E-commerce Survival Guide

During times of economic crisis, many small and medium-sized businesses feel the pain in more ways than one.

When it comes to marketing, unlike large companies with deep pockets, these businesses are heavily impacted. Revenue drops and consequently so does marketing spend.

So what’s an e-commerce start-up or small business do when a crisis hits? After all, e-commerce success needs a consistent source of traffic.

As Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time”


Should You Pause Advertising?

You are not alone in this question.

Here’s the thing. Most successful entrepreneurs have experienced what it’s like to be on the brink of commercial collapse. 

Sadly, if you throw in the towel, you become a hobby business. If you’re looking to build a long-term sustainable business that’s flourishing ten years from now, read on.

Digital advertising is an integral part of a successful e-com business.

The bottom line is e-commerce needs an advertising budget:

  • to build brand awareness
  • to drive store traffic
  • to re-market to non / lapsed buyers
  • to build customer loyalty

Without advertising, the door is left open for competitions and copycats. Whether they survive themselves is another matter.

It’s Not All Doom & Gloom!

In times of crisis, when the funds are readily available, you’ve got two options:

  • get creative
  • give up 

Here at Sally Social Digital, we’ve come up with 4 practical ways to optimise your marketing spend during such times.


get active on Tik Tok

1. Get Active On Tik Tok!

If you haven’t already signed up for Tik Tok – you could be missing out on free traffic and prospects! Tik Tok is no longer for the kids. It’s official.

TikTok is an excellent avenue for e-commerce marketing. On this social platform, the only thing required is a little creativity. Here are some interesting facts. (source: hootsuite.com)

1. TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021, with 656 million downloads!

2. Worldwide, TikTok’s user base is 57% female. That figure rises to 61% for TikTok users in the US.

3. While TikTok’s user base is increasingly diverse, it’s still true that the brands hoping to reach younger female audiences will likely see the best results.

4. TikTok is the top app for consumer spending! According to AppAnnie, TikTok is the number-one app for driving consumer spending, surpassing Tinder for the top spot!

Pester Power!

Don’t underestimate pester-power. Remember Little Moons? The ice cream brand generated high volumes of free traffic, followed by a rapid increase in revenue and new customers. The main driver? Kids who watched and engaged with their video content then told mums to purchase.

Creative Tips

We’ve seen clients achieve great success on Tik Tok. All you need to do is sign up and start thinking creatively.

Here are some ideas:-

  • Creative product demos that engage a younger crowd.
  • Create a Tik Tok Think Tank of brand ambassadors and content generators
  • Create a regular broadcast so viewers know when your brand is next appearing.
  • Post sneak peeks, and teaser campaigns in between posting.
  • Live videos will get you more reach and real-time engagement.
  • Share your channel across other social platforms.



We highly recommend the Tik Tok Strategy if you are looking for free, quality traffic.

Tik Tok Stats 2022

2. Focus On Lead Generation

Lead generations and email list building remain a top priority for our clients.

It’s an essential part of the funnel strategy and yields high returns for little time investment when executed well.

Remember that prospects that enter your funnel, will have different needs and desires.

  • Some are ready to purchase immediately
  • Some may need a little persuasion
  • Others may not be in the market right now but are still interested in what your brand has to offer
  • Some may be sitting on the fence and need nutriing through the funnel.

Ways to Use Email Marketing

  1. Run all new subscribers through a welcome series to nurture and persuade.
  2. Segment the list by buyer behaviour to create targeted campaigns.
  3. Invite subscribers to take part in market research in return for a free product.

We use all the above tactics with a great level of success.


Get yourself an easy, cost-effective email marketing provider. We highly recommend Omnisend for e-commerce.

It has extensive re-marketing features and the ability to drive revenue quickly from your list. As one of their marketing partners we are offering some great deals on their monthly subscriptions so please feel free to get in touch.

customer hang out image

3. Actively Prospect

Attracting customers to your e-commerce store still remains cheap, however, if you can’t afford between 20p and 50p per click what can you do?

Essentially you need to go find them yourself. This is called prospecting for customers!

This can be executed in 2 ways:

  1. physically – heading to a location or event where your customers are
  2. virtually – heading to a place on the internet where your customers hang out.

Both require an investment in time.

Examples of Physical Prospecting

  • Local markets – great for building a loyal local customer base – can be successful if local customers champion small business
  • Consumer Events / Trade Shows – great for reaching a large number of prospects in a short amount of time, – can be costly.

Examples of Virtual Prospecting

  • Facebook Groups  – are you a member of a  Facebook Group? Never underestimate their power of influence. Users are always asking for product recommendations and referrals. Importantly, a large proportion of people users trust first-hand recommendations.
  • Forums – a virtual place where consumers with a common interest hang out. E.g. mums.net; IT forums; motor forums.

Tips For Success

  1. Collect email addresses (with their consent of course) where possible and relevant so you can add these prospects to your email list and continue to build the brand-consumer relationship.
  2. Don’t be tempted to sell directly in forums and FB groups. Leave that for your own channels. Forums are where people hang out, chat and build relationships. As an e-comm owner get involved in the conversation – keep your ear to the ground. What’s the narrative of the day/week?
  3. We’ll often dive into a forum or group to search for topics that may inform our client’s strategy.
  4. We work with several clients who regularly attend local markets and customer events with great success. Use them to test prices and promotions plus build customer relationships.


Dive into Facebook today/tonight and join as member relevant groups as you can. The same with local markets. This summer there are fewer restrictions. People will be ready to get out and about. Make the most of these gatherings.

Facebook Ads 101

4. DIY Your Ad Campaigns

As an ads agency, we work incredibly hard to deliver great results for e-commerce clients.

However, we have some clients who due to budget constraints DIY their Facebook and Google ads.

If you have the time or if not loop in a family member/friend then we highly recommend this strategy.

Starting from scratch with an agency will get your ads up and running quickly but will also set you back around £3000 for the initial set-up and testing period.

Investing in some DIY coaching with an ad expert for half the cost may take a month or two longer but can be very effective, especially if you need to test your minimum viable product.

It will also provide you with a good level of basic knowledge for when you do hire an agency or freelancer.

Tips For Success

  1. Choose a Meta (Facebook) Ads / Google Ads course offered by an agency owner. They will have the right level of experience to share with you.
  2. Commit sufficient time to follow the steps to success.


Nine times out of ten, most e-commerce businesses we work with, first, require support getting their stores “fit for business”.

We don’t run any ads to stores until we get it looking perfect, running efficiently and selling the optimum product range.

It’s also the same for their ad account quality.

Look for a course such as our Facebook Ads Mastery that enables you to learn the basics of Facebook and Instagram advertising quickly and effectively. This will allow you to drive quality traffic to your site that converts.