Ecommerce is a fast-growing industry worldwide. With so many tools and platforms at your disposal, it’s easy for anyone to start an online store today.
Despite this, it’s a challenging market with a lot of competition where the right ecommerce marketing strategy can set you up for success.
The stakes are high in the ecommerce industry, especially when you’re competing with giants such as Amazon or Walmart, the top two largest retailers in the US.
Projections show that retail ecommerce sales worldwide will hit $4.2 trillion in 2020, so there’s no better time than now to start working on a powerful ecommerce marketing strategy.
Ecommerce marketing and digital marketing need to work hand in hand so your business will benefit from all the exposure it can get.
When it comes to choosing ecommerce digital marketing strategies, there’s no such thing as one size fits all. Everything depends on the business context, industry, what you sell, and the audience you’re targeting.
Let’s take it one step at a time.
What Is Ecommerce Marketing?
Ecommerce marketing is the process of using different tactics and strategies to drive traffic to your online store, convert that traffic into paying customers, and turn those customers into loyal ones.
With a solid plan, you’ll be able to build brand awareness, attract more traffic to your site, drive customer loyalty, and keep your business flourishing by increasing sales.
Although every ecommerce business is different, there are a few essential ecommerce marketing ideas that are universal and can be included in your marketing plan.
Let’s go over them.
9 Pillars of Building a Solid Ecommerce Marketing Strategy in 2021
1. Social Media Marketing
What’s your first instinct when a friend tells you about a new brand they discovered? You either search it on Google or social media or ask the friend for a link to their website/social media profile.
Millions of people are using social media, making sense for this medium to be a part of your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Here is what you should focus on when it comes to social media marketing:
Social media advertising
Just think of how dynamic your feed actually is. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have been continuously improving the way they’re displaying ads.
You’re constantly seeing eye-catching Facebook or Instagram carousel ads while scrolling on your feed, or even stumbling upon an ad while looking at your friends’ stories.
These are paid ads, a critical component of your ecommerce digital marketing strategy.
Like Google Ads, you create an ad, set a budget, and pay a fee for every click (or the number of impressions) the ad receives. As long as you manage to catch your audience’s attention with a powerful visual, and a well-written text, people will click on your ad.
Social media commerce
Here is where things get interesting and actionable.
With all the emphasis on images and videos, social media is where your audience can engage with your brand.
It’s the ideal solution for ecommerce businesses because you can benefit from all the features social media offers by making your business profiles shoppable.
With 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is the place to be if you run an online store.
To get the most out of your Instagram profile, use compelling, professional photos, post them strategically, and use hashtags to make it easier for followers or customers to mention you. You’ll build your community organically and get your future ads to be truly noticed.
You can do ads on Instagram, but the platform’s beauty is that it has a shoppable feature that allows you to tag up to five products in single image/video posts, or up to 20 products in multi-image/video posts.
When a user taps the photo, they’ll see the price of the products, and they can go even further and click again on the price of the product they want to purchase it.
Here’s an example:
You can do something similar on Facebook and Pinterest.
As a Facebook user, you’ve surely seen shoppable content in various ads while scrolling through your feed or looking at your friends’ stories.
Additionally, you can start a Facebook Shops page, where you can make it look more like your own site.
Facebook Shops was launched in May 2020, in the context of the global pandemic, to help small businesses survive, therefore adding one more option to your strategy.
This feature allows businesses to set up an online store accessible to customers directly from Facebook, which can be customized with a cover image and colors related to their brand.
You’ll know when a photo or video from your feed can take you to a brand’s Facebook Shop page because they’ll have a shopping bag icon on them and white, clickable dots. Once you click on either of them, you’ll see the products’ prices, and you can go further and shop.
This way, customers can check your products directly on Facebook without being redirected to a website.
To learn more about this ecommerce digital marketing strategy, check out this in-depth, step-by-step tutorial on setting up a Facebook Shop page.
According to an eMarketer study, on Pinterest, almost half of the users visit the platform to shop. And it’s perfectly understandable.
You’re searching for inspiration that fits your style, and Pinterest offers you so much more—outfit ideas, home decor inspiration, or DIY content.
Pinterest also allows you to create collections. When you find a collection Pin with a search icon on the bottom right, you can click on it. White dots will appear on the screen, and now you’re able to click on them and shop for similar products.
Looking at the way Pinterest is growing, it’s a must for any ecommerce digital marketing plan.
Thanks to social media, online retailers can think about marketing an online shop and not be clueless. There are so many different opportunities to make your brand stand out, whether we’re talking about driving brand awareness, more website traffic, or increasing conversions.
If this isn’t online retail marketing at its finest, I don’t know what is.
2. A/B Testing
It would be simple to know from the start what kind of visual or CTA will determine people to click on your ad to find out more about a product, but the process can be a bit more complex than that. Audiences can behave differently than you expect.
So, rather than just guessing what works, you can do an A/B test and actually see what performs best and what doesn’t.
For A/B tests, you need to create at least two different versions of the same ad, while changing a single element. It can be the copy, the CTA button, the product image, or the description.
Then, you’ll showcase the versions of the ad to different audiences to see which one performs better. Keep in mind that your target groups should be similar in size so that you can have a relevant conclusion after analyzing the results.
Let your campaign run for at least a week to gather enough relevant data.
This method is a great way to see what works for your marketing campaigns and where you should shift your focus in the future.
The only problem here is that you’ll need to create twice as many ads whenever you want to run an A/B test and that can take a lot of time.
Here’s where creative automation does its magic, allowing marketers and advertisers to reduce repetitive tasks and scale campaigns faster.
Let me show you how you can improve your production workflow with Creatopy’s Feed Ad Builder.
What is the Feed Ad Builder?
The Feed Ad Builder is an automation tool that allows you to generate multiple design variations based on a CSV file.
This feature makes your job easier in setting up A/B testing campaigns. All you have to do is create a CSV file with each visual’s details, including the differences you want to test, then upload it in Creatopy and generate different iterations at once. You can even build an entire HTML5 ads campaign using this feature without having any coding skills.
Here’s a quick guide on how straightforward this process is.
How the Feed Ad Builder Works in Creatopy
Step 1: Create your design
In Creatopy, you have the option to pick one of our templates or start from scratch. Either way, you can edit your visuals as you wish and get the desired result.
There’s also the possibility to choose a design set template from the ecommerce, fashion, real estate, and automotive categories, which is already compatible with the Feed Ad Builder.
Step 2: Create your CSV file
You need to create a CSV file with all the details you want to feed into your designs, such as headlines, price, CTA, product image, etc. Keep in mind that the fields in the CSV file need to match your design elements.
If you want to learn how to create your CSV file, take a look at this help article.
Step 3: Upload the CSV file
Once you finish your design, go to the Feed Ad Builder from the left-hand menu, then click on Select Feed and upload your CSV file.
Step 4: Select the bindings
After uploading your file, you’ll see a selection of bindings.
A binding is a connection between a design element and a column from the data feed source (your CSV file). Each binding has the name of a design element, so it’s easy to select the elements from their dropdown menu and place them on your design.
After you finish setting up these elements, you can preview the rest of the CSV rows using the Row Preview found at the bottom of the left-hand menu.
Step 5: Download your work
If you have at least one active binding, you have two options for downloading your work: Current row preview or Select rows from value X to value Y, which allows you to bulk download the designs.
3. Content Marketing
The entire internet is made out of content, from GIFs to YouTube videos, social media posts, or blog articles.
The thing is, if you want to market your brand on the internet, you need content.
Content marketing refers to any kind of material—written or visual—created to help, inform, entertain, or educate your target audience, either about the products you’re selling or related topics.
Content marketing can be extremely effective if you do a mix of written and visual content.
Here are three content marketing ideas you can use:
- Blog articles
With blogging, you can have a good jumpstart into your ecommerce digital marketing strategy. It will not only benefit you from an SEO point of view, but you can also use the written content to educate your audience.
Let’s say someone is looking for a guide on how to grow and care for a beard. They’re browsing on the internet using simple how-to phrases, and find this blog post:
Even if the reader never heard of your brand, they got there through the keywords that connected the search with Google’s results.
Throughout the article, you can insert links and send the reader to your brand’s product pages, just like you’ll see in this blog post.
At the end of the article, you can use a call to action (CTA), which can be a simple question, an invitation to see your product page or a quiz, like Beardbrand did in this blog post:
- Buying guides
These types of guides are essential to convince more people to buy from you.
Depending on the products you’re selling, you’ll want to include as many details as possible so potential customers can easily imagine how the products feel and look like.
ASOS is an excellent example of a brand that understands the importance of buying guides and has a comprehensive section for this on their site.
- Video content
YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google, with 2 billion monthly active users as of May 2019. So, it’s worth putting extra effort into creating video content on this platform.
Videos can teach the customers more about your products, and they’re more engaging than simple text.
You can create tutorials, how-to videos, or product videos. Moreover, any blog post you have can be repurposed into a YouTube video, and vice-versa.
For example, in the blog post we discussed previously about growing a beard, there was a section about how to trim your neckline at home. That section was repurposed into a video format:
4. Search Engine Marketing
This is where ecommerce and digital marketing meet as well.
Search engine marketing (SEM) includes search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising.
Through SEO, you can generate organic traffic, while SEM, on the other hand, will bring you traffic through different paid campaigns.
This takes us to Google Ads, the most popular PPC advertising system in the world, which enables businesses to create ads that will be displayed not only in Google’s top search results but on other Google properties as well.
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns
Among the most common ecommerce marketing practices there is PPC, where you need to pay each time someone clicks on your ad.
One of the most popular forms of PPC is search engine advertising, which allows you to bid for an ad placement in the search engine sponsored links section.
Each time someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website, you’ll have to pay a small fee.
To put it simply, you bid on keywords, and every time someone searches something based on those keywords, Google may choose to show your ad in the top search results.
Display ad campaigns
Very popular for ecommerce digital marketing strategy, display ads can be seen across various websites, apps, and mobile games.
A display ad is more like a banner on a website, and it can feature a product image, brand, and call-to-action (CTA).
The advertiser’s choice is whether the banner ad will be static or dynamic, but regardless of the format, the ad is still taking the user on a dedicated landing page whenever they click on it.
Display advertising comes with very beneficial perks, one of the most important ones being increased brand awareness.
With display ads, you can reach audiences across multiple platforms and devices. Google Display Network alone will reach over 90% of internet users. This means display advertising is key to helping you get your message across to thousands of potential customers.
Google helps you personalize your ads by targeting people contextually and demographically. All you have to do is mention the websites where you want your ads to be showcased. Targeting ads also works demographically based on people’s interests or location.
If done creatively, display ads help you show a little piece of your brand to the internet users. And because they allow you to try different formats, you can opt for interactive elements, short videos, or very colorful and eye-catching images.
Hello, display ad while minding my reading.
Showcase shopping ads
This is among some of the best ecommerce marketing strategies out there.
Showcase Shopping Ads is a great way to help potential customers discover your brand because these ads will display products at the top of the SERP, above the paid search ads, after someone types in a general term, such as sneakers.
This is what makes them different from product shopping ads. The user doesn’t have to type in the brand’s name for Google to show these results.
With these ads, you can feature products and prices directly in the SERP and make the best of ecommerce and digital marketing. When someone clicks on the ad, it will expand and show off a catalog of the most relevant products to the search term they used.
The first click on a showcase shopping ad is free. The advertiser will pay only if the user expands the catalog and then goes to the landing page.
This method is beneficial because even if the user did not purchase on the spot, they would know about your brand that appeared in the top search results.
Therefore, it’s among the best ecommerce marketing ideas to consider if you want to build brand awareness.
Retargeting is an online advertising method of displaying your ads to people who already interacted with your website or app.
This allows advertisers to bring back potential customers that left the site without converting.
If a customer was almost ready to purchase a product but abandoned the shopping cart, you can use retargeting ads and show them that specific product again. This increases the likelihood of boosting conversions.
Moreover, retargeting ads perform better than standard display ads because you’re showing the ads to users that manifested interest in your product before. The average click-through rate (CTR) for display ads is 0.07%, while for retargeted ads is about 0.7%, so 70% more chances.
This should convince you to include retargeting into your ecommerce marketing plan.
Besides retargeting in search and display channels, you can use retargeting for email marketing and social media platforms.
If you have the email addresses of potential customers, you can create a list and upload it into a customer relationship management platform and start a personalized retargeting campaign.
This list can also be used for a custom audiences list on social networks.
For example, I visited ABOUT YOU a few days ago without buying anything, and now they showed me an ad with a product I viewed.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing is another highly essential component. If you are not convinced, maybe the fact that, as of 2019, there are 3.9 billion active email users will.
The best thing about email marketing is that it’s a process that can be automated while increasing your chances of making more sales.
However, you need to be careful not to turn into a spammer. There is a time and place for everything, and so it’s for emails.
Here are a few ideas you can use:
- Send newsletters
The users that subscribed to your newsletter want to know more about upcoming products, discounts, offers, or product tips.
This makes a good ecommerce marketing plan because you can use the newsletter to alert subscribers when they can benefit from promo codes or gifts.
Just like Fitbit did for Father’s Day:
- Send wishlist reminder emails
The wishlist reminder email is similar to the abandoned cart email.
They’re meant to convince shoppers to take the final step in purchasing the products that they’re interested in.
Some people add products on their wishlist for later when their prices will drop, but forget to come back or don’t check it regularly to see if the products are finally on sale. Send them an email once their favorite items are on sale as a reminder.
Missguided has a sassy strategy:
- The abandoned shopping cart
More than 60% of carts are abandoned, which means you’re losing potential customers whenever this happens.
The good news is that you can remind them about their cart and convince them to place the order, making this one of the best strategies out there. This can draw the line between a lost sale and a completed purchase.
Here’s an example of a creative email that’s hard to resist:
7. Influencer Marketing
Step up your tactics and reach out to an influencer to promote your brand. You don’t even have to shoot really high and ask an influencer with millions of followers to help you.
A micro-influencer with a built community in your targeted audience can be just as effective.
Besides, working with a micro-influencer makes you more trustworthy and is also cost-effective. Some may ask for money, and others will be happy with free products.
Glossier’s Instagram page features quite a lot of content posted by micro-influencers.
8. Focus on the customer
Involving current customers into your online store marketing is a smart way to approach ecommerce and digital marketing.
Here are a few ideas that you can put into practice:
User-generated content (UGC) can be in the form of any content like articles, videos, or social media posts, and it’s created by people and not brands.
Whenever you share content created by others about your brand, make sure you always credit the person behind it.
Below you have such an example, where burtsbees featured Deepika’s opinion after using their makeup products:
A loyal customer means a happy customer, which increases your chances of being referred to other people. Think about starting loyalty programs, and pay off your customers through exclusive offers, discounts, or bonus points.
They will show appreciation in return, which for an ecommerce business can mean repeat purchases, word of mouth marketing, mentions on social media, or increased brand awareness.
Sephora has a killer loyalty program, called Sephora Beauty Insider:
Customer reviews are the best way to gain potential customers’ trust and turn your online store marketing into a powerful tool. Reviews come from people who already tried your products and want to help others by giving their honest feedback.
A promising sign of appreciation from your part is to accept their reviews and showcase them across your website or social media profiles.
On Allbirds’, site you’ll find descriptions and photos of each product they have, plus a lot of reviews from their previous clients to help their future ones make a purchasing decision.
Customers appreciate timely responses, which is why having a customer service team that can handle requests fast is essential.
Sometimes people want to know more about a particular product, or they’re having issues navigating the site or checking out. This is where a live chat can come in handy and help you turn a visitor into a customer.
Here is one example from Lush:
According to an Epsilon study, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that cares about user personalization.
This proves that personalization is an efficient way to drive online sales, and you can implement this strategy by following your customers’ behavioral data, preferences, and previous purchases.
Personalization works according to location, too. Just think about the different climates from different countries and the various purchase suggestions you can make.
Timber uses these personalized suggestions after you viewed a product:
9. Consider the user experience
Responsive design should never be omitted, and it has to accompany and sustain the other strategies you’re working on.
This means you’ll have to create your website to be viewable from various devices.
People don’t want to waste their time searching a lot for something on a website. Make it as intuitive as possible.
Like we mentioned previously, users don’t have the time to search through an unresponsive site. Moreover, they really don’t have the time to wait for a page to load.
A page’s load time directly impacts the bounce rate. See for yourself:
Easy checkout process
If you don’t want to lose your customers at checkout, give them enough reasons to trust you with the purchase.
Tell them about the simple return policy, about the guarantee they’ll get the money back, and the shipping costs—everything before they type in all the credit card information.
At Zara, for example, there are three easy checkout steps in the process:
Before Planning Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy
After reading all these different strategies, you may have an idea of what you need to do next. However, there are a few things to consider before starting to work on your strategy:
Know your audience
This means focusing on your existing audience and building a few different personas that you’d like to attract in the future.
Try to create a profile that’s as detailed as possible, starting with age, gender, hobbies, interests, location, and salary.
And don’t forget: after winning a customer, continue delighting them, and in return, you’ll get loyalty and new leads through them.
This will bring you lots of support, sales, and, ultimately, an extensive loyal customer base.
Set specific goals
Think about where you are and where you want to be, whether it’s one month or one year from now.
When you define your goals, think about website traffic, abandonment cart rates, conversion rates, retention, and customer acquisition costs. Set specific goals regarding all these, and you’ll have a clear direction of where you’re headed.
Then, you’ll be able to create a solid strategy accordingly.
Turn your ideas into actionable steps
After breaking down your goals, you’ll most likely know what types of strategies to use first. Focus on a few of them, test them, and see which worked best for you. If you try all of them, it will be difficult to follow their performance.
So, choose a few, start creating actionable strategies, and analyze the results.
There are many ecommerce strategies you can implement to grow your business. The essential thing is to try the ones you think they fit best and constantly check their performance and effectiveness.
Test the new ways, bring more customers and never forget about your existing ones.
Have you already tested some of them? If not, which strategy are you considering?