7 Awesome Guerrilla Tactics for Ecommerce Retailers to Try Out

Guerrilla marketing is often associated with non-traditional marketing tactics that get people talking. The point of guerrilla marketing is to break out from the established norms that make people engage with your messaging.

Traditional marketing is all well and good, and it certainly has its place and purpose, but taking the unbeaten path can be the perfect way for your brand to create genuine interactions.

If properly executed, guerrilla marketing can get you phenomenal brand recognition.

Another thing that makes this tactic interesting is the psychological sciencebehind it. Since guerrilla marketing pushes the envelope and uses more unorthodox strategies that stand out from the crowd, it will more often than not capture the attention of a consumer quicker than traditional marketing would. It also speaks to consumers on a more personal level because it is thought provoking, as opposed to obviously and traditionally promotional.

If your current ecommerce marketing strategies are not getting the traction you need, or you are just looking for a quick way to boost engagement with your customers, guerrilla marketing may be the answer. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next outside-the-box marketing campaign.

1. Go Offline

Since ecommerce businesses are primarily run online, many marketers think that internet marketing is their only option. However, this is not the only way to reach customers; in fact, it may not even be the best way to reach your audience.

The use of ad blocking technology has grown dramatically over the past few years – 615 million devices now hide ads across digital platforms. This means that many of your potential customers might not be seeing your advertising efforts at all.

Taking your store into the “real world” for a little while can be a great way to build brand recognition, connect with your customers, and offer a fun experience all at once. These types of offline marketing tactics will give your brand’s name and products visibility beyond just your website.

For instance, opening up a temporary “pop-up shop” is a great opportunity for building engagement with everyday people by allowing them to touch and feel your products. While it does involve a lot of planning and design work, it can be a great way to introduce your business to customers who may have never heard of your brand before.

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Another way to take your business offline is by sponsoring or getting involved with local events. Fundraisers, charity events, or community get-togethers allow you to get your name out there with lots of branding opportunities. Plus, it’s a chance for your business to support a good cause (and be seen doing so).

2. Give Things Away

Launching a new product line without market research runs the risk of that product line falling on its face and losing thousands of dollars if things don’t go as planned.

As a result, it’s a great idea to test the waters at trade shows, meetups, conferences, and other events where you can meet a cross section of people from your industry and give away these products.

Experienced marketers know that sampling drives are one of the most effective ways of getting immediate feedback from prospective users about the products, primarily because it’s hard to resist something free.

This is why giving something away is the perfect chance to give people a small taste of what your company has to offer. Depending on the nature of your product, offering free samples or trial periods could be a way to pique their attention and turn them into loyal customers down the road.

guerrilla marketing

If your product is too expensive to be given away for free, then branded merchandise – swag – is another option. People love getting quirky little things for free, especially if they’re unique, fun, or useful. Small collectibles like pens, hats, notebooks, or stickers that include your logo are always good options.

guerrilla marketing

Another failsafe way to entice customers to check out your brand or product is hosting a giveaway contest.

Caveat: Make sure that the prize is attractive but still related to your product. Giving away an iPad or cash will catch people’s eye and get you the numbers, but it isn’t doing much to build your brand or generate you prospective customers who want to buy your product.

Further, put in place clear and simple rules that induce entrants to take actions that benefit you in small ways. Asking people to follow your Instagram profile, share a post, or tag several friends are all great ways to build reach organically. And these actions are easy enough for most consumers to do in less than a minute.

Note that Facebook now limits share/Like prompts significantly, but Instagram and Twitter still allow it!

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Finally, be sure that you have analytics in place before you launch a giveaway so you’re able to collect valuable customer data from each entry.

3. Think Shareability

A common misconception is that guerrilla marketing only happens offline. Every small business dreams of having their content go viral online. This sort of fame, no matter how short-lived, can expand your brand reach exponentially in a very short amount of time, and it could help to build some long-term customer relationships, too.

Creating viral content is all about understanding your audience to a T. Your marketing team has to know exactly what kinds of content your customers will engage with, what spurs conversation, and then create something that is worth sharing.

These days, video marketing is showing incredible results, with 1200% higher engagement rates in terms of likes and shares online. Old Spice has been acing video for years by simply migrating their success from TV to YouTube.

4. The World is Your Canvas

There are truly no limits to guerrilla marketing besides your team’s imagination. Many businesses have found all kinds of creative ways to advertise on hitherto untapped channels. Well-placed billboards and banners will certainly grab people’s attention, but again, don’t be afraid to think outside of traditional advertising perimeters.

Art pieces and temporary installments at popular landmarks are not only amusing, but they can also be a chance to create something people want to talk about. Funny or creative guerrilla tactics are cannon fodder for social media and PR articles, often becoming hot topics of conversation, or even attractions of their own.

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5. Create a Social Challenge

Do you remember the ice bucket challenge that went insanely viral a few years ago? That was actually a genius guerrilla marketing tactic started by the ALS Association to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease. The idea of challenging friends, companies, celebrities, and even world leaders to try it out took off like wildfire, and the non-profit ended up raising millions of dollars.

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Your brand can create a social challenge of your own with a simple, fun idea that gets your audience involved and engaged. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular and over the top, but it should be unique and fun.

Offering an incentive, such as a discount for posting, or commitment to donate to a charity, can help get things going, while continued efforts to reap in diverse influencers or ambassadors, and add variations to your original challenge will keep up the momentum.

6. Go Above and Beyond After the Sale

Following up with a customer after a sale is a great way to build retention, but did you know it could also be a guerrilla marketing tactic? After all, previous customers are almost twice as likely to buy from your business than a new customer is, and account for about 40% of a store’s revenue on average.

Going a step beyond what is expected once the sale is complete shows that your business cares about customers, and wants to provide the best service possible.

While this can be done efficiently via email, social media, or instant messaging, sending out handcrafted, personalized messages can be a better way to show genuine commitment to your customer's happiness. Few customers who receive a handwritten thank you card or a personally signed coupon for their next purchase won’t feel that bit of extra loyalty towards the brand.

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7. Celebrate Wacky Holidays

This might sound unusual, but the celebration of “National fill-in-the-blank Day” has turned into an opportunity for brands to make marketing more fun.

For instance, Krispy Kreme has famously celebrated “Talk Like a Pirate Day” by giving free donuts away to anyone who participates by dressing up or ordering like one.

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Celebrating something fun and out of the ordinary is again a good way to receive audience engagement without being directly pushy with sales. These holidays can also be easily celebrated online with branded photo filters or social media posts.

Leverage long periods without public holidays in your region effectively. Create a fun recipe related to a Food of the Day holiday, post personalized inspirational messages on National Positive Thinking Day, or share pictures of employees and customers participating in Crazy Hair Day to set your brand’s personality apart.

In Conclusion

At its core, guerrilla marketing is fun, interesting, and engaging. Most importantly, it can be a noticeable change of pace from the run-of-the-mill sales tactics people have become numb to. It’s all about creativity and connection as opposed to blasting customers with promotional jargon.

Remember, if you really want to catch your audience’s attention, you have no option but to think outside-the-box. Way outside.

The only limit here is your own creativity. Always look out for inspiration, think about more ways to connect with customers, and let your imagination be your guide. Rock it!

About the Author:

Lori Wagoner is a marketing consultant who works with startups and online retailers on their digital branding and advertising strategies. Lori blogs at Customer Think, Tweak Your Biz, My Customer, and a bunch of other business and tech publications. She tweets amazing stuff at @LoriDWagoner.