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Starting an ecommerce business is easy. Growing it? That’s a different story.
Despite ecommerce goliaths like Walmart, Target, and Amazon, you have a distinct problem: The average consumer is now bombarded with more than 10,000 messages from brands each day, and it doesn’t help that the majority of the population’s attention is already divided among different screens and multi-tasking. For example, did you know the average American switches between screens up to 21 times an hour?
As the marketing manager or owner of your ecommerce business, it’s your responsibility to make sure you command attention and stand out from the crowd. In the days of 24/7 digital connection, a one-off ecommerce marketing campaign won’t cut it.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy: Where to Start
At its most basic, ecommerce marketing strategy is about sending the right messages to the right person at the exact right moments. To do that, your marketing strategy should strive to achieve these goals:
- Create and segment buyer personas and audiences, then match them with marketing campaigns that speak their language
- Connect with your target audiences across their preferred devices and digital mediums
- Stand out from the crowd enough to grab their attention and pique their interest enough to want to learn more
- Create enough desire and urgency to nudge them into buying your product
- Convince them to make repeat purchase and become a brand ambassador
To accomplish these goals, your ecommerce marketing strategy should incorporate several different tactics:
- Undergo a digital competitive analysis to find out where your marketing strategy is lacking compared to your top competitors
- Segment your audiences and personalize your campaigns
- Improve your ecommerce website’s layout and design to encourage more competed purchases
- Create helpful ecommerce content like detailed product descriptions, blogs, and guides
- Optimize your content and website for ecommerce SEO
- Invest in social media marketing and advertising
- Take advantage of pay per click advertising for ecommerce
- Encourage repeat sales with email marketing
- Nudge undecided customers with remarketing
- Invest in mobile marketing technology
1. Undergo a digital competitive analysis to find out which marketing channels you need most
Off the top of your head, do you know exactly how your marketing campaigns stack up to your competitors?
If you’re like most ecommerce business owners, you have a vague idea, but it’s far from concrete or rooted data and analytics. That’s why we recommend your first step is always a digital competitive analysis or digital marketing audit.
A good competitive analysis identifies the Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and Opportunities from a digital marketing perspective. Specifically, it should:
- Evaluate your website and find areas for improvement
- Determine search engine real estate and social visibility (in order to target users in their initial research and awareness stages of the buying process)
- Identify digital assets used in the buying funnel (including downloads, blogs, videos, product descriptions, and more)
- Evaluate how you present your product, service, and value proposition compared to your competitors, including what sales funnel you and your competitors are encouraging potential customers down
- Pinpoint online advertising strategies across numerous channels and multiple devices
- Assess customer and employee satisfaction and feedback, including online reputation gauging
Most reputable marketing companies can perform audits and analyses, but our clients have told us that we have the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand analysis around. (You can get yours for free by filling out the form below or contacting us.)
2. Segment your audiences and personalize your campaigns
How many SKUs does your store carry? Chances are its in the hundreds, if not thousands. You probably planned it like this—give the customer all the options they could possibly want and it will increase sales, right?
Too many options overwhelm customers—according to Accenture, almost 40 percent of shoppers have abandoned a store to buy from another website because they were overwhelmed with too many options. Even if they don’t leave, you’re not in the clear—almost 75 percent of customers get frustrated with irrelevant products.
To mitigate this, you need to segment your audience and deliver real-time custom shopping experiences tailored to the individuals wants and needs.
Pretend you’re an ecommerce clothing store and have two shoppers, Suzy and Dan. Suzy is a middle-aged working woman looking for smart clothes to wear to the office, and Dan is a millennial shopping for school clothes on a budget.
With successful audience segmentation and personalization, their entire customer experiences are different. Suzy will see ads for professional clothes on Facebook, and when she clicks one will be taken to a dynamic web personalized with product recommendations on her last purchase. Dan, on the other hand, will see ads for sale items on Instagram, and when he clicks on them will be taken to a personalized website sales page.
According to a study by Barilliance, personalization can increase the number of items customers place in their cart before purchase by 68.14 percent, increase the percentage of customers that complete their purchase by 320 percent, and increase your average order volume by 113 percent. Not only that, but another study by Accenture found 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
A few essential customer segments include:
- Past purchase behavior
- The frequency of or dates of purchases
- Geographic location
- Psychographic behavior like lifestyle, social class, hobbies, interests, etc.
- Average cart value
And here are a few ways you can personalize shopping experiences for these segments:
- Navigational personalization: By incorporating user ID tracking you can use the browsing behavior of logged-in users across all their devices. For example, if someone visits your store and browses shoes but doesn’t buy anything, the next time they come to your website they might see shoes featured more prominently.
- Predictive personalization: Predict products they might like based on recent purchases from similar buyers.
- Dynamic ad targeting: If you advertise on Google or Facebook you can use dynamic ads that populate products based on user history and other tracking parameters.
- Segmented audiences: Send different groups of shoppers specific emails and ads based on information like date of last purchase, last purchase order amount, past purchases, and more.
- Personalized content: Serve content based on audience segmentation and buying group behavior.
- Real-time offers: Use search ads to target specific keywords that indicate someone is looking for your product, then show them real-time ads based on their searches.
3. Improve your ecommerce website’s layout and design
Does your ecommerce website design encourage your shoppers down the buyers funnel and generate repeat sales? One big indicator is if it’s easy to navigate and find what you want easily. According to Statista, roughly 25 percent of all online shoppers will leave an online store if the navigation is too confusing.
In order to convert website visitors, your website needs to:
- Be easy to navigate and find products quickly
- Be able to recommend similar products
- Be fast, secure (HTTPS vs HTTP), and mobile-friendly
- Feature language that resonates with your target audience and encourages them to complete purchases
- Have numerous purchase “nudges”
- Have easy payment and checkout options
- Have contact information front and center
And those are just to start with. Learn more website design tips here »
4. Create helpful content like detailed Product descriptions, blogs, and guides
There’s more to selling products online than listing them and hoping for the best—you need to convince shoppers they need your item and won’t regret buying it. That’s where engaging content and product descriptions come in—88 percent of shoppers characterize detailed product content as being extremely important to their purchasing decisions.
You can’t stop at great product descriptions, either. You need to also provide enough digital content to provide shoppers with all the information they could possibly need. Take a look at these findings from Google:
When we looked at the data, we found that no decision is too small for curious consumers. They use search throughout the decision-making journey to get advice on purchases, even a toothbrush or an umbrella. This means there’s an opportunity for marketers to influence across categories…. [Consumers] want to be sure they’re informed before they make a decision, whether it’s what to buy or where to go. People are embracing a “try before you buy” mentality and a “know before you go” attitude. They are looking to learn as much as possible about products, destinations, and experiences—before they commit.
5. Optimize your content and website for ecommerce SEO
Shoppers spend more time than ever researching products they want to buy. If it’s a high-consideration item, they spend an average of 13 days researching products. If your ecommerce shop isn’t showing up for one of their many online searches, you may as well not exist. By including search engine optimization on your product descriptions and website content, you’re more likely to get your product on the first page of Google.
Once you found your top-performing keywords, you should optimize these basic places on your web pages:
- The page title
- The page meta description
- Copy content
- Product descriptions
6. Invest in social media marketing and advertising
Ecommerce social media marketing refers to any marketing activity done via social media profiles and platforms—including organic posts and paid social media advertising. Currently, 42.17 percent of consumers in the United States say that social media significantly influences their purchasing decisions, and 32.1 percent of consumers make a purchase that begins on a social media site about once a month. The top platforms for ecommerce social media marketing are:
However, different audiences prefer different platforms, and picking the wrong ones can tank your social media strategy. At most, you should be on four social media platforms (unless you have a dedicated team devoted to social media marketing). Find out which social platforms are best for your business here »
7. Take advantage of pay per click advertising for ecommerce
Can small ecommerce websites really compete with Amazon?
Yes, and we have an ecommerce PPC case study that proves it. All it takes are optimized product descriptions, the right PPC campaigns, and a PPC management partner that knows how to dominate all three. To make sure your ecommerce company has a fighting chance we recommend you invest in at least the following ads:
8. Encourage repeat sales with email marketing
It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. A key tactic you can use to turn shoppers into repeat customers is with personalized email marketing. About 44 percent of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. You can’t just send one, though—61 percent of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly, and 28 percent would like emails to come even more frequently.
9. Nudge undecided consumers with remarketing
Even though online shopping is now the norm, getting customers to complete a purchase has become more challenging—online shoppers are bombarded with distractions like ads and videos, not to mention many consumers tend to consume other media on multiple devices when shopping online. According to Statista, these outside interruptions, along with internal website issues of costs, security, and efficiency can cause a shopper to forget about or intentionally abandon their online shopping basket.
Remarketing allows you to target ads to people who have engaged with your website, whether it be a specific product, page, or category. I’ll give you an example. I’ve visited both the Birchbox website and the Gazelle website in the past 30 days. While I put something in my cart on both those websites, I didn’t bite the bullet. After seeing ads from Birchbox for about a week straight, I went and finished my purchase and now regularly get targeted for specials, deals, and sales.
10. Invest in Mobile Ecommerce Marketing
Do you have a mobile-friendly ecommerce website? If not, you’re sabotaging sales. By 2021, 53.9 percent of all retail e-commerce is expected to be generated via a mobile device. It’s no wonder—consumers are researched-obsessed and spend more than five hours a day on their mobile device. If you don’t have content and website features specifically to help consumers connect with you on a mobile device, you’re missing out on a lot of revenue.
Your Best Ecommerce Marketing Strategy? Hire an Ecommerce Marketing Company That Knows What They’re Doing (Like Ours)
Like us. The truth is, you can execute your ecommerce marketing plan flawlessly, but if your competitors are out-performing you, it’s all for nothing. At Blue Corona, we try and let our clients speak for us. Take a look at our ecommerce internet marketing reviews from current and former clients to hear straight from them why we are the best ecommerce marketing partner for your needs. Everything we do comes from the perspective of a business owner, and we treat your business like our own.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod