E-commerce has grown exponentially over the last decade. More and more businesses are establishing an online presence and customers are increasingly shopping online for everything from groceries to furniture. While traditional brick-and-mortar businesses focused on foot traffic and print advertising, e-commerce marketing encompasses a wide array of digital strategies and channels.
For e-commerce businesses, a well-planned marketing strategy is key to success. Simply having an online store is not enough to generate sales. You need to employ various marketing tactics to drive traffic to your website, convert site visitors, retain customers and continue growing your business. E-commerce marketing has its own unique set of benefits and challenges compared to traditional marketing. This guide covers some of the most important e-commerce marketing topics to help you navigate the world of online retail.
Understand Your Audience
As an e-commerce marketer, one of your most important tasks is understanding who your target audience is. You need to have a clear picture of who your ideal customers are, what motivates them, and how to reach them.
Start by researching the demographics of your audience including age, gender, income level, location, education level, and other quantifiable data. Look at what types of customers are already buying from you to get an idea of who resonates most with your brand.
You also need to understand the psychographics of your audience – their interests, values, attitudes, and lifestyles. What are their pain points? What are they passionate about? What matters to them and what problems are they trying to solve? Knowing the deeper why behind their behavior and buying decisions will help you craft targeted, relevant messaging and connect with customers on an emotional level.
Spend time studying your existing customer personas if you have them. If not, create detailed buyer personas based on your research. Include behavioral data and relevant details like quotes and photos so you have a vivid picture of exactly who you are speaking to. This will allow you to tailor your e-commerce marketing strategy and content to your audience’s unique needs.
Understanding the demographics and psychographics of your target audience is a foundational step in e-commerce marketing success. Know who you want to reach and what makes them tick so you can provide real value through your brand.
Build Your Brand
Your brand is what sets you apart and creates an emotional connection with your customers. This is especially important in ecommerce where the shopping experience happens online. A strong, recognizable brand will connect your products and story, driving loyalty and repeat purchases.
You’ll want to maintain consistent branding and messaging across platforms. This includes using the same logo, color scheme, fonts, and tone across your website, packaging, ads, emails, and social media. Consistent visuals like images, graphics, and videos also help customers associate your brand.
For branding, identify your niche, ideal customers, and what makes you unique. Craft a mission statement to guide your brand values and voice. Share your origin story and principals like sustainability or dedication to quality.
With consistent branding, customers know what to expect from you. They recognize and identify with your brand, building familiarity and trust. This boosts conversion rates and sales as they prefer to buy from brands they know and like. A strong brand differentiates you from competitors so focus on conveying your unique identity.
Optimize Your Website
A fast, user-friendly, and mobile-optimized website is crucial for success in e-commerce. After all, this is the virtual storefront where customers will browse and make purchases. Optimizing your website should be an ongoing priority.
Site speed has a major impact on conversion rates. If pages take too long to load, visitors will simply click away. Use page speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to analyze site performance. Some ways to improve speed include compressing images, minimizing HTTP requests, enabling browser caching, and using a content delivery network (CDN).
Beyond site speed, the overall user experience determines whether visitors will stay and convert. Pay close attention to your website navigation, page layouts, calls-to-action, and forms. Remove unnecessary clicks and distractions. Clearly highlight promotions. Simplify and optimize checkout. Conduct usability testing to identify any pain points.
Today the majority of e-commerce traffic comes from mobile devices. Your site needs to be fully responsive, providing an excellent experience on phones and tablets. Use a mobile-friendly design with clickable elements sized properly. Avoid pop-ups and interstitials that annoy mobile users. Also make sure pages are lightweight with reduced image file sizes. Double check that checkout and forms work seamlessly on mobile. Mobile speed should be a top concern.
Optimizing your e-commerce website for speed, usability, and mobile readiness will directly impact your sales and revenue. Treat your website as an ongoing project, continually refining it through testing and customer feedback. A frictionless site converts visitors into paying customers.
Focus on Product Photos
High quality product photos, videos, and 360 degree views are essential for ecommerce success. With online shopping, customers cannot physically see or touch items before purchasing. Therefore, great visuals are crucial to showcase your products and convince shoppers to buy.
When photographing products, use a high resolution DSLR camera and take pictures in a setting similar to real-life usage. For example, photograph kitchenware laid out on a table or apparel worn on a model. Ensure proper lighting to accurately convey colors, textures, and details. Take photos from multiple angles and zoom levels to provide a comprehensive view.
Introduce 360 degree views and videos to let customers visually inspect products. Spinning images allow every side and detail to be examined. Demo videos are effective for showing how items work and highlighting key features. If selling large products like furniture, provide room shots to showcase scale and style within a realistic environment.
With engaging, high quality visuals, customers can better assess products online and make informed purchasing decisions. Photographs are also essential for organic traffic, since Google Images accounts for a large portion of search engine results. Overall, compelling product photos and videos should be a top priority.
Write Great Product Descriptions
Your product descriptions are one of the most important elements of your ecommerce site. They not only provide key information to potential customers, but also help convert visitors into buyers. Follow these tips to write compelling product descriptions:
Focus on Benefits
Don’t just list product features – explain how those features actually benefit the customer. For example, rather than just saying a jacket is waterproof, explain that the waterproof fabric will keep them dry and comfortable in rainy weather. This helps the customer immediately grasp the value of your product.
Include Relevant Details
Provide the details customers need to make an informed purchase decision. List fabric content, sizes, colors, care instructions, and other pertinent information. Be sure to include details called out in product titles like size or color. Customers want to confirm they’re viewing the right product.
Direct Readers with Calls-to-Action
Close descriptions with a clear call-to-action to encourage conversion. For example, end with “Order today and get free shipping!” or “Add this bestseller to your cart now!” Directing the next step provides a sense of urgency.
Following tips like these will help you optimize those product descriptions to make the sale. Remember, well-written content builds trust and gives the customer confidence to click “Buy”.
Promotions and Sales
Offering promotions and sales can be a great way to boost revenue and acquire new customers. Here are some of the most effective tactics to try:
- Coupons are one of the most common sales tactics. You can offer sitewide promo codes, discounts for first-time customers, or discounts on specific products. Make sure to promote your coupons on your website, email newsletters, and social media.
- Consider offering tiered coupon codes so customers get a larger discount the more they spend. For example, 10% off $50, 15% off $75, and 20% off $100+.
- Partner with deal sites like Groupon or living social to distribute coupon codes and special deals to new audiences.
- Product bundles allow you to boost average order value. Group together complementary products and offer the bundle at a discounted price.
- For example, an electronics store could bundle a laptop, laptop case, and antivirus software. Or a fashion retailer can bundle a top, skirt, and necklace together.
- Bundles work well for gift giving occasions. Create bundles around events like birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc.
- Flash sales create urgency and excitement. Offer a deeply discounted price on select products for 24-48 hours.
- Announce flash sales in advance on your website and across marketing channels to build anticipation. Send reminder emails as the sale approaches.
- Have a dedicated landing page for the flash sale so customers can easily browse and purchase the promoted products.
- Limit purchase quantities to prevent inventory from selling out too quickly.
- Continue marketing the products after the flash sale ends by highlighting their popularity during the event.
Email marketing is a crucial component of any ecommerce marketing strategy. It allows you to directly reach and engage your customers in a personalized way. Here are some tips for using email marketing effectively:
- Send new customers a welcome email immediately upon signing up, then a series of 3-5 emails over the next week educating them about your products, services, and brand. This helps onboard them.
- Offer an incentive like a discount code or free gift to encourage purchases. Track conversion rates.
- Get feedback through surveys. Ask what they’d like to see more or less in your emails.
- Send promotional emails like sales, coupons, contests, and product releases. Time them around major holidays, seasons, or company news.
- Test different calls-to-action, subject lines, send times, content, and design. Iterate based on open and click-through rates.
- Announce limited time offers to create urgency. Countdown the hours until a sale ends.
- If customers haven’t purchased lately, trigger an automated email re-engaging them. Offer them an incentive to buy again.
- Study their past purchases and browsing behavior, then tailor recommendations and remind them what they like about your brand.
- Use email segmentation and dynamic content to personalize messages and increase relevancy.
- Send periodic surveys to ask why they haven’t purchased recently and how you can improve their experience.
Paid ads can be a highly effective e-commerce marketing strategy when done right. With paid ads, you essentially pay to get your products, brand and website in front of targeted audiences across various online channels. There are several main types of paid ads to consider for e-commerce:
- Purchase ads on Google, Bing and other search engines so your products appear in results for relevant keyword searches
- Great for targeting people searching for products you sell, driving site traffic and conversions
- Focus on compelling ad copy, keywords, and landing pages
Social Media Ads
- Run ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest to reach targeted demographics
- Ideal for brand awareness, video views, conversions, catalog sales
- Leverage detailed targeting options for interests, behaviors, demographics
- Run special offers/promotions via social media ads
- Purchase ad space on high-traffic websites in your industry to reach broader audiences
- Use banners, videos, interstitials, and other display ad formats
- Focus ads on retargeting active site visitors or qualified leads
- Work with ad networks like Google Display Network for massive reach
- Display ads targeting people who already visited your website or shows interest
- Encourages visitors to return and convert on a purchase
- Customize messaging for each stage of the conversion funnel
- Increase relevancy with dynamic ads featuring on-site behavior
The key with paid ads is to regularly test and optimize your campaigns, measure ROI, and refine your targeting over time. When aligned with your e-commerce marketing strategy, paid ads can deliver a powerful boost in sales and conversions.
Analytics and Optimization
Understanding your analytics and consistently optimizing your store is crucial for ecommerce success. You need to know what’s working so you can do more of it, and what’s not working so you can fix it.
Some key metrics to track include:
- Traffic sources – Where is your traffic coming from (direct, organic search, social media, etc)? This helps you determine which channels are working best to drive traffic.
- Bounce rate – What percentage of users leave your site after viewing only one page? High bounce rates may indicate issues with your site or content.
- Conversion rate – What percentage of site visitors complete a desired action like signing up or making a purchase? Track this overall and for key pages.
- Average order value – How much does the average customer spend per order? Higher AOVs mean higher revenue.
- Top landing/exit pages – Which pages attract traffic and which ones lead to exits? Use this to optimize both types of pages.
- Top products – Which products or categories drive the most revenue? Put more marketing focus on your winners.
A/B testing is a key optimization method for improving metrics like conversion rates. It involves comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. Some elements you can test include:
- Headlines and product descriptions
- Images, videos, and other media
- Call-to-action placement, design, wording
- Page layouts and flows
- Color schemes, typography, and design elements
The key is to only change one variable at a time so you can accurately measure the impact of that change. Over time, continual testing will improve the performance of your site.
Analyzing data and running A/B tests allows you to make smart decisions based on what’s actually working, not guesses. This optimization process is essential for maximizing the results of your ecommerce marketing