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How Etsy is Saving Small Businesses with Generous Online Marketing
When Google first announced in May that it was moving its free product listing service over to a paid model (Google Shopping) as of October 1, I immediately felt sorry for small businesses. Up until this change, almost any search online for handcrafted, homemade or vintage products would lead a user to Etsy and their small business community. All of whom again, up until this change, had been enjoying free listings of their products on a fairly level playing field. Now, with this change, most small business owners will get left behind in the competition for paid advertising space, and will ultimately lose ground against known retailers with deep pockets.
But wait; while some small business owners were already working hard to fill their craft-show calendars, along came a big bag of holiday cheer. Etsy (the global online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, providing online sellers with personal storefronts) announced in September that it would be investing $250,000 in paid product listing ads on the behalf of shop owners to help boost their sales through the holiday season -enabling these handcrafters and vintage evangelists to competitively promote their unique products against the likes of Amazon and Overstock.
Etsy deserves kudos for thinking quick on their feet and being committed to their community of small business owners, but the truth is, Etsy gets a lot out of this deal, too—the value of search marketing and shared digital marketing space. The idea here is that although a product listing ad would feature a specific shop and unique product, the ad’s click-through would send any visitor to a page where you could not only purchase that particular product, but also get presented with information and photos promoting other items from that shop. And the real catch, users would also be shown information about related product listed by other shop owners, craftspeople and vintage stores, all throughout Etsy. That’s what can be called a marketing win-win situation for the shop-owner, Etsy and its overall sales community.
Implementation is much more difficult than theory however. It is still early in the program, and sadly based on the couple of ads I’ve clicked, this win-win isn’t exactly working as expected. I ended up on the merchant’s page for that product that only included additional information about that shop and their other products. If Etsy is to prove real ROI on this initiative, they will need to be sure all their sales pages give users the option to also see/buy other seller’s products.
I know that Etsy is looking to provide exposure for as many of their shops as possible and promote sales during the holidays. I just hope they really do follow through on their intention to build out a more diversified shopping experience that will benefit the whole Etsy community before we get much further into the shopping season.
Photo credit: Scott Beale