Ecommerce marketing strategy
How to succeed in e-commerce without really trying.
Ok maybe you still have to try a little but I can tell you’ll have to try a lot harder if you ignore this list of proven ecommerce marketing strategies. Will some work better for your product or service than others? Of course but ignore these proven methods at your peril, you’ll be leaving money on the table.
Be sure to implement each of these with best practices in mind as well as a healthy dose of patience. Some of these techniques need to be built up and optimized over time and may not return well in the first month. This is the double-edged sword of modern day trackable results. Because we’re able to see that a new ad campaign isn’t paying for itself early on, there’s a temptation to discard it as a failure. Be sure to give enough time and gather enough data to see what’s working.
Ecommerce tools you have to have in your toolkit:
Whether you’re running an online business or a business online, these tools work together to bring you success. Let’s look into the toolkit:
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 1 – Advertising Methods
Pay Per Click
What is pay per click advertising? That’s any online ad that you only have to pay for when someone clicks on your ad to visit your site. This is typically paid search or search engine marketing (SEM) although PPC advertising exists elsewhere as well places like Amazon or Yelp. For the purposes of this discussion I’m really talking about google ads. It’s typically very useful for targeting people who are down near the bottom of the funnel and are ready to buy. This can be a great way to capture sales and have great return on investment, driving traffic to your site or your amazon store, traffic that is well qualified, targeted lead or potential buyer. Be sure to track conversions and eliminate any keywords, ads or campaigns that don’t perform well.
In addition to posting content to your feed, which potentially could be seen by any of your followers, you can also use paid Facebook advertising to target potential leads and buyers in any location. One of the great things about Facebook paid advertising is that it actually resembles regular content in your feed. That combined with the fact that facebook generally shows you things you’re already interested in means that viewers are very receptive to advertising on that platform. Unlike many other forms of advertising FB paid content isn’t super obvious, compared to for example a TV spot.
Be sure to set up your campaigns correctly, taking advantage of interest, demographic and location targeting. For example, if you wanted to target people in las vegas (geo) that have kids (demographics) and are interested in martial arts (interest) facebook allows you to do this. Good images and headlines make a difference too so be sure to have something interesting and compelling to encourage your audience to click.
Facebook also allows you to select from several goals such as web site click, like your page or filling out a lead form to name a few. Facebook ads can be a very useful ecom sales tool.
Display ads essentially mean banner ads but there are more options than that. Without going into unnecessary detail let’s just call them banner ads.
These banner ads can range from tiny, like the ones you see inside an app on your phone all the way up to big display ads on either side of a popular websites center content.
Display ads are more of a top of the funnel tactic. They can be used effectively to increase awareness of your brand, product or service. The click through rate (CTR) is generally much lower than PPC for example but the cost per impression is massively lower. In some cases you can put your ad in front of thousands of people for pennies.
There are a few different ways to go about this. Google Display ads are a good place to start, we also use a DSP that provides a lot of display ad options as well.
Targeting and trackability, like most digital advertising options, is fantastic.
You can target based on:
- geo-fenced location (within a single town, street or even building for example)
- in app
- intent-based (for example people who are showing the intent to purchase a certain type of product)
Display advertising is a lot more than just ‘running some banner ads.’ Add it to your ecommerce marketing toolkit.
This is just the beginning.
If you’re selling on Amazon for example there are a lot of advertising options within that platform as well.
Youtube preroll ads and other social media ads are worth looking into too, but since this is our top Ecom marketing tools list let’s keep the list short for now.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 2 – Tracking Results
Occasionally we run into a new client that’s been running a campaign with no real method in place to track results. For example, if you’re running a pay per click campaign with no conversion tracking and no goal tracking how can you effectively determine whether that ad spend is returning the results you want? I guess you can look at how much each click is costing and modify your campaign with that in mind, but that’s not a good method to use for a site that’s made to generate leads, app downloads, calls or purchases. Which brings us to the topic of key performance indicators (KPI)
Your key performance indicator is the most important stat you’ll use in your campaign. Let’s use an ecommerce PPC campaign as an example.
Let’s say we are selling a widget for $10 each. We are running 3 different paid search ads on Google, targeting 6 different keywords. How do we know which ad or keyword is performing the best? Well maybe keyword A is very cheap so the cost per click (CPC) is super low compared to the others. That’s a good thing right? Maybe keyword B costs a little more but the click-through rate is a lot higher. That’s good too. However for this example I want my KPI to be my return on ad spend ratio (ROAS). Woah! Sound complicated? Not really, it’s really about selling my widgets. Which keyword brings in the most bang for the buck? Maybe keyword C costs the most per click but for every dollar spent it brings in 10 dollars in sales? In this case my ROAS is 10:1. I want to optimize for this. This is how we ensure good ROI for our ad spend.
Other good KPIs could be triggered goals, such as lead forms generated or calls coming in. Be sure to set up proper conversion tracking to see what’s really delivering results.
Some of the common and helpful goals you can set up in google analytics would be things like: form completion, phone call, time on site, email, clicking on a certain button, arriving at a certain page or app downloads. There are tons of options. More on setting up goal tracking here.
Ecommerce Marketing ROI
Track the most valuable results for your business and calculate which tactics are returning best on your marketing investment, then spend more on what’s working, then cut out what doesn’t return.
Google Analytics is a great resource to track customer behavior, time on page, bounce rates, organic traffic and more. This info can provide insights that will allow you to make business, marketing and web design and content decisions that will improve your bottom line.
For example if you rank well in organic for a product variant that you don’t carry or promote, add that to your product line, or if you find that people often exit when they hit a certain page, look into it and find out why and make the changes needed to make you page stickier.
Examples are numerous, the bottom line is, the more you understand about what’s working and what isn’t, the more successful your business decisions will be.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 3 – Optimizing for Conversions
It’s important to structure your ads and your landing pages in such a way that leads your visitor to complete the action you want, for example making a purchase or filling out a lead form.
Fewer clicks and ease of navigation lead to higher conversions.
Help your visitor clearly understand how to navigate to his or her destination.
Be sure your most valuable pages are easy to navigate to.
Build your site to attract people that are already interested in your desired end result before they even get there. In other words, don’t optimize your site to attract shoppers looking for boots when you only sell running shoes!
Be clear about what you want your visitor to do:
- ‘Buy Now’
- ‘Learn More’
- ‘Sign up for email discounts’
Make it easy, tell them what this page is for, you’ll be surprised, your customers will listen.
Be sure to A/B test at all levels, one variable at a time. For example what results in more sales ‘buy now’ or ‘learn more’, a green button or a red button, a button above the product description or below? This is just one tiny example.
What about landing page A vs. landing page B?
Headline A vs Headline B?
Product image A vs. Product image B?
Test and find out.
EcommerceMarketing Strategy 4 – Gaining website traffic
SEO, SEM and Social media
Search Engine Optimization is a complex world unto itself. It’s best to build your site with SEO best practices in mind. Be sure to bring in a good consultant if you don’t have this skill set in house. This isn’t an article about SEO so I’ll only hit a few high points here:
- Don’t try this at home. Hire an expert. (G Creative can assist)
- Be sure you have no duplicate or plagierized content, this will downgrade your ranking
- Use a third party plug-in like Yoast to assist with page content analysis
- Name your images
- use alt tags
- name your links and appropriately
- Shoot for content thats 1250 words long
- do a competitve market analysis to determine what keywords your trying to rank for
- add value to the web!
Bottom line is, don’t ignore SEO, traffic means sales.
Be sure your site is properly optimized for mobile. Google has implemented mobile first indexing which means your site’s ranking will be determined by how your mobile site is structured and performs. Good SEO requires good mobile optimization.
Search Engine Marketing or PPC advertising
This was discussed in more detail above. This can be a very efficient way to pay to drive targeted traffic to your site. There’s a lot to it, if you need assistance in setting up and managing your PPC campaign we can help.
Social media management and marketing is a nice way to drive free traffic to your site, its a great way to communicate with your audience and provide customer service. It can be used to drive sales, increase brand awareness and tell the world about your site. See the section below called ‘Communicating with your Customers’ to learn more.
The 9th and possibly most important bullet point above in the SEO tips list is ‘add value to the web.’ We’re talking about content here and functionality. Examples include:
- some kind of calculator or widget that helps people accomplish a task or do research
- entertainment – videos, images, written content
- expertise, how-to, pitfalls and do’s and don’ts
- solutions to problems – aggregated content, apps etc.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 5 – Communicating with your customers. Social Media, Email Marketing and more..
Social media presence
Don’t ignore social media as part of your ecommerce marketing. Use this channel to provide:
- customer service – be sure to respond quickly to customer questions about products and shipping inquiries
- engagement – unlike traditional advertising social media is a two-way communication method. Don’t talk at your target audience, talk with them and engage in conversation. Learn about their interests and concerns as it relates to your industry.
- Added-Value content – include content that is interesting to your target market. It could be funny content, valuable information or product information and discounts
And don’t forget the importance of social media advertising (mentioned above).
3rd Party Apps
For Amazon Sales, Online sales or let’s face it any business, good customer service is a must. Be sure you deliver:
- your fulfillment is error-free and on time.
- all returns and exchanges are handled in a quick a friendly manner
- any product or service questions are handled quickly and easily. Consider a chat function on your site or a customer service phone number.
Be sure to capture email addresses during your transactions, with customer opt-in of course, to use to retarget past visitors with great offers, added-value content or new product launches. Third party apps like MailChimp do a fantastic job of managing your lists, constructing your email designs through an easy GUI interface and tracking campaign data for things like opens, clicks and purchases. You can also schedule email campaigns ahead of time and A/B test campaigns for sales effectiveness.
Stats for 2018 show that on average $44 dollars are made for every $1 dollar spent on email marketing!
And 28% of consumers are happy to receive an opted-in promotional email from you more than once per week.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 6 – Sales Channels – Amazon, Ebay and more
49% of all online sales went through Amazon in 2018 and that’s only going up! Even if you’re doing well selling through your website do your business a favor and look into selling through Amazon. Yes they take a percentage and the learning curve can be steep if you want to succeed as an Amazon seller but you can sell more if you’re on Amazon. Check out 6 tips, how to succeed on Amazon.
Some consumers buy only through Amazon and if your product isn’t there they will buy your competitors product. Nowadays some brands use Amazon as their only sales portal. Need help getting set up on Amazon? We can help.
Ebay & Etsy
Check out other sales channels including Ebay and Etsy. Nothing beats the power of Amazon to drive product sales but for certain products Etsy and Ebay may be a nice fit. Used, vintage and crafty or handmade products often find a home here and the learning curve is not quite as steep as it is for Amazon.
Ecommerce Marketing Strategy 7 – Branding
Holy cow here we are at the end of the list talking about what maybe should be number 1, branding. In the end, all the old-school techniques of establishing who you are and what your customers think of you really do matter. Branding is more than a logo, a tagline and a color scheme, although that stuff counts too, branding is about something even bigger than that. It’s a roadmap to keep you from going astray. It’s how you want to be perceived in the market.
Will Bentley ever send out a 10% off coupon in the mail so you can buy their new mass-produced cheapo that you can get for $99 down and $99 per month? Probably not. Will Walmart start selling $14,000 custom-tailored, designer suits out of the men’s section? Doubtful. We know which brands mean excellence and sophistication and which brands mean practicality and affordability. Decide who you want to be and stick to it, and remember just like in life, you can’t be everything to everyone. Make sure you ‘stay on brand’, everything you do from price point, design choices, and product selection to customer service and product packaging reflect your brand. Be true to yourself.
Top of the Funnel – Brand Awareness
In this brave new world of trackable results and instant sales it’s easy to put all your effort and budget into the ecom tactics and techniques that pay off right now. Brand Awareness is investing in the future.
Take a look at the Ecom Sales funnel.
Up at the top we have awareness. If no one knows who you are and what you’re selling (0r for that matter why they want it), they will never search for it and purchase it. They will be unlikely to click on your ad instead of your competitor’s ad. In other words, they don’t know who you are.
The story of the Auto Dealership who ignored the top of the funnel:
Once upon a time, there was a big and powerful… auto-dealership, they had a lot of traditional, top of the funnel advertising in the market, as a result, the whole community knew about their brand and their various stores around town. But then the marketing team saw that their trackable digital ads were paying off, and as a result, they stopped everything except the trackable digital sales.
Let’s just keep the stuff that pays off the best! They said. It sounds like a great idea right? Except here’s the problem, the brand awareness supports the bottom of the funnel sales. If your customer doesn’t know you, you pay more per click, your click-through rate goes up and your sales go down. If your customer doesn’t trust your brand, you lose. Whatever happened to the auto-dealership you ask? Nobody knows, because no one can remember their name.
Even in this modern age of search results and calls to action, branding still matters, don’t neglect it. Your competitors won’t.
So there you go, a few of the best Ecom marketing strategies to help build your sales online. If you have questions or need more info feel free to reach out to us. We’re a full-service ad agency that specializes in Ecom and Amazon Channel Marketing. We’d love to help.