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Ecommerce Marketing 2020: Killer Tips & Strategies

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Whitney Blankenship

Content Marketing Manager

Reading Time: 11 minutes

It’s no secret that ecommerce can be a lucrative venture. In fact, the ecommerce industry is projected to reach nearly 4 trillion in sales this year.

For marketers looking to carve themselves out some of those sales, it’s time to think about strategy–not just for the short-term, but a strategy that will go the distance.

In this piece, we’ll explore the fundamentals of creating an ecommerce marketing strategy built on a solid foundation that’s made to last.

How to Build an Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

Building an effective marketing strategy for ecommerce is paramount to driving customers to your online store.

Despite that importance, nearly 40% of marketers feel their strategies are ineffective. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, ecommerce doesn’t benefit from a lovely storefront to draw in passerbys. Instead, ecommerce marketers need to be proactive at building their strategies.

Every individual marketing strategy will be different, of course. After all, how many ecommerce stores are exactly alike? Creating the perfect ecommerce marketing strategy means finding what makes the brand unique, and playing to its strengths.

For example, Dixxon Flannel used email marketing to create exclusive new product launches that were integral to their success. Puzzle retailer, JIGGY, opted for in-depth storytelling as a key feature of their marketing strategy. International and established brand, INGLOT Cosmetics Canada decided to opt for an omnichannel in-store/online strategy to foster growth in their shopping ecosystem.

Regardless of the brand, products, or customer base, the perfect ecommerce marketing strategy exists. The key to building it is starting with the foundation and building upwards.

4 Types of Ecommerce Marketing

In ecommerce marketing, there are several channels that can be used to create a cohesive strategy. These different types of ecommerce marketing don’t exist in silos, instead, they’re dependent on one another.

These are the 4 best ecommerce marketing channels you can use to build your strategy.

1. Email Marketing

Email marketing is when you send promotional email messages out to subscribers and customers who have given you permission to do so.

There are different ways to use emails for ecommerce marketing. In fact, you can use ecommerce marketing automation to handle several touchpoints of your customers’ purchase journey. Once you put your email capture methods in place, you should start by automating a few different emails:

  • Welcome emails: Emails sent to new newsletter subscribers, account holders, or customers.
  • Sales or discount/promotions: Emails sent to customers notifying them of a sale or promotion you’re running. These kinds of emails can also be used to notify customers of a new product line or back-in-stock items.
  • Abandoned Cart emails: Emails sent when a customer adds products to their cart but doesn’t complete the purchase.
  • Browse Abandonment emails: these messages are typically sent when a known email subscriber browses your site but doesn’t add anything to their carts.
  • Order confirmation emails: these emails go out after a customer has completed the purchase to confirm that it was successful.
  • Shipping notification and tracking emails: these messages are sent to inform a customer that their products have been shipped and typically include tracking information.
  • Post purchase emails: these emails are sent to nurture the customer and bring them back into the purchase cycle.
  • A referral invite email: An email that is sent to invite a customer to join your referral program and can actually pair well with your shipping notification or thank you emails.

While these aren’t all of the ways we can use email for ecommerce marketing, they’re the must-have email campaigns and automation workflows you should set up.

2. Ecommerce Content Marketing

Content marketing is one strategy you can’t neglect when you’re selling online. Everything that you put on your store is content, from your product description and sales banners to product photos. All of this content can be used, reused, and adapted to send to your customers.

Content acts as a support around your brand, and it can take a variety of forms:

  • Articles
  • Visuals
  • Product photos
  • Product description
  • Infographics
  • GIFs
  • Videos

And the list just goes on.

So how do you create a content marketing strategy for ecommerce?

Start from your product and the need you fulfill for your customers and work outwards from there.

Your content always needs to be linked back to your business in some way. For example, if you’re selling women’s fashion apparel, you wouldn’t necessarily write a blog post about going vegan—unless that was part of your brand image. Otherwise, it won’t resonate with your target customer.

Always give your customers the next step with a CTA, otherwise they won’t know where to go. Creating great content can be time-consuming, but it’s ultimately worth it because you know who loves sites that update regularly with fresh content—Google.

Regularly updating your ecommerce site with fresh, search-optimized content helps Google crawl and index your site. If you shoot for the keywords that your customers use when looking for products, it will help your site become more findable—a crucial aspect to ecommerce site marketing.

3. Referral Marketing

Referral marketing for ecommerce is one of the most powerful strategies, as it relies on customer word-of-mouth referrals. 

Have you ever purchased a product and loved the experience so much you told all your friends? That’s the idea behind referral marketing, except you want to actively encourage customers to refer their friends and family. 

When you’re building an ecommerce strategy, leveraging your happy customers to acquire more happy customers is a great way to boost your revenue. After all, it’s easier to trust your friends who have similar interests and tastes as opposed to a brand you may or may not even know. 

Not only can you use referral marketing to acquire new customers, you can use it to retain the happy customers you already have by incentivizing the referral. It can be as simple as offering a discount for your referring customer (or even sweetening the deal with a discount for the referrer and the referee), free shipping, or even a special gift.

Alternatively, if you have a loyalty and rewards program in place, rolling referrals into points rewards for your customers can be just as effective.

4. Instagram Marketing

Ecommerce marketing relies heavily on visuals to help entice customers to purchase. This visual social network relies on gorgeous product photos to pique your customers’ attention. 

When marketing with Instagram, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule: there’s no rule for how often or when, but you should maintain consistency. 
  • Keep a general color scheme: when a customer visits your profile there should be a clear look and feel to your different photos.
instagram ecommerce marketing
  • Use relevant hashtags: Instagram relies on hashtags more than any other social network. Use as many as you like, the more the better. 
  • Put your shop link in your bio: Instagram doesn’t let you put links in your actual posts. Put your link in your bio to drive traffic to your store. 
  • Engage with your comments: When customers comment on your posts, interact with them, laugh at their jokes, and do what you can to engage them.
etsy instagram ecommerce marketing

If done correctly, Instagram marketing for ecommerce can be lucrative. Look at your competitors to see what works best for them, and how they foster engagement. Then apply what they do to your own products. 

Ecommerce marketing can seem like a huge task—it is. However there are tools that can help you along the way. Whether it’s automating tasks, preplanning posts, or just organizing your data, there’s a tool to help with nearly everything.

For Email: Omnisend

omnisend email marketing for ecommerce

With Omnisend, you can automate all your email marketing with easy-to-build workflows that send your email campaigns on autopilot. This means you’ll have no customers slipping through the cracks. Omnisend will earn you money while you sleep. 

Omnisend doesn’t stop at email though—add SMS, push notifications, and Facebook Messenger messages to your workflows. With email capture forms, landing pages, and exit-intent pop-ups, you can start building your email list organically from the traffic your site already earns. 

An email service provider will be crucial to your ecommerce marketing strategy. If you’re going to choose an ESP,  it’s a good idea to choose one that will scale with your store as you grow. Omnisend has a ton of great, ecommerce-focused features that will help your store succeed.

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For Content Marketing: CoSchedule

coschedule- ecommerce-marketing

For content marketing, CoSchedule is a great planning tool. Allowing you to plan tasks across your content team, you can create blog posts directly within the app and test your headlines for clickability. 

It integrates with great writing tools for bloggers, like WordPress, EverNote, and Google Docs, meaning you can upload your content directly to CoSchedule for easy collaboration. But the best part about CoSchedule is that you can share to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and automate your posts well in advance. 

Their best feature is by far ReQueue, which allows you to reshare your evergreen content forever, with customization on how often, when, and where those posts go out. It’s a lifesaver for those who have a lot of different pieces of content to share out. 

For Referral: ReferralCandy

referralcandy for ecommerce marketing

ReferralCandy is a full-suite referral platform built for ecommerce, so it’s perfect for boosting your referral strategy. It automates every aspect of your referral program with total customization so you can create it exactly the way you want. 

ReferralCandy connects directly to your ecommerce platform (including native integration with Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce and more). From there, simply choose the rewards you want to offer. ReferralCandy even provides you with a few ideas to help you get started. ReferralCandy also offers widgets, sign-up forms, and post-purchase pop-ups to encourage referrals. 

For a great referral app, you can’t get better than ReferralCandy. 

For Instagram Marketing: Buffer

buffer for ecommerce marketing

Buffer is a great, simple social media app that allows you to schedule and automate your social posts. While doing this in Instagram is tricky (as Instagram has strict policies against automation), Buffer has found a work around that makes posting easy. 

With Buffer, simply create the post with your selected image and hashtags and schedule it. The Buffer app will then send a notification to your phone reminding you to publish the post, which automatically opens Instagram and pre-populates the post with what you wrote in Buffer. It’s not as simple as scheduling to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, but Instagram scheduling doesn’t get much better than that. 

And for anyone that’s had to add in 15 hashtags on Instagram via mobile, it’s a godsend. 

Buffer is easy to use, visual, and intuitive. While it’s not as powerful as CoSchedule’s social automation, it’s one of the only tools that offers something for Instagram. 

Ecommerce Marketing Tips to Boost Sales

When you’re creating a marketing plan for an ecommerce site launch, there’s a lot of little details to think about along the way. This includes different elements on your ecommerce website that will help support your marketing efforts. Here are a few key tips to help round-out your ecommerce marketing strategy. 

Optimize Product Pages

Product pages make up a good deal of what actually clenches a conversion for ecommerce. The best marketing strategy in the world won’t be able to save you if your product pages are unclear. 

Be sure to have all the key elements to a great product page:

  • Gorgeous product photos from several angles that accurately display the product
  • Clear pricing (including any discounts that might apply)
  • Transparent options for any modifications, sizes, colors, etc,
  • A product description that gives the customer all the information they’d have in-store
  • A bright, visible CTA that makes it easy to add the item to their cart

A well-optimized product page helps you make your ecommerce marketing more effective by streamlining your customer towards their purchase. Be sure to A/B test your product pages regularly to make sure you’re not losing sales. 

Reduce Abandoned Carts

No matter who you are and what you sell, cart abandonment will be an issue to mitigate. It’s no secret: 7 of 10 carts are left abandoned, never to be purchased. 

Luckily, since you already have a great email marketing strategy in place, creating a simple cart abandonment workflow can help you recover those lost sales. 

Use a three-part abandoned cart workflow to pull customers back into your sales funnel and encourage them to complete the sale. Here are some tips to help you nail your abandoned cart messages:

  • Opt for a support tone: “Hey, did you forget something?” Avoid a sales-tone as that can be viewed by some as too aggressive. 
  • Include a product photo: remind your customer why they fell in love in the first place. 
  • Add in some reviews: build trust in your customers with the happy experiences of other customers.
  • Include the price and a CTA back to their cart: make it easy to go right back and purchase.
  • Experiment with other channels: using more immediate channels, like SMS and push notifications, can help convert your customers quicker. 
  • Offer a discount or incentive: try not to put this in the first abandoned cart message. Try to bring them back by focusing on the value if you can. 

For more on creating the perfect abandoned cart workflow, check out our piece here

Capture More Email Subscribers

We’ve talked a lot about email and the revenue potential it has. Growing your subscriber list is imperative to harnessing that potential. By leveraging your own site traffic, you can build and pre-target your subscriber list easily. Try implementing a static sign-up form, an exit-intent pop-up, or use a landing page to encourage customers to sign up. Here are a few key ways to begin building your list:

  • Use a standard opt-in form for passive newsletter subscriptions
  • Use timed pop-ups and exit-intent pop-ups
  • Incentivize your customers to sign up with discounts, free shipping, or lead magnets
  • Create an interactive sign-up form, like a gamified wheel of fortune form

For more information on building an awesome email list, check out our post here!

Here are a few best practices for your pop-ups and sign-up forms:

  • Be clear: tell your customers exactly what they should expect from you. 
  • Be concise: no one has time for a novel. 
  • Don’t break the UX: do what you can to not interrupt the customer’s experience on your site. 
  • Accept the “No”: if a visitor closes the pop-up without signing up, don’t show the pop-up again for some time (we suggest 30 days). 

For more tips on building your email list quickly, check out our article: Email List Building: 9 Proven Methods

Embrace Personalization

Overwhelmingly, consumers have grown tired of ads. That much is apparent with the wide-spread use of ad blockers, and the lack of engagement on social ads. However, this doesn’t accurately tell the whole story. What we really dislike are ads that aren’t relevant to us. When we find one that is relevant to what we want or need, it doesn’t even register as an ad. 

This is where personalization comes in. If you can personalize your messages, and even site recommendations, your ads will be far more effective than the blind, cold ads you might use. 

For example, placing product recommendations in Google or Facebook ads that are targeted towards customers who were recently browsing those products can be effective in keeping the product at the forefront of your customers’ minds, regardless of what they’re doing on the web. 

Following up with those same, or similar product recommendations in your email campaigns can make them even more effective. When your customers come to your site, they should see those recommendations again. 

In this way, you can create a cohesive ecosystem that is completely unified across several channels and keeps your customer thinking about your products and brand. 

Engage Online Store Visitors with Live Chat

Don’t discount the valors of on-site marketing. Live chat can be your ticket to conversion by helping provide your customers with instant answers. 

Much like an in-store vendor answering questions from your customers, live chat helps reassure your customers and give them the information they need to make an informed purchase. 

You can even use live chat bots to answer common questions, which will point customers to your FAQs. Whether you use your customer success agents or a chat bot, employing live chat for your ecommerce store will ultimately save you from future returns and refunds made by ill-informed customers.  

Wrap up

The best way to build your ecommerce marketing strategy is to leverage the channels, tools, and products you offer to entice your customers and keep them coming back for more. 

Marketing for ecommerce businesses is a complex undertaking that requires you to manage several mini-strategies across different channels. However, by breaking it up bit by bit, you can master your ecommerce marketing strategy and create an immersive experience for your customers. 

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This article originally appeared in the Omnisend blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. In the early days of online commerce, he achieved Power Seller status at eBay, which then propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens, and eyewear retailer. After a successful exit from his startup, he embarked on his next journey into agency work in e-commerce and digital strategy.

Currently, Steve is part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus, where he is a Strategic Advisor helping brands continue to grow and scale with the Shopify Commerce Platform.

To maintain a competitive edge and life of learning mantra, Steve also hosts and produces a top-rated weekly podcast show, eCommerce Fastlane, where he interviews Shopify partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, to help Shopify brands build and scale lifetime customer loyalty.