Reaching your target audience online through e-commerce marketing strategies means more website views, more customers and, ultimately, more sales. The importance of e-commerce for any business these days cannot be overstated. Consumers not only want to be able to find products and services online, they expect to. A solid e-commerce marketing strategy is therefore no longer optional for successful businesses.
Tips for Building an eCommerce Marketing Strategy
Building your business online requires a solid e-commerce marketing strategy to back it up. Having a strategy before you jump into the world of e-commerce marketing will help keep you on course as you grow your business online.
Some of the key elements of an e-commerce marketing strategy are: templates, marketing, email, content, social media, personal interaction, using multiple content channels, mobile marketing and search engine optimization.
This list sounds like a lot to try to keep straight as you venture into e-commerce marketing, but we’ll break it down into easy to understand chunks. You can start where you feel most comfortable and expand naturally into other aspects of e-commerce marketing. There is no one right way to do e-commerce marketing, so pick and choose the strategies that work best for your current expertise and business needs.
What is e-Commerce Marketing and What is an e-Commerce Marketing Strategy?
e-Commerce marketing and marketing share many similarities. When it comes down to it, marketing is marketing, whether it happens online or in person. However, there are some important peculiarities about e-commerce marketing that you should be aware of if you’re trying to make the leap into e-commerce marketing for the first time.
The privacy of shopping online makes a big difference in how customers think and behave. That is a crucial factor to keep in mind while coming up with an e-commerce marketing strategy. When someone walks into a physical, brick-and-mortar store, they already feel a certain amount of investment in their shopping experience. Shopping online, however, is more fickle and unpredictable. Customers don’t necessarily feel invested when they shop online. They can flit from one website to the next on a whim, or stay on the same website for hours or days.
This creates a different sort of dynamic between the seller and the buyer than when you interact in person. Customers online aren’t going to behave in the largely predictable ways they do in person. You have to grab their attention and offer the right product at the right price to convince them to stay on your website instead of bouncing off to a different one quickly. Grabbing and holding attention is a key component of good e-commerce marketing strategies. The best online stores keep people on their website for as long as possible, increasing the chances that they eventually buy something.
So then what is an e-commerce strategy? Partly, it is the process of understanding the difference between online and in person. But there is a lot more to it than that. For example, strong content and interesting articles might help your overall e-commerce strategy, even if your business is not one that would usually need a blog or articles.
In addition, it has become more and more important these days to offer customers a mobile option so they can shop from their phones. People want convenience more than almost anything else when they’re shopping online and being able to shop using just a phone is quickly becoming a standard of successful e-commerce marketing.
Who Needs e-Commerce Marketing?
e-Commerce marketing may once have been a niche field, but more and more it is transforming into standard business practice for industries of all sorts. Amazon is probably the most famous e-commerce business. They’ve been hugely successful marketing online and allowing customers to shop from anywhere conveniently.
However, one of the keys to Amazon’s success is that you can buy just about anything from their website. You can see just from what Amazon offers that there are fewer and fewer businesses who shouldn’t be online. Everything from clothes to furniture to cars can be purchased online without ever having to go to a store. If you’re wondering if your business needs an online presence, the answer is almost certainly yes.
Who are your Customers Online?
Just who is driving this push toward online shopping and e-commerce? Statistics reveal that it is a larger and larger portion of consumers who are doing their shopping online.
- 64% of consumers in the United States (with access to the internet) shop online at least once a month
- Only around half (55%) are satisfied with their ability to purchase online through their phone – highlighting how crucial mobile offerings are becoming
- Free shipping makes 80% of customers more likely to purchase a product online
- Free returns makes 64% of customers more likely to purchase a product online
- 36% of customers will compare websites to see which can offer their product the cheapest
- 50% of customers are using their smart phones and 60% are using tablets
- 78% never see the product in a physical store before purchasing it online
- 31% of people think they will spend more time shopping online next month than they did the previous month
- 49% of people are shopping via PC, 37% via smartphone and 14% via tablet
- 84% of shoppers use social media such as Facebook to get recommendations before they buy; among those sites, Facebook accounts for a whopping 77% of shoppers, with Twitter at 26%, LinkedIn at 22%, Pinterest at 18% and Google Plus at 17%
And just what are all these online shoppers buying? Interestingly electronics, books and clothing all rank very highly, at 69%, 67% and 63%, respectively. But other things people are purchasing online include: household goods (35%), office supplies (30%), consumer packaged goods (28%), sporting goods (20%), pet supplies (20%), and food and groceries (20%).
This highlights a few of the myriad industries that are profiting massively from the move to digital e-commerce stores. Most businesses, from those selling notebooks to those selling puppy chow, can benefit from having an online store of some sort.
Now, we’re going to look at 9 ways to improve your e-commerce marketing strategy and grow your online business into a success.
1. e-Commerce Marketing Strategy Template
If you’re unsure where to start, try drawing up a template for your e-commerce marketing strategy, or using a pre-made template to help guide you along.
Pre-made templates are not always perfectly tailored to your business or what you hope to achieve with e-commerce, but they can be a good place to start. This website even has a “retail and online store” section among its business plan template markets. There are other resources available as well if you want a marketing and sales template to help you get started.
If you are more ambitious, you can design an e-commerce marketing strategy template on your own. The key things to remember are your goals for your e-commerce business, a timetable for implementing your strategies and how you plan to approach the launch of your online business. Put in dates and key goalposts in order to make sure you’re hitting metrics at the right time and moving steadily toward your goal.
2. Marketing through an e-Commerce Marketing Strategy
As you make your e-commerce marketing strategy template, you should pay close attention to the “marketing” aspect of that plan. Marketing is different for e-commerce compared to brick-and-mortar stores. When you market in person, you can talk to customers, give them flyers or posters or business cards. Not so online, where you will need to use marketing strategies discussed here like SEO and email.
Marketing should be part of your overall plan so that when you start building your e-commerce business, marketing is seamlessly integrated into the rest of your online store. Marketing that is unobtrusive in this way is not only effective, but it is more likely to appeal to shoppers. With convenience being such a big reason for why people shop online, marketing that is annoying can really harm your e-commerce business. Employ the right marketing strategy in order to get customers excited, but not annoyed.
3. Email Marketing Strategy for e-Commerce
Email is great way to reach customers online. Email offers ways to get your name out there and drive customers to your e-commerce business.
However, email marketing is not as simple as just blasting out an email to as many people as possible. In fact, that’s a good way to tank your email marketing strategy. Email needs to be targeted and follow certain best practices in order to be as effective as possible for an e-commerce business.
First, choose your audience. Many people have their inboxes set up to automatically delete junk emails that they didn’t sign up for. This could mean your email marketing strategy goes into a trash bin before it even has a chance for success. The simple action of asking people to sign up for your emails could make the difference between your marketing being seen or being deleted.
It can be tough getting people to opt into emails. Try one of the following to boost your success rate:
- Have in-store sign ups so people are opting into email in person
- Offer incentives for signing up such as discounts and coupons
- Offer special promotions within your emails that entice customers to keep those emails instead of deleting them
- Keep your email marketing short and sweet – less it more! People don’t read long emails so make sure you get right to the point
- Ensure that your emails are formatted in a reader-friendly way. An email that just looks like a block of text will quickly get shuffled into the trash bin
- Title your emails appropriately. An email with no subject line or a bad subject line may make customers think the email is junk and not valuable. For example, if you offer a discount in the email, put that right in the subject so people click on the email
- Include links in your email. Make it easy for people to go from your email marketing to your website where they can buy your products
Follow these best practices. Also, ensure you aren’t sending too many or too few emails. Striking the right cadence for your email marketing campaign is crucial to its success. You need to stay on your customers’ minds without bothering them too much.
4. Creating Content for e-Commerce
It may come as a surprise, but filling your website with high-quality content can actually really help your e-commerce business. Content can drive traffic and give valuable feedback to users who are intensely interested in your products and services.
This is easier said than done for many businesses though. A website that sells shoes may have a lot of content they could create about shoes. Shoe enthusiasts might be looking for in-depth articles on a range of topics related to the e-commerce business of shoes. This draws in customers and also entices them to stay. They will start to see your business as a valuable resource rather than just a place to buy things.
But not every e-commerce site has such an obvious path toward great content. You may need to get creative with the content you offer in order to populate your website.
5. Using Social Media in your e-Commerce Digital Marketing Strategy
Studies like the one above have shown that people use social media to research what to buy. Facebook is no longer just a way to interact with friends. People are now using it to research products and services and get recommendations. The same goes for the other major social media platforms, including Twitter and Pinterest.
Having a solid social media presence, if it’s appropriate for your business, can spike your e-commerce sales. But before you leap into the online realm, make sure you’re doing it the right way. Here are some tips for advertising through social media:
- Have a consistent voice and tone when you post on social media
- Create a persona and stick to it. Your “online self” will represent your business, so make sure the persona is professional yet personable
- Research which social media networks work best for your business. You don’t need to post on every site out there, just the ones that will work
- Make sure your formatting is correct, otherwise you risk appearing clumsy and out of touch
- Post things that are relevant to your business. Sometimes those posts won’t get much love, but if your account is all over the place it will seem disorganized and unprofessional
6. Personal Interaction
Social media leads to the next two recommendations: personal interaction and using multiple content channels.
First, personal interaction. When you are operating an e-commerce business via social media marketing you will have to interact with customers a lot. There is a delicate balance worth striking here between being professional and personable. Customers want to interact with businesses as though they are people; they desire human interaction that is authentic and less “corporate” sounding than traditional business advertising.
Managing personal interactions with customers sometimes falls to a social media marketing manager. More and more companies are employing social media managers to ensure their online presence effectively markets their business while staying professional and friendly to customers. Social media marketing managers do things like planning a social media campaign and setting goals for that campaign; developing your brand’s reputation online; managing what kind of content you post online; ensuring good SEO, or search engine optimization; and finding leads and sales opportunities.
7. Using Multiple Content Channels
There are so many social media channels to choose from that you probably won’t stick to just one when doing your online marketing campaign. Choosing a range of appropriate social media channels can maximize your impact and reach online.
However, with this comes certain challenges. Every social media platform has its own guidelines, rules and formatting to be aware of. Your social media marketing manager should be an expert on as many of these as possible so they can guide you as you post across a wide range of channels.
But content channels doesn’t only mean social media. Content can get from your to your customers in a wide variety of means. Perhaps a blog would be appropriate for your website. Many e-commerce businesses use blogs as a way to write long-form content for their most avid fans. If video demonstrations suit your business, you could have a YouTube channel dedicated to your company. You can even continue to use traditional marketing means like flyers, posters and pamphlets while running an online business.
Here are some tips for managing multiple content channels for your e-commerce business:
- Know your audiences. Different social media and marketing channels have different audiences. Know who you’re talking to when you post a blog vs a vide vs a Facebook post
- Know the rules and guidelines for each channel
- On top of that, know the best practices for each channel. Best practices for a blog are very different from those for a YouTube video
- Produce valuable content. Don’t have all these channels just to have them. Choose channels that are genuinely appropriate for your business and create content that is relevant and useful in those channels
8. Mobile Marketing
As we’ve already mentioned, mobile is becoming a bigger and bigger deal for e-commerce marketing. People want to research products and buy them on their phones, so having a strategy for mobile marketing greatly improves your overall e-commerce marketing strategy.
With mobile marketing, your goal is to reach people on their smartphones and tablets. You can use things like email, text messaging and social media to accomplish this.
- SMS Marketing: This is a form of mobile marketing where you send short messages to people’s smartphones.Sometimes the message is just a short reminder. SMS marketing can also include things like coupons and deals. Your customers must opt in to SMS marketing before you can send them any messages, but it can be a cost-effective way of marketing.
- MMS Marketing: This is very similar to SMS marketing as it is a form of marketing in which your customers opt in to having messages sent to their smartphones. But where SMS marketing is short text-based messages, MMS marketing is multimedia messaging, which can include audio, video and images.
- Push Notification Marketing: Push notifications are fairly recent. A user must have an app related to your business installed on their phone. This does require your business to have an app to offer, but if you do have one then you can send notifications through it called push notifications. These will inform your customers of deals and coupons, as well as products you have to offer. If they follow the notification and open your app, they can usually shop through that app as well.
- App-Based Marketing: Similarly, app-based marketing relies heavily on apps themselves. This is a marketing strategy where the focus is intensely on developing an app and reaching customers through it. This can be a difficult road nowadays because so many businesses have apps. It is likely someone has already made an app similar to the one that would be appropriate for your business. You need to convince customers to use your app instead of a competitors’.
There are other forms of mobile marketing, but these are some of the biggest ones. You can also use in-game advertisements if your company produces a mobile game, for example. Creativity in the realm of mobile marketing will not only make your campaign successful, but it will also save you a lot of money in your advertising budget. Simple, low-cost mobile campaigns can more than pay for themselves when run correctly.
9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, impacts every one of the marketing techniques we’ve already discussed. It is therefore vital to have a strong understanding of what SEO is and how it works.
SEO is the process of getting your website to appear high on the first page of Google searches by creating relevant content around strong keywords. This will change depending on your business. Keyword research is a crucial first step in the process of developing strong SEO. For example, if you run a business around selling laptops, you would want to hit all the keywords people use when researching laptops and making a purchasing decision. This could be things like “best laptop” or “which laptop should I buy” or “best laptop brands.” You have to first know how people are looking for your business before you can try to capture that website traffic.
Once you have some keywords, you can build content around those keywords. This can be blogs, videos, social media posts and more. Long-form blogs that target fans who want in-depth knowledge on specific topics can reach a huge swatch of internet traffic and drive it to your website. Even if the buying and selling part of your website is separate from the content part, the content should have strong SEO if you want to increase traffic.
You must do more than just create a bunch of content around keywords, however. Your content and your website need strong site structure in order to have good SEO. Google will prioritize websites with good structure and place them higher in searches. Make sure your website is seen by the right audience by following SEO best practices.
e-Commerce Marketing Strategy Examples
There are some excellent examples out there of successful e-commerce marketing strategies. Companies like Eat24 and Wendy’s are extremely successful in their social media and email outreach programs. This is in part because they have struck the right balance in terms of their tone and personal interactions with customers. Both companies are very friendly. They sound natural and at ease when posting on social media, rather than stiff and corporate. While they still have guidelines to follow when sending an email or posting on social media, they manage to at the same time seem like a real person. Fans gravitate toward that.
Other companies like Starbucks have found successful with blogs and longer-form e-commerce marketing strategies. One of the things that makes Starbucks successful in this realm is that its content is relevant to its fans. Its blog posts are insightful and meaningful to those with a deep, vested interest in its products and services, and the world of coffee more broadly. Along with that, their content is targeted to the right audience. Keyword searches online place their website high up on the first page, increasing the chances that they will be seen online organically.
Building Your e-Commerce Marketing Strategy: The Final Word
So when all is said and done, how should you build your e-commerce marketing strategy in order to be successful online? Unfortunately, there are no quick or simple answers here. The right e-commerce marketing strategy depends on what you’re selling, how you’re selling it and to whom you’re selling it.
Some broad principles that work across many types of industries include things like smart social media management, email marketing, SMS and MMS marketing and SEO. All of these strategies work together to form a cohesive and powerful e-commerce marketing strategy.
If you are struggling for inspiration, you can look to companies who are experiencing success in the realm of e-commerce marketing. Aside from businesses like Starbucks and Wendy’s, our own Logic Inbound website has had success with e-commerce marketing. Our article on Instagram support outranks Instagram’s own website, for example. This is due to the strength of our content and SEO.
In the end, you know your business best. Design an e-commerce marketing strategy around who you are and who likes your products. Be authentic, smart and decisive and you will find success in the e-commerce marketing realm.