Guide To E-Commerce Marketing
With nearly every business these days having an online presence, it can be hard to distinguish between the various types of digital marketing people use today for E-commerce. E-commerce marketing is the practice of driving traffic to convert into sales and customers. And there are umpteen ways to go about it.
From focusing on organic traffic and SEO to using Facebook, Instagram or Google paid ads to drive targeted traffic, you can mix and match paid strategies with non-paid strategies all in an effort to figure out which mix converts the most people.
As marketing tactics and marketplace algorithms evolve, so too must your E-commerce marketing strategy in order to win the highest return on investment.
“If you build it, they will come.” It’s a awesome quote, from a great movie. However, when it comes to e-commerce marketing, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you build it, they won’t come unless you get the word out.
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What is E-commerce marketing?
E-commerce marketing and digital marketing are not mutually exclusive although they do have a lot of the same parts. E-commerce websites can use multiple digital channels like Social Media, E-Mail, SEO and Paid Advertising to promote a product and grow their business.
In similar fashion to the way advertising falls beneath the umbrella of marketing as a subset, e-commerce advertising falls beneath e-commerce marketing and when used in tandem, you have the ability to more effectively reach your target audience to boost conversions, sales and improve brand awareness.
E-commerce advertising includes the methods through which you actually promote your product. In terms of online or e-commerce marketing and selling, these ads may come in the form of display ads, banner ads, or video ads.
The primary point here is that e-commerce advertising is a highly-effective method to implement while developing your e-commerce marketing strategy to focus your product or service promotion faster than SEO or building a following.
Different Types of E-commerce Marketing
To give you a sense of what an complete e-commerce marketing strategy might look like, here are some of the most common marketing channels and how you’d use them to build an e-commerce business.
Social Media Marketing
Dropshipping stores, brands, blog publishers, and growing businesses all launch pages on today’s most popular social networks like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest to connect with their target audience and post content that the audience is interested in.
As an e-commerce marketer, you can do the same thing, but the campaigns you run might look a bit different, and not every social media network is a good fit for your needs. Sorry, there is no one size fits all solution.
E-commerce websites are generally highly visual — you have to show off your products after all, so your success on social media platforms depends on your use of imagery to drive attention and traffic to your product pages.
Instagram is an good platform for some e-commerce businesses because it enables you to post sharp product photography and expand your product’s reach beyond its purchase page.
You can use your social media posts to create shoppable content, which enables visitors to buy right away. That can include anything from strategically placed display ads within a social feed to additional ‘Buy Now’ tags that take users directly to a shopping cart. These methods help you streamline the buying process.
An e-commerce business is no stranger to product reviews, either. Using a Facebook Business Page to share product reviews is a perfect fit for businesses that already solicit customer reviews across their online store.
When you hear the words “content marketing” you might think of blogging and video marketing — content that is meant to improve your website’s ranking in search engines like Google and answer questions related to your industry. But if you’re selling a product online, do you really need articles and videos to generate transactions? You bet you do if you want to beat the competition.
Here are some ways to use content to market your ecommerce store.
Content marketing, even when done on a budget, is something that can be incredibly powerful, when it comes to driving traffic to your e-commerce site.
One of the best ways is to create a blog that can be used to drive a lot of sales online if you do things the right way.
Doing content marketing on a budget isn’t that hard. And, for the most part, budgeting just means that you’re going to have to spend a lot more time on your content marketing campaigns than paying for fast traffic.
Optimize your product descriptions to add short, product-driven keywords that include the name of the product. If you sell gaming headsets, for example, a Google search for “best gaming headset” is more likely to produce product pages like yours if you’ve included that term on the page.
Also, make sure that your page titles, headers, and image alt text focus on the right keywords so search engines know to return your e-commerce store for the right query. This is known as the pages Meta description.
Write relevant blog posts.
If you manage an ski shop, writing blog posts about “how to ski like pro” can attract every interested in learning how to ski or to ski better, no matter how good a skier they are.
As your online visitors become more engaged with your content, you can create posts that will move them into consideration, like “how to select the right ski gloves”, and turn them into leads, like a downloadable “Top ten ski gloves”.
Create guest posts for external websites.
Guest posts can get you and your products in front of relevant audiences (oftentimes for free). Submitting guests posts will also help you get more domain authority for your ecommerce site by creating a backlink, thereby telling search engines that you have a reliable site. Plus you may get extra lift if the other website promotes the post.
You’ll need to search for websites that rank for keywords related to your product. Sometimes you won’t even need to create an entire post. If a site already has a relatable product post, offer to expand on it by providing additional context, like a video or infographic with a link to your site.
Put product-related videos on YouTube.
YouTube has over a billion active users … chances are your target audience is somewhere in there. It’s also the second-largest search engine behind Google. If you’re looking for a massive audience, YouTube is one place where you’ll find it. Use highly searched keyword terms to determine your topics, then share videos that are related to your product and helpful to your audience.
Influencer marketing is most commonly seen across social media, Instagram is what one thinks of first however it also extends to YouTube channels, and well known blogs. Fashionistas who share their style guides on Instagram and competitive gamers who stream game reviews on YouTube or Twitch are generating measurable results when asked to subtly promote a brand.
You don’t have to pay a lot for this, in fact you can also find ‘micro-influencers” as well as non-paid influencers who may do it simply for a sample of the product. We have done this with yoga pants for a client. Sending a pair of yoga pants to ten people that may have 10,000 followers each can be a lot cheaper than paying someone who has 100,000 followers for the exact same reach.
This is also a great option for tutorial videos that show current customers how to use your product and works great for products like drones or sporting equipement — these videos can show people how best to use your product, increasing customer satisfaction and building long-term relationships with website visitors.
Include a keyword-driven FAQ section on your e-commerce website.
If your target audience is asking questions related to your product, then you need to be the one to answer them. Create an FAQ page on your e-commerce website with responses to high volume, long-tail keyword searches to get users to your site. You’ll be building both authority and traffic — two crucial components of a successful e-commerce store.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) includes both search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising (PPC). While SEO relies on your knowledge of the particular platforms ranking algorithm to optimize content, SEM can involve pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, display campaigns, or product-specific ad campaigns (think Google Shopping), which allow you to bid on top spots on search engine results pages.
On Google, PPC advertising campaigns guarantee that potential buyers will see a link to your page when they enter search terms that match the terms of your campaign. But because you’re paying Google each time a person clicks on your result, the payoff to you should be high. It is what makes it better than Facebook and Instagram since people are looking for your product instead of showing them your product on the social media sites when they might not be ready buyers.
This is why e-commerce marketers use Google AdWords and promote their product pages through PPC campaigns. The campaign puts searchers right in front of the business’s product when they click on a paid result, increasing the likelihood that the searcher will make a purchase before leaving the business’s website.
Pay-per-Click advertising or PPC can be one of the foundational elements in your e-commerce marketing strategy.
Of course, there are several types of PPC advertisements that I’d like call attention to – paid search, display, and shopping campaigns – since they’re most relevant to e-commerce marketing success.
E-commerce E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, and believe it or not, it holds specific value in the world of ecommerce marketing. E-mail marketing does not mean spam, while it may have had its roots in that practice with the implementation of different laws over the years marketers should no longer be doing that practice although of course it still exists.
E-mail marketing may not receive the attention of newer channels for marketing your e-commerce business, but when done right, e-mail can produce a consistently high return on investment.
That being said, don’t expect to “batch and blast” your way to high conversion rates and increased order values. This is not about spam. Taking a more strategic approach to e-mail marketing will eventually yield very positive results.
At the end of the day, customers are willing to read e-mails that pique their personal interests as long as they don’t look like spam.
So you need to make sure your e-mails are contextual and engaging. Don’t send a invitation to a wine tasting for a venue in Huntington Beach to your entire e-mail list. That would be annoying for everybody outside of Orange County.
One of the best parts about e-mail marketing is it can be automated. Automation means that you can set up a successful drip campaign to subscribers that are segmented by interest or stage in the buyer’s journey and let your email campaign do its magic. It’s one less marketing tactic that you need to worry about on your long list of tasks. GrooveMail from GrooveDigital which we are big proponents of allows their platinum lifetime members to send out 25,000 e-mails a day. That is incredible marketing power.
Even with this tool, it’s imperative that you’re meticulous about your e-mail list so you maintain trust among your leads. In a time when data privacy runs high on an internet user’s priority list, not every commercial e-mail is welcome in that user’s inbox. E-commerce marketers need to be careful when and how they add website visitors to their mailing list and include an opt-out form with every e-mail sent.
Here are a couple of ways an e-commerce marketer might use e-mail marketing.
1. Post-Purchase Follow Up
If someone has already purchased a product from your website and agreed to receive emails from you during the checkout process (which you can easily add in the fine print) sending a follow-up email a few days after the product is delivered keeps the conversation going and gauges their future interest in your product line.
A post-purchase follow-up also shows that you care about them beyond a sale and that your company has an interest in their success using your product. It gives you an opportunity to get feedback on their purchase experience, which, in turn, helps you reduce friction for future customers.
Some best practices for this type of e-mail are to ask them to write a review of your product and/or read original content on how to use your product (YouTube videos you created would be perfect here).
2. The Abandoned Shopping Cart
Users abandon their shopping carts for a number of reasons, and e-mails to diagnose the problem and retain their business can make the difference between a purchase and a lost customer.
If a potential purchaser fails to complete a transaction while they’re in your shopping cart, you should consider sending a polite email to remind them to complete the checkout process, offer assistance, or recommend other related products to get their mind back on you and their browser back to your e-commerce store.
E-commerce Influencer Marketing
E-commerce Influencer marketing focuses on people or brands that influence your target market. The term is commonly used to denote Instagram accounts with several thousand followers, but it could also mean a celebrity or community that your target audience follows or belongs to. Think Kim Kardashian.
E-commerce Influencers build communities of people that know, like, and trust them. It is, therefore, easy for them to garner attention around your online product through a recommendation, or “sponsored post.”
81% of brands employ affiliate marketing, and e-commerce sites are particularly good candidates. Affiliates are people or businesses that help sell your product online for a commission. Unlike most social media influencers, affiliates generate interest in products via old fashioned (yet effective) marketing tactics. They often use paid advertising, content marketing, and other means to drive traffic to your their pages on your product it’s like having a team market for you.
This is an often-overlooked tactic for e-commerce businesses, but local marketing allows you to double down on the areas where most of your prospects are (if you have a large population of them in one area) and allows you to offer incentives to your potential customer base.
Here’s how to use local marketing in E-commerce: use tracking cookies to determine where your prospects are located. Then, offer discounted (or free) shipping to potential customers in the areas where you have warehouses or shipping facilities. The incentive might be just what you need to gain a new customer. Many advertising channels allow you to geo-target your ads.
There are countless more e-commerce marketing tactics that you can employ to drive visitors to your online store beyond the traditional methods that we reviewed above. So as a bonus let us get into some more creative ways you can market your e-commerce business.
1. Use personalization.
Companies that use personalization are seeing revenue increases ranging from 6-10%. What is this magic bullet? Personalization is finding ways to cater to individuals within the marketing materials that you already have created; it is tailoring your outputs to reflect the unique needs of your buyer.
This can come in the form of a prospect’s name or company name in the subject line of an e-mail, recommended content or products based on a visitor’s behavior, or even showing smart content on a webpage when a user visits for a second time or has moved along their buyer’s journey.
E-commerce personalization can move people along their buyer’s journey faster instead of searching for what they need, you put it right in front of them, making it easy for them to take your desired action, that is to make a purchase from your online store.
2. Capitalize on user-generated content.
What if you could have your customers market for you for free? That’s exactly what user generated is. It’s about finding ways for your customers to promote and share your business.
This helps in two ways: 1) It drives traffic to your e-commerce store, and 2) it builds an authentic following of people who are interested in what you offer.
Coca-Cola® did an amazing job of this with their “Share a Coke” campaign by creating customized Coke® bottles with people’s names, which naturally was shared across social media platforms.
Here are a few ways to drive user-generated content:
- Competitions, where customers enter to win by displaying your product in some way
- Review platforms, where customers share feedback about your product
- Social media hashtags, where users submit content using a branded hashtag
3. Build a loyalty program.
A loyal customer is a long-term customer, and who doesn’t want repeat business? A loyalty program provides an incentive for a customer to continue doing business with you through relevant offers and discounts. While building a loyalty program requires a little planning and on-going work, it pays off in repeat business, UGC, referrals, and retention. You see this many times at coffee shops or sandwich shops that may have a buy 10 get one free card.
There are a few things to think about as an e-commerce business when building out a customer loyalty program. For one, consider diversifying the ways in which customers can show loyalty, whether it be through repeat purchases, mentions on social media, or sharing your content. Also, think about how you will pay off their loyalty, be it through points, discount codes, or exclusive perks.
Generate Word-of-Mouth E-Commerce Marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools out here. It’s based on the premise that people want advice from others like them. As buyers becoming more skeptical of marketing tactics and ad blindness, the need for word-of-mouth marketing in your business becomes more apparent.
While you can make this to happen organically by providing a great customer experience, you can also encourage, and even create, forms of word of mouth marketing that are equally as effective.
Another way that you can market your store on a budget is by placing a focus on building a community around your brand. If you take the time to build a community of people, perhaps using a Facebook Group or Instagram Group over time, you’ll have easy access to a group of people who represent your target audience.
It’s worth noting that building a community is often easier when you combine community building with content marketing. For example, you can use content to promote a Facebook or Instagram Group. Pinterest is another prime example. You can then also keep people engaged in your groups, with the help of content marketing.
E-commerce store or Product Reviews
Remember how I just said that prospects trust companies less and less? Well, customer reviews help mitigate that mistrust because they come from people who are not invested in the success of your company — instead, they’re an authentic and oftentimes brutally honest review of your product and how it worked out for them.
Many E-commerce stores import reviews from the suppliers sites like Aliexpress. Use caution when doing this as this method can backfire unless you review the reviews for grammar, content and material.
Reviews serve as e-commerce marketing tools for you because they include mentions of your product and oftentimes they do the selling for you … people think, “If it worked for them, it might work for me, too.” Encourage your customers to leave reviews however you can, and that after purchase e-mail we talked about above might be a good start.
Referral E-commerce Marketing
When customers solicit their friends, family members, and co-workers to buy from you, that is a referral. Sure, this may happen naturally if they really enjoy your product, but you can ensure that it happens more frequently through a referral program.
Simply ask your customers to refer others in exchange for something of value (e.g. discount, money, free gift) that you can offer to either your new customer, your existing customer, or both. Dropbox does a good job of this — they offer additional cloud storage space when you refer a friend to sign up. Groovepages allows your friends to create up to 3 websites or landing pages for free-and you earn a affiliate commission if they upgrade to a paid version.
Testimonials are similar to reviews. You can use customer testimonials to get the word out about how great your product is. Testimonials are essentially tailored reviews because you typically produce them from interviews where you can ask specific questions that get to the points you want to address and share with prospects.
Being that you have an e-commerce store, some topics you might want to focus on for your testimonial interviews would be ease of the buying process, the level of customer support, and friction-less delivery and setup methods.
Case studies allow you to promote customers’ successes in a way that pushes prospects over the edge. They are meant to relate to your buyer persona, so you should interview customers that most closely represent your target audience..
4. Invest in live chat.
Chatbots: you’ve heard about them, right? Well, they’re one of two ways to employ a live chat strategy. Depending on your business size, you can have a live person available to chat with potential customers who visit your store.
Whether you decide to go the bot or human route, live chat will prove especially effective while people are browsing your store so they can get answers right away and when they’re in the checkout process to mitigate any objections just before buying.
Can’t afford live chat? No problem A.I technology allows the bots to do wonderful things.
5. Focus on the shopping cart.
We discussed the reasons why people abandon their shopping cart above, and a lot of it has to do with trust of your business, in the product, or in the delivery system. You want to give customers every reason to want to buy from you without hesitation by confronting their objections head on. Amazon is a great example of this as it is a trusted source with a great return policy and fast delivery.
Some ways to help mitigate abandoned shopping carts:
- Money-back guarantees
- A clear and simple return policy
- Superior delivery options
- Immediate access to customer support
If you’re using WooCommerce to run your online shop, take a look at hubspot for Woocommerce to add abandoned cart sequences into your marketing program or this is included if you use GrooveKart.
6. Implement a fast responsive website design.
No matter which aspect of your e-commerce strategy you’re working on, it should include a responsive website design such as you get with GroovePages. Your e-commerce marketing tactics will be viewable and easily maneuverable via any device (e.g. laptop, smartphone, iPad or tablet). Which means in a world where people are always on-the-go and visiting websites and viewing e-commerce marketing materials via a variety of devices from an array of locations, your content will be easy to read and simple to navigate for all users.
E-commerce Marketing Strategy
Now that you pretty much all you need to know about e-commerce marketing, let’s put it all together and review some tips for building a successful marketing plan for your online store.
Set goals based on industry benchmarks. Know your analytics.
Depending on your industry, location, business size, and a multitude of other factors, there are some standards you can use to measure your goals against — those standards are industry benchmarks.
Consider having goals like website visits, click-through rates, conversion rates, and customer acquisition cost and compare those to other e-commerce business in your field. Google, SemRush and Ahrefs provide a lot of great data.
Break down your strategy into small tactics.
When building out a e-commerce marketing plan for your website, there are several paths you could follow — we listed many of them above. It can be tempting to chase after every single one, but that’s a sure way to not be effective at any of them. Focus on a couple of things and do them well. We recommend that you focus on a couple key strategies first that you believe will have the most ROI — and are the most accessible to you — and create action items for each.
For example, say you decided that you wanted to focus on a paid advertising strategy to drive users to your store fast. A few of your action items would be: set up a Google Ads account, determine your daily ad spend, create an ad group based on your target keywords, and monitor your account daily and use negative keywords.
This may sound oversimplified — that’s because it should be. You don’t want to get lost in chasing the next “great e-commerce strategy” without executing on one thoroughly and allowing it to work for you.
Delight your new and long-term customers.
Marketing doesn’t stop after a sale is made. Once someone becomes your customer, you should continue to engage, nurture, and delight them. Recently a client was complaining that someone who had recently made a purchase saw that the item was now being offered at a lower price and wanted a refund. The Amount was $15. We suggested instead of giving them the outright refund they should give the customer a $20 gift certificate. The product had a 100% markup so if the customer made an additional purchase they would just be out $10 really and the customer would believe they were getting more than the $15 refund.
This way, you’ll support your customers’ long-term success which, in turn, will boost loyalty. It’ll also make your customers want to share their positive experiences with your leads and target audience members through cause studies, reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth.
Ready, Set, Sell
E-commerce businesses have several marketing tools at their disposal. Using digital and inbound marketing just the right way can create campaigns that are designed to help your e-commerce store attract customers and grow faster.
Traffic is the key for great E-commerce Marketing
First, we need to cover something that you might have forgotten about – traffic. Yes, I know that sounds obvious. But, it is important to look at this from a 40,000 foot view.
Your ultimate goal is drive sales. But, when it comes to marketing on a budget, you should first think of driving traffic.
To refine your research and thinking, you first need to separate traffic from sales. Once you think about things in terms of driving traffic and not sales, it frees you up to develop dozens of creative ideas as to how you can market your e-commerce store.
This is different from having a large budget for PPC campaigns. If you’re running a PPC campaign, you have to think about sales right away, as each visitor costs money. Sales is your foremost goal – as traffic is already taken care of.
With low-budget marketing strategies you’ll need to figure out how to get attention first and later worry about optimizing for sales. Of course, that doesn’t mean that sales is something that you should just forget about. You should definitely do the bare minimum to ensure your e-commerce store is set up to convert, because you want sales to rack up, once you drive traffic.
But, you need traffic, if you want to optimize your store and figure out how to improve conversions.
In any case, when you think about things from an attention-capturing and traffic driving perspective, it’s easier to think outside the box, in terms of how you’re going to get people visiting your store on the cheap.
Test, test again and continue testing.
Allocate part of your e-commerce marketing budget to test new strategies. There is no one size fits all solution. What works for one product or website may not work for another the same way. You cannot rinse and repeat marketing as much as you would like to. After all, you’ll never know what works well and what doesn’t until you try it.
Don’t spend money haphazardly, but depending on the size of your budget, running some simple test cases in smaller markets can provide you with the ammunition you need to justify a budget increase, validate your prior recommendations and/or open the door to an entirely new market opportunity. We recommend having a test budget of at least $1000 per product. Wait, I know you are saying that people say you can test for $5 a day. Well guess what-good luck trying to gather enough data doing that to be able to make any scaling up campaign worthwhile.
You need data, a lot of data to know what works and what doesn’t work.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I promote my E-commerce business?
- Connect with influencers and bloggers.
- Share user-generated content. i.e. reviews
- Run a contest or promotion to increase engagement
- Use product videos or instructional videos.
- Take advantage of social media posts on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram
What is the best E-commerce platform?
- Shopify Plus.
- Big Cartel
What is the cheapest E-Commerce platform?