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E-commerce businesses are always looking for ways to increase their sales and revenue. One emerging method is through “ghost commerce,” which leverages tactics like AI writing, growth hacking, and influencer marketing.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what exactly ghost commerce is, how it works, and tips businesses can follow to execute ghost commerce strategies successfully. Mastering ghost commerce can provide a major competitive edge.
What is Ghost Commerce?
Ghost commerce refers to the practice of driving sales for an online business through methods that are indirectly attributed to the brand itself. The sales are generated by “invisible” third parties or tactics, hence the term “ghost commerce.”
Some examples of ghost commerce include:
- Hiring AI writers to create product reviews and marketing content
- Recruiting influencers to promote products through paid posts and story mentions
- Optimizing pages and funnel flow to boost organic traffic and conversions
- Using growth hacking techniques like referrals and partnerships to expand reach
The key aspect is that the sales are not coming directly from the e-commerce brand’s owned channels like its website or social media. Instead, they originate from other sources leveraged to grow the business indirectly.
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Why Ghost Commerce Works
There are several compelling reasons why ghost commerce has emerged as an effective e-commerce strategy:
Content from unaffiliated sources like influencers feels more authentic to consumers than branded messaging. This helps overcome distrust of direct advertising.
Ghost commerce allows brands to tap into discovery channels like influencer feeds and searches to get products in front of fresh audiences.
Tactics like influencer marketing and UGC reviews spark organic sharing and conversations about products, fueling word-of-mouth growth.
Rather than just relying on its own followers and site visitors, a brand can leverage networks of content creators, affiliates, and more to scale reach exponentially.
Ghost commerce strategies are highly measurable, allowing brands to optimize efforts based on hard performance data.
When executed well, ghost commerce generates a major upside for e-commerce businesses by growing revenue, discovery, and trust in a scalable way.
Ghost Commerce Meaning and Business Model
The term “ghost commerce” stems from how the sales originate from invisible, indirect sources outside the core business itself, like ghosts floating in to drive revenue.
It represents an evolution of traditional e-commerce beyond just direct branding, site optimization, and paid ads. Ghost commerce adds more layers of data-driven growth strategies to the business model.
Unlike affiliate marketing, ghost commerce refers to a full range of indirect tactics beyond just affiliates – content, influencers, communities, etc. The business model centers around strategically leveraging external networks to maximize reach and conversion at scale.
Ghost commerce tactics can work symbiotically with a brand’s owned e-commerce presence. For example, using AI writers to create links and UGC brings in new visitors, while optimizing on-site experience converts visitors to customers.
Is Ghost Commerce Legitimate?
Given the “ghost” terminology, some question the legitimacy of these commercial tactics. However, ghost commerce strategies, when executed ethically, are entirely legitimate forms of digital marketing.
The key is transparency. Any content, influencers, or affiliates driving ghost commerce must properly disclose sponsored relationships as per FTC guidelines. This builds trust with consumers.
Additionally, ghost commerce relies heavily on providing value. For example, AI content should be genuinely useful to readers, not spammy. And influencers must represent brands that align with their audience’s interests.
Quality and transparency are essential to effective ghost commerce. When done properly, it is a legitimate business strategy like any other.
How to Start Ghost Commerce
E-commerce brands can get started with ghost commerce by following these steps:
Review all products, brand messaging, images, etc. to understand strengths and gaps. This informs content and partnership opportunities.
Define specific quantifiable goals for what you want to achieve from ghost commerce, like sales, reach, or affiliate sign-ups. Track relevant KPIs.
Research potential content creators, influencers, affiliates, and other partners that align with your brand and audience.
Create win-win deals
Structure mutually beneficial deals with partners that incentivize them to promote your products.
Develop ethical processes
Put processes in place like content guidelines and tracking disclosures to maintain transparency.
Use data and analytics to optimize efforts, double down on what works, and eliminate ineffective partnerships.
With careful planning and execution, brands can implement a ghost commerce strategy that moves the revenue needle while building lasting win-win partnerships.
Ghost Commerce Salary Career Opportunities
The skilled professionals who implement ghost commerce strategies can earn lucrative salaries. Some ghost commerce career paths and average salaries include:
- Growth Marketing Manager – $90,000/year
- Content Manager – $75,000/year
- Affiliate Marketing Manager – $65,000/year
- Business Development Rep – $55,000/year
- Influencer Marketing Coordinator – $45,000/year
- AI Content Writer – $40-60K/year (freelance)
Brands investing seriously in ghost commerce need dedicated staff focused on executing and optimizing tactics like influencer partnerships, growth hacking, and AI content creation. Professionals with these specialized skills command substantial compensation.
Ghost Commerce vs. Affiliate Marketing
Ghost commerce and affiliate marketing are related but distinct strategies:
|Focused solely on affiliates driving sales
|Encompasses a broader range of partnerships and tactics
|Affiliates promote directly in exchange for commission
|Centered on creating value for indirect promotion
|Limited content and creativity
|Expands beyond just affiliates to also leverage influencers, content, communities
|Creativity in content and messaging is crucial
While affiliate marketing is a component of ghost commerce, ghost commerce represents a more expansive and strategic approach overall. Affiliates are just one ghost commerce lever for e-commerce businesses.
How to Make Money With Ghost Commerce
There are two primary ways e-commerce businesses earn money through ghost commerce:
1. Increased sales
Winning products, optimized funnel experience, and expanded reach resulted in higher sales volume and revenue.
2. Commission revenue
Affiliate and influencer partnerships monetize through commissions on sales generated. This predictable revenue funds growth initiatives.
Sufficient investment is required to execute ghost commerce strategies effectively. But done right, the resulting sales growth and commission income far outweigh the costs.
- Ghost commerce describes driving indirect sales through partnerships, content, influencers, and more.
- It expands reach and trust by leveraging external networks and creators.
- When executed transparently and ethically, ghost commerce is a legitimate and effective modern e-commerce strategy.
- Specialized skills in areas like growth marketing and influencer partnerships are required to succeed with ghost commerce.
- The increased income from sales growth and commissions ultimately funds profitable e-commerce business growth.
Savvy e-commerce brands recognize that growth in today’s competitive marketplace requires thinking beyond just branded content and direct advertising. Strategies like ghost commerce that tap into influencers, communities, and organic discovery channels provide a valuable new dimension to modern omnichannel marketing.
While investing in these indirect tactics carries risks, the potential rewards are manifold. With the tips outlined in this guide, e-commerce businesses can implement ethical, rewarding ghost-commerce strategies that provide a major competitive edge. The future of cutting-edge commerce is “haunted” in smart, value-driving ways that convert audiences into loyal customers.