massive boost for your overall brand.
A great blog is a sign of a confident ecommerce brand who have something to say.
Concentrating on a specific locality is a good idea, even for online stores (this is especially true for a brand with a retail presence).
Engaging with the local community and making yourself locally known (notorious) is an easy way to market your new brand.
Even good old-fashioned networking can yield great results in terms of supplier intros, local events, chambers of commerce etc.
Get out from behind your laptop every once in a while.
The darling of brands the world over, influencer marketing is the shot in the arm your burgeoning online store needs.
Piggybacking off an influencer’s popularity to promote your product or service is a no-brainer. It gets you visibility on a massive platform in a way that’s organic and effective, and businesses of any size can use it.
Find an influencer that fits with your brand and reach out to collaborate. An influencer review of your product is a ringing endorsement that’ll pay dividends for your online store.
A good place to find influencers is Instagram, but you also have purpose-built platforms and matchmaking services. Sneaky tip? Spy on the influencers your competition are using — and reach out to them too.
Micro-influencer marketing is essentially influencer marketing, but concentrated. Rather than casting your net far and wide, instead opt for a considered line-and-pole approach using influencers with a follower count between 10-100K.
Why? It’s simple: as a rule, the more followers an influencer has, the less engagement they’ll receive on their social posts. By hooking up with a micro-influencer who operates in a specific sub-niche, you can virtually guarantee that your brand will stick in their followers’ minds.
So to recap: want brand awareness? Go macro. After some meaningful engagement? Go micro.
Or Bing! But, let’s face it — we are talking about Google here. PPC advertising is a great way to seed a new online store or product with a new user base, but it can get tricky if you don’t stay on top of it.
You have to remember to exclude negative keywords, keep testing and refining your ad groups, and create multiple ad versions.
The trick to a great PCC ad is to keep it super concise, super actionable, and be really clear on your value proposition. When you are setting up a ‘click here’ promise, you need to deliver.
PPC is great fun for anyone who likes math, but it can be frustrating for anyone who is on the creative side. It’s pretty cheap and easy to outsource your PPC — this is something you may want to do if you’re losing money and not getting enough clicks.
After a lot of stress and strain, you’ve finally got someone ready to buy one of your products. Congrats! Do you just make that one sale and let them walk away, figuring you can always bring them back for your other products? No! That’s wasteful and hugely inefficient.
Upselling and cross-selling are top tactics for seizing the day and turning that one item into a more expensive item plus various other bonus goodies.
Upselling is all about saying “Hey, before you buy that item, why not take a look at this slightly better one?” — if they’ve already decided they’re willing to spend a certain amount, they might well be willing to pay a little more to get something even better.
Cross-selling is more like saying “Hey, you know what goes well with that? All these things here!” — think of a car dealership masterfully getting a car buyer to also pick up cleaning supplies, extra manuals, chrome wheels, costly paint, and a branded baseball cap.
There are plenty of apps and plugins that can help you automatically upsell and cross-sell — so don’t miss out on making more sales.
Beautiful product photography is a great marketing asset and will help improve your brand credibility.
There are a few key elements that make up a great product photoshoot:
If you’re not convinced by your own photography prowess, then hire a freelancer photographer to take your product photos for you.
A good packaging experience is paramount for customer satisfaction. Your packaging needs to protect your product well. Similarly, customers don’t want to have to unwrap seven alternating layers of bubble wrap and styrofoam, or receive unnecessarily huge cardboard boxes with your product rattling around inside.
Eco-friendly packaging is becoming more important to customers these days, which means they’re way likely to buy from you. And they are willing to cough up — 72% of customers would pay more for sustainable packaging.
You can go green by using sustainable alternatives to normal plastic packaging. Aim for materials that are renewable or recyclable, and include a small message to your customers to encourage them to recycle.
Providing extra little perks with your packaging really improves the customer experience and even increases the value of your product. Come up with an alternative use for the packaging once your product has been delivered. Be inventive: your packaging could transform into anything from a practical tote bag, to a craft kit, to a plant pot.
Whether you’re selling boutique jewelry or Christmas jumpers for dogs, no-one’s going to buy from you if you’re lacking positive reviews. Positive social proof (aka other customers singing your praises) is marketing you can’t buy — but you can find it in other ways.
Offer your customers a tantalizing discount code in return for a cheeky review, or add a ticker to your store showing how many happy customers you’ve served.
Consumers actively look for social proof when they’re researching a purchase, so make sure you display your positive reviews loud and proud. The best reviews have images, plenty of text, and are useful for the next customer. You can also mark popular products as ‘trending’, ‘hot’, and ‘popular right now’ to help them seem more in demand — people are influenced by popularity when buying.
Remember, you can embed social media reviews on your online store, as well as curate reviews from external review sites.
Again, consider investing in an app or a plugin that collates reviews for you automatically by sending, messages, emails, and popups to your customers.
Abandoned carts; visitors who come, but don’t buy — some of the most frustrating things for ecommerce entrepreneurs.
One metric you will become familiar with is your shopping cart abandonment rate. Remarketing can help you push that rate down by recapturing some customers who may have slipped through the net.
One of the best ways to maximize your online store traffic is to retarget existing (and potential) customers with ads, emails, pop-ups, texts, and even direct mail.
It’s pretty easy to capture user data through onsite cookies, and most ecommerce content management systems make following up with users easy.
Remember: No matter how good your online cart experience and remarketing is, some people simply won’t buy. Your job is to lessen that friction, but you can never completely eradicate it.
Facebook ads are easy to manage, low-cost, and an absolute gamechanger for many small online stores. You can use a range of ad formats, including videos and carousel ads.
Embed Facebook Pixel to your store and use that as the basis for triggered Facebook ad sequences when people leave your store without buying, or make the most of Facebook’s Lookalike Audience features to help you reach potential customers cost-effectively.
Facebook ads are super targeted, so they are a real winner for niche stores with a passionate customer base.
Alongside Facebook, Instagram is a growing sales and marketing channel for ecommerce brands.
Countless lifestyle stores have made the most of the gram’s highly visual and photocentric mission with beautiful product shoots and influencer collabs. But Instagram is also a growing B2B channel — it’s a diverse social network that adapts to your needs.
With a similar ad offering to Facebook (including carousels, collections, video, and even Stories ads), Instagram is a must-have for new ecommerce brands.
Everyone loves a sale — and so should you. Always have a discounted products section — people love a bargain and there is something deeply psychological about the ‘get it while you can’ attitude that a sale brings.
Whether you discount all the time, with the seasons, or have a budget range — discounts will not only help you shift product and stock, they can also be the basis for repeat custom and impulse purchases from new customers.
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One of the easiest hacks is to analyze the competition.
Use a variation of the skyscraper technique: establish what your competitors are doing, replicate it, and then add to it.
Your social strategy must hold hands with your brand identity. So if you’re an irreverent brand — don’t go serious on social.
Find a brand whose social media strategy (should) align with your values.
Got one? Great.
Now use the appropriate tools to reverse-engineer their strategy.
Sprout Social is our preferred tool. It gives you a free 30-day trial to check out these great features:
Use it to establish:
You know who your competitors are. But it’s not a given they’re ranking for the words that are important to you.
Pause for a second. Ask yourself this: “what do I want my online store to rank for?”
Then use Ahrefs to search for those keywords. This tool will show you which brands are already ranking for them.
I’ll show you how it works. If your online store is selling apple pies, then “apple pie” is an important keyword for you.
Here’s what Ahrefs gives you:
Now, go to the competitor sites and pages, peel back the flesh, and find the SEO strategies behind their rankings. Then, like with the social hack, work backwards from your competitors. Bend and tweak their SEO strategy to get your store ranking quickly.
Picking apart your competitors’ social media and SEO lets you see lots of their content.
Take the bits relevant to your online store and start building a bigger, better content strategy.
Organic traffic is cost-effective and a great long-term sales channel for ecommerce.
Backlinks are votes of confidence in the eyes of search engines, and a foundational backlink portfolio is essential for bringing in organic traffic.
A landing page — whether it’s for a Facebook ad, PPC, or an email campaign, is a great way to make the most of relevant traffic.
Driving paid ecommerce traffic to a poorly thought-out category page or product page is a waste of your budget. Instead, design beautiful landing pages that make buying from you almost irresistible.
Top landing page tips:
Think about how your products are being represented to customers. Grouping products into subsets is a great way to make your online store more interesting. Could you curate some products that would make perfect gifts? What about seasonal specials? Can you create a customer favorites collection?
As well as organizing your products into logical product categories, be a bit more creative and curate your products into interesting groups. Go beyond the ‘what’ to the ‘why’ of people choosing to shop with you and buy a specific product.
Start with some competitive research — Amazon is especially good at grouping. Site search and audience research data should give also you a pretty good idea of the sorts of things customers want.
A great checkout experience is crucial. Without one, all your hard marketing work will go to waste. The faster, easier, and more enjoyable you make your checkout, the more sales you will make. It’s simple.
Make the most of your ‘new shop status and put on some good introductory offers — this is the perfect time to create a sense of excitement in your customer community. Tease your launch on social media and go live in the stockroom to give people a sense of the journey you’ve been on.
Launch with a bang and have a plan:
Content marketing is a buzzword you’ve probably heard a lot, but how can you really leverage content for your ecommerce brand? Should you be doing inbound marketing (hell yes), and what type of content should you prioritize?
Funny you should ask...
Your product pages are crucial, but so are your product categories. Show them some love.
Every brand in your niche will be talking about the same things. Many of them will be using the same words. Taking that approach isn’t good enough.
You need to make your product pages unique. Why? Because unique content improves your SEO. And doing this increases the chances of customers finding then buying your products.
Draw together your product categories by producing long-form content. The video below has expert advice on how to write long-form content:
But don’t stop there.
Write blog articles about your products categories. Create content which is useful and adds value to your customers. My winning piece of advice is to answer questions your customers have.
Give your customers valuable content and they’ll become more valuable to you.
Interviews are popular forms of snackable content, and you can both interview people and put yourself forward as an interviewee. You might want to interview team members, suppliers, influencers, makers, supporters.....
There’s so many ways that interviews add value to your business. They’re:
Journalists are the authority on interviews. So watch this video on how top hacks lead interviews:
Purchasing funnels. Purchase funnels. Sales funnels. They’re all about taking your customer on a journey. It starts with them being in the dark about your online store and your product, and ends with them seeing the light you’re offering.
Understanding your customer funnels isn’t just a way of marketing your store. It’s one of the cornerstones of running a successful business.
There are many of ways you can map out your customer funnel. I’m going to show you the one most relevant to your new ecommerce store.
This is how you turn a casual searcher into your loyal customer:
You need to raise awareness around the problems your brand is in the world to fix.
Make your customers aware your brand exists, then tie your existence to their pain points. Make your brand the solution to their problems.
Here’s the content you need for this stage:
It’s about getting the message out there.
Your nurturing stage. Your customers are interested, but they aren’t customers – yet. You need to show them the value of your product. Do that by:
Building general comparison guides
You need to provide your customer with further information about the products or services on offer.
You have to show that your product is one of the viable solutions – making it the solution is your next stage.
Yes, here you make your online store the answer. So you need content that says me, Me, ME:
The latter is especially valuable. Why? Because your customers trust peer reviews as much as recommendations from their family.
Your customers are sold on what you’re offering. You just have to push them over the line now. Make them buy your products on a regular basis.
How? With content that will draw customers in by showing off expertise, quality, and knowledge.
This will include:
But don’t stop there. Customer funnels need constant attention. You have to continually update and improve your offering, sharpening them. The video below gives you great advice on how to do this:
Why bother spending time and money creating on-point content when you can get your adoring customers to do it for free?
User-generated content is exactly what it says it is: content that is created and shared by a brand’s customers and followers. You’ve seen it before, from Coke’s #ShareACoke campaign to Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest. It builds community, generates publicity and, best of all, it’s virtually free to source.
Create a branded hashtag and invite your followers to submit content around a theme or idea. Turn it into a competition to ramp up the hype — virality is within your grasp.
Pinterest is the secret sauce for many ecommerce brands. If you get Pinterest right, it can drive insane amounts of referral traffic, and their AI-powered visual commerce game is pretty scary hot.
Pinterest is essentially a visual search engine that customers can make purchases on. Keyword optimize your Pin descriptions to ensure they appear in the right search queries, and use Rich Pins to showcase products, recipes, and content in a visually pleasing way.
Pinterest as a platform lends itself to sharing and virality, so create attractive Pins that customers will want to share.
Leverage other people’s personal brands and networks by creating roundup posts.
Find key pundits and influencers within your industry and cherry-pick the juiciest bits of their content and share them on your own site. Make them your own by providing your own personal insight and opinion on each tidbit. This provides you with some quick, useful content, showcasing your knowledge and authority at the same time. (And it’s also super shareable).
It’s not cheating, it’s content curation — with style.
Building an Ecommerce website has never been easier with the incredible user-friendly software that is now available. There are now lots of feature-rich ecommerce platforms to choose from, all of which have affordable pricing options. Watch our comparison of the top ecommerce platforms, including:
It’s likely that you are sitting on a golden egg — a great founder story. People love to hear about the challenges faced by founders starting out, so share your trials, tribulations, successes, and unique personality with the world.
Get creative with your delivery. Founder stories make for great video content, or you could go multimedia and use a blend of interviews, prose, images and copy to tell your founder story.
Find an angle that will resonate with your audience as well. For example, the story of a solopreneur who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps is always an inspiring yarn to hear.
The changing seasons are great for putting a new spin on your marketing. As well as tapping into customers’ festive feelings, it also capitalizes on seasonal spending habits too.
Make the most of seasonal search trends by tapping into existing interest and search volume. Create content that appeals to seasonal trends, such as:
Anticipate major seasonal events in advance and create a considered content strategy that takes them into account. Implement a sustained campaign in the build-up to the event to maximize sales and take advantage of seasonal spending.
Use platforms such as Facebook Live to connect directly with your audience, or set up a on Periscope. Make the most of Stories on Instagram or Snapchat — just get out there and be brave about sharing your brand story in bold and visual ways.
Instagram Stories grew phenomenally in its first year — surpassing Snapchat with 250 million users by mid 2017. It’s a testament of the power of storytelling, as well as the popularity of Instagram.
For ecommerce brands, Instagram continues to be a stellar social media channel. Popular, visual, and still growing — it’s a great place to strengthen your brand’s visual language and find your next generation of brand advocates.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of content marketing for your ecommerce store, then content curation is your savior. It’s essentially the process of sifting through all of the content on the web for a particular topic or niche, finding the good stuff, and sharing it with your followers — either on your shop’s blog, or social channels.
Content curation is great if you’re strapped for time or money, or if you’re running out of fresh ideas for content.
It’s also perfect for strategically boosting your brand: it drives more traffic to your site, establishes you as a trusted voice in your market and boosts your SEO.
Here are our top tips for content curation:
Follow these guidelines, and content curation will make marketing for your online store much, much easier.
Infographics are overdone in some circles, but they still have the ability to wow by offering fresh perspective on data. They can also help you raise awareness about important issues, explain product features, and are awesome for populating your social feeds.
The best infographics are the ones that have a bit of a story or mission behind them — leave the generic stuff behind and compare and contrast data in interesting and surprising ways. Creative Bloq have created a list of the most popular infographics to help inspire you.
For a B2C business, infographics can also double up as printables.
Journalists and local newspapers are always on the hunt for great stories. Whether it’s a gritty story of how you overcame great odds to be where you are today, or a feelgood neighborhood community story, most businesses are great story sources (without even knowing it).
Feel free to send out press releases to local papers, but you will also do well to find out who works as a journalist (many are freelance) in your local area.
Twitter is a popular place for journalists to hang out and scout for stories, so interact with them there under relevant local and #journorequest hashtags.
You can also reach out to media with a selection of stories or angles and work on individual comment pieces and editorial features. If writing is not your bag, you can easily find a freelancer to help you, or put yourself forward for interviews.
The main thing is to put yourself in the busy shoe’s of a journalist: think of how you can help them tell a good story, be respectful of their time, and take on board any feedback you get about your stories or angles.
Selling bamboo socks online? Why not become the top expert in all things bamboo, footcare, and self-appointed hygge master?
Becoming a serious content creator and publisher in your own right is a savvy way to elevate your online store to credible brand. If you become known for creating and publishing awesome content, not only will you be rewarded with search traffic, you will also find yourself reaching ‘influencer’ status. Think about the issues and topics that naturally surround your products and brand, and how you can add value to the online conversation.
Being known as someone who is an expert in a specific topic (no matter how niche) is a great promotional strategy. You will find that collaborations, press comments, and opportunities will come your way — but only if you truly commit to creating consistently awesome content.
It’s a great way to flip the online economy on its head.
Why not share content in a more permanent format, rather than just reaching for your blog?
Be more creative with how you share your ideas, and create content products that sit alongside your inventory.
Downloadable content can be a good way to get people’s email addresses (though this can also backfire as people now find this sort of data-mining off-putting).
Lookbooks are a great ecommerce tool, especially for lifestyle brands. Use them to inspire and entertain your audience. Downloadables and instructables are popular with audiences who love craft-making, baking, and creating things themselves — but the content format can easily be adapted to all product niches.
Creating in-depth product guides and buying guides is a great way to help your customers get the most of your products. It’s also a savvy way to generate relevant organic traffic.
Lifestyle videos depict a brand’s aesthetic, conveying to customers who they are and what they’re about. It communicates the lifestyle your product or service is part of, the milieu that your customers fit into.
They are typically high-quality, exquisitely shot, and use beautiful visuals to create a cinematic, often narrative-led, experience. Lifestyle videos show potential customers what life could be like if they buy your product.
Typical examples include adverts for alcoholic drinks: a group of young, attractive friends laugh and joke around as they drink from frosted green bottles of premium beer.
A great video is a fantastic ecommerce marketing tool, because you can break it down, re-caption it, embed it on your store, share it on YouTube, make it into ads, and use it as part of your social strategy.
Product review videos give customers an insight into your collection, helping them research their decision before committing to a purchase. They’re cheap to shoot, easy to produce, and provide your customers with real value.
Particularly popular in the toys and gadgets industries, unboxing videos are a strain of product review videos that consumers love.
A simple unboxing video is content gold when it comes to your customers. A blow-by-blow breakdown of a product leads viewers through all the excitement of a new purchase, but without the financial investment.
While it’s viable to create a product review or unboxing video yourself, it’s even more effective to partner up with industry influencers on review videos. Alternatively, encourage your own customers to submit unboxing or review videos for some social proof UGC.
Authentic by nature and super-easy to create, vlogs are an easy and low-cost way to sell products, outline brand values, and build relationships with customers.
For many ecommerce startups, vlogging is a natural and effective way to build a brand community. Candid pieces to camera are akin to a face-to-face conversation that resonates with customers who might be wary of shopping with a new brand.
Vlogging’s popularity has spawned a wealth of guides and tutorials online, and with the plethora of video hosting options (including social video), it’s never been easier to get involved. Use popular vloggers for inspiration, and take advantage of the many how-to guides to hone your vlogging strategy.
Telling authentic, emotive stories around your brand that resonates with customers is a powerful content marketing technique.
A popular narrative with brands is a product’s journey. Charting the birth and evolution of your product makes for a compelling story that portrays the love and hard work that went into it. And in the same vein as the founder stories mentioned earlier, exploring the past, present, and future of the team behind the product makes for equally engaging content.
For perfect storytelling, you need consistent brand messaging delivered with on-point copywriting. And it needs to truly compel — finding a unique angle for your story makes for a great PR hook for audiences.
We can’t all have the Ann Handleys of this world, but there are a lot of silver-penned writers on freelancer sites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour. If you’re not naturally gifted at writing (or if you are and need some extra hands on deck), hiring an affordable copywriter can help give your marketing the edge you need.
Don’t rush into a partnership. Check out your prospective hire’s existing work thoroughly and find someone whose style lends itself to your business.
Succeeding in email marketing is like boxing as a flyweight in the heavyweight division. You’re never going to land a knockout blow, so if you’re going to win, it’s going to be through targeted attrition.
An email drip campaign steadily doles out promotional emails over time, slowly building up interest in your products and incrementally making recipients more likely to buy from you.
Using automation tools, you can even introduce elements of personalization, ensuring that different email versions go out to different people based on their preferences and order histories. If someone bought from you once but only once, you can provide an incentive to sweeten the appeal of your store and get them back.
Our emotions tell us what to do before our brains are able to figure out what’s going on, so it’s not surprising that the best marketing finds ways to evoke strong emotional reactions.
Which emotion you should go for will depend on what you’re trying to sell, and how you’re trying to frame it. You could try to show the sheer joy of using your product, or instead go for the despair of not having it.
Whether you inspire positive emotions, or bring about negative emotions purely so you can step in and say “We can fix this!”, you can drive action in a way that calm copy never could.
Getting serious about your SEO means engaging with the technical, content, and offsite elements of search engine optimization.
While there are loads of free tools out there to help with SEO, and with the right sort of ecommerce platform and content you can handle a lot of it yourself, the next stage is getting an expert or an agency in to help you. Even a simple audit can help raise some important improvements and potential SEO issues with your store.
Customers are people too! They’ve got problems, and they’re looking for solutions. By creating content that delivers useful, actionable advice, you can show your customers that you’re not just a business — you provide real value too.
Identify issues your customers have through keyword research and create content that solves them. Recipes, tutorials, instructables, guides, reviews — these are just a few examples of useful content that your customers love.
Of course, what you create will depend on your industry. A haircare brand should create style tutorials, while a cookware business would benefit from recipes. Use how-to content to position your products as solutions too, linking off to product pages where appropriate.
Have you ever thought about selling digital products and memberships, as well as physical product? Diversifying into digital is an easy additional source of revenue that requires very little financial investment — it just takes a little time and effort.
Ebooks, webinars, training courses, membership groups — all these digital product models may be lucrative for your online store. Just like with how-to content, identify what your customers need and create digital products that they’ll need. A training course on cooking for beginners is one such example, as is a membership-only fitness plan.
Video creation and webinar hosting are affordable and easy to get started with. Use your knowledge and skill to create useful content that customers want, then charge for it.
Time to switch this baby into high gear (though we might not all remember what life before an automatic was like).... Once you have got going with your online store, it’s time to level up and improve your customer experience and become more efficient.
We all like to window shop, even online.
Give people the opportunity to save their shopping lists and create wishlists. Sometimes customers might agonize over a purchase for weeks, or they might be waiting for pay day. Don’t annoy them by having to constantly create new baskets, but allow them to create one-click wishlists they can keep coming back to and share with friends and family.
Time is money, baby! And between fulfilling orders and growing your online store, who has the time to share dazzling content on a regular basis? Newsflash: you do.
Rather than manually updating your social channels everyday, use one of the many free or affordable social automation tools open to you to schedule your posts ahead of time. You can automate your editorial calendar for months in advance, giving you a little breathing space when your back’s against the wall.
And your email marketing isn’t left out of the loop either. There are dozens of automation tools that let you craft and coordinate slick email campaigns at the click of a mouse. Time is money, and now you’ve got that in spades.
Outreach can take many forms — from email outreach to social media and community outreach — the main thing is ensuring that your brand has a voice.
This voice needs to be clear, consistent and engaging, whether you’re posting on Facebook or sending out a seasonal email campaign. You can’t just rely on search alone, and wait for people to stumble across your store. You need to reach out, approach new customers, and shout about your products and service. Engage with local media, events, influencers, blogs — be seen and heard in the online community. Give back and you will reap the rewards.
Outreach will increase brand exposure and build connections with the right people.
A customer community is an an excellent way to market your online store because it’s a self-sustaining once it’s established.
Social proof is way better than just you talking about your brand. Of course you’re going to say that all of your products are amazing! But having multiple, actual customers give honest reviews and talk about their positive experience with your store on social media or your site is the proof that potential customers really need.
Loyal customers will encourage others to become customers by singing your praises and advising on products. And having a customer community also creates a feeling of like-mindedness; your customers share values and identify with each other — and your brand — which strengthens your brand’s identity.
The internet isn’t fully mobile these days, but it’s pretty close. Mobile traffic is dominant, Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing, and web developers are moving to mobile-first design processes. And even if there were a 50/50 split with desktop traffic, it would still be worth putting most of your effort into mobile UX.
Why? Because smartphones are used everywhere and at any time of the day. Browsing on a desktop or a laptop is more of an occasional thing — you sit down, find what you’re looking for, and leave. But your smartphone might rarely leave your hand. Whether you’re waiting for a bus, struggling to sleep in the middle of the night, or in a slow meeting, you’re in a position to not just surf the internet but also buy things.
This freedom also makes people impatient, though. They’re used to quick and intuitive mobile experiences, and if they don’t like a site, they’ll just find another one. So it isn’t enough to have a decent mobile UX. You need an outstanding mobile UX. Get your design in the top 1%, and you’ll see the benefit to your bottom line.
It takes a lot of steps to get someone from initial interest to conversion in the ecommerce world relative to conventional retail. When someone steps into a physical store, they’ve committed slightly to that location, and the more time they spend there, the more they’ll feel driven to make a purchase and justify that time. But online browsing takes no effort, so shoppers feel free to leave whenever they want.
Consequently, it only takes one mistake along the way to lose even a promising lead, so you need to make your funnel as strong as possible. Gamification is a huge help for that. By making the journey towards conversion engaging and interactive, you can get people hooked and further incentivize them to keep going.
Try using quizzes through social media to encourage people to think about your products and get invested in your brand. The more information they contribute, the more they’ll feel connected to your store. Give each scrap of progress towards conversion a tiny reward of some kind, whether it’s a cheery animation, an appreciative email, or a discount. And consider implementing a tiered loyalty system to give new customers a reason to keep buying from you and scale up their purchasing over time.
You can sell on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks directly, without customers even having to step foot in your online store.
Direct selling on social networks is an easy way to simultaneously market your products and make money. Many ecommerce platforms will feature apps that let you sell on social (such as Shopify’s Facebook Store) or work as plug-ins that you can integrate with social channels (Ecwid works well with Facebook and Instagram).
Selling on social lets you showcase your products by posting collections, outfit combinations, and tagging individual items which shoppers can click on to buy. This is great for generating interest in your products and building engagement.
Marketplaces are an excellent place to advertise your online store. Etsy, eBay, and Amazon have millions of customers. Give them a chance to buy your products.
To get started you’ll need a product catalog. This is a record of the items sold by your business. It includes the following data:
Checkout the video underneath for more on marketplace selling:
To get people shopping (and talking about your brand), why not create some unique products that are only available as limited editions?
Scarcity is a really powerful sales driver.
Some ideas for products:
Digital commerce is fluid and global. So are your customers. Give them what they want by adopting dynamic pricing and offers.
Dynamic pricing boosts your chances of selling to different markets. How? By adjusting the cost of your products based on real-time supply and demand.
Sounds pointless? It’s not.
Amazon is the biggest retail brand on the planet. Amazon adores dynamic pricing. It loves the business model so much that it changes prices every 10 minutes. What benefits do you and Amazon get from using dynamic pricing and offers? Here’s what:
Sounds great. It is.
To find out how to start using dynamic pricing and offers, watch the video underneath:
Every self-respecting ecommerce merchant needs to have a Black Friday and Cyber Monday game plan. Sales soar in these annual buying frenzies, and every industry can get involved.
To start with, you need some genuinely good discounts or promotions. Simply knocking off 25% isn’t going to draw in the crowds — that’s little league stuff. Go above and beyond your usual offers and give your customers something they’ll go wild for.
And remember: know your enemy! Your competitors are going to be slashing prices too, and will create dedicated BFCM landing pages in anticipation of the event. See what they’ve got planned and if you can afford to undercut them, do it. Create your own landing page and promote it heavily with a strong social campaign in the weeks leading up to BFCM.
Finally, check your store works fluidly across tablet and mobile devices. Mobile is the battleground on which BFCM is won, so make it easy for your customers to buy.
This one’s a no-brainer. Onsite messenger bots that pop up on your online store and follow people to Facebook Messenger can be marketing (and customer service) lifesavers.
Using social messaging to communicate with customers right alongside their friends isn’t just great for business — it’s also easy to implement. Most ecommerce platforms offer integration with the Messenger app.
There is a variety of ways you can use Messenger for your online store. Abandoned cart recovery is one such use, as well as sending receipts and shipping updates. But you can also use it to welcome customers visiting your store — this opens a dialogue that you can use to push certain products or offer tailored assistance.
As part of its quest to take over the world, Google no longer stops at linking to relevant websites when someone makes a search — now, it will try to extract the data they’re looking for and present it directly at the top of the results page, saving them a click.
This is great for the user, but a challenge for all the sites in the results that need clicks. All you can do is make the best of the situation by aiming to be the site chosen for snippets, getting prominent links right at the top of results pages (even above much bigger brands).
To do this, you need to tag all the important content on your website: everything from your products and prices to your best blog posts. If your content is great and you tag everything correctly, you’ll be in with a chance of being selected for featured snippets.
Remember when we said about tagging important content for search snippets? Structured data is what lets you do that. It provides a framework for categorising any piece of content you might find on a website, making it clear to crawlers what exactly different pages contain.
The most widely-accepted structured data scheme can be found on Schema.org. It can be quite complex, so check out some basic guides if you’re ready to try using it, and be sure to use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check that your work is good to go.
Personalization is here. And you’ve seen it already.
You experience personalization each time you search for something on Google. It’s the ads that target your locality. The products suggested based on your search preferences. The SERPS that answer your questions before you’ve asked them.
Your customers experience this to. And not only from Google.
The best online stores are the ones who get comfortable with customer data. Then use it to give their customers personalized recommendations.
Amazon is the benchmark for personalization. Think back now to the last time you used Amazon. What did you see? Something like this:
Personalization increases the chances of upselling to your customers. How? It’s simple. Your customers visit your online store for one item. You recommend others based on their search history.
BAM. They’ve bought a product they didn’t realize they needed.
Don’t stop at personalized product recommendations. Give your customers personalized content too. This is great for your online store because it helps to increase brand loyalty. How? Because it treats your customers as unique individuals. Making them feel valued.
Make your customers feel valued and they’ll become valued customers. Watch the video to learn more about personalization:
Why sell your customers one product when you can sell them a group? Because it offers them more value for their money. And you know what happens when your customers feel valued. They become more loyal to your online store.
Product bundles give your customers a package of goods or services. These are complimentary items. I’ll show you what bundle packages looks like:
Games companies mastered the art of product bundles years ago (Xbox 360 was released in 2005). All the items you see above are related to the main product – the games console.
By grouping them together your customers feel like they’re getting a better deal. By selling them together you get to sell more products. It’s a win-win.
Do you sell products with your customers names engraved on them? Or create bespoke clothing? Even if you don’t, bespoke products should be part of your business.
Bloom & Wild is a UK company we’ve used when visiting our Brit buddies. It sells bouquets of flowers and delivers them through your letterbox.
Everytime you order you get the option to send a personalized message. Imagine getting this through your door:
You could send bespoke messages to your customers too. Include a card with every order and let your customers know you care about them.
The video underneath talks more about creating bespoke products:
Customers love it when companies go that extra mile for them.
Be inventive with your ideas and show your customer that you care, and that you appreciate. You could pop handwritten notes in with your products with instructions, or introducing yourself — or just to say thank you for buying your product.
Make your extra mile stuff relevant to your brand. Perhaps your online store sells books? Include a bookmark or a sachet of coffee or hot chocolate for your customer to enjoy while reading. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.
You can also send little gifts when your customer has bought their tenth product from you, or been an email subscriber for two years. Show them that you appreciate their loyalty by popping a small gift voucher in the post.
Little touches like this will make you stand out in a crowded market as a company that cares and rewards their loyal customers.
Giveaways, contests and competition are a surefire way to promote your online store, draw in new customers, and keep your loyal ones interested.
Capitalize on holidays or seasons. This could be anything from a Christmas gift giveaway, a Halloween fancy-dress competition, or a back-to-school drawing contest. Making your events holiday-specific makes your marketing more relevant, and means you’re joining in on conversations that are already happening.
You can also put on giveaways for company events, like your store’s first birthday, or when you move to another office. This builds connections between you and your customers, as they celebrate with you through the giveaways.
Host your giveaway or competition on social channels, ensuring that you promote it well and include all of the details. Make the most of this engagement: follow up with regular interaction and monitor the discussions around your giveaway.
Customer loyalty programs work. FACT. But while the tried-and-tested “earn points while you spend” system has its place, you can see better results by gamifying your loyalty programs.
Transforming the customer experience into a game drives sales and increases engagement by tapping into our natural competitiveness. And a competition lends itself to virality too. Much in the same way that the famous Wendy’s 18 million retweets challenge worked, gamifying your customer experience can garner you brand awareness on a wider scale.
Make spending with you fun by inviting customers to play games or submit content in return for loyalty points. It increases sales and, crucially, encourages your customers to engage with your brand on a deeper level.
Buy Now and get important discounts
Buy Now and get important discounts
Buy Now and get important discounts
If your online store is doing well, why not spread the love? Share some of your success by supporting a good cause or charity.
You can do this in a number of ways:
Don’t forget to shout about your charity work too; post photos on social media, do write-ups on your blog. Sharing charity posts will attract customers to you, but it’ll also help your charity as people start to click on those links and read up on the good work that they’re doing.
We spoke earlier about the value of using interviews. Partnerships and co-marketing offer the same primary benefit to your online store. Exposure to a new audience.
Partnerships and co-marketing are about working with a like minded business. You produce a shared offer to appeal to two sets of customers. Your marketing teams can produce content together:
You could combine your products in a campaign. This blog post gives you some great examples of co-marketing success stories.
Or you could team up for an event, like GoPro & Red Bull. Those two lifestyle brands worked on Stratos. How? Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner dived from a space pod 24 miles over the Earth’s surface. See what happened below:
Baumgartner was carrying a GoPro camera. He’s also sponsored by Red Bull. And he set three world records during this co-partnership.
You might not have the budget of GoPro and Red Bull. But that shouldn’t stop you. Find a relevant brand. Create a mutually beneficial campaign. Then access a new set of customers for your online store.
Sequential advertising is ordered advertising. It tells a story in sequence. The purpose is to draw your customers into a narrative flow that reduces ad fatigue.
Reduced fatigue isn’t the only benefit of sequential advertising:
Grammarly’s Head of Growth and Marketing, Yuriy Timen, explains the importance of sequential advertising below:
Partnerships, co-marketing, and influencer marketing. What do they all have in common? You get somebody else to market your new online store. An affiliate program has the same advantage.
It’s an arrangement where you pay someone to drive traffic to your online store. This payment comes from commission. Here’s how it works:
To get better results you can give your affiliates an incentive. You could reach out to an influencer and give them a bespoke affiliate code, or you could even join the affiliate schemes of other brands. And why not give your affiliates bespoke gifts as rewards?
Want to know how to setup an affiliate program in minutes? Watch the video below:
Marketing is a wonderful heady mix of technical and creative, code and flair — it’s where data meets daring.
With the average smartphone camera getting good enough to pick up a detailed pattern in average lighting conditions, marketers jumped on the QR code bandwagon: instead of providing a URL that people aren’t going to type in, you can offer up a QR code to be picked up in one quick snap.
The main problem with this is that, well… even though some people prefer to use QR codes, there are just as many who don’t know what they are or how they work. This is particularly awkward with less tech-savvy people who might not even know how to use their phone camera, and it gets even more complicated when you consider that not all phone cameras will pick up QR codes by default.
So you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the QR code basket, but if your store has a really complex URL, or you want to put up a print banner for a specific product — or particularly if you have an app for your store that’s only going to appeal to tech-savvy users anyway — then add some QR codes to your existing marketing materials!
Motion catches the eye: it’s why you can breeze by a static image but get your eyes stuck on a TV screen. It’s in our nature! If we didn’t spot movement in an instant, we’d be easy prey for the top land predators, and our species wouldn’t have survived this long. This is something you can use for your marketing.
But animations aren’t just great for ecommerce products just because they’re eye-catching. They’re also great because they allow you to quickly and easily display different views of your products, something that’s pretty important for people who can’t see products in person and need as much information as they can get.
You can’t use GIFs for print marketing, sure, but you can use them in your marketing emails and your digital displays. You might get a fraction of a second to make an impression with an ad in a social media feed — throw in a glossy animation and you can communicate a lot of information about your store in a very small space.
Everyone loves a quiz, right?
These days it’s super easy to create and launch quizzes — and they are just the sort of super shareable and snackable content you need to build marketing momentum.
As well as more (obvious) product-focused quizzes that go into things like fit, think about how you can create some more fun and personal quizzes too.
How about something about people’s personalities? Favorite movies? Recent events? Animals? Something controversial may help you get more shares (but it could be risky).
Shoppers are more or less susceptible to marketing depending on context. Contextual marketing takes this into account by finding ways to supply advertising that suits the context, making your promotional materials more cost-effective.
By creating ad templates with multiple variants, you can ensure that someone who has been searching for a specific term will be served the variant most relevant to that term. And if someone has already looked at a product on your site, you can prioritize ads for that product, possibly turning a near-miss into a conversion.
Instagram is a great place to market an ecommerce brand — and what better way to go than run your own Instagram contest?
Instagram contests are super-easy to do and can be highly effective. There are many different types, from the “like, follow, and tag your friends” kind to the “photo challenge with a branded hashtag” classic.
The kind you go for will depend on your goal: do you want brand awareness? More followers? A surge in sales? Identify your goal first and work backwards from there.
61% of shoppers say seasonal deals are their main reason for shopping in pop-up stores, and that’s a potential gold mine for your store. Setting up a pop-up shop over Christmas or Halloween lets you take advantage of real-world foot traffic without a heavy financial commitment.
As well as boosting sales during seasonal events, one-off pop-ups can raise awareness of your business by taking it directly to potential customers. Offer free samples, Q&A sessions, or even entertainment to make a splash in a real-world setting.
And pop-up shops are probably easier to do than you think. Most ecommerce platforms offer dedicated POS systems or apps to connect offline sales with your online figures, letting you handle and manage in-store sales with ease.
Live video is becoming wildly popular. Pioneered by streaming app Periscope, today several major social platforms offer live video options as standard.
Its popularity lies in its raw, authentic feel. And live 360-degree videos makes for a truly immersive experience for audiences. The appeal of seeing unedited events and reactions in real-time is exciting for customers, and it’s a trend that ecommerce brands can capitalize on.
For example, live streaming of the aforementioned one-off pop-up shop events makes for some great instant content for non-attendees. Or you could record live reaction cams to industry-related events such as fashion shows or sports games — live video gives your brand an edgy, current feel that resonates with consumers.
Marketing is a two-way relationship with your customers and, much like a real relationship, it’s about listening. It’s not enough to simply shower your beloved customers with gifts and trinkets. You need to listen to what they’re saying about you and your brand on social.
Monitoring conversations, mentions, and consumer sentiment online lets you find out what your customers love (and hate) about you. This in turn lets you reposition your brand so you can keep your customers happy by doing more of what they love.
If only there were a social listening tool for actual relationships...
Think of brand ambassadors and you might think of George Clooney giving you eyes over a tiny cup of Nespresso, or Mila Kunis tapping a barrel of Jim Beam. A-list celebrities partnering with big brands is a tried-and-tested method of boosting sales and increasing engagement.
But they aren’t solely the domain of global businesses. Your online store can benefit from your own brand ambassador program too.
Identify loyal customers who return to your store time and again, repeat customers who love your products or service so much they freely sing your praises. These customers are your ready-made ambassadors who will be only too willing to partner up with the brand they love.
Nothing in life is free… except for the many free trials, samples, tasters, and treats that we’re offered by brands everyday. And as consumers, we love it.
Offering your customers a freebie or two is a surefire way to pique their interest in your business.
But instead of just throwing a freebie their way, go beyond that and get creative with it. For example, offer customers an enticing free gift… on all orders over $15. Or give them a free discount code… when they sign up to your email newsletter.
So maybe nothing in life is free — not even freebies!
Everyone loves a birthday. Whether it’s yours, your customer’s, or your business's, you can make a marketing campaign out of this special day.
Birthday campaigns are particularly successful if they celebrate your customer’s birthday. It’s a great way to engage with loyal customers and show that you care. It’s also highly effective and easy to personalize using email marketing tools like Mailchimp.
Include a birthday “gift” for your customer in the email. This could be a voucher, 20% off their next purchase, or a redeemable free present — it’s up to you.
If it’s your online store’s birthday, why not send out an email to share this with your followers and treat them to a gift with a giveaway.
Remember how Pokémon Go was briefly the biggest thing in the world? That special blend of real-world activity and cutesy digital gimmickry proved to be a potent hook, getting more people outside and exercising than a government campaign ever could.
Well, AR and VR in the ecommerce world can be more than gimmicks. They provide much-needed context that people need to buy things they can’t inspect in person or physically touch. By providing 3D previews and product visualisations, you can make your store a more appealing site to visit.
But it doesn’t need to stop there. You can release 360-degree behind-the-scenes VR videos to get people talking about your brand, or even create an AR app to build up some buzz. Whether it’s practical or just a novelty, AR/VR content has a lot to offer.
Curating subscription boxes is really good fun. You basically get to put together a box of all of the things you think your customers would appreciate.
Individually, the items wouldn’t necessarily hold much value, but when carefully put together, you can create a concept that your customers will enjoy. This could be luxury (think high-end beauty or pampering products), or comfort (a box including books, tea, candles and a great pair of socks). You’re creating more than just a box — you’re creating a feeling.
If you want to go one step further, curate your subscription box based on your customer’s individual shopping preferences; choose products that you know they’ll like off the back of this.
Crowdfunding works well as a marketing idea because you’re simultaneously raising awareness about your next venture or product and raising money.
Use sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter to host your crowdfunding, but make sure you link regularly on your social platforms to ensure you’re building momentum and keeping your audience updated with all of the latest details and news.
With all the email traffic, messaging apps (and the old school text) are a good option for ecommerce merchants.
With open rates email marketers could only dream of, the old-school text still has its moments. As well as for pushing marketing collateral like exclusive coupons and birthday texts, text messaging is a great way to keep customers updated on order status.
We talked about Reddit earlier. Quora is another Q&A forum. This means it’s another weapon to use for marketing your store.
There are a few ways you can leverage Quora to your advantage:
Find relevant topics and make your store part of the answer to any questions. Word of advice: if you begin by making a hard sell, you’ll get a cold no. Build up your profile and play the long game – make the users trust you before you become a salesperson.
Quora users ask questions. You have answers. Use those same topics as inspiration for your blog posts. This helps build your authority with Google, improve your rankings, and give a better chance of getting people to your online store.
If you want to know what your customers think, you have to ask them. But asking as a brand is easier said than done. People are resistant to companies.
But they’re less resistant to people. Test out ideas about your company, industry, niche etc… then make the popular ones part of your marketing strategy.
Visiting industry trade shows and events offers great scope for development and marketing. Heading to an event that’s full of your competitors is a good opportunity for some market research, identifying what you’re up against so you can do it better.
It’s also a chance to network too. Simply getting your name out there helps build a strong network of potential suppliers and like-minded entrepreneurs. It also provides you with a support group to give you advice as your business grows.
Heading to more public events related to your industry is your chance to get your brand seen by potential customers. Fairs, pop-up shops, and one-off markets give you visibility with customers who are likely to buy from you.
Bring along a selection of your best products to sell or display. It’s also worth creating some physical marketing materials such as cards, leaflets, or even catalogs for prospective customers to take away with them. This will help keep your brand in their mind for the future.
It may be a silly-sounding acronym, but FOMO is no joke. Fear of missing out isn’t just some frivolous feeling — it’s a deeply-unpleasant experience that strikes us when we think that other people are getting to enjoy something that we’re missing.
In ecommerce, FOMO is an essential component of driving up the perceived value of a product, brand, or store. With a product, you’d generally want to talk about limited stock, or a price that will only last so long, and you can take that into account when writing product copy.
For your business in general, though, it’s all about getting across how happy your customers are to be frequenting your store. Testimonials are great for this. Whenever you talk or produce any marketing materials about your brand, get across the idea that anyone not already involved is missing something important. It’s a guaranteed winner.
Consumers today are marketing-savvy. They see through the generic buzzwords and insincere platitudes so common in most marketing copy — it no longer resonates with them.
To really cut through the noise and speak to your customers, you should be wholly raw. Be real and honest, even vulnerable. If you’ve made a mistake, confront it without dressing it up. An honest brand is a rare thing, and it’s hugely appealing to customers.
This is especially true on social. Responding to complaints publicly and candidly does wonders for your public relations, strengthening your branding and your bond with your customers.
Humor is how you show your audience that you’re more than just an ecommerce store: you’re human, you’re relatable, you’re funny.
This could be comic social posts, clickbaity stuff on your blog, funny photos or responses to your customers.
It’s also your main chance at going viral (the ultimate marketing goal). It’s an overused example, but the award for viral and hilarious still has to be given to the Dollar Shave Club for this epic advert:
Widely heralded as probably the most brilliant marketing the world has seen, this video has made it up to 25 million views to date. Now that’s how you combine humor and marketing.
People love a good map or an interactive graphic! They might love ebooks even more.
Make the most of great visual content and help sell your products in unique and clever ways.
If you want to stand out, graphics are a great option for marketing your online store. Consumers respond well to visual content, so make the most of this and convey your message in a fun way. You can use online tools like Canva or Visme to make your own, or hire a freelancer if you want to create something that’s a bit more complicated or interactive.
Ebooks are another option — everyone likes free things, so if you’re offering up some of your knowledge or words of wisdom in a free ebooks, customers will come running. Ebooks build your credibility, show off your knowledge and expertise, and make you stand out from the competition. They’re relatively easy to create and they’ll help generate leads and interest to your store.
If executed well, PR stunts are the perfect way of spreading the word about your brand, bringing in more customers, and even going viral. They’re a quick and easy way of grabbing your audience’s attention, and — depending on what you decide on — can even be free. The aim is to be entertaining and unusual; basically, something that makes an impact. Remember, everyone loves free things, funny things, and a good flashmob.
The history of marketing is peppered with successful (and some not so successful) PR stunts, such as Carlsberg’s “Probably the best poster in the world” campaign, where a poster dispensed free beer in London’s Brick Lane.