Most ecommerce founders dream of sitting on the beach sipping on cocktails and sending emails while their business grows. You might laugh at this idea. But with processes, checklists, and templates, it’s possible. It’s why we’re looking at Ecommerce Marketing SOPs in this article.
Let’s start by defining what SOP stands for. A Standard Operating Process or SOP is when you document the steps you go through to get a result. By writing down all the steps, anyone should be able to follow them and get the same result.
Having checklists, templates, and SOPs in your business means you can remove yourself from doing low-value work. You can hire someone else to complete the task to the same standard (or close) for a cheaper hourly rate.
If you haven’t created an SOP before, don’t worry, I’ll help you get started. Ecommerce marketing SOPs allow you to achieve more in less time and even outsource some tasks with a similar result.
What Is An Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?
A Standard Operating Procedure or SOP documents the steps needed to achieve an outcome. They use simple language and images/screenshots making it easy for anyone to follow them.
Most people are comfortable with writing and using a checklist. SOPs are checklists on steroids! Just, they are more detailed and arranged in a logical sequence.
The concept of building business processes grew in popularity thanks to The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This book is an essential read for all ecommerce owners and anyone who runs a small business.
I read the book years ago. Then, a few years ago, I met Cristina from Bee Productive, who coached me to build SOPs for my business. Working with her was game-changing.
She showed me how to take a task and create a checklist of the steps involved in completing that task. I could give that SOP document to anyone to follow and get an outcome close (or better) than if I was completing the task.
Are They As Important As You Make Them Out To Be?
In a word, Yes. Whether you have general SOPs or ecommerce marketing SOPs, they allow you to have clarity, free up your time with outsourcing, and enable you to tweak and improve them.
How do SOPs give clarity?
Only having the steps you need to complete a task in your head can be confusing. It also means you’re always required to carry out every job. By writing down each step, you know exactly how to produce the same outcome every time.
Without a physical plan, you have a wish! It’s easy to move the goalposts. If you create a document, anyone can follow it. Great news if you want to go on holiday, get sick, or are looking to sell the business.
Why use processes, templates, and checklists to free up time?
As a business owner, you should focus on high-value tasks that move everything forward. Not on simple tasks that anyone can do. By having tasks documented, you can hire someone else who can carry out that job and do it to nearly the same standard as you.
Can we improve them?
If all you ever do is write endless ecommerce marketing SOPs, life becomes boring! However, one element of having documentation for every job is you can continually tweak and improve them.
How Do Ecommerce Marketing SOPs Help Us?
Let’s dive into how ecommerce marketing SOPs help us be more effective. There are many reasons, but we’ll focus on the top three.
Standardize your marketing
So much of marketing involves production-type work. You might create several images to use across social media platforms or write a blog using a template. So having SOPs ensure you’re all working to the same specifications.
You don’t want to start from scratch each time you create, so having documented processes and template speeds up production. Plus, you can focus on being more creative as you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Become less person dependent and able to use systems instead
If you’re the founder, much of your time is spent being reactionary. You get an order, so you run around trying to find the item and get it dispatched. Not to mention, nearly forgetting to post on socials or send an email as it’s only you.
Sadly, you are the bottleneck. To build a business that doesn’t depend only on you means creating SOPs. Being more systems dependent and not relying on people means you can hire for attitude and train for skills.
Increases your brand value and positioning
Your business’s value will increase if you have SOPs, templates, and checklists. These elements are essential to creating repeatable systems that anyone can execute. So, if you want to cash out in the next few years, you need these elements.
If various people currently write copy for your business, you’ll know maintaining a consistent voice can be problematic. You can create SOPs and a brand style guide to solve some of these issues and ensure your copy always sounds the same.
Do You Need SOPs For Every Marketing Channel?
Any documentation is worth the effort you’ll put in to create it. But don’t go crazy at the start. Instead, map out what ecommerce marketing SOPs you need, who should create them, and by when. From there, you can start to document processes.
As you build a library of SOPs, it’s worth reviewing them every few months. Some will be perfect. A few will be surplus and can be deleted. Others will need some tweaking to bring them in line with your current efforts.
Where To Start When Documenting?
So, we’ve talked a lot about why you need SOPs for your marketing activities. But how do we build them? And what do they look like? Let’s dive into writing our first SOP.
Who is the Right Person to write SOPs?
Ideally, whoever is tasked with completing the job should start to document it. That could be you, the founder, or the marketing manager. You also might hire an intern to run your socials, and they would be the best person to start creating the SOP.
What to Include in the SOP?
As someone should be able to complete a task only using the document, you’ll need to write down each step and include what tools and documents they need access to.
For example, if you create an SOP for posting a new image on Pinterest. You’ll want to include the login details, the steps to follow, who should check the work before it goes live or if there’s an issue, and where to find the image(s) to upload.
If you haven’t written down a process yet and don’t know where to start, here are 2 tips.
Firstly, write down what steps you think you do in the order you think they come. Don’t aim for perfection. But do try and get every step written down.
Secondly, rearrange the steps into the most logical sequence. Many people get this part wrong. They aim for perfection and miss out on writing down a step, or put the steps in the wrong order.
So get the steps written down and then sort them into the ideal sequence.
How to check your SOP works?
The best way to check that your SOP works is to give it to someone who hasn’t done that task before. If you can, film them. You’ll be able to see where they get stuck or if any steps can be removed.
After they have completed the task, ask them what they would change and if they can spot any improvements.
When to update an SOP?
It’s worth checking your ecommerce marketing SOP library every quarter. You’ll want to tweak some, leave others, and delete a few. That’s all fine and just part of the process.
Don’t spend your life creating new documentation without considering what SOPs you already have and if they need tweaking.
Use SOPs to Improve Your Ecommerce Marketing
You now have all you need to start creating SOPs for your ecommerce business and marketing. Don’t worry about perfection. Just get started, and you’ll notice an improvement in how you market along the way.
The idea with documentation is that you can give them to someone who can execute and get the same result as you. They should allow you the option to remove yourself from doing grunt work, meaning you can become more strategic.
As with your ecommerce marketing plan, SOPs are working documents that should always be changing depending on how your business grows and develops. They aren’t something you should write once and file away.
Hopefully, this introduction to ecommerce marketing SOPs allows you to start along the path toward reaching your goal and creating your dream life.
You can have all of the marketing tactics in the world. But without the right ecommerce marketing strategy, you won't get the results you deserve.
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