Table of Contents
- What is E-Commerce?
- What is E-Commerce Marketing?
- Types of E-Commerce Marketing
- E-Commerce Marketing Challenges
- Strategies, Tips and Best Practices for E-Commerce Marketing
- Developing an E-Commerce Marketing Strategy
- Final Thoughts
After the World Wide Web became publicly available in 1993, opportunity flourished for retailers to sell online. Over the past few decades, online shopping has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry. Today, there are over 2 billion digital shoppers throughout the globe.
The convenience, security, and experience associated with online shopping have improved tenfold since the inception of e-commerce. In this guide, we’ll explore the world of e-commerce marketing and online shopping, and discuss the ways you can improve the digital customer experience for your online store.
What is E-Commerce?
Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, involves the buying and selling of products and services online. Modern users browse the e-commerce market and participate in activities like online bill pay, Amazon purchasing, and Netflix streaming on a daily basis.
There are many types of e-commerce ranging from business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), consumer to business (C2B), and even consumer to consumer (C2C) models. Each form of e-commerce has its own benefits and challenges, but at its core e-commerce is about one thing – value.
As an online retailer or service provider, you can derive maximum value from your e-commerce activities through well-planned and well-executed e-commerce marketing.
What is E-Commerce Marketing?
E-commerce marketing is the process of driving awareness and traffic to an online store and converting website visitors into loyal customers. When done correctly, e-commerce advertising and marketing can help online retailers and service providers realize considerable ROI and reach business goals.
Types of E-Commerce Marketing
E-commerce marketers can leverage a number of advertising channels including web, social, email, and search to attract visitors and guide purchasing decisions. Below, we outline the most lucrative marketing channels and how you can use them to attract buyers to your online store:
1. Content Marketing
The most basic form of inbound marketing, content marketing, helps generate leads, build your brand, and drive more customers to your e-commerce website. Through the use of written articles, visual, and video content, online businesses can prove value to their customers and appeal to customer needs through personalized online experiences. The key is to engage users and build trust so that your customers come back again to make repeat purchases. Be sure to leverage customer data and understand your target audience when creating web content.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social buying is on the rise. Smart e-commerce marketers are leveraging social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to advertise products, gain customer feedback, and even sell products in-app. Research shows that 43% of shoppers research products on social media prior to making a purchase, and most online shoppers believe that social platforms benefit their purchasing decisions. Further, online retailers with at least one social media account generate an average of 32% more sales than online retailers without social media. Certainly, social media marketing should be a no-brainer for modern e-commerce businesses.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to generate sales for your online store. From abandoned cart emails to intricate and personalized campaigns, email works to build relationships with customers. Think about the way you’re pushing promotions, coupons, and lead nurturing emails. Leverage segmentation and avoid the all-too-passé email blast. Your bottom line will thank you later.
4. Mobile Marketing
Since 2018, mobile traffic has represented the majority of global web traffic. Today, online shoppers are making more purchases via their mobile device than on their PC, and around 51% of all shoppers purchase items using their smartphones. Mobile marketing isn’t just about your app either – it’s about optimizing your e-commerce site for mobile users and connecting SMS, email, and social to your mobile marketing efforts. This level of interconnection is vital in an increasingly mobile-first world.
5. Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is a cross-channel strategy used to drive a unified customer experience across all possible channels and touchpoints including both traditional and digital channels. According to SocialMediaToday, between 2018 and 2020, customers’ preference for omnichannel marketing campaigns increased by 14.8%. Additionally, marketers using three or more channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate and earned a 90% higher customer retention rate than those using a single channel campaign. By leveraging all available marketing channels (including those listed above), marketers can develop an effective omnichannel marketing strategy that drives e-commerce customers to make purchases, whether on mobile, web, or social.
E-Commerce Marketing Challenges
In an age where ease and convenience reign supreme, customer expectations are always growing. E-commerce customers expect a level of personalization and individual treatment that largely surpasses expectations they might have for the traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Additionally, the e-commerce space is saturated with a plethora of choices, which creates a high level of competition that all online businesses must navigate. So what is an online marketer to do? Here’s how to overcome your most pressing e-commerce marketing challenges:
1. Siloed, Muddled, Lost, and Disjointed Data
Data is everywhere and e-commerce marketers are inundated with data that, frankly, they don’t know what to do with. Often, marketers will invest in multiple technologies that serve different purposes and end up siloing data. Ultimately, this creates more work. In order to be successful, e-commerce marketing teams must leverage a single, comprehensive customer data solution that unites data and technology, providing a holistic 360-degree view of available data. Unified data will reveal the clearest picture of your customers and allow your marketing team more time to focus on strategy, content, and creative.
2. Underwhelming Conversion Rates
The age-old pass time of window shopping has evolved into e-commerce browsing for many online consumers. The majority of e-commerce companies focus a considerable amount of spend on attracting traffic to their websites, but they often forget to push toward the end goal: conversions. The average conversion rate for e-commerce sites is just 2.86%, so there’s certainly room for improvement. In order to increase conversions, focus on personalization, omnichannel campaigns, and offering incentives.
3. One-Time Buyers
The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than the cost of retaining an existing customer. So, one-time buyers are a major source of monetary losses. E-commerce marketers must focus on turning first-time buyers into repeat, loyal customers, and make retention a core strategy. Retention campaigns that focus on winning back defecting customers or those with abandoned carts, along with loyalty programs that offer incentives for making multiple purchases, can be of great help.
Strategies, Tips, and Best Practices for E-Commerce Marketing
Marketers can effectively reach audience members, improve brand awareness, and increase online sales through the use of marketing strategies that include the following elements:
1. Leverage E-Commerce Data
If you’re not using data-driven marketing, what are you doing? Data is a fundamental part of advertising and allows online businesses to connect with customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right offering. By taking a data-driven approach to marketing, e-commerce teams can accurately personalize content, target audiences appropriately, and benchmark e-commerce data to improve strategies over time.
2. Personalize the Customer Experience
Personalized offers and content work to improve customer loyalty, increase active customer revenue, and drive customer retention. A good personalization engine will use artificial intelligence to deliver 1:1 product recommendations, purchase predictions, individualized offers, and ensure optimized send times. The ability to reach customers at the right time with the right content allows e-commerce marketers to increase the likelihood of purchase and drive revenue. In fact, when Salling Group leveraged product recommendations and automated audiences in their omnichannel campaigns, the strategy produced 25% revenue growth in just 5 weeks. 1:1 personalized marketing is key.
3. User-Generated Content (UGC) is Your Friend
Your customers are online and they’re talking about you. Whether you realize it or not, this sort of raw, authentic content is extremely valuable in building customer trust and priming interest amongst potential consumers. Use this content to your advantage by leveraging customer reviews, social media posts, and other forms of user-generated content in your e-commerce marketing campaigns. Plus, this type of content is free (just make sure to ask for posting rights first).
4. Develop a Customer Loyalty Program
Loyal customers are your best asset. They add value to and grow your business through word of mouth marketing, social sharing, and more. They even spend 67% more on products and services when compared to new customers. So, why not reward them with a stellar loyalty program? Offer your e-commerce customers a unique, mobile-friendly complement to their online shopping experience with a customer loyalty program. It can be points-based, spend-based, subscription-based, or something different. Whatever it may be, be sure to combine your loyalty program with your current marketing initiatives and customer data insights to truly personalize the online shopping experience and retain your loyal e-commerce buyers.
5. Invest in a Customer Engagement Platform
Customer engagement is arguably the most important aspect of online marketing. A good customer engagement platform will provide insights into your e-commerce customer base and will formulate predictions that you can leverage in your e-commerce marketing strategy to send the right content to your users, in the right place, and at the right time. Well-executed customer engagement campaigns are essential to driving business goals and growth, and customer engagement platforms make these campaigns simple and easy to manage.
Developing an E-Commerce Marketing Strategy
Using the different types of e-commerce marketing coupled with the tips, strategies, and best practices outlined above, e-commerce teams can rest assured they’ll be fully prepared to build a successful marketing strategy for their online business. Follow the steps listed below to get started:
Align Your E-Commerce Strategy with Your Business Goals
Your business goals should be the driving factor behind anything you do. Are you looking to attract more customers? Hit a certain sales quota? Grow your social media following to a particular size? Based on your industry, the size of your business, and other variables, you can determine benchmarking criteria by which to measure your success. There’s a number of resources you can use to gain insight into industry standards, and once you’ve acquired and analyzed these standards, you can see how your business stacks up against the competition. Falling behind in a certain category? Adjust your e-commerce strategy accordingly.
Execute Your Strategy Step-By-Step
You will not gain success if you try to throw every marketing tactic at your audience all at once. Just as batch-and-blast emails don’t work, neither does an overwhelming marketing blitz. Start by testing out a few core strategies that you believe will have the most ROI – a social media marketing campaign targeting key audience members and demographics, a UGC push asking customers to share how they enjoy your cash-cow product, or even a simple email marketing campaign offering personalized incentives would likely do the trick. Once you see success stemming from your initial strategies, work to continually improve those and then test out a few new strategies and see how they go (don’t forget to benchmark!).
Marketing is a cyclical process. It does not stop after you acquire a new customer, or after an existing customer makes a purchase. So keep going. Evaluate and revitalize your e-commerce marketing strategies in order to stay ahead. Everyday, there are new innovations, new trends, and new ideas that can be leveraged to entice and delight customers, both new and existing. Always be on the lookout for the next big idea.
E-commerce business is booming and will only continue to grow as the world becomes more and more connected. Online retailers and service providers have a multitude of channels, strategies, and tactics they can leverage to drive website traffic and conversions and develop a loyal customer base. Remember to personalize your content, focus on retention, and offer a top-notch customer experience – that way, your e-commerce marketing strategy will be unbeatable.