You’ve worked hard building your business and have finally launched your online shop. You even made your first few sales, which you will never forget.
Now, how would you feel about getting some of your customers to return to your eCommerce website? Or a steady number of orders every month?
It’s not enough to just launch your eCommerce business, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Marketing is an essential part of attracting more potential customers and scaling your business.
Sure, piecing together an eCommerce marketing strategy can be tricky, especially if you’re a business novice.
But we’re here to let you in on the best practices and marketing tips that you can use to grow your customer base.
What is eCommerce marketing?
If you had your own brick-and-mortar shop, you might stand on a street corner and hand out discount vouchers to passers-by in order to encourage them to visit your store.
Or, you’d rent a local billboard – talk about old-school.
While you can’t exactly do that in the world of online shopping, there are many ways to harness the power of the internet to work in your eCommerce business’ favor.
eCommerce marketing simply means all the different ways you can promote your eCommerce website online. The goal of eCommerce marketing is to get more people to visit your store and to buy your products or services.
Various eCommerce marketing tools put together will make up your strategy or plan. You will then execute your strategy by running campaigns across various marketing channels.
Running marketing campaigns online has some major advantages over traditional (offline) advertising:
- It’s fast. If you want to place an ad in a newspaper, you usually need to wait for the newspaper to be printed and published. Only then you’d get an idea if anyone used your discount offer. The entire process could take weeks. Meanwhile, you can see online store marketing results almost instantly. For example, if you time your Instagram ad well, you could see a spike in new orders in real-time.
- It’s data-rich. When running an ad on a radio channel, it’s difficult to capture any useful analytics data on the success of your ad. With a well-executed eCommerce marketing strategy, however, you will know exactly which age groups engaged with your ad the most, who clicked on the link to your shop, and who made a purchase.
- It’s personal. When you book ad space in a magazine, you have a vague idea of who the people that read the magazine are and what they’re like. But it’s still a lot less personal than tailoring an email to someone who checked out a particular pair of shoes and letting them know that their exact size is back in stock.
How to advertise your eCommerce website
There are almost as many different ways to market your eCommerce site as there are websites online.
However, there are some best practices that every eCommerce marketing strategy should stick to. When you’re trying to grow your online store, run campaigns that are:
- Easily measured. Make sure your advertising activities can be tracked and measured easily. For example, if you’re creating content, you need to measure how your keywords are performing and where you’re showing up in search engines.
- Targeted. In digital marketing, targeting the right people saves you time and money. It also makes your campaigns more effective from the start. If most of your potential customers find you through Facebook ads, your social media campaigns won’t gain much momentum. Also, steer away from marketing strategies that are ‘one-size-fits-all.’
- Visually beautiful. eCommerce is a highly visual business, and product photography can make or break a sale. People need to see what they’re buying, and they need to be wowed.
- On-budget. You probably want to keep an eye on the costs as well. Generally, you should aim to fit your eCommerce marketing strategies within your budget, not the other way around. For example, buying ad space on Facebook or Instagram can be quite expensive. If you don’t want to deal with high up-front costs, it might be worth looking at a content or email marketing strategy to gain momentum first.
1. Take upselling seriously
Upselling happens everywhere.
Have you ever bought a cosmetics bundle rather than just buying the shower gel you needed, because the deal was simply too good to pass up? After all, you also got a moisturizer and an eye mask ‘for free.’
Whether you’re supersizing a fast-food order or opting to buy a package deal rather than just the one item on your shopping list, the purpose of upselling is to try and sell more to the customer in one order.
In your online store, you could offer upgrade options at the checkout. A computing and electronics store could offer the possibility to upgrade the selected product to a better one for cheaper, or add insurance, for example.
The customer gets a small discount as a reward for spending more money and you get a bit of extra revenue in your pocket – now that’s a marketing plan.
Another way to upsell in eCommerce is to give your customers ‘free shipping over $XX‘ deals. Offer your customers the convenience of waived shipping fees and you’ll be able to get bigger orders in.
Recommended for: All eCommerce companies in all industries.
2. Harness the power of YouTube
A person putting together proper eCommerce marketing campaign should think long and hard about the most popular form of content right now – video.
A good video content marketing plan will help your eCommerce business to dominate Youtube and build brand awareness.
Why not make use of the immense power of Youtube and record answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by your customers? Thought-out video content can get you highly relevant traffic for a much lower price than paid search engine or social media marketing campaigns.
You could also show your customers the behind-the-scenes of your eCommerce business. Or, make it fun and involve your customers in your content.
Why not challenge them to share the ways they use your product and reward the most creative approach?
Recommended for: Retail and consultancy businesses, as well as personal brands.
3. Create shoppable Instagram posts
Hailed as one of the best social media platforms for eCommerce, Instagram boasts over 500 million active users. Even with the narrowest of niches, you should be able to find people interested in your online store.
Social media marketing allows you to talk to your target audience from the perspective of a friend. And since Instagram is a highly visual platform, it’s one of the best marketing channels for an eCommerce shop – you can grab consumers’ attention with your videos and photos.
You can put your eye for photography to good use: one of the best practices is to create a business account. You can also pay for advertising space too, use the right hashtags, master the right times to post, and don’t forget to engage with your followers.
But the real novelty is shoppable content, where posts have direct links to the pages of all the products shown in your post. You can suggest different product combinations that work well together, for example.
Shoppable content makes it easy and convenient for customers to act on impulse.
And don’t forget – the influencer game on Instagram is strong, so you should easily be able to find an Instagrammer whom you could pay for running shoppable posts on your behalf.
Striking a deal with a popular online figure in your niche could mean new loyal customers and plenty of orders – the holy grail of eCommerce marketing.
Recommended for: Retail, fashion, electronics, and B2C businesses.
4. Offer a flawless mobile experience
Over half of internet users browse on mobile. Google search results are ranked based on how good the mobile experience of the website or online store is.
Do we need to say more?
Optimizing your eCommerce store for smaller screens should be a top priority for all eCommerce companies.
If a visitor has to zoom in and out, or deal with tiny text or huge images, they won’t stay on your website for too long and certainly not long enough to place an order. It’s just not a pleasant shopping experience.
Don’t lose those sales and optimize your eCommerce store instead. Better yet, run your online shop on a platform that does it automatically for you (e.g. Zyro).
Recommended for: Each and every eCommerce business.
5. Show cart abandoners some love
People like to browse in an eCommerce shop and place items in their shopping cart. Who doesn’t? But when it comes to purchasing, anywhere between 60-80% of users don’t go through with it.
Maybe it’s the lack of time, maybe the order process is too complicated, or maybe it’s the fact they have to create an account first.
Whatever it might be, you might be leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table if you disregard abandoners.
Make sure to remind customers that they liked some products in your shop. And if you can get half of them to open your email to finalize their purchase?
You’ll get happy customers, more sales for you, and a new tactic for your eCommerce marketing plan.
Recommended for: Retail, fashion, and electronics businesses, and dropshippers too.
6. Set up a loyalty program
Another marketing no-brainer is setting up a customer loyalty program and rewarding those who regularly shop at your online store.
You can either charge a small fee for membership and run exclusive loyalty program campaigns and offers geared at highly committed customers.
Or, you could enroll everyone who’s ever made a purchase in your program and give them a gift card for every set number of purchases, for example.
This is just an example and pretty much anything goes when you have a loyalty program running as part of your eCommerce marketing strategy.
Think about the best types of loyalty stamp cards and programs you’ve seen around, and put your own spin on it. You can promote your loyalty program across many marketing channels too to get the maximum number of customers to join the fun.
Recommended for: Retail, fashion, and food businesses.
7. Get users buzzing
If you aren’t doing it already, you should feature customer testimonials prominently in your eCommerce shop.
Why? Because it’s the best way to build trust with your visitors before they’ve even added anything to their carts.
Testimonials are a powerful tool to use in your marketing repertoire: they help to confirm the legitimacy and expertise of your business.
A way to get your first testimonials is to reach out to customers after their orders have reached them and ask for their honest feedback. You could also go through search engines and see whether your product is being talked about online.
Take negative feedback seriously too; work on the drawbacks of your products and services.
Recommended for: Retail, fashion, B2C, and consultancy businesses.
8. Grow organic results with a blog
Almost all niches can be blogged about.
Running a blog alongside your store is a fail-proof way to share your insights. After all, you’re the expert, right?
For example, if you run an online sports shop, you can write blog posts about anything from the latest workout trends to the best meal prep plans.
Maybe you can even interview other experts in the field. Or, focus on doing in-depth reviews or guides on how to use a particular product.
Blogging is one of the eCommerce marketing tactics that gets overlooked a lot. It requires a lot of work not just in terms of content planning, but in terms of SEO too.
When it comes to search engines, you have to think about search intent and keywords. The better you think both of those things out, the better your blog will rank on Google.
Comb through your content and make sure you’re using the right keywords in the right places. Don’t forget the alternative text for all of your product photos.
And remember to check that your copy reads well: it’s not too repetitive, doesn’t use complex phrases, and flows nicely too.
Learning to write for both humans and machines can have a real impact on your overall sales and truly boost your eCommerce marketing efforts.
Recommended for: Consultancy, SaaS, and retail businesses.
9. Supersize your newsletter list
It might be one of the oldest tools in the digital marketers’ kit, but email marketing remains a stable and well-performing marketing avenue to many businesses.
If you want to execute email marketing campaigns well, you’ll need enough people interested in hearing from you.
You want to be careful in collecting your email addresses, however: the more transparently the visitor or customer has agreed to hear from you, the better your open rate and click-through rates will be.
Make a push to feature your newsletter across your store and get creative when looking for new subscribers.
Do you know how almost all websites have the box for joining their mailing list at the very bottom of their page or even in the footer itself?
Don’t be them. Instead, experiment with pop-ups and more creative placing. Including a newsletter subscription field in a blog post can help to get a hold of a quality email address or two for your email list.
Most people want to hear more about your products while reading content they’re interested in, not when they’re trying to figure out what your shipping policy is.
To seal the deal, offer them something they can’t resist. It could be an eBook or a template (a how-to-guide, a case study, or a list, for example), or even a downloadable print resource. It could also be a 15% off their next order or free shipping.
Recommended for: All businesses that publish new content regularly.
10. Perfect your marketing emails
Here’s the deal: while emails are a great way to market your business, you have to make them interesting or they’ll just get buried among other promotional material.
If you’re not getting the open or click rates you’re hoping for, something could be wrong with your eCommerce marketing efforts.
Examine your email template critically and ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have an attention-grabbing subject line?
- Is my overall message clear and easy to understand?
- What do my email templates look like on mobile?
- Is my ‘call to action’ strong and visible enough?
- What times and days of the week am I sending my emails?
- Are my emails being flagged up as spam? If so, why?
Vet your email list from time to time and check the bounce rates. Getting rid of a bad email address can boost your reputation with the main email providers.
Recommended for: Absolutely all eCommerce businesses.
11. Own the Facebook feed/shop
Many different eCommerce marketing strategies can be executed on Facebook; it’s an industry that’s worth billions of dollars.
You can organically grow your following by posting regularly. There are many different types of posts that you can do, including static ones, carousels, polls, and so on.
However, you should think about the time commitment, because you need to post interesting and fresh content regularly.
You can also run paid advertising campaigns or integrate your eCommerce shop with Facebook. An integrated shop will be able to display listings on Facebook, link people directly to your shop, and buy effortlessly.
Running paid social media marketing campaigns is quite easy, but can be expensive. You might take a few months to get your target audience right too. Only somewhat advanced social media users should proceed with paid ad experiments.
Finally, you can always get other popular pages to give your business or brand a shout-out. Of course, this will cost your eCommerce business some money, but the return is usually worth it.
Marketing channels like Facebook are a great place to get up close and personal with your existing and potential customers since social media is based on interaction.
Recommended for: Retail, fashion, electronics, and B2C businesses.
12. Get interactive with your customer base
Feel the pulse of your customers with a live chat.
You will be able to have a more direct connection with your customers if you set up the Live Chat function on your website. Answer their questions, have a casual chat, or advise them on sizing.
Make it clear that you’re there for your customers and are happy to answer any questions they might have. Solve problems, like issues with shipping or faulty products, that could otherwise escalate if left unattended.
While it’s handy to have a written FAQ for the most common queries, nothing beats the personal touch that a live chat feature offers.
Just ask for the customer’s email address at the start of the conversation so both you and the customer can have a record of the conversation.
Recommended for: Retail, consultancy, electronics, and SaaS businesses.
13. Follow up on purchases
Nothing makes a shopping experience more personal than receiving an email checking how you’re getting on.
You could thank the customer for their business, offer them useful tips on how to get the most out of their purchase, or maybe entice them to order again with a free shipping voucher.
A follow up email list is easy to set up in most CRMs and, as long as you don’t overcomplicate the message itself, it can work a treat in getting a customer to return to your store.
Recommended for: All eCommerce businesses.
14. Smoothen the shopping flow
Although the way your eCommerce store is set up and categorized in a way that makes absolute sense to you, that might not be the case for others.
Take a critical look at your user journey from the moment visitors land on your store to the final order confirmation page. List anything that your mum would ask you to help her with.
If you’re using a tech-savvy platform to power your eCommerce store, you could make use of mapping tools to check where people spend the most time and what they aren’t interested in.
Think about these things:
- Do the landing pages make the visitor intrigued to continue browsing on my site? Or do they look bland and uninteresting?
- Are there too many steps between clicking on Add to cart and the order confirmation page? Does this result in many abandoned carts?
- Does my product categorization make sense? Could I make it clearer and simpler?
- Are my product pages focusing on the benefits of the product, rather than its features? Is it clear to the visitor how my product solves a customer’s issue?
Recommended for: All eCommerce businesses.
15. Personalize the shopping experience
A really powerful tool of eCommerce marketing is personalization. The real beauty of it is that you can get close up and personal with the consumer, serving both your and their needs.
It’s a beautiful symbiosis.
If they’ve got a wishlist for summer holiday clothes, you could send them tailored offers for your new swimsuit collection. Alternatively, suggest items based on their past shopping behavior.
You can also use visitors’ locations and ages to personalize your services. Consider featuring trending products in their area or highlight what others in their age group are buying at the moment.
And don’t forget to address them with their name when you send them an email. People love that.
Recommended for: Retail, SaaS, and fashion businesses.
16. Launch a podcast
Content marketing isn’t just written words.
Get creative and share some behind the scenes insights with your customers. Set up your own podcast and talk about the hot topics in your field with other experts every week or month.
Podcasts are also an excellent opportunity to tell your clients about the history of your product/service, your business, as well as the values that you stand behind.
Combine your podcasts with a solid email marketing or content marketing strategy, and you’re on the fast lane towards content marketing success.
Recommended for: Personal brands, SaaS, and B2B businesses.
17. Run an affiliate program
It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Affiliate marketing is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals.
You let other people (your affiliates) in your niche run email or content marketing campaigns. They market your products, with links to your online store.
So, for example, a gardening blog might publish an affiliate blog post about the season’s top gardening equipment and feature links to your products as part of the post.
If a visitor lands on your eCommerce website through an affiliate link, you reward the affiliate’s marketing efforts with a commission.
To get started, think of a bunch of good campaign ideas for your eCommerce shop.
Different things work for different affiliates. So understanding your affiliates’ eCommerce strategies will make it easier for you to plan your affiliate campaigns.
While a pretty banner might do the trick in an email campaign, you might need to provide more in-depth descriptions or briefs of your products to a blogger.
If you want to try affiliate marketing out, you absolutely must understand how to set up and monitor your links. Otherwise, you’ll upset both yourself and your affiliates.
Why? Because a poorly set up link infrastructure can affect your conversion numbers and the final commission amounts you pay to your affiliate partners.
Do some research on how Facebook pixels and tracking links work and always test that your setup works before giving the affiliate the green light.
You want to avoid being in a situation where your affiliate is asking for payment for sales leads you can’t see in your tracking system.
Recommended for: SaaS, retail, and B2C businesses.
18. Know the product trends
The early bird gets the worm in the world of eCommerce marketing: if you’re good at predicting trends, you can cash in on the newest products as they emerge.
Being on top of your market and potential new trends is particularly useful when your market is not too big and you have an in-depth understanding of it.
If you’re an online shoe retailer, you might notice that particular brands or styles are starting to gain popularity in search traffic and maybe in the most popular fashion magazines and blogs. Seasonality and festive periods can also affect bigger markets, but let you experiment with fresh marketing tactics.
Stocking up on the right shoes at the right time makes your eCommerce store stand out. And you’ll beat the competitors who might not have enough stock or the right kind of products.
Recommended for: Retail, dropshipping, and fashion businesses.
19. Optimize for marketplaces
Do you specialize in handmade products or dropshipping, and sell primarily through marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy?
If you want more sales, you should optimize your marketplace presence. Spend some time to understand how the site works and which keywords are getting the most searches in your target market.
Once you know what people are searching for, consider including these keywords on your product pages. This helps your product to show up on top of the search results.
Also, actively ask for reviews on the platform since marketplaces usually allow the users to rank the search results based on user reviews.
Recommended for: Dropshippers and craft stores.
20. Make lots of connections
Don’t be a lone wolf: having a network can help your eCommerce marketing efforts.
Consider partnering up with bloggers and offer them a chance to do guest posts in your blog. Chances are they’ll return the favor.
And, if you have a good standing with your competitors, they might even name-drop your eCommerce shop if they know your product better suits the customer’s needs.
Building a name for yourself within your network can result in great brand exposure – for free.
Don’t forget to attend different networking events and conferences in your field either. You’ll learn a lot about your field and can try out some brand new marketing tips in your next marketing campaign.
That’s not to mention all the likeminded people you can mingle with and add to your professional network.
Recommended for: Start-ups of any industry or niche.
Put your eCommerce marketing tactics to use
As you now know, a marketing strategy for eCommerce can be done in many different ways and for many different budgets.
Monitoring your online shop regularly and looking at ways to optimize the user experience are the keys to your brand’s success.
Seemingly small changes, such as the size of a call-to-action button or simplifying the site structure, help to make your offers more prominent for the visitor.
Combining on-page marketing strategies with an email marketing campaign, a social media post, or a blog post can have surprising effects on your overall sales.
Plus, your shop and product will gain brand awareness once the word of your awesomeness goes around.
As digital marketing genius Neil Patel put it: ‘you can’t just place a few Buy buttons on your website and expect your visitors to buy’.
Think about how you can show your customers that your online store can help them solve their problems and add value to their day-to-day life.
The end goal of an eCommerce marketing plan is to increase your sales activities, sure. But you should always execute your campaigns with your clients in mind.