E-commerce has been on the rise for several years, and even a global pandemic can’t put a stop to that progress. Though the increases won’t be quite as stark this year (eMarketer predicts a 16.5% increase, down 20% from last year’s increase), consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing goods and services in almost every category online. Whether you’re competing with other direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands or you’re up against big marketplaces like Amazon, adding the right e-commerce marketing tools to your arsenal is critical to your success in the competitive landscape.
From email campaigns to ad services, and popup notifications to mobile optimization, here’s a selection of great e-commerce marketing tools that are worth testing — for free.
Although email and SMS might be considered “old fashioned” in the digital marketing arena, they are actually two of the most effective channels for e-commerce. The average open rate for email is close to 18%, but SMS blows it away with an incredible 98% open rate. Klaviyo is a customer data and automation platform that helps marketers make the most of both.
Klaviyo supports creation and targeting of drip email and triggered email campaigns, auto-responder emails, email optimization for mobile, email analytics, SMS marketing, messaging and analytics, and web forms and landing page builders. All of this is based on Klaviyo’s customer analysis and segmentation data, so it’s a great tool to focus on data-driven growth. Plus, it gets pretty good ratings for ease of use on software review sites, so it’s a popular choice for those in the newbie stage, as well as more advanced e-commerce marketers. More info here.
Pricing: Free for up to 200 email recipients/ 50 SMS recipients
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Popup notifications are one of the ways that e-commerce marketers alert customers about new products or discounts, but popups must look good to get noticed. In a study of 1 billion (!) popup notifications, it was found that popups with an image got almost 84% more conversions than those with no image.
The average e-commerce store owner has a pretty full plate, and any advanced tool that creates great-looking popups with no coding necessary is a bonus. Poptin is a solid option, with a user-friendly drag and drop interface that supports images. There is a wide range of templates and all popups are mobile responsive, too. As a free service, there’s no harm to ROI in giving it a shot. More info here.
Pricing: Free for up to 1,000 website visitors/month
A powerful tactic in e-commerce is creating a sense of urgency among consumers. Whether it be a limited discount offer, 24-hour spot sale, or one-week free shipping, building urgency around the purchase is a known conversion driver. One digital marketer used A/B testing to see just how much urgency affects conversions, and the results were impressive. Adding the word “today” to the end of a headline brought a CTR of 3.94%, compared to just 0.77% for the control headline without the extra word.
Countdown Cart is a free e-commerce plugin designed to build a perception of urgency and scarcity that makes people want to click the buy button. The app includes a stock countdown feature that displays limited stock still available, a countdown timer showing how long until a sale or special offer ends, and social proof elements, like the number of people “viewing this item”, and more. More info here.
The e-commerce landscape is so competitive, it’s important to be always “on.” Communicating with customers, answering their questions, and addressing their problems in a timely way is crucial to creating a positive customer journey. It’s much easier to keep customer support going 24/7, or whenever necessary, with the help of chatbots. Not only do 34% of customers say they’re happy to communicate with a chatbot for their e-commerce needs, but businesses can save up to 80% in customer service costs by using chatbots to answer routine questions.
Ochatbot is a good solution for e-commerce, helping marketers build chatbot scripts and integrate them with no programming required. It uses AI to bring solid results, and the company claims its chatbots can help boost sales revenue by 15-35%. With a free starter solution, Ochatbot is worth checking out. More info here.
Pricing: Free for up to 1,000 monthly visitors/100 interactions/5 SKUs
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E-commerce sales on mobile devices have doubled since 2016, and mobile commerce purchases are expected to reach $2.91 trillion in 2020. The stakes are high, and e-commerce retailers must do everything they can to create a mobile buying experience that is smooth and easy, but also eye-catching.
There are definitely tools out there to make better mobile experiences and they don’t have to cost a lot. Mobile Converter is a free app that offers a handful of features to optimize e-commerce stores on mobile devices. These include a sticky “add to cart” CTA that can be fixed to the top or bottom of the mobile screen, making it easy for customers to convert. There is also a mobile-optimized product gallery that showcases individual products on the full mobile screen with a sticky “buy” button for instant view and purchase. The app is easy to integrate with a simple two-step setup process. Even small adjustments to UX can make a huge difference to mobile conversion rates, so there’s every reason to try Mobile Converter. More info here.
Retaining customers is cheaper and easier than getting new customers by far, and loyalty programs are one of the most effective customer retention tactics. Over 90% of businesses in the U.S.have a loyalty program and 15% of loyalty club members use the program every day. Creating and managing a loyalty program may seem like a complex task, but with the right tool, it actually doesn’t have to be. LoyaltyLion is a popular choice among small e-commerce businesses — and for those who have a Shopify store, there is a free plan available.
With LoyaltyLion, marketers can build and integrate an entire loyalty club infrastructure in their store, completely branded, and customized according to the company’s retention strategy and goals. The features include reward points, reviews, mobile optimization, and customer analytics — and the best news? No technical expertise is required. More info here.
Pricing: Free for Shopify stores
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“Omnichannel” isn’t just a buzzword. Brands using three or more channels in one campaign have seen an increase of up to 287% in purchases than with a one-channel campaign. The best tools are those that give you more functionality in one integration, and that’s exactly what e-commerce stores can get with AdRoll’s free package.
AdRoll’s starter plan supports several ad services, including brand awareness, retargeting, and product ads (static and video), a comprehensive email marketing service with a simple drag and drop email builder, template library, triggered campaign setup and management, and full anti-spam and data privacy compliance. AdRoll integrates with any e-commerce platform to support an AI-based product recommendation carousel, plus a host of analytics, measurement, and attribution functions help create data-driven e-commerce marketing campaigns that get results. More info here.
Pricing: Free starter plan, up to 5,000 emails a month
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Go On, Give It a Try
Experimentation is a huge part of e-commerce marketing. Constant testing of different tactics and tools is the most effective way to maximize ROI fast and beat the competition. With many advanced tools available even for free, it costs nothing except time to try them out and see if they are a good fit for the brand and its growth goals. If a particular tool proves its bottom-line value, e-commerce marketers can easily upgrade to paid versions that support scalability. Pay as you grow — that’s the key to efficiency in e-commerce marketing.