You’ve got your store up and running, but don’t expect thousands of customers to flood your website ready to open their wallets wide. These days, it’s not enough to have a good business idea to start getting sales. You need to implement a set of eCommerce marketing strategies to attract and convince people to buy.
What’s more important — you have to get them to connect with your brand, so they end up ordering again.
Building a strategy from scratch can be overwhelming. So where should you start as an eCommerce business owner or manager?
We will lead you through the process of launching a successful eCommerce marketing plan and show you the tips that will help bring it to life.
What is eCommerce marketing?
eCommerce marketing is a practice of using promotional tactics that helps you achieve key marketing goals such as driving traffic to a website, converting it into paying customers and retaining current customers. The exact goal varies depending on the type of ecommerce model, but that marketing goal is always aligned with business goals.
Think of marketing as a loop, not a funnel.
The customer journey doesn’t end with the first purchase — you have to take action to convert first-time buyers into loyal customers.
Achieving marketing goals for each stage of the sales loop requires different tools and tactics.
So let’s see which one you can utilize today.
Types of eCommerce marketing
You can use different channels to reach your customers online and offline, but should you really be present everywhere with your brand?
Here’s the truth: you can pick just a few marketing channels and strategies that are easy for you to work with and still end up achieving your goal.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
eCommerce SEO strategies focus on making your website more visible in Google. Unlike paid advertisement, SEO doesn’t involve paying for driving traffic to your website.
However, remember that planning and executing an SEO strategy involves resources — time and money.
With SEO, you won’t achieve success overnight and you just have to be patient. Once you start appearing in top search results on Google, you can reap the benefit by getting lots of free high-quality traffic.
Sounds like something you’d like to achieve? Here is where you have to start.
One of the key areas of optimization is your product pages — that’s where you can experiment with improving internal linking, use the right keywords, work on image SEO, and more.
For example, Bearbrand is doing it right. Instead of just posting a short description, they use a toggle menu to include as much information about the product as possible. They also link to other website pages and use high-quality images. All these tactics contribute to overall better SEO optimization.
2. Email Marketing
Using email marketing for eCommerce involves sending transactional, promotional, and targeted emails. These days, the more personalized and targeted your campaigns are, the more chances you have to lead users to visit your website and browse products.
To use email marketing successfully, you have to segment your leads based on various criteria such as demographics, previous purchases, number of purchases, types of products viewed, and more.
“Email marketing software helps you track user behavior to segment leads better and trigger sending emails when a user performs a certain action,” says Meyr Aviv, Founder & CEO of iMoving.
When launching an email marketing strategy, you have to think over all possible interactions your customers have — from the first welcome email to re-engagement emails.
Check out how Bliss encourages the first purchase.
On the other hand, here is their re-engagement email.
3. Social Media
Social media is a great place to find customers. However, the social media of 2022 and beyond is different from the one from years ago. Just think of the rapidly changing algorithms and Facebook’s aspiration to get advertisers to pay for any decent engagement.
Is paying for engagement the only way to approach social media marketing? It shouldn’t be the case for you if you know how social media algorithms work. It’s always worth following the latest updates on any changes in social media platforms’ algorithms. That way, you can adapt accordingly.
You can also use evergreen tactics. One of them is built on engagement — the more people interact with your posts, the more reach your posts get organically. But what if you don’t have a social media channel with a high engagement rate? Try influencer marketing campaigns.
Do you still remember viral campaigns with Daniel Wellington watches on Instagram like the one below?
Running contests on your fan page can be another way to get people to engage under a post. This strategy doesn’t cost you a dime but can have a positive impact on sales. Here is an example of a social media contest carried out by Amazon.
4. PPC Ads
PPC stands for pay-per-click where, unlike SEO, you pay for each visit to your website. With PPC, you can target users based on keywords they type online, their demographics, professional profile, interests, and more.
Google and Facebook are two PPC platforms widely used by eCommerce brands to reach their target market.
On average, the first four results appearing in Google will be paid like those below.
To create an effective Shopping Ad, both visuals and text are important. When using Google Ads, your product ads can appear in different ways depending on a device, location, and user search query.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure the images you use are attractive and of high quality.
5. Content marketing
There are customers who are not ready to shop yet. Some shoppers spend hours reading product comparisons and weighing their options before deciding to purchase a product. With content marketing, you can attract such people to your website and help them make the right decision on what product to purchase.
Imagine you are selling cameras and have models of different brands available in your store. You can create dedicated comparison articles targeted at the keyword such as “best budget cameras.” Your article would then look something like this:
Along with describing the pros and cons of each listed camera and picking the top choices, you can also link to product pages where you sell a product — a fast track for readers to buy. You can even include a discount to give a small incentive for people to buy from your store. The overarching strategy is to make it easy for your prospective customers to buy.
Your content marketing strategy should be aimed at helping your customers solve their problems, giving them advice, and helping them navigate your products. You can start by jotting down some topic ideas. Then, use digital marketing tools to check if the keywords you’ve chosen are popular and get a reasonable number of searches.
The best eCommerce marketing tips
Now, as we had a sneak peek into what eCommerce marketing entails, let’s check the specific strategies and tips you can already start working on.
1. Work on cart recovery
Cart abandonment is one of the key issues eCommerce brands face with both first and recurring purchases. Losing a customer after you have invested money, effort, and time into bringing them to your website is a waste of your marketing budget.
The more efficient you get at recovering abandoned carts, the more profitable your eCommerce business will become.
Here are just a few ideas that will help get more users to finish a purchase process and reduce cart abandonment.
- Offer guest checkout option — instead of asking to log in or register every time a customer buys from you, allow for guest checkout. This tactic will reduce friction.
- Make returns easy — link to your return policy and make sure customers understand how they can return products. When knowing returns are easy with your store, they won’t be afraid to purchase from your website for the first time.
- Use exit-intent popups — incentivize customers with a small discount on their purchase if they are about to leave your website. Interactive popup tools will help you create exit-intent popups and set up the trigger criteria with just a few clicks.
- Send cart recovery emails — use email marketing tools integrated with your store to send cart recovery emails once it’s clear that a user has left a website.
2. Offer live chat support
Customers often contact eCommerce brands via chat expecting a quick response. For the companies that receive hundreds of questions from customers, it’s easy to notice patterns in the message content. Often, customers ask repetitive questions or look for the information already available on your website.
“To keep your clients satisfied with customer support and provide answers to questions faster, configure your live chat support to triage questions that only support agents can deal with from the ones that can be answered by a bot,” says Brian Lim, CEO of iHeartRaves & INTO THE AM.
This way, your customers will receive answers faster and rate your support much better. This all contributes to more trust and returning purchases.
3. Grow your subscriber base
Have you ever heard of browsers? They’re like the digital window shoppers. This is the type of store visitor who likes viewing products and browsing dozens of websites every day.
They might click your ad or be tempted to read a comparison article on your blog — that’s how they find your website.
The bottom line: they won’t buy right away, but it doesn’t mean they won’t buy at all, at some point.
“The best approach for handling this buyer type is creating an incentive to stay in touch and sign up for your newsletter,” says Farnam Elyasof, Founder of Flex Suits.
For example, this brand incentivizes customers to sign up for a newsletter by offering free shipping on the first delivery.
4. Optimize your blog for SEO
Writing can be fun especially if you create articles about the products you sell, but creative writing should come hand in hand with SEO. Otherwise, you won’t drive traffic.
Here are two key strategies to remember when writing your blogs:
- Do keywords for each article — if you are selling iPhone leather cases and preparing a comparison article, here is what you will find out after running a quick search in Ahrefs.
The results will show your chosen keyword is not the best in terms of popularity and that it might be a better idea to be a bit more specific — writing about iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro Max cases.
- Benchmark against competitors — check what articles appear on Google for your chosen keyword and how your competitors have optimized them. Here is what you can find when analyzing SERPs for “iphone 12 cases”
5. Use an Instagram channel
When you already have a developed Instagram following, here is how you can promote your products.
- Run contests: you can make online giveaways fun for your subscribers. For example, if you are selling cat doors, you can organize a giveaway where a participant with the funniest cat story gets a pet door for free.
- Create tutorials: show how to use your products and what effects they can bring to spark interest among your subscribers.
- Post teasers of upcoming products: inform your audience about the upcoming promotions or new product launches to grow awareness. You may create some product launch videos to boost the reach.
- Add highlights: post the most interesting and engaging photos and videos to tell a story about your brand to new followers.
- Collect feedback: use polls to understand what products people are looking for, so you can offer them in your store.
6. Build a loyalty program
eCommerce brands often sell products at a similar price point. That’s why there is almost no friction for a first-time customer to start buying from your competition. Given the fact that you have already invested a lot in acquiring a customer, losing them to competition can be painful.
41% of your store income is created by only 8% of customers who buy again after their first purchase. To create an incentive for a customer to stay, you can tailor a smart loyalty program. There are various ways of approaching its structure and goal — you can assign points (like how airlines do it) or give discounts for ordering more products.
Remember that the concept of your loyalty program should be based on the goal you want to achieve, which is to increase return purchases. Once you implement a loyalty program, you should measure its impact.
7. Choose the right automation tools
Bootstrapping a business often means you are the one responsible for logistics, orders, procurement, returns, sales and marketing, and even more. With so many tasks on your table, things can quickly go off track. In addition to using project management software, one of the best ways to streamline your workflow is with automation tools.
Using the right automation tools can help you regain control, save lots of time and make your work more productive. So how can you choose the ones that are a good investment?
After you have already drafted your eCommerce marketing strategy, you should know what marketing channels are of the highest priority. Start by defining the needs you have around them.
If you work with external contractors on content creation for your Instagram account, you may want to invest in good visual management tools to coordinate the process better.
If you have chosen to focus on SEO, keyword research tools can help move forward with the implementation faster and provide you with the right insights for better decisions.
Final thoughts on eCommerce marketing
A well-thought-out eCommerce marketing strategy can get you more first-time and returning customers. Hopefully, the tips we have shared will help you tailor one that is the best suited for your business.
Following all strategies at once can be overwhelming. That’s why we are recommending picking a few channels and choosing the right tactics for them to start with.
Once you see the first results and are able to automate the activities around the best-performing channels, continue trying new strategies and tactics.