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Is a Press Release the Right Marketing Strategy for Your Online Store?

Jan 5, 2022

No matter what stage your store is in, you’ve probably tried several tactics to drive business to your online store. From propping up your website to Facebook ads to email marketing, you’ve studied the strategies that can deliver big ROI quickly. Even if you have a stunning website and a strong social media game, you might still be wondering what’s out there. Perhaps it’s time to consider an ecommerce press release for your shop.

What are the untapped marketing opportunities that could send hordes of shoppers through your digital doors? What will make your checkout page light up and your revenue skyrocket? To light a fire with your products and business, you just need to find that spark to make folks perk up and turn their heads your way.

Maybe it’s time to think outside the inbox and set your sights bigger. Maybe it’s time to unfurl a press release.

What Is an Ecommerce Press Release?

A press release is a great way to promote a company, its products, and its services. It can also be used to announce company news such as the launch of a new product, an acquisition, or big news like an incoming CEO. You’ve likely read a press release or two in your lifetime without even knowing it as they’re often slipped right between stories in the news. Press releases are easy to create, publish, and distribute as long as you know where to begin, which we’ll get to in a bit.

There’s a common misconception that press releases are only sent to journalists and that they only announce big events for huge companies or organizations, but that’s not really the case any longer. Press releases can be used to improve search engine optimization, which can help ecommerce companies connect with customers who are searching for their products. 

In addition to events and new products, press releases can be used for direct communication with a target audience without going through other channels. For example, you can post the press release on your website or publish a link to it on social media. Scatter it everywhere you can find on the internet and cast that net far and wide. You can leverage a press release to talk to your customer and make a personal connection through stories or events.

There is one challenge when it comes to distributing press releases: If you want traction and ROI on the releases you send out, you may need to hire an agency or a third-party connection to distribute it on your behalf. These third parties typically have access to distribution lists full of journalists, trade publications, and potential investors. In other words, they know people. Access to these lists isn’t free, and there’s no guarantee that you will see a big ol’ ROI.

But don’t let budget be a deterrent. If you have even meager writing chops and a deep passion for your brand’s story, take a turn at writing a press release on your own. A quick search can point you in the direction of press release templates, lists of information to provide, and tips to create a succinct yet compelling story. Also, don’t shy away from leaning on your own network of other ecommerce pros or even family or friends. You may be surprised by the hidden talents within your reach (and asking a favor of Uncle Larry might only cost you a case of beer).

How to write a press release that drives traffic

Like most things on their journey to perfection, it takes practice to write an effective press release. It’s not uncommon for a first, second, or third draft of a story to get denied by many outlets, which are trying to manage and prioritize lots of requests just like yours, so it’s important to not get discouraged. It’s not about how many times your statement gets rejected, it’s about how many times you pick up the pen again (or something like that). 

That being said, there are some pointers you can use to craft an impactful press release on your first try. The most important thing to remember is to keep your press release short and straight to the point. With that said, here are the key components of a press release:

1.   Write a short, catchy headline that encourages people to read the entire press release.

If your title is snooze-worthy, odds are good that people will bypass your story altogether. Most of the time, your press release will be seen online, alongside dozens of other stories vying for attention and clicks. If your title is punchy, packed with uncommon words, or offers a particularly unique or personable perspective, you’ll raise more eyebrows. It’s also a good idea to make it action-packed, e.g., use verbs! 

2.   Get to the point by summarizing your subject in the first paragraph.

This next must-do is ideal for garnering attention from your on-the-go readers. Those avid clickers are experts at speed-reading stories and getting the gist with just a few lines before moving onto the next article. To ensure they see the meat of your tale, make sure to stick the point close to the top, so if they click away in a few seconds, at least they get the idea. Plus, don’t forget to incorporate your company name here so your brand is top of mind, at least for a moment.

3.   Explain why the subject (i.e., new product, updated values, etc.) matters to your audience.

A press release will have a greater shot at success if your statement is about something that impacts the majority of your shoppers. For example, if you know that your customers are very eco-conscious, writing a statement about your new sustainable packaging materials or carbon offsetting strategy will appeal to more of that audience. A good format to follow when describing the details is one you first became acquainted with probably in grade school.

A simple Five W’s format ensures your target audience will know exactly who the news is for, what the news is about, why it’s important to them, when the news will impact them, and where to expect the impact to happen. It’s also a good way to ensure your press release stays on the short side, preferably within two pages. 

4.   End with a clear and doable call to action for the reader.

So, you’ve shared exciting news with an engaged audience—now what? Make sure to end your press release with a call to action or next steps. Whether your CTA is contacting you for more information, visiting your website, trying out your product, or checking in on progress toward an initiative, make it easy for readers to to act on the news they just learned. Links to your website’s contact page, messaging services, or an email address will help usher people to do what you wanted them to from the moment this strategy popped into your mind.

These are two rock-solid examples of press releases that show how to attract attention whether you’re touting a topical purpose or a big announcement. Both of them incorporate action or interest in the headline, place need-to-know info like brand names and dates at the top, and showcase what the audience needs to know about the story.

Divert brand press release for Valentines Day.
Kohls and Eddie Bauer press release.

Avoid these common mistakes with press releases

Sometimes ecommerce companies invest time and money into crafting an elegant press release and it fails to have the outcome they hoped for. There are several reasons why that might happen, including some common mistakes that ecommerce companies make when writing and distributing press releases, such as:

  1. Focusing on the company and not the story.
  2. Publishing too many press releases.
  3. Writing and deploying a press release without a full strategy.
  4. Writing a press release with no clear message or story.
  5. Sending a press release that has typos or factual errors.

The last bullet is worth re-emphasizing. If your press release has spelling or factual errors, your ecommerce company could lose some credibility. Take a few minutes and proofread your document before sending it out for the world to see. The internet is a powerful place and it won’t take long for an error to spread even further than the original release.

Are press releases the right strategy for your company?

A well-crafted and thoughtfully placed ecommerce press release can be a powerful tool to reach your customers. Using a press release to tell a story about a product, feature, or event can help create visibility for your brand, but it takes time and effort to draft and distribute an effective press release that will generate some noise in the media. You need an authentic story to tell and a strategy to get you there. If you feel like a press release would help your business, you can either write it yourself or hire an agency to do it for you.

Just remember that no press release will ever go to waste. If your phone isn’t ringing off the hook with journalists begging to cover your new product, don’t worry. You can still post your ecommerce press release on your website and social platforms, increasing your digital footprint and creating awareness of your new product

Want to hear how the pros write a modern press release? Watch the panel from Route Connect 2021!

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