4.5 min. read
It's estimated that by the year 2040, a whopping 95% of purchases will be made online. This rising popularity of online buying is opening many doors of opportunities for entrepreneurs worldwide.
But as more and more entrepreneurs start their online businesses, it becomes more challenging than ever to beat the ever-growing competition. Ecommerce businesses, both small and large, appear from all sides.
On top of everything, you have to compete with the eCommerce giant Amazon that owns almost half of all US online retail sales.
That's why eCommerce marketing is such a big topic for eCommerce store owners. For many of them, the topic is like a mysterious black box. They've heard of it, but they know nothing of it.
Why is it so important?
Do I need to hire an expert?
What are the most popular strategies that other businesses are using?
To answer your questions, we've prepared this extensive eCommerce marketing guide that will help you understand the basics and prepare an effective eCommerce marketing plan.
Ecommerce marketing is promoting your online store to potential customers through a variety of marketing channels. The goal is to bring those customers to your site and convince them to become paying customers, as well as retain them post-purchase.
To make things easier to understand, we'll use an example.
Let's imagine you have an online store for selling hiking equipment called The Wanderer.
You want to get more customers to buy your products, so you start promoting your business across all social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. You hire a person to optimize your product pages, and you start working with an influencer to advertise your products to their followers.
The steps you took yielded results, and now you have thousands of potential customers coming on your site every day. Some of them clicked on your Facebook posts, while others discovered your business through that influencer you're collaborating with.
A portion of those potential customers choose a hiking product, add it to their shopping cart, and make a purchase.
Later on, you follow up with an email, asking them if they want to leave a review of the product.
One week later, you send them a second email offering them a special discount on another hiking item.
This is how eCommerce marketing looks like in practice.
It's something that's too common for first-time business owners: they create an amazing product, post about it on a few social media channels, only to realize they have no idea how to find customers.
The truth is that you can have the most outstanding product in the entire world, but if you don't know how to market it, no one will buy it.
Finding paying customers takes a lot of effort, and it's one of the most expensive things a company has to do to stay in business. This is true for one-man-show companies packing their products from a small garage and for giants like Amazon.
In short, eCommerce marketing is important because customers are important. Customers are the livelihood of your business. Without them, you'll go bankrupt in a matter of a few weeks.
If you're wondering why social media marketing is such a powerful eCommerce marketing tool, consider this: customers spend 20-40% more with companies with whom they have social media engagement.
If you're an owner of an eCommerce store, you should take advantage of social media's potential.
In 2020, around 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide. That number is projected to grow to 4.41 billion by 2025.
Ignoring such an extensive market would be sabotaging your own business. If you're not doing it, your competition will.
The best way to use social media is to form positive interactions with your audience.
And how do you do that?
You post content that resonates with your target market.
For example, if you're selling hiking shoes and your target are experienced hikers, they may be interested in reading a guide on "The Modern Hiking Essentials."
Not only will you drive your audience from a social media platform to your website, but you'll also convince them to become paying customers.
Apart from written content, you can also engage your audience with images, infographics, quotes, and videos.
Today, social media platforms make it easier for you to promote your brand and generate sales. Each platform has its own set of tools for eCommerce marketing efforts.
These tools are similar to Google PPC ads. You create an ad, set your budget, and pay every time a user clicks on your link.
Whether it's blogs, infographics, or videos, content marketing is all about storytelling.
In a nutshell, content marketing involves creating and promoting relevant, unique, and consistent content in order to attract and retain customers. The end goal of every content marketing strategy is to convince a potential customer to become a paying customer.
Apart from blogging, there are many great ways for how to take advantage of content marketing:
Write guest posts for other websites to build awareness around your business.
Create long-form content such as guides, e-books, and white papers.
Start a podcast to show your expertise.
If once upon a time all you had to do to rank high in search results was to stuff your site with keywords, now you have to earn your ranking.
For your website to rank well, it needs to adhere to some of the best SEO practices.
It means writing content with targeted keyword phrases, adding image ALT tags, and doing internal page linking with anchor text, among plenty of other things.
Don't worry if you don't have a clue about SEO best practices. You can always use a tool like SemRush or Ahrefs to optimize your pages and track your SEO site's health.
Or, you can hire an SEO expert to take care of your site's optimization.
If you're using an eCommerce hosting provider and CMS like Exai, there's a team of experts that take care of all aspects of your business, including eCommerce security, optimization, and website maintenance.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the most popular strategies companies use to reach potential customers and get them interested in their products and services.
If you want to stay competitive in the eCommerce realm, PPC marketing is the way to go.
If you're unacquainted with PPC marketing, it's a strategy that involves your company paying an ad network, for example, Google, every time someone clicks on your advertisement.
There are a few types of PPC ads that your online businesses can benefit from, including paid search, display, and product listing ads.
Paid Search ads - When you place a Paid Search ad, your company will appear on top of search results based on the user's search terms.
For example, let's say that a user types "buy hiking boots for men." If your website is optimized for that keyword, your website will appear. It's a text-only ad that has a high conversion rate and should most certainly be part of your strategy.
Display ads - Display ads can often be seen on websites and apps. Unlike a Paid Search ad that only appears in search results, a Display ad follows users around, based on their browsing history. They are served to the user based on the subject of the website or article they are viewing.
For example, if the user is reading about "Best Hiking Boots for 2020", your ad may appear.
Display ads are great for building brand awareness and generating conversions.
Product Listing ads - Remember how we explained that by posting a Paid Search ad, users will see a text-based ad promoting your business?
Product Listing ads show product information. When a user types in a keyword your site ranks for, they will see an image, a price, and a little bit of a description of your product. If they click on it, they will land on that section of your site and will be able to make a purchase.
With Google PPC ads, Youtube videos, and Influencer marketing, it seems like email marketing is out of the game.
According to various reports, email is the king of every effective marketing strategy. In 2017, 85% of adult internet users in the US were using email. That means that 22% more people use email than are actively using social media.
Email marketing requires a strategic, thoughtful approach.
To get started with email marketing, you'll need to build a sizable email list. There are several ways to do this. Some companies opt for offering a weekly newsletter while others choose to give something for free.
Once you have a sizable email list, you can start sending relevant and interesting content. This can be anything from blog articles to promotions of your products.
Aside from newsletter campaigns or product updates, also consider incorporating the following strategies:
Up-Sells and Cross-Sells.
Customer Loyalty and Re-Engagement.
Have you ever seen a popular YouTuber promoting a certain skincare brand? Or an Instagram influencer promoting a hand-made piece of jewelry? This is what's called Influencer marketing and has become quite popular in recent years.
In fact, more than two-thirds of retailers in North America use some form of influencer marketing.
This type of eCommerce marketing is pretty straightforward. You collaborate with a social media influencer who has a niche audience. The followers already trust the influencer, so when they promote your brand, it feels less intrusive and more reliable.
One survey discovered that 34% of daily Instagram users in the US purchased an item just because it was recommended by an influencer they follow.
If with PPC ads you paid when someone clicked on your ad, with affiliate marketing, you only pay after a sale occurs.
And according to reports, roughly 81% of brands use affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing means you're paying a commission to an external website for any sales generated through them.
If you have a brick and mortar store and the majority of your target audience lives in one area, local marketing can be a great way to boost your sales.
Local marketing involves optimizing your website and online ads to stimulate foot traffic and awareness in local regions.
The first thing you want to do is to optimize your site with local keywords.
For example, if your hiking equipment business is located in Manchester, you want to put relevant keywords on your website, such as "hiking gear shop Manchester," "best hiking equipment near Manchester," etc.
You can also optimize your site for any bordering towns or regions if you believe that will grow your sales.
Putting together an effective eCommerce marketing plan may sound challenging. From so many types of marketing and tools to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide what type of approach will best work for you.
The best way to succeed is by making sure you have a deep understanding of your product, your target audience, and their preferred online channels.
As long as you have these things in mind and do proper research, you can start creating campaigns that will delight customers and help your business generate sales.
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