The competition for online sales has grown from strong to fierce in the last decade or so. Now if you are searching for a mobile phone you will get results for every brand ranging from USD 50 to 100 along with that especially when the mobile phone prices lower down, the competition rises.
So how do you get your product shine and pop out in a sea of competition? In the current market scenario, you need an ecommerce marketing strategy which not only shows your product to the people searching for it but also to those who are not.
Ecommerce marketing and digital marketing go hand in hand. Marketers have to explore every avenue possible to drive traffic to their websites and that too to specific pages. This article explains the top online channels used by marketers to promote their digital shops.
In simple words, ecommerce marketing is the practice of driving top-of-funnel traffic to convert into sales and customers. It is the implementation of a strategy focused on driving actionable web traffic to sell product and services online. There are many ways to master ecommerce selling.
By trying out a combination of paid and unpaid advertising methods such as SEO, Facebook and Google Ads, email marketing and social selling, you can streamline a strategy that works for your brand. The goal is to find the perfect mix which will convert the most visitors. It is crucial to find a working strategy because of the changing and increasingly competitive environment. This could mean the difference between day and night for many companies.
Let us explain how you can create and execute an ecommerce marketing plan using the top online channels.
Building an Ecommerce marketing plan
“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
All businesses must have a marketing plan. Out of which most medium to a big-sized company has a dedicated marketing team nowadays. There is also a lot of literature available on how to devise an effective marketing strategy. As the Ecommerce selling landscape grows ever so complex, it becomes critical that you devise a versatile online marketing plan.
In addition to devising a versatile online marketing plan, it’s equally essential to incorporate your strategies into a comprehensive business plan presentation. It serves as a visual guide, enabling your team and stakeholders to understand the intricacies of your marketing strategies, ensuring everyone is aligned towards the same objectives.
Here are a few pointers to help you start with your marketing plan.
Obtain expert advice
A good starting point for building an ecommerce marketing plan is to have a chat with someone who has already done it. Find a person who started and scaled an online selling business similar to yours. The ask them the challenges they faced e.g.
- How did they start?
- What marketing channels yield the best ROI?
- How to track and evaluate data
- What SaaS products were the most helpful and effective?
Questions like these will help you make a mental map of the activities you need to plan to market your products.
Another way to approach this further down your marketing endeavors is to hire experts when you can. Nothing beats a talented and experienced marketing expert. The knowledge these people have acquired over time is priceless.
Seasoned marketing experts only bring a new perspective to the table but also blow a breath of fresh air in your team.
Goals & objectives
It is essential to lay down very clear goals and objectives. Not only that, these milestones must be evaluated against time and should not be open-ended. Once evaluated, if you feel like amending your goals, do so. The reason being circumstances and conditions for business change with time, and you have to adapt to those changes.
You can also set short term goals e.g. for next three months. These can be
- Increase sales by X% during the slow season.
- Develop a custom online marketing campaign for the Holiday season or Black Friday
- Use email marketing to reach out to 1 million potential buyers.
Understanding buyer persona
Ecommerce stores are built with one intention in mind, to sell in bulk. For that, you need to understand the purchasing pattern of the target audience. Purchasing pattern depends upon the following parameters.
- Purchasing power
You have to clearly distinguish who you are going to market to. If you fail to identify your target audience, you will surely run inefficient campaigns with low conversion rate and lose money.
Pricing and Distribution
Price your product appropriately so that they do not seem out of reach for your target audience. Especially now when price comparison is soo easy.
The last step of your ecommerce marketing plan is figuring out how to distribute products and order fulfillment. If you optimize this step, you will save a lot of cost. Whether you are starting off and managing distribution yourself or employed a third party for managing it for you, be sure to closely monitor, refine and evolve your distribution with time.
5 Ecommerce marketing strategies
Let’s look at some of the time tested ecommerce marketing strategies which have worked for other businesses.
Retargeting is the simple act of following people around using ads on the internet who did not purchase after visiting your website. 98% of the people are not going to purchase from your website the first time around. You need to convince them to keep popping up on the right places in front of their eyes.
There are 2 goals you can achieve through a retargeting campaign.
Awareness: These campaigns aim to educate people who do not know about your product but may have visited stores similar to yours. The aim is to generate some interest in your product and features.
Conversion: The second goal you can achieve from a retargeting campaign is to convert people into paying customers, people who have already visited your website. The aim is to show them a relevant ad clicking on which they are directed to a landing page and finally make the desired conversion action.
There are a lot of ways you can retarget your ecommerce product.
The most common form of retargeting is through paid ads. You can create eye-catching ads and show them to people who left your website and are now visiting other websites.
you can also create different ad copies and messages depending upon where the user is in the conversion funnel.
Email retargeting can be used for people who got to the checkout page, entered their email but for some reason did not make a purchase. You can use their email address and create a retargeting email campaign. Give them an incentive to return and complete their purchase.
Most businesses use some kind of Customer Relationship Management(CRM) tools which contain the email addresses, leads, and prospects. What you can do is to export this data and add to email marketing services like Sendible or AdRoll.
These tools can link email addresses with social media and Gmail accounts and know when people are online. Segregate the same audience, group and retarget them.
Remarketing list for search ads (RLSA) is a Google feature for creating certain ads which are designed for retargeting audiences. They are dynamic in the sense that they allow bid modifiers in search ads. This gives you the freedom of bidding relative to the number of searches from the audience on your list.
The other way of using RLSA is setting up search ad groups to only be triggered and show ads if a user is on your Remarketing list, and is searching with the keywords you are bidding on. This can bring significant change in conversion rates and has good ROI as well.
2. Content Marketing
Companies that rely on content to educate their customers have proven to outsell those which do not use content marketing. Ecommerce content consists of a lot of writing activities including blog writing, product guides, video content, blog commenting, and many more.
A key pointer to note is content marketing for eCommerce is not so much about selling your product but education and creating brand awareness. Mind you, content marketing makes a hell lot of difference when shaping opinions about a product or brand.
Take for example if your store sells neckties. You can write a blog on what color or design pattern tie to wear to a certain event e.g, a job interview, wedding or dinner party. Similarly, you can write about which color tie goes with which color suite.
There are a lot of people searching for advice on the internet. If you can provide them the required information whilst infusing your brand in their minds and not being too salesy, you have done the job of content marketing to perfection.
Content marketing is the form of inbound marketing in which the customer comes to your rather the other way around. The trick is to create engaging content for your audience which when they consume, come directly to your store. This cost significantly less and on the plus side elevate the performance of other marketing channels you are using.
Your aim should be to generate loyal readers from your content who will not only themselves convert into paying customers but become your online brand advocates for you. A by-product of this ecommerce marketing strategy is that you can grow organic traffic to your money website.
3. Search Engine Optimization
SEO has been in a constant state of evolution. From the time when online marketers use gimmicks and dishonest tactics to now where rankings are now earned rather than working to find loopholes.
SEO is one of the top methods of generating organic traffic to your business website. Now SEO is all about following the rules laid down by search engines. Follow the guidelines on how to do on-page optimization. Combine this with high-quality content production and you will generate a healthy organic traffic stream.
4. Social Media Marketing
Running an ecommerce-based business is a huge challenge itself. Things start to look overwhelming when social media marketing comes along. Some ecommerce business owners, especially starters find it difficult to juggle various things simultaneously.
According to a survey conducted by Buffer and Social Chain, 58.8% marketers and business owners admitted that social media is important to their overall marketing strategy, whereas 30.5% believed that social media is somewhat important to their marketing strategy. And the rest of the respondents thought either they are uncertain or social media isn’t important for their marketing strategy.
So there is no doubt that ecommerce stores need a strong social media marketing strategy. SMM helps you connect with fresh potential clients, improves brand positioning, installs another layer in your sales funnel, and build you a healthy interactive audience. The question now remains, how to kickstart social media marketing for your ecommerce store.
Choose social media channels
All major social media channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, etc are unique and so are the advantages and challenges of marketing on them. You can not appear on each social channels with the same tactics and expect great things to happen. What you can do is go about it strategically.
First, you need to figure out the social media channels on which your target audience spend most of their time. This requires searching, researching, questioning, and interaction. All this effort will make it easier for you to develop a marketing strategy.
Once you have identified the channels it is now time to make your accounts. Starting off you can make accounts on 2-3 potential social channels which you think will yield the maximum result. Get to know the platform. A good starting point is to visit your competitor’s pages, see how they are set up and try to replicate what you see. With the passage on time, you can improve depending upon the feedback you get.
The final step is to develop a social media plan for each of the channels you have selected. One size does not fit all. The point is that each social channel has a different set of norms for publishing content e.g. image size, post type, text length, etc. You have to keep all these variable in mind while creating a strategy.
E-commerce stores have highly visual content and so should their social pages too. After all your success on social media depends on your use of imagery to drive attention and traffic to your product pages.
Instagram is a great medium for product projection as it takes your product beyond the purchase page. The latest features introduced by Instagram lets you try on clothes online by mapping your face on the attire. This gives you a real sense of how the clothes will look on you since the majority of people take pictures after trying new clothes.
You can also create product review pages on other channels such as Facebook etc to flash your authenticity badge to your customer. Micro influencer helps this cause greatly as people love to base their decision on some kind of advice.
5. Affiliate Marketing
E-commerce affiliate marketing connects a seller with merchandise with marketers with and audience. It uses product-focused referrals, such as reviews, comparisons, and testimonials to drive traffic to a company’s site.
Affiliate marketing is very closely related to the ecommerce industry in comparison to other businesses. Each sale generated by the affiliate marketer allows the merchant to earn money and share that with the marketer. Its a win-win situation for all three parties involved in the process, which is very rare. It is a match made in heaven between sellers and people influencing the relevant audience.
Affiliate marketing is great in the sense that it works on the principle of pay per sale. You only need to pay the marketers when he has made a sale. Unlike other marketing strategies with require budget before even producing results.
The popularity of affiliate marketing is cemented by the fact that the world largest ecommerce store Amazon offers a 10% profit on each sale made by an affiliate marketer. However, it does define some rules which are applied while determining what qualifies as a sales.
A qualified sale is predefined by the merchant to avoid any misunderstanding for example.
- The visitor should click the affiliate link
- Product purchase should be made in a single cycle
- The customer must pay for and receive the product purchased
- The customer does not return the product
Over to you
Ecommerce businesses have several marketing tools at their disposal. Using digital and inbound marketing just the right way, you can create campaigns that are designed to help your online store attract customers and grow better.
Wasiq Naeem is a content and digital marketing veteran who is passionate about his writing. Extensive research and producing high-quality content is just another day at the office for him.