How To Do Ecommerce Marketing | Best Strategies & Assets
Since exploding in the late 90s, ecommerce has become one of the most popular ways to buy products. Millions of us buy our clothing, electronics, and all manner of products online, which has helped to create some of the richest companies on the planet like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. It’s also created a fiercely competitive environment where effective ecommerce marketing is necessary to attract customers and hold your own.
In this article, we’ll talk about the most powerful forms of ecommerce marketing, so that you round out your strategy, build your revenue, and outperform your competitors.
What is ecommerce marketing?
Ecommerce marketing is a collection of strategies that attracts visitors to an online store, converts them to customers, and encourages them to purchase again in future. While it contains many traditional digital marketing techniques, it’s different because the focus is on products and the best ways to promote and sell them. There tends to be a bigger opportunity for repeat business in ecommerce too, especially for products that are bought more regularly like clothing.
Ecommerce marketing is made up of both onsite strategies like SEO and content marketing, and offsite strategies like SEM marketing and social media. When working in unison, they help to drive awareness of your brand, entice people to your website, and increase your revenue through more sales and customer loyalty.
What to include in your ecommerce marketing strategy
For an ecommerce marketing strategy to thrive, it needs a combination of “mini” strategies that build awareness, attract visitors, and convert them. The recommendations that follow provide all of these. The first and most important is having a strong website.
1. Strong website
Apple’s website is famously well-designed (like its products), which helps to give it an ecommerce marketing edge. Image from Apple
As an ecommerce business, your website is essentially your store front, and so needs to be impeccably designed. This focuses on the conversion stage of marketing, and should satisfy all of the following key things:
- Looks great—the site should look great and reinforce your branding at the same time. Many modern ecommerce websites go for minimal designs because it helps to push the site’s elements into the background, and make its products the core focus.
- Stellar images—people want to see what they’re buying, and are usually put off if the product is small, fuzzy, and unzoomable. Taking professional, high-definition product images can make a huge difference to your sales. This applies to every image across your website—category images, banner adverts, etc. Make sure they look awesome.
- Comprehensive content—before we buy things (especially more expensive products like shopping goods or speciality goods), we usually have a mental list of questions that we want answered, which gives us the confidence we need to make the purchase. If we can’t find those answers, we get frustrated and leave, especially if they are important. That’s why you need to anticipate and answer as many of your customer’s questions as possible, for every single product.
- Easy checkout process—if you’ve attracted people to your site with excellent content and SEO, failing at the last hurdle is tragic. Make sure your “add to cart” and checkout processes are top notch, with super clean, non-distracting designs, highly-usable forms, and plenty of assurance.
SEO is the gold standard marketing strategy for any digital business, including ecommerce. There’s simply no better way to attract more people to your ecommerce site than with high rankings in search engines, and that isn’t going to change until they’re superseded by some other mysterious method.
When it comes to SEO for ecommerce, a few things are needed:
- Keyword research—the bread and butter of SEO. This is all about finding which keywords your customers use to find your website, and then optimising the hell out of them across your product and category pages.
- Product information—your product information needs to be both comprehensive and optimised with the most popular keywords that people search for.
- Meta information—crucial meta information like the page’s title, headings, and descriptions should be useful and keyword-rich. The URL should be the same.
- Product schema—product schema is a way to markup your products using code so that Google can read the information more easily, and display that information as rich snippets like product tiles. It can be extremely lucrative.
- Intuitive categories—many people will find your products through your category system, and it should be based on the language and search terms that people actually use, and with a hierarchy that makes sense.
- Local optimisation—if your business operates a physical store in addition to an ecommerce store, you will want to optimise your website for local traffic, with keywords like “Brisbane [your product]”. This will ensure a healthy flow of people to your physical store.
3. Content marketing
Content marketing flips traditional marketing on its head by providing people with valuable, free advice, and asking for nothing in return. The goal is to attract people to your ecommerce website (great for SEO) and slowly win their trust so that they might decide to buy from you. They may also share your content on social media and other platforms, attracting even more people to your site and boosting your bottom line.
As an example, if you’re selling expensive home security systems, you might regularly blog about the importance of security, how security systems work, and other related topics. You might also create a long-form eBook that teaches people about the basics of home security. After reading this content, your prospects are much more likely to buy from you because you’ve already proven that you know your stuff. They are also more likely to believe that your products are high quality. Content marketing is all about credibility building while also pulling more people to your website. Double power!
There are plenty of ways to market with content, with some of the most popular being:
4. Influencer marketing
Love them or hate them, influencers have incredible promotional powers. They can boost product sales with the briefest of mentions, which is why influencer marketing can be a potent way to market your ecommerce products. Around 72.5% of marketers are expected to undertake some form of influencer marketing in 2022,1 which shows how effective the strategy can be.
In a nutshell, influencer marketing works in the following ways:
- Outline your goals—figure out what you actually want out of your influencer marketing
- Identify your influencers—track down who will be most effective at promoting your products
- Reach out to them—reach out to the influencers and ask if they would be interested in promoting your products
Be prepared for plenty of rejection, but keep at it.
5. Upselling and cross-selling
Upselling is persuading someone to buy a more expensive version of a product than they originally intended, like the latest version of a mobile phone. On an ecommerce site, this can be achieved through the use of messages and banners that promote the other products’ benefits, and explain why they should opt for the “better” version. These can be placed on the product page itself, or as a step in the checkout process.
Cross-selling is promoting extra products that (usually) complement the main purchase, like a case to go with a mobile phone, a lamp to go with a tent, or bedsheets to go with a new mattress. These are best placed on the product page when the customer is making the decision to buy the main product, and should be easily added as part of the same “add to cart” process, as with the example below.
Checkboxes are an easy way to allow people to add cross-sells to their main purchase. Image from Personal Best
6. Paid search
Paid search is taking out adverts on search engines like Google, using their various advert types and formats to promote your ecommerce products. This includes Google Shopping ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and remarketing ads that follow people around particular websites they visit. Each have their pros and cons, and we recommend experimenting to see which work best for you. Just keep a close eye on the most important Google ads metrics so that you’re accurately measuring your performance.
7. Abandoned cart software
Sometimes we abandon shopping carts because we aren’t quite ready to complete the sale. Or we might get distracted and completely forget about the intended purchase. In these situations, a gentle reminder to complete our purchase can be extremely effective, and help to recover the lost sale. Abandoned cart software does this by capturing the person’s email address in the checkout, and using it to send the reminder.
You might even consider sweetening the deal by offering the person a small discount if they are willing to complete the sale—anything that pushes them over the line and encourages them to become a customer.
8. Social media
Social media can be used in a couple of ways in ecommerce marketing: to directly promote and sell your products, and to boost awareness of your brand. These are achieved through a combination of regular posts, boosted posts, adverts, and page management, which help to bring your products, your content, and your brand to hoards of social media users, expanding your revenue and reach in the process. It’s tough to sum up social media marketing for ecommerce because there’s so much to it, but it can become a crucial component of your strategy.
Email is one of the original forms of digital marketing, and remains strong to this day. That’s why (relevant) email addresses are coveted by ecommerce businesses, which can be used as part of potent email marketing campaigns to promote their products.
With a persuasive, well-crafted subject line and a compelling and relevant offer, lots of products can be sold and plenty of new customers enlisted. Emails can be used to promote existing products, new product lines, popular sales days like Black Friday, and everything in between. You’ll need email marketing software like HubSpot or Campaign Monitor to make things easy, but they can be well worth the cost when you create high-performing campaigns.
In ecommerce, personalisation is all about showing your products to people who actually want them, and on the platforms and devices that they prefer. If you’re an avid Instagram user who is looking for a new SUV, and you start seeing targeted adverts in your feed, that’s the work of a diligent marketer who is using your data to accurately promote their products. And it’s why personal data has become a more valuable commodity than oil—it allows businesses to personalise their marketing efforts so that they suit the individual needs of their customers.
In theory, the more data you have for your customers, the more accurate your marketing can be. You’ll know which products will work best for which customers, and can send them targeted adverts and offers with much higher conversion rates.
The most important ecommerce marketing assets
As with every marketing endeavour, ecommerce marketing requires a variety of high-quality assets to be successful. That means enlisting talented writers, graphic designers, and developers to create the following key ecommerce marketing assets:
You wouldn’t be much of an ecommerce business without a website, which is why it needs to be impeccably designed, SEO-optimised, fast, and effortless to use. You’ll need an intuitive category structure, navigation that leads people to what they’re seeking, and an “add to cart” and checkout process that feels smooth as a baby seal. As you might expect, this requires a sizable investment and regular ongoing work, but it’s your most important ecommerce marketing asset, so is worth every cent.
Content is the lifeblood of a website. It provides people with the information they want about your products and business, and gives them the confidence they need to commit. You’ll need great content on every single page:
- “Service” pages like your home page, about page, and contact page
- Category pages. These should include information about the category itself, and key information about each product like its name and price.
- Product pages. As mentioned above, you should aim to answer every single question that the customer might have about a product, from basic stuff like its price to complex explanations on how it works. The more uncommon information can often be answered in the form of FAQs.
In addition to your website’s transactional pages, you may also carry out ongoing content marketing such as creating blogs, eBooks, videos, and other forms, which will help to boost your SEO and create trust with consumers.
3. Product images
Excellent product images can have a strong impact on prospective buyers, and help to create an impression of high quality. That means good lighting, plenty of angles of the product, and high resolution images that can be zoomed. Certain types of products like clothing may be closely scrutinised by users to help them with their buying decision, so having high-quality images can make a big difference to your sales.
Strong images will also make your category pages look great, as well as any advertisements you show. Be sure to hire capable photographers and graphic designers to make your ecommerce images shine.
4. Product video
Many people expect video for ecommerce products, especially if they have a strong aesthetic component (like mobile phones), or are complex and require explaining. They’re certainly not a crucial asset to include, but it’s usually a good idea to give the people what they want, so if you have the budget to create videos for your key products, you should consider doing so.
Videos might appear within the product image gallery, or as a separate button where you can click on watch them. They can also be used as part of advertisements of course.
5. Advert graphics
The final important ecommerce assets that you will create are advert graphics, used to promote your products across your website, search engines, social platforms, and email campaigns. Again, high-compelling imagery is very important for capturing people’s attention, especially because our attention is being yanked in a million directions from as many marketers.
Good ecommerce marketing is necessary to build a thriving online business. We hope that we’ve given you a good overview of the strategies and actions that you can take to sell products through your website, as well as the key assets that you’ll accumulate along the way. Good luck!
- Christina Newberry, 2021, Influencer Marketing 101: Strategy Guide for Brands, Hootsuite