Whether you’re launching a new ecommerce brand or upgrading your current online store, choosing the right marketing technology is stressful.
On the one hand, MarTech shopping can be exciting – modern ecommerce technology is impressive and executing a new tech stack opens up amazing growth opportunities. But on the other hand, there are so many choices. And depending on your experience with digital platforms, the industry jargon can be paralyzing.
Thankfully, you don’t need to buy, try, or even know about every tool. Additionally, many ideal tech solutions may present themselves to you as your ecommerce business grows.
So before you start shopping for new software, let’s discuss a strategic approach that will help you save both time and money.
Image via eMarketer
eCommerce Digital Marketing Technology Overview
“The truth is, technology has so many emerging opportunities, that if we’re not staying on the forefront of it we risk leaving a lot of revenue on the table, at the very least, if not getting beaten by our competition.” – Derric Haynie, Host of The Future of Ecommerce Podcast
What is digital marketing for ecommerce?
Marketing an ecommerce brand is very similar to marketing any brand, with the notable exception that your retail space is online rather than a brick-and-mortar storefront.
Being online means that your tools are digital, and attracting audiences requires you to leverage digital tools that incorporate the following elements:
- Website development
- Search engine optimization
- Paid advertising
- Social media
- Product fulfillment
- Virtual sales and customer service
When choosing the right marketing tools for your ecommerce business, it is important that you understand how you connect with your ideal customer.
After connecting with your audience, your marketing funnel dictates how you nurture consumers through various touch points to a sale. But your marketing efforts shouldn’t stop there – you will want to find ways to increase customer loyalty and lifetime value.
Everything about your ecommerce marketing tech stack should empower meaningful relationships between your brand and its target audience.
How is ecommerce digital marketing different from other types of digital marketing?
The simple answer is that ecommerce tools offer more data analytics opportunities than any other industry. In other words, no other marketplace automatically tracks and stores every consumer behavior to the degree that an online store will.
Depending on the digital marketing tools you use, you can leverage this data to connect with customers in ways that other industry players can’t.
Furthermore, ecommerce marketing remains one of the biggest playgrounds for automation and AI. This means that there are hundreds of quality solutions, and it is up to you to figure out which are the ideal fit for your brand.
These factors – shopper data and available digital marketing solutions – present opportunities and challenges. For example, small teams can leverage digital marketing tools to scale their brand online using audience personalization with pinpoint accuracy. Conversely, much controversy surrounds the idea of tracking consumer behavior online.
Choosing the right tools means balancing personalization with respecting consumer privacy. Data privacy compliance and opt-in features can help you achieve this balance while still getting the most out of what today’s ecommerce platforms have to offer.
What do ecommerce brands need for a digital marketing plan?
To create an ecommerce digital marketing plan, you’ll need to take a close look at your current marketing approach and evaluate whether or not it aligns with your brand’s values.
This digital marketing “audit” will ensure that you make the best choices when crafting your ideal marketing tech stack.
Plan Overview: Brand Mission, Vision, Values, and Target Audience
A great place to start when creating a digital marketing plan is to revisit your brand’s purpose and values. These items will be reflected in your mission statement and vision.
After identifying and refining (if necessary) your mission and vision, you can extract your brand values and use those values to help you define your target audience. Think of your target audience as consumers that are like-minded with your brand.
While you will undoubtedly serve customers that lie slightly outside your target audience, you should keep your marketing efforts focused on that ideal customer profile. Doing so will make it easier to develop authentic relationships which then translates into higher retention and longer customer lifetime value.
“No matter how stellar you feel your idea is, you’ll want to spend some serious time evaluating market demand and gathering hard facts before you order 2,000 product units or sign any contracts.” – BigCommerce
In order to remain unbiased, you’ll need to gather feedback from your industry and audience.
Image via WordStream
A SWOT analysis (see above) is a timeless analysis tool that helps your brand develop self-awareness. Your ecommerce store will have competition, and it’s crucial that you ask probing questions that help you differentiate your brand from others.
The more objective market data you have, the more accurate your SWOT analysis will be.
4 Ps – Product, Place, Price, Promotion
Image via Neil Patel
The 4 Ps of retail marketing will help you refine your price point, streamline your costs, and identify the best product placement. Once again, the more market research you have to back up your decision-making, the better this exercise will be for you and your marketing team.
It is very difficult to know what you should do to attract your target audience without engaging them. There are several ways to collect feedback from these people, such as accessing consumer surveys and being active on social media.
As you get to know your target audience, you’ll be able to segment them into different niche groups. A great exercise for defining these groups is building buyer personas.
Buyer personas help you create bios for your ideal customer profile. The information that you organize within these personas will make your marketing efforts far more effective.
Digital Marketing Goals
Perhaps the most critical part of your digital marketing plan is defining your goals. Obviously you want sales. But based on your market research, what are the most effective ways to attract the right audience and build sustainable revenue streams?
Your marketing objectives define your marketing approach. For most ecommerce brands, this usually involves a careful mix of various marketing messages and mediums.
For example, you may decide that the best way to attract and nurture audiences is through email and phone number capture. This goal impacts which ecommerce tools you’ll need to be successful. The same is true for goals pertaining to SEO, influencers, and social media.
After identifying your goals, you’ll need to define what success looks like. If your goal is to leverage email and SMS, how many subscribers should you expect to get over the next month or year? Also, what kind of metrics and milestones help you measure the success of your email and SMS campaigns?
Often, these performance standards are best expressed in marketing key performance indicators, or KPIs.
Establishing clear marketing KPIs is almost as important to knowing your audience. Your KPIs are critical for helping you know which marketing platforms you will need. Your KPIs should refer to specific performance metrics that you won’t be able to access without the right tools.
Budget and Resources
There are digital marketing solutions for every type of ecommerce budget. Establishing the budget ahead of time will ensure that you don’t commit to an expense that you can’t sustain.
That said, you don’t want to go cheap on a tool that promises to deliver a high ROI. With the money and personnel you have at your disposal, you want to invest in the technology that will give you the best “bang for your buck.”
Most ecommerce digital marketing tools involve user onboarding and integrations. To help your SaaS providers set you up for success, you’ll need to have an ideal timeline for rolling out your marketing tech stack.
What digital marketing platforms do ecommerce brands need?
The right ecommerce tools for one brand often look different for another. As you decide what kind of tools you need, we recommend following third-party review sites to help you pick the right provider:
Selecting an ecommerce Platform
Basic websites don’t support ecommerce retail. To provide the best possible user experience, you’ll need to select an ecommerce platform that is a good fit for your products, services, and target audience.
Inbound Marketing Tools (Search Engine Optimization)
It is unsustainable to pour all or most of your marketing budget into paid ads and sponsored posts. Ideally, you want your website and product description pages to get found easily online.
Building and maintaining a good content marketing strategy often means finding tools (apps, plugins, integrations, etc.) that help you track search engine and content performance online..
Outbound Marketing Tools
A strategic use of both inbound and outbound tactics can help you attract your audience quickly and boost conversions. Thankfully, most leading pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms are free, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.
Social Commerce Tools
Many social media channels are enhancing their retail capabilities for ecommerce. If your target audience favors certain social channels, you might want to explore various social commerce platforms, such in-app shopping, shoppable image ads, and Amazon Prime Selling.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help you track prospects and customers. Depending on your ecommerce platform, you may already have basic CRM tools at your disposal. Your sales tools can show you which products are most popular and/or purchased together.
Web analytics will track shopper behavior across your website. With a free tool like Google Analytics, you can even establish visitor/action milestones that track the buyer’s journey.
Many marketing automation tools also provide analytics capabilities to show you how your shoppers respond to various pages, posts, emails, landing pages, and ads. These tools help you improve the online user experience and show you where your web traffic comes from.
Customer Service Tools
Strong customer service can both resolve customer complaints, as well as build long-lasting relationships between you and your customers. There are platforms that offer tools such as live chat, easy payments, and an efficient return process.
Customer Loyalty and Advocacy Tools
Another great way to grow your customer loyalty is to offer perks for repeat purchases. Many ecommerce tools allow you to track customer loyalty points, limited-time offers, and more.
5 MarTech Tips for Ecommerce
#1 – Invest in sustainable conversational marketing through Live Chat and/or two-way SMS.
Image via Kayako
Conversational marketing tools provide real-time assistance before, during, and after a purchase. While it is more cost-effective to invest in chatbots, you will achieve higher returns by using a hybrid model. The AI can handle routine questions/problems, and your live agents can manage more complex issues.
#2 – Focus on tools that help you build trust and increase credibility with your target audience.
Image via GRIN
It is convenient to build a digital marketing machine complete with all the bells and whistles. But it’s critical to remember that what your customers long for is authenticity and credibility.
You can earn trust with your audience by embracing its feedback, encouraging happy customers to share testimonials online, and making every effort to improve your products.
#3 – Social media influencers could dramatically boost your success.
Social media creators are talented, cost-effective brand partners who can raise brand awareness and drive sales. In addition to producing compelling lifestyle content featuring your products, they will help you lower your content production costs.
While it is possible to manage influencer relationships manually, you will need an influencer-specific platform to help you scale your influencer program and improve campaign performance.
#4 – Track your digital marketing performance carefully.
It’s vital that you know whether or not your digital marketing strategy is working. When establishing your marketing KPIs, you can assign each KPI to a specific set of performance metrics to monitor success.
The ecommerce tools you use should provide basic performance tracking to help gauge your marketing ROI.
#5 – Keep your eye on the future of AI, but don’t forget what your ecommerce brand needs right now.
“I try to always advise merchants not to be sold on features that don’t exist yet. Because that’s what every sales rep will try and do for you.” – Derric Haynie, Host of The Future of Ecommerce Podcast
New ecommerce platforms and apps emerge every year, and it’s exciting to see what new technology is on the horizon. That said, your ecommerce store may not be ready for certain tools, and many new tools may not be ready for serious implementation.
You can strike a great balance by putting in place what your online store needs right now while being aware of what new technology lies ahead. Many ecommerce tools diligently deliver upgrades to keep up with the latest tech capabilities. If you know of specific functionality that would be valuable to your brand, you should inform your current providers. This approach gives them the opportunity to deliver it before you risk pouring money into untested technology elsewhere.
In Conclusion – At the end of the day, ecommerce success is about nurturing relationships.
Today’s buyers don’t just want to buy a product – they want to align with brands that share their values. Many brands are leveraging this trend to build vibrant brand communities that empower specific lifestyles and long-term aspirations.
If the relationship between you and your customers is strong, you can still succeed with mediocre ecommerce tools. By contrast, you can have an amazing marketing tech stack and still fail to earn consumer trust.
GRIN exists to enable authentic brand-consumer connections. Here’s how we do it.