No two e-commerce brands are alike, so no successful digital marketing strategy should be the same. Therefore, businesses should avoid using a carbon copy approach to developing an ecommerce plan.
Here are 5 areas of focus to serve as a starting point to develop an ecommerce marketing strategy tailor-made to help your business grow online sales.
- Paid Marketing
Online marketing generally comes down to whether you will invest in paid marketing channels or use so-called “organic” marketing methods.
If you’re considering paid marketing, you have to ask yourself a few questions:
- Which channels would be best to give you exposure to your target audience?
- Are they on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere?
- Could you use AdSense to target them using very specific terms in search engines?
- How will you measure the success of your paid marketing efforts?
- Are you planning to focus on impressions, conversion rates, revenue, or return on investment (ROI)?
- Will you be directing your audience to an ecommerce site or to landing pages with lead generation forms?
- How much do you plan to integrate your paid and inbound marketing channels?
To determine which platforms offer the best exposure, use third-party ecommerce business tools or built-in social media analytical tools like Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights and Instagram Business, which provide detailed statistics and data on visits, click-throughs and other engagement to help you fine tune your marketing efforts.
Google AdWords and competitors like Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini could also be a great way to reach your audience. Despite the trial and error involved with setting up and effectively running these campaigns, paid media gives you the most control over targeting your audience, allowing you to pinpoint demographics, geography, interests and even income range. It's also a good return on investment. Adwords, for example, returns an average of $2 for every $1 spent, and Pay Per Click (PPC) visitors and more likely to buy from an ecommerce business than organic visitors.
A study by online marketing SaaS firm Wordstream found that e-commerce retailers have the highest click-through rates of any industry at 5.23%, with an average conversion rate of 3.58%.
Ultimately, deciding whether to use paid marketing to boost your inbound efforts or to approach it with a more narrowly focused strategy depends on your particular business.
- Inbound Marketing
When it comes to inbound channels like social media and blogs, you should determine what your inbound marketing strategy will look like. Are you trying to tap a larger, less focused audience or a small one with highly-focused interests? Will you reach people by informing or educating them, by answering questions and helping them to solve problems, by entertaining them, or by simply promoting brand values?
Here are three ways to ramp up your inbound marketing:
- Create a personalized experience. Use shoppers' website behavior and buying habits to personalize your direct marketing, email campaigns, and web pages for abandoned cart messaging and upselling.
- Consider having articles and blog posts written about your products. According to a study by Demand Metric, 70% of online shoppers prefer to discover new products through written content rather than advertising.
- Focus on Search engine optimization (SEO). On-site and off-site content marketing will help to increase your search visibility (on-site attracts inbound links to your website, while off-site directly builds links). The more quality inbound links your website has, the higher it will rank in search engines.
When considering free channels, it’s important to know if you will you give more effort to getting the attention of large influencers and publications, or to building buzz and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing with small influencers and everyday people.
- Industry-Related Platforms
When mapping out a cohesive strategy, it helps to think about what your target audience is doing online. Give thought to things like:
- Do they read blogs, watch videos, browse discussion forums, live on social media, or prefer to use certain apps?
- Where do brands and companies in your industry tend to get the most exposure?
- Are they more likely to earn coverage in the mainstream or trade news, or do people tend to talk about them on social media?
- Which platforms would be the best place to reach your target audience?
If your industry is usually covered by conventional media outlets, consider using PR or emailing pitches to capture the interest of journalists with something newsworthy. If online social platforms are your audience’s preferred place to digest what’s happening in your world, look into posting to YouTube and engaging with them on Snapchat. Take a look at your competitors to see which platforms they use to connect with their audience. Work on identifying ways you can leverage platforms to stand out from the competition in the eyes of your target audience.
- Cross-Industry Networks
It may sound counterintuitive, but some of the best and most overlooked places to reach your audience are platforms that aren’t geared toward your industry. They could actually turn out to be a good fit for your brand and target audience.
How? Here’s an example. If you are an e-commerce site that sells home improvement products to a broad customer base, it makes sense to focus on platforms in the home improvement industry. But by limiting yourself to a narrow focus, you could be missing out on potential customers. Consider expanding your reach to take advantage of DIY sites, mommy bloggers, interior design blogs, Pinterest, and even YouTube (how-to videos). This approach leverages your unique selling proposition, giving you access to customers in places where your competitors don’t pursue them.
- Ecommerce Lead Generation
There are many ways to generate leads, depending on what you sell, but some tried—and-true strategies include:
- Providing discounts (promo codes and coupons) as an incentive to get customers to sign up for email or SMS text special offers.
- Using valuable lead magnets like informative eBooks, special reports, or lifestyle guides to encourage your audience to be placed on your email marketing list.
- Offering free trials to visitors to entice them to join services with a monthly fee.
For example, you may want to offer potential customers a one-time, 15% discount in your shop in exchange for their email address. That’s a much more enticement than receiving a newsletter with unknown “special deals.” If they take you up on the offer, they will likely buy something, and remember your e-commerce, increasing the chances of landing recurring revenue and boosting your lead generation
These five techniques are by no means exhaustive, but are a good starting place to create a checklist to help you identify and fill some gaps in your e-commerce marketing efforts.