Digital PR activity is essential for any ecommerce business, not only to build the authority and strength of the website, but also to increase public awareness of its product offering and build trust in the business.
There are many different approaches to digital PR for ecommerce businesses; how these are combined and used depends on the nature of the individual ecommerce business and its marketing goals.
The following techniques can benefit both B2C and B2B businesses.
Press releases are the best way to inform your target consumer of a new product launch via the media that they read. A well-written press release, combined with photos and even videos, allows a journalist to easily and quickly create a story about the launch of your new product.
In order to execute this, you need a press pack which includes the following:
For more tips on how to write a good press release, read our blog post here: https://www.impression.co.uk/blog/5022/art-press-release/
Another way to put a product in front of your target consumer is via product round ups, which are regularly conducted by the press in every sector and are a time efficient way of showcasing your product alongside others in the market.
Many journalists post requests for products on Twitter before they begin to write their articles so look out for requests for products on Twitter by following #journorequest and #prrequest .
When pitching your product to a journalist for a product round up, remember to include:
Depending on the type of product, journalists often request photos taken against a blank background or swatch photos.
You can also help journalists out by creating product round ups of your own. For example, you might do a round up according to seasonality (top 10 products to get you ready for Christmas) or to tie in with trends (top 30 home furnishing trends for 2020).
You might also consider creating your round ups based on categories that will garner press attention, such as products that relate to popular TV shows, or to tongue in cheek topics (top products to ‘Googlefy’ your office).
Product stunts are a great way to garner coverage without too much of an investment. In recent times, product launches of either fake or ‘PR placed’ products have reaped huge rewards for the businesses behind them and thus form a valid part of your ecommerce PR plan.
Product stunts most often tie into a topical relevance, or are aspirational for their target audience.
For example, in the early days of digital PR, a campaign for a company called Bathroom Suite gained widespread attention after the PR behind it identified that many of the company’s audience were failing to spell the brand name correctly, instead using bathroom sweets. This was turned into a product stunt whereby a bathroom suite made of chocolate was created:
This was a fun example and many others have followed. Philadelphia created a ‘bagel maker‘ that turned anything into a bagel; this kids’ bedroom specialist has made an ‘anti nightmare mist‘ and this brand, though no strictly ecommerce, gained a huge amount of traction launching a version of their product where tutors would dress up as Harry Potter characters.
Gaining links specifically to product pages can be especially challenging because more often than not, they’re considered too ‘salesy’ for most journalists to take; a fake product launch can remedy this and provide something fun to share and engage users too.
It’s an oldie-but-goodie for the digital PR industry! The reality is that data driven campaigns still perform incredibly well, when executed correctly.
In many cases, ecommerce businesses, by their nature, should have a good amount of data from their own sales, much of which can be used to generate press coverage.
For example, you might look at seasonality within your product sales to create a newsworthy hook around the ‘best time to buy’, or demographical insights that might inform a story around ‘the most popular products with millennials’ or similar. Don’t be afraid to look to your own data for stories, noting that the smaller your brand, the bigger your sample set is likely to need to be to gain attention in national press.
You might also look to external data sources to derive press-worthy ‘hooks’. There are so many freely available sources of data available to you, so get creative!
Google Trends, as an example, can uncover interesting stats about interest in certain products; in this example, a contact lens company gained attention by extracting data from Google Trends that proved an increase in searches for ‘cheap contact lenses’ around Halloween, and turned that into a story by creating a guide to caring for your eyes.
You might look to places like IMDB to show connections between your products and films, to social media to gain data around sentiment or trends, to FOI requests to pull insights about how certain products are used, or simply to places like Reddit to gather opinions which can be showcased as ‘trends’. There are so many places to look, you just need to be creative with them!
Something that always performs well in the ecommerce space is the exploration of trends. From pitching in your own sources (think about who is a credible spokesperson for your business) to pulling trends insights from social media, there are plenty of ways to tie into existing, upcoming and even not-yet-existing trends for coverage.
Instagram can be a fantastic source for this, as shown by this campaign which showcases bathroom trends, or this one looking at interior planting trends, both intended to generate links for their ecommerce businesses.
Gamification is a growing area of digital PR where interactivity can generate user engagement as well as PR coverage.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Gamification ranges from simple quizzes, such as this one encouraging users to find out how lazy they are, right through to interactive pieces based on scientific research, such as this one from national contact lens company Lenstore which encourages users to find out how well their eyes view colour.
A great way to come up with gaming ideas is to consider what is commonly ‘known’ in your/your client’s industry and ‘prove’ it through a game. Consider the interactive element as a means to engaging users, and how your game is either newsworthy in itself, or how the results of user interactions (e.g. stats on how people perform on the game) might be newsworthy too.
Case studies are a great way to demonstrate the use of your product in a real life setting, and the human aspect of this type of story is very attractive for journalists.
For example, you could create a case study about how a piece of green tech helped a family to reduce its carbon footprint and energy bill, and this type of story is likely to be covered by environmental and personal finance journalists for national publications, which have strong domain ratings.
To increase the chances of your case study being covered by the press, it needs to demonstrate how your product made a tangible difference to the consumer. A strong case study pack will include the following:
If your ecommerce business is responsible for the manufacture of the products that you sell, you will be able to pitch for coverage in the manufacturing press.
Publications such as The Manufacturer often run features on the process of manufacturing a specific product and conduct factory trips to gather information for their coverage. If your product has an interesting or unique manufacturing process, it’s worth contacting these publications to see if they would like to cover it.
Supply chain management stories are also popular with these publications and so even if your factory is based outside of the UK, you can still pitch for a story of this nature if you are happy to disclose your supply chain.
Finally, manufacturing is consistently a hot topic with the UK press, and journalists will often look for comment from manufacturers to include within their articles. Preparing comment from a business spokesperson about industry milestones, such as the release of GDP figures, and pitching this in to relevant journalists and publications is a good way of securing coverage in high profile and high authority publications that will raise both awareness of your brand and products, and the strength of your website.
Submitting comment from a spokesperson on key industry topics is part of a wider profile building technique that aims to raise awareness of your business and broaden your website’s backlink profile.
Profile building, or thought leadership articles, can be pitched to the business press and publications that cover your specific industry on any topic that your business and its spokespeople feel passionate about.
Perhaps the most simple way to gain links / coverage for an ecommerce brand is to respond to requests from journalists.
You can see these through tools like Response Source, which is a paid for platform but one which can give you direct access to a huge number of journalists seeking your content. You can also check out #journorequest and #prrequest for requests from journalists on Twitter.
Something that can help to reduce the workload for you on responsive work like this is to create a ‘comment bank’. This is where you will look ahead to the coming months and any topical or seasonal hooks that you anticipate being of relevance to you / your client and preparing comments in advance, such that you can then send those to journalists as soon as they’re required. This immediacy can often help you stand out from other ecommerce businesses who will also be responding.
Of course, comments don’t need to be requested to gain coverage; armed with a clear idea of what’s likely to travel well within your target press, you might proactively outreach to journalists to offer them your comment, either as part of a wider piece or as a longer form exploratory article.