Trying to develop an eCommerce marketing strategy but not sure where to start?
In this blog post, we’re going to take all that knowledge and package it into 10 components to consider for your eCommerce marketing strategy.
Let’s jump right in.
1.Develop an eCommerce marketing plan
This is likely the trickiest part for most brands when they’re just starting out, especially if you’ve never done this before.
In marketing, we have a lot of “zooming in and zooming out.”
That is, we have broad views for what we wish to accomplish (i.e., zooming out), and then we have the ways that we’re going to go about actually accomplishing those through various strategies and tactics (i.e., zooming in).
The part of things we’re going to cover is the “zooming out” part and will encapsulate the broad aspects of your plan to grow your eCommerce store.
You can consider this your game plan you’ll be running with to understand what you’re aiming for, who you’re talking to, and how that will impact growth.
1. Set clear goals and objectives
Contrary to what most people think, your strategy, goals, and objectives are three very different things.
Goals are broad. Objectives are specific actions to take. And both help to round out your strategy.
Hubspot has a superb blog post on setting goals versus objectives and gives a tactical review that can help you get this part of things done.
This is a great practice and helps prevent creating goals that are vague or out of reach at the moment.
2. Identify your target audience
Your target audience is those most likely interested and willing to purchase from you.
Who that audience changes from brand to brand, so there’s a lot of due diligence you’ll need to do on your end to find out who your audience is and where they hang out.
This can be trickier to nail down if you’re starting from scratch with your eCommerce brand.
Tricky, but definitely not impossible.
Here are some good places to get started to find your target audience for your eCommerce store:
- Look at competitors. Check out their social media channels and who their followers are. Try to get a sense of who those people are, how old they are, and so on.
- Use Facebook audiences to narrow in on the right customers. These are PPC ads, which we’ll get to a little later in this post, but once you have an idea of who your best customer is, you can start targeting them with ads on Facebook and Instagram.
- Use data you have access to. If you've been running your online store for a while now, you likely already have some data to identify who your best customer is. Dig into that data to learn their ages, what they bought and why. You can even arrange customer interviews for a more personal touch.
3. Create buyer personas
A buyer persona is a made-up avatar that summarizes your best customers into a few personas or personality types.
For instance, if you were in charge of selling iPhones, what differences in the words would you use and how you spoke if you were selling to someone who was 21 versus someone who was 89?
My guess is there would be some big differences even though they're both demographics who would want an iPhone.
The same is true for the buyers of your products; they’re going to be different, and it’s good to know what those differences are so you know how to say things in a way that resonates with them.
You’ll be better equipped to create these once you know your target audience and who ultimately purchases from you. You’ll end up having more than one persona, so don’t try to oversimplify your process.
This article is a comprehensive review of creating a detailed buyer persona for your eCommerce brand.
4. Map the customer journey
How does someone go from learning about you for the first time to becoming a first-time buyer then a repeat customer?
That’s an important question to ask and an even important question to get an answer to. This is where mapping your customer journey comes in handy.
Chances are, you’ll have more than one way for people to find their way to you. But knowing the most likely “routes,” they take to get to you is important.
This article from Qualaroo is a good intro for putting together your customer journey.
5. Work out the customer lifetime value to measure ROI
This is one of those metrics you want to always revisit and set goals for because it gives you a clearer view of predicting revenue if you calculate it right.
But just a warning, it does take a bit of math for this part, but even for someone like me who is not a numbers person, this is doable.
From the equation above, the best way to figure out your customer lifetime value is by multiplying the following:
- Transactions (The average number of this per month)
- Average order value
- Average gross margin
- Average customer lifespan in months
For more tactical ways to learn how to increase CLTV, but sure to take a look at our blog post about using email marketing to give customer lifetime value a boost.
2. Produce original content to drive traffic and sales
With your newly minted eCommerce marketing strategy, you can now start making headway on planning your ways to execute it.
High up on the list of priorities is creating content, and there is a lot of types of content you can create:
- Video content for places like Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, and more.
- Blog content for both your blog and sponsored blog posts.
- Store product images.
- Social media posts include the images and written content you post on various channels.
- Email marketing content.
Our client, veriheal, nails it when it comes to original, educational content on their social media and email marketing.
Those are the basic content areas, but you have a lot you can dig into creatively here, and each of those channels requires a marketing strategy of its own to make up your content marketing plan as a whole.
As a general rule, whether it's blog content or social media posts, never steal content from others and use it as your own.
It’s just bad mojo, not to mention it can get you in some legal issues. Below are some great resources you can visit for learning about content creation:
- How Top Content Creators Fuel Their Biz with Marketing Automation
- Content Marketing for eCommerce: How to Create Content
- The Complete Guide to YouTube Marketing in 2022
- How To Benefit The Most From Instagram And Social Media For Your Business
3. Optimize all content for SEO
SEO means search engine optimization.
Many channels you’re going to be marketing on have their own search engines that you’ll want to optimize the content if you want to get the most out of your work.
No doubt, there is no shortage of SEO resources online, and it’s worth expanding your knowledge into the areas you’re going to invest time in.
For blog content, it’s easy to get into the weeds of optimizing for SEO, but here are some things to keep in mind:
- Site speed matters. You don't want your site to take more than a couple of seconds to render. If it takes too long, people will click away, and it starts to send signals to search engines that your content isn’t good, therefore dropping your ranking. This tool from Pingdom is something you can use to test your current speed.
- Format your blog content well. Use Headings 2 and 3 and bullet points where possible. We love tools like SurferSEO that outline relevant keywords to optimize content.
- Have a content promotional plan. Creating content is one thing, but getting people to your site to read or share it is vital to gaining recognition from search engines. When you post something, plan on sharing it out on your current social channels for at least a week after it’s published. Use email to promote it and reach out to people interested in reading or sharing it.
If you are a SaaS business owner trying to establish a long-term marketing strategy in order to attract and retain a target audience, you may consider hiring SaaS content marketing services. Being consistent in creating and sharing unique content continually is vital to increasing your brand awareness.
But, blog content isn’t the only area to optimize for search. YouTube and other social channels like Pinterest have search engines that need to be tweaked and optimized, so they’re found.
They’re their own wheelhouse of SEO, so if you’re focusing on those platforms, including utilizing an effective SEO platform in Spanish, you should know how to make the most of the content you’re uploading.
4. Focus on the user experience
A bad user experience (UX) will drive more cart abandonments than you think. 88% of people abandoned their online cart. Why?
One big reason is the website experience. If the checkout process is complicated or has too many steps, people are less likely to check out.
And if the website is hard to navigate where they can’t even add items to their cart, then that’s an even bigger red flag.
Usually, things aren’t that dramatic, but even small changes to the experience on your website can make a big difference.
Here are some UX tips to be sure to implement on your site:
- Remember K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple.) This is especially important when it comes to site navigation. Sometimes, brands will stuff every page, product category, and more into the main navigation. If you’re unsure how to keep it simple without making things hard to find, try a format like L.L.Bean.
- Opt for intelligent pop-ups. Intelligent popups utilize high converting placement like exit intent. They can personalize the UX on the site by not showing pop-ups to those already on your list and making it much easier to segment contacts that convert through the contact forms. This example from Cleancult only shows to those already on a subscription! A tool like Justuno that just integrated Sendlane is a great place to start.
- Make it easy for people to contact support. Almost nothing puts a bad taste in the mouth like unsupportive support. This is again a point where good site navigation is key. Every brand will find a path that works best, and that could be in the form of a site Chat Bot mixed with an FAQ page or an email contact form. Whatever you plan to do, make it easy to find! Cleancult uses a static chat bubble on the lower corner of the site, so their team is always just a click away.
- Try to make checkout simplified and intuitive. Complicated checkout processes create more abandoned carts than you’d think. As part of the UX, pay close attention to this area. Don’t make it complicated to check out, like insisting people have an account before they can checkout. The easier you can make checking out, the better. Connect apps like ShopPay, which remember purchase info and help with tracking shipping, may help simplify your checkout even more.
Be open to making changes with your site UX and keep a close eye on trends so you can stay in step with what’s working. Generally speaking, good UX makes people want to stick around on your site. The longer people hang around, the more search engines like Google view your site as valuable, and that can improve your SEO efforts.
In marketing, one hand can help wash the other.
5. Take care of the mobile experience
Transitioning the experience from desktop to mobile should feel seamless, but it's not always that simple.
54% of eCommerce traffic comes from mobile traffic. So making your website mobile-friendly can make or break your online sales.
Thankfully, responsive web design has made some leaps and bounds in the past decade to keep up with smartphone usage. However, depending on the platform and theme you’re using, the end results will be vastly different for a mobile-friendly design.
As far as what to do, here are a few tips to help you make the site experience on mobile a cohesive one:
- Make sure the design is responsive. Responsive design ensures that design elements like images and font sizes resize to fit the screen size they’re on. Platforms and themes all have their way of handling this, so make sure you view the mobile version and see what designing options it has if you’re going to DIY your design. If you’re using a designer, make sure the mobile version of your site is designed well.
- Make pop-ups appropriate for this screen size. Huge pops-ups that don’t resize and make it hard to exit out of them when they’re in the way are SUPER annoying. Instead, go for opt-ins that fit the person using it. For instance, maybe you can offer them to sign up to SMS on a mobile device for a more cohesive experience.
- Offer mobile-friendly payment options. This could be something like integrating Apple Pay, which makes checking out a simple process.
Take a look at how that same Cleancult popup looks on mobile!
Here are a few good resources when you’re wanting to focus on giving a good mobile experience:
- 5 Important eCommerce User Experience Best Practices
- Great Examples of Mobile-Friendly eCommerce Sites
- eCommerce Website Design 101: How to Position Your Online Store for Growth
6. Create an email and SMS marketing plan
You can cover everything on the list for your brand, but if you skip building your email list and building a good email marketing plan, your whole marketing strategy will start to come apart at the seams.
Why? One word: Retention.
Email is hands down the best way to get customers coming back, and without a way to do that for your store, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get them to return.
We know that building our email marketing plan is something many new or even established brands struggle with getting right. Here are a few suggestions to get started:
- Leverage deep data for better personalization. With Sendlane, you can use our deep data integration to gather insights that you can leverage to personalize your content and start generating more revenue.
- Set up your abandoned cart funnel. People are going to abandon their cart, so when they do, be ready with an automated funnel to get back on your site and make the purchase.
- Weave SMS into your campaigns and funnels. Did you know that 90% of marketing SMS are opened? That’s huge. That’s why we highly encourage using SMS in your regular campaigns and automating them for your funnels like in your abandoned cart sequence.
- Use email segmentation. This is a big one, yet many brands glance over it and think they’ll get it later. It’s not something to wait to do. Start with these if you’re not sure what to start creating.
If you’re looking for more ideas to drive revenue with email, be sure to read this article. We also have a library of resources, including in-depth eBooks, articles, and a podcast chock full of email marketing knowledge we created with you in mind.
7. Create a social media plan
We’ve mentioned social media a few times so far, but social media has a big role in eCommerce marketing these days and is a marketing beast in its own right.
As such, you’ll need a strategy for how you’ll use social media for your brand, what S.M.A.R.T goals you want to reach, and so on. Our client, MADTASTY, crushes it when it comes to fun, original content that speaks to their brand.
Getting started with a plan for social channels can seem daunting, so let's break it down into some chunks, like so:
- Decide which channels you will focus on. Don’t be everywhere. It’s too hard to do it all, and you don’t need to move the needle. If you don’t know where to start, go back to thinking about your audience. Where are they hanging out? Where are they most likely to go from seeing your content to purchasing your products? That should help narrow your choice.
- Set goals for channel growth. This could be that you’ll grow followers or subscribers by X percentage in a certain amount of time or that you’ll drive X amount of email subscribers from each channel. Once you have that goal in place, go after it.
- Batch create content for each channel, then automate your posts. Batch creation is excellent because you can plan what you post, create all that content ahead of time, and then have your social media posts ready to go. Automation is a big help for marketing, and social media is no different. Work smarter, not harder, and use automation where you can.
- Leverage other social media features. Depending on the platform, there are other features you can use to your advantage. IG Shopping is a feature where you can sell products directly through Instagram. And Instagram Lives help you connect with your shoppers on a personal level.
8. Set aside a budget for PPC
Speaking of social media, let’s chat about pay-per-click (PPC) ads. PPC exists on many social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, just to name a few.
Outside of social platforms, places like Google or Bing ads also fall into this category.
PPC can bring in huge returns, and a lot of brands have been successful with using PPC to drum up sales.
However, you don’t want just to throw a bunch of money at PPC ads and expect it to work for you magically. These sorts of ads can eat through your money faster than you can generate it if you’re not careful. You’ll want to have a definite balance, but don’t let fear of the unknown here hold you back from getting started.
Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:
- Set a budget for your ads. What can you reasonably afford? That’s important to know since you don’t want to spend more than you’re making. Thankfully, most ad platforms make it easy to set a budget limit, so you don’t have to be up at night worrying about it.
- Choose the platform for your ads (there are a lot!). Again, go back to, “where is my target audience hanging out and in a buyer’s mindset?” This will help narrow in on where to start your ads.
- Set up and run your ads. If you don’t know how to do this, there are agencies or freelancers you can pay to run this for you.
- Consider Facebook custom audiences. If you use Sendlane, you can use our Facebook Custom Audiences integration for even better retargeting.
9. Reach out to influencers in your niche
Influencer marketing is another part of your eCommerce marketing strategy that you can consider adding to the mix.
Authenticity is key here. There are many strategies that are a win-win for both of you, as has been the case for many brands.
Influencers aren’t just on social media; they’re really anyone with an audience ready to pay for products like yours. This could be bloggers or entrepreneurs with email lists you could sponsor. If you get creative enough, you can find people within some unlikely places.
Gathering user-generated content (UGC) from these can have a profound impact on sales, especially with UGC like personal testimonials, video demos of your products, and unboxing videos tend to draw in many views can send quite a few new customers your way.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some suggestions to jumpstart those creative juices:
- Research popular people who have the audience you want to attract. Look on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram to find people who have your target audience. There are many people you can hire to do this part of things too.
- Make a list and start your outreach. Now that you know of some people who may be open for collaboration, keep them on a list and start reaching out.
- Figure out how you want to get them to promote it. If they’re open to chatting, ask what they’re comfortable with and tell them more about what you’re hoping to achieve.
- Consider running a contest with these influencers in your niche. This is a bug win-win because you can both build up your email list and generate buzz and sales.
- Use a creator management tool to help with this. Influencer marketing can be tricky to manage and create processes for. A tool like GRIN or refersion can help you manage your relationship and grow your sales through this channel.
10. Optimize for voice search
Voice search has taken off quite a bit over the past few years and doesn’t look to be going anywhere. According to BigCommerce, “65% of the 25-49-year-old demographic uses a voice-enabled device at least once per day. ”
Even if you’re like me and don’t use it often, you can’t ignore that there are A LOT of people! While this may not be very high on the list of priorities, knowing that there is growing popularity around this searching behavior gives you a chance to start building towards being voice search-friendly.
Here are some ways you can start making your site voice search-friendly:
- Answer W questions. That is, who, what, when, where, why, and then how (not exactly a W question, but just go with it.) So if you’re online store sells camping gear, maybe you’ll update or create content that has keywords in it like, “how do I start a fire when I’m camping?” Or if you sell watches, maybe you’d create content that answers, “which is the correct wrist to wear a watch on?” Those are just examples, but keyword research may show you keywords you could maximize for voice.
- Use conversational, long-tail keywords. Again, this requires some keyword research. But if you want to know what’s pulling up in relation to your brand, just test a voice search on something like an iPhone and see what pulls up. What appears, and why? This can give you a feel for where to take things.
This article is a really in-depth post that covers how to take your eCommerce brand to the level of being optimized for voice search.
Reiterate your eCommerce marketing plan
The overview of these 10 eCommerce marketing strategies is the foundation you can now use to build your eCommerce empire.
Running an online store is an education all of its own, so embrace the journey and reach for the goals you’ve set.
If you want to team up with a customer experience platform built for eCommerce brands like yours, take Sendlane’s email & SMS marketing features for a spin - free for 14 days!
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