What is eCommerce Marketing? Plus a Marketing Strategy
Ecommerce businesses use marketing to transform the top-of-funnel leads into profitable customers. We don’t want to scare you, but there are lots of ways to approach it! You can focus all your marketing efforts on SEO and free organic traffic. Although it takes time to get anything out of it, the important part is that the SEO traffic is free.
Or, you can use Facebook and Google's advertising platforms. With these pay-per-click platforms, you get a lot more targeted traffic to your website. Don’t get us wrong, this doesn't mean you shouldn't mix the two (paid and free traffic) in order to define the most profitable strategy for your eCommerce business.
1. What is eCommerce Marketing?
E-Commerce marketing is the practice of driving awareness and action to an online brand, which sells its products and services online. E-Commerce marketers regularly use digital content, email marketing, SEO, PPC, and social media to bring traffic and increase their online revenue. With the help of conversion funnels for eCommerce, they convert leads into customers.
However, eCommerce marketers use these marketing channels differently than regular marketers. That’s a consequence of the distinctive strategies characteristic of eCommerce marketing. And, naturally, all strategies depend on marketing plans.
2. eCommerce Marketing Plan
Let’s face it. Without a proper marketing plan, a business can’t be aware of its position. Nor be aware of current trends and threats in the targeted market. You’re almost 100% doomed to fail if you think that all you have to do for a profitable eCommerce business is to add your products on a website and track performance. With the right marketing research a fact like 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone become very apparent!
The most important elements of any eCommerce marketing plan are:
- Situational Analysis (Market Summary, PEST and SWOT Analysis)
- Complete Competitor Analysis
- Defining Core Buyer Personas
- eCommerce Marketing Goals
- eCommerce Conversion Funnel
- eCommerce Paid Advertising
- eCommerce SEO Checklist
- Defining Distribution Channels
3. eCommerce Marketing Strategies
Once your eCommerce marketing plan is all set, you can begin with creating more specific strategies. To simplify the marketing strategy, focus on the main three pillars that will get you on the right track.
The 3 Pillars of a Great eCommerce Strategy
Most of the strategies you come up with should complement each other. In other words, you should start with the first one and do a follow up with the next, and so on. Create a solid foundation and then it won’t be too difficult to build from there.
The first pillar is a great start for building that foundation.
Content Marketing for eCommerce
A content marketing strategy is a must for any eCommerce business, period. Don’t forget that everything you see in your online store is content, from the copy and photos of products to the sales banners. There’s power in this content that you can use, reuse, and adapt in order to send messages to your customers. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, read our great article explaining What is Conent Marketing in depth.
Types of Content Marketing for eCommerce
- Product photos
- Product copy
Creating content can be a time-consuming process, the results aren’t obvious right away and many times you’ll think of giving up. But, give it some time, ultimately it's worth the effort. Because guess who loves websites with regularly updated and fresh content? Google.
SEO for eCommerce
Search Engine Optimization for eCommerce is the second pillar that you must keep an eye on. It’s been proven time and time again that SEO is the best way to increase eCommerce traffic. It comes with creating outstanding website content. Remember, it’s up to your SEO skills to make sure your content is great so it can be picked up by search engines, and then, of course, by your target audience.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a widely-spread practice of optimizing your website and content to reach the top page of search engines for queries relevant to your niche industry. If you’re new to SEO, a good start for your optimization efforts is our Google SEO Guide.
eCommerce Email Marketing
Email marketing is a no-brainer. It is the most cost-effective online marketing strategy since, well, forever. When you see it in action, it all makes sense.
The basic definition of Email Marketing is:
The practice of sending email messages out to subscribers, customers, and potential customers that have given you permission to do so.
However, you can use email marketing for eCommerce in lots of different ways:
- Welcome Emails - the first personal contact between an eCommerce business and the customer. It’s sent right after the customer creates an account on your website or signs up for a newsletter.
- Abandoned Cart Emails - Used for putting customers who added products into their carts but didn’t finish their purchase right back into the purchase funnel.
- Browse Abandonment Emails - If a customer just browses your website, but no products are added to their cart, browse abandonment emails are the right way to go.
- Order Confirmation Emails - These emails are sent when a user successfully completes a purchase.
- Shipping Notifications and Tracking Emails - These are informative emails sent to customers who have already made a purchase and are waiting for their product to arrive.
- A Referral Invite Email - Used for inviting customers to join your referral program. It pairs well with your shipping notification or thank you emails. Best combined with discount-per-referral offers.
PPC for eCommerce
If you run an eCommerce business, PPC must be part of your selling strategy. eCommerce advertising is always backed up by precise data and it’s focused on a healthy ROI. Let’s check out some of the best ways to advertise eCommerce websites!
Google Ads for eCommerce
For many eCommerce websites, Google Ads is the way to go because they offer many options specifically designed for eCommerce. The best campaigns you can run for an eCommerce website on Google Ads are Shopping Ads.
Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads for eCommerce works for so many reasons. That’s why they’ve become an essential advertising channel for eCommerce retailers. Placing your products at the very top of Google’s results for broad product keywords can drive a lot of conversions and bring you exceptional results. Over the years, the Shopping Ads landscape has become pretty competitive. You constantly need to check out the Auction Insights to be aware of new competitors trying to outbid you.
There’s an article from Search Engine Land stating that Shopping Ads account for roughly 75% of clicks from non-branded product searches. If we consider all queries (branded and non-branded), 52% of all eCommerce advertisers’ clicks come from Shopping Ads.
According to Smart Insights, American eCommerce vendors that use Google Ads, drive 85% of their PPC right from Shopping Ads. It’s easy to conclude that not leveraging Google Shopping Ads is a big mistake.
How does Google Shopping work?
To give you the short answer - it’s a lot different than other Campaign Types. In order to become a Google Shopping advertiser, you need to link your Google Ads account with the Google Merchant Center. The process is really simple. Once you got that settled, set up the product data feed. It’s a spreadsheet of a catalog that helps Google crawl it and index the info it needs.
While creating your data feed, you’ll notice that Google asks for a lot of information for each product in your catalog. The main reason for this is because Google Shopping advertisers don’t create their own ads. Instead, Google indexes your product data and uses it to create a digital profile for your store. So, when a search for a product occurs, Google already has the needed information in order to automatically generate relevant Shopping Ads. If you choose to go with Shopping Ads, you should know that there isn’t any keyword bidding included. Instead, the targeting is similar to SEO targeting. You put relevant keywords in your product description and product title. Other required information about the product is the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and product category. With this kind of info, Google is prepared to optimally populate its results page.
We won’t go into details, but we want to say a word or two regarding Google Shopping Bidding. Once you start creating your new Shopping Campaign, by default, all your products are placed in a single group under the name All Products. However, you have complete freedom in breaking that general product group in as many groups as you please. In this phase, it’s important to remember that your auction bid is set on a product group level. You need to carefully place products in one group.
The key metrics you should watch out for when creating a product group are:
- The product price
- Profit margins
- Conversion rates
We recommend eCommerce businesses with small catalogs to create single product groups, for more precise bidding. On the other hand, eCommerce businesses with huge catalogs can group up products by type, purpose, color, or literally any property common between groups of products, or even use combinations of properties. For example, a group of “blue”, “silk”, “skirts.”
Paid Search Ads
Another way to advertise your eCommerce business is through Paid Search Ads. With Search Campaign, your ad will appear at the top of the Google search results page and it won’t include any type of images. Simply put, Google serves text-only advertisements that are relevant for each query, which are very similar to organic SEO results.
Let’s say you’re searching for “buy blue men's sneakers online”. It’s obvious that this query is with high intent of buying and you are searching for a product that you like to purchase. Showing your ads right at the peak of your customer's needs. There is no other way to do that than with Google Search Ads (side note: you can do it with SEO too, but it will take time, and for eCommerce sites that constantly change their catalogue, it’s better to go for PPC for such detailed high-intent keywords). That’s why Paid Search Ads usually produce high conversion rates and it would be smart to include them in your overall strategy.
With Display Ads (a.k.a. Banner Ads a.k.a. why is this brand everywhere I go ads) you can show your ads on almost every popular website, app or mobile game. They are usually used to follow users around the internet until they convert into a customer. This practice is called retargeting and it’s based on your browsing history, powered by browser cookies.
Display Ads are also used for building brand awareness and generating conversions. The CPC and CTR is lower than in Search Ads, which is normal considering the targeting isn’t as strict as with search ads. But, bear in mind that display ads are quite cheaper than search ads too (a way for google to compensate for the lower performance numbers)
Ready, Set, Sell
Crafting your eCommerce marketing strategy may seem daunting. But then again, the potential profit that can be acquired through the right channels and strategies is enormous. While you may be tempted to go off to the races, intentionality is key when you first begin developing an eCommerce marketing strategy. Make sure you have a deep understanding of your product and the demand for your product. Don't be afraid to make assumptions, so long as you test them. So, as long as you’re organized and detail-oriented, and religiously look at the data, which in digital marketing is in abundance, it’s hard to go wrong. After reading this comprehensive list of strategies, tools, and resources, you’ll be well on your way to creating a real impact and getting real revenue.
If you enjoyed this read, feel free to check out our previous article on SaaS Email Marketing Strategies. Also, don’t forget to Subscribe to Our Newsletter!