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From blogs to Instagram to Google ads, ecommerce marketing can be a tough beast to conquer, especially for small businesses. How do you know which tactic can best help you boost traffic? Increase conversions? Grab more market share?

This comprehensive guide will introduce you to different ecommerce marketing channels, tactics, and tools for every brand at every business stage. Whether you’re just starting out, looking to grow, or aiming to become a brand leader, you can use these ecommerce marketing tips to drive brand awareness and delight your audience. 

Different aspects of e-commerce marketing.
Different aspects of ecommerce marketing.

In this guide:
Starting Brands: Build Your Brand and Traffic
Growing Brands: Drive Sales
Leading Brands: Delight Your Customers

Starting Brands: Build Your Brand and Traffic

Congratulations on starting your ecommerce marketing journey — as a starting brand, you’re probably trying to figure out how to best promote your products to as many people as possible. Here are some ideas:

Content Marketing

If you haven’t noticed, most branded websites now have “blog” or “resource” sections. That’s because content marketing works — it’s a great way to target different audiences throughout your marketing funnel and improve your site’s ranking in search engines. 

You should:

    • Share your brand story. Why was the company founded? Who are the founders? Does the company have charity partners?
    • Discuss the problems that your products address. Why should people buy your products? What’s unique about them compared to those of your competitors?
    • Post tutorials. How can customers best use your product? 

For many, blogs may come to mind when they hear the term “content marketing.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some other popular content formats include:

    • Youtube videos. With over a billion active users, Youtube is the platform that your customers are spending time on. 
    • Long-form guides and case studies. If you’ve conducted any research or trend analyses, consider repurposing it for a downloadable guide or case study that features your expertise. 
    • Guest posts. By partnering with industry-adjacent companies and sharing guest posts on each others’ channels, you can access a brand-new audience. (In terms of SEO, guest posts and backlinks can significantly boost your site’s domain authority, too.) 

Pro tips for content creation:

    • To get started, you’ll want to brainstorm topic ideas based on relevant, high-traffic keywords. 
    • You have more content than you realize! For example, if you’ve created a downloadable e-book, you can easily splice it up into several infographics or short-form blog posts. 
    • To make your content more engaging, ask your audience questions and encourage them to leave comments. (Don’t forget to respond to all of them, though.) 

For a list of must-have content marketing resources:

35 Must-Have Content Marketing Resources

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the science of making your brand, stories, and products discoverable on search engine result pages (SERP), like Google. And unless you have a strong SEO strategy, amazing content might go to waste. (Gasp!)

Here are some steps every ecommerce marketer should take to ensure their SEO is updated:

    • Optimize your product pages. Make sure each page has concise, product-driven keywords that include a comprehensive product description. You’ll want to strategically place target keywords and phrases on each page, including in the title, URL, header tags, and alt text. 
    • Create a keyword-driven FAQ page. Make sure the keywords you select are long-tail ones. This will help build site authority and drive traffic. 
    • Make your site mobile-friendly. More than half of all online shopping is now done via mobile devices, which means ecommerce stores should start pivoting to a mobile-first approach. Consider adding mobile-friendly functions, such as swipeable carousels and larger buttons. 
    • Reduce page load time. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to review your current load time. Kick off your load time optimization by replacing large image files. 

For more on how to build an SEO strategy:

How to Build an SEO Strategy for a Direct-To-Consumer (D2C) Brand [TEMPLATE]

Email

Email marketing is as old as digital marketing itself, yet it’s still a handy marketing tool in 2021. Here’s why:

    • It’s inexpensive. Compared to digital ad space, email marketing is significantly more cost-effective. Even though email only accounts for roughly 17% of digital marketing spend, it contributes nearly 25% of revenue. 
    • It can be automated. With the right martech tools (like AdRoll!), you can set up a simple, automated drip campaign that delivers appropriate emails to segmented audiences at the right time. 
    • There’s room for creativity. Email campaigns mean you’re not limited by 280 words (Twitter) or 125 characters (Facebook ads.) As long as you have a catchy headline, the possibilities with email are endless — start by embedding a video, cool graphic, or even gifs.

      Email capture example from e-commerce brand Payton Jewelry.
      Email capture example from Payton Jewelry.

For budding brands, prioritize building your email list early. To capture new email subscribers, you can:

    • Place strategic lead generation tools on your site, such as header bars or pop-ups. (You can offer your audience a discount or freebie once they sign up.)
    • Entice your audience with unlockable downloadable content sent to their emails.  
    • Host an online event that requires an email sign-up. 

Pro Tip: As digital users become more aware of data privacy, you’ll want to be meticulous about how you handle your email list. Make sure you request and receive consent before adding anyone to your list. Maintaining trust is the key to all ecommerce marketing. 

For more on ways to capturing email addresses:

10 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business

Once you’ve captured customer email addresses, there are a variety of email types you can send. 

Here’s some inspiration: 

    • A welcome email for when they first sign up or make a purchase. You can introduce them to the brand story or your best-selling products. 
    • A post-purchase follow-up email. This is a nice check-in to show that your company cares about its customers even after a completed sale. If you have content to help customers make the most out of their new purchases, such as product tutorials, plug them in this email. 
    • Promotional emails. Email is a great way to hype up a sale, discount, or deal before a big event. To show your appreciation, you can provide email-exclusive promo codes or freebies. 
    • Abandoned cart recovery email. Shoppers abandon their carts for all sorts of reasons — distraction, unexpected shipping costs, expired deals — but that doesn’t mean they’re a lost cause. Consider sending them a friendly email reminder encouraging them to finish checking out. It’s also an opportunity to offer assistance or cross-sell related products. (More on this later.)
    • Regular newsletters. For brands striving to build a community, newsletters that share product tips, company news, or behind-the-scenes sneak peeks can be a welcome reprieve from promotional emails.  

And this goes without saying, but you’ll also want to send transactional emails to provide shoppers with updates regarding their purchase, such as order confirmations, delivery confirmations, receipts, and shipment updates. 

For more email marketing strategies:

7 Email Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business During the New Normal

Growing Brands: Drive Sales

For growing brands, the challenge is sustaining the momentum and capturing even more attention, shoppers, and market share. You’ll want to consider these ecommerce marketing channels:

Digital Ads

Here’s the unfortunate truth: In today’s noisy digital landscape, brands can find themselves quickly peaking their organic reach. That’s why digital ads — search ads, social media ads, native ads — play a heavy presence in ecommerce retailers’ marketing budgets. Some examples of digital ads to consider include: 

    • Contextual targeting. With the death of third-party cookies, contextual targeting is the next best way to reach potential customers in relevant ways.
    • Social ads. Leverage the abundance of social media data to display ads to your target audience. 
    • Search engine marketing (SEM). SEM includes both SEO and paid search advertising. While SEO is all about optimizing your website to make it rank higher on search engines, SEM can also involve search display ads, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, or product-specific ads (for example, Google Shopping). 

Social Media 

Creating a Facebook page or Instagram account is a must for every ecommerce business. But no matter what industry you’re in, the days of posting an image, adding some hashtags, and calling it a day are over. Consider these tactics to jazz up your social media strategy: 

    • Create shoppable content. These are posts that your social media followers can buy from directly and immediately, without having to leave the platform. Shoppable content is a great way to eliminate friction during the customer journey by providing a direct path to purchase. 
    • Engage with influencers. By partnering with people or brands that influence your target audience, you can enter their community and conversations more easily. Influencers engage on the basis of trust, which means their followers will take a recommendation or sponsored post more seriously. 
    • Encourage product reviews. Launch a campaign that encourages your brand loyalists to leave a review on your social media pages, in turn generating valuable social proof for prospective consumers. 
E-commerce marketing example of an Instagram product post.
Ecommerce marketing example of an Instagram product post

Retargeting Ads

You’re probably familiar with the shopper who browses your products, adds a few things to their cart, and never checks out. Harsh truth: You’re losing money with every abandoned cart, but it will continue to happen, whether you like it or not.

In fact, a whopping 69.23% of shopping carts are abandoned, according to the Baymard Institute. Luckily, we have tools to reduce cart abandonment rates, namely retargeting ads

Retargeting ads can exist in many forms, from social media ads to email recovery campaigns that remind people to return and check out. It may offer an additional incentive, such as a small discount or free shipping, or it may include enticing copy that induces FOMO, like “These products are selling out fast!” 

For more on using retargeting ads to target abandoned carts:

Abandoned Cart Retargeting Ads: Everything You Need to Know

Conversion Rate and Average Order Value Optimization

For most ecommerce brands, upselling and cross-selling to your existing customers can be more cost-efficient than continually chasing after new customers and new sales. Here are some ways you can make the most out of every customer visit:

    • Upselling. If you’ve been to McDonald’s, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “Would you like to supersize your order?” That’s upselling at work, which is essentially promoting an upgrade or selling a more premium product than the one the customer was about to purchase. For upselling to work, make sure that: 
      • The premium product you’re suggesting is related to the original product
      • You’re aware of the anticipated price range of your customer
    • Cross-selling. Cross-selling is the practice of suggesting additional products that may go hand-in-hand with the products that the customer is purchasing. That’s the “You may also be interested in…” box on checkout pages. It’s a great way to introduce your customer to additional items that they may not have considered or known about. 

Personalization

Nowadays, we’re so inundated with ads, so the ones that catch our attention are frequently the most relevant to our lives. That’s where personalization comes in, a marketing tactic of catering to specific customers based on their behaviors, interests, and desires. Some surveys have found that companies using personalized marketing see their revenues increase 6-10%

Personalization can come in many forms, including:

    • Product recommendations
    • Promotional offers
    • Ad groups
    • Including a customer’s name in the email subject line

If your customer journey is a lengthy one, consider using personalization to move shoppers down the funnel quicker since they’ll be spending less time searching for the products they need. 

Ad personalization example for e-commerce fashion products.
Ad personalization example for ecommerce fashion products. Source: https://help.adroll.com/hc/en-us/articles/360040258991-What-are-Product-Recommendations-

For more on personalized marketing:

How to Hack Customer Retention With Personalized Marketing

Leading Brands: Delight Your Customers

With success comes great pressure. When you become a leading brand, you need to continuously engage your existing customers and attract new ones while striving for more revenue. Use these tactics to achieve more growth: 

Customer Service and Support

To make sure your customers are satisfied, you’ll want your customer service and support to be a well-oiled machine that answers every question and solves every problem. But beyond adding a FAQ page and help desk email address, you can also add a live chat widget to engage directly with shoppers on your site. Whether you decide to use human customer support agents or a bot, live chat is a great way to provide answers ASAP, making customers more likely to follow through with their purchase rather than exit to find solutions themselves. 

For more on social media customer service:

Social Media Customer Service: Best Practices

User-Generated Content

Ah, user-generated content (UGC), also sometimes affectionately known as free marketing. Launch a UGC campaign to give your existing customers a way to share and showcase your products to prospective customers and:

    • Drive more traffic to your digital storefront 
    • Increase the reach of your brand
    • Develop social proof and trust

There are many forms of UGC campaigns, including:

    • Competitions. Customers who share a post of your product for a chance to win a cool prize. 
    • Social media hashtags. Users submit content using a branded hashtag, knowing that they may be featured on your social media profile. (If you have a ton of followers, it’s great exposure for them, too!) 
    • Review platforms. You can encourage customers to leave a review of your product and receive a small discount or free shipping on their next purchase. 

With 54% of shoppers trusting information from online reviews and peer recommendations (compared to 20% who trust the brand’s content), UGC is one marketing tactic you don’t want to ignore. 

Example of user-generated content by Lush Cosmetics on Instagram.
Example of user-generated content by Lush Cosmetics on Instagram.

For more examples of great UGC:

User-Generated Content: 7 Brilliant Examples

Customer Marketing

Customer marketing is the art of developing customer relationships. This may sound surprising, but marketing doesn’t end when a customer clicks the checkout button. Instead, when someone buys from you, your goal is to turn them into a repeat customer by engaging, nurturing, and delighting them. In fact, returning customers account for 22% of a brand’s revenue, even though they’re just 11% of the customer base. 

With customer loyalty as the key to long-term success, you can: 

    • Launch a loyalty program. How many times do you choose a brand over its competitor because you can earn rewards? A loyalty program, where you can redeem points, discount codes, or exclusive perks (such as free shipping), is a huge consideration factor for shoppers. 
    • Create a referral marketing program. Word-of-mouth is an increasingly powerful marketing tactic. A referral program, which unlocks a gift or discount for both parties, can incentivize your existing customers to recommend your brand to their networks. It’s a win-win situation. 
    • Gather testimonials. For ecommerce retailers without a physical location for shoppers to evaluate products in-person, trust in the form of reviews and testimonials can go a long way. Testimonials are a compelling ecommerce marketing tool that can convince potential shoppers about the value of your products. 

For more on customer marketing:

Customer Marketing: What You Need to Know to Get Started

It’s Time to Sell

The possibilities for ecommerce marketing are endless. With so many tools, platforms, and tactics at your disposal, it’s all a matter of strategizing, budgeting, optimizing, and thinking creatively to attract more customers and generate more growth. 

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, consider choosing a martech solution that offers comprehensive features to help you manage it all. With AdRoll’s ecommerce marketing solution, you can supercharge your growth through ads, emails, and targeting — all in one platform. 

Author

Wilson is the Sr. SEO Marketing Manager at AdRoll.