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Tips & Guides — 02 Dec 2021
15 Marketing Tips for eCommerce
For many of today’s businesses, the internet is a crucial component of what they do. As such, the number of businesses with websites has been steadily increasing. In countries like the UK, the proportion of businesses with a website has risen to more than 80% in the last few years.
However, it’s not enough for an ecommerce business to simply have an ecommerce website. It must be accompanied by a broader set of ecommerce marketing strategies in order to be successful. This article will explore the concept of ecommerce marketing in greater detail and offer some marketing tips, as well as the best ways to put them into practice.
In simple terms, ecommerce marketing is about raising awareness of your business, and in doing so raising your ecommerce conversion rate. It also works to retain those customers after an initial purchase, encouraging more purchases from that customer going forward. The “e” in ecommerce refers to the electronic component since so much modern business is performed online.
Today’s online retailers can take many different steps to raise awareness and encourage sales. Some ways of doing this – such as content marketing and social media accounts – are commonplace and well-known. Others – like A/B testing and SEO plugins – are less so.
Anyone running an online retail store considers a few different tactics at once to maximize their chances of success. Keeping abreast of new and emerging technologies is an excellent way to do so, and a partnership marketing platform can help you track the outcome of your efforts.
Ecommerce retailers should also consider marketing moves beyond a business’ website. While most of these examine a website’s functionality, some take place off it – but are no less useful.
Ecommerce marketing is important because – whether it’s digital marketing or offline marketing – businesses need to market themselves. All businesses need to let potential customers know they exist and offer something useful to them.
Today’s online shoppers have plenty of resources at their fingertips. They can compare dozens of websites and products simultaneously, consulting customer reviews for honest appraisals of what you have to offer. A number of other factors (like a lack of personalization) can also affect the online shopping experience in subtle ways. In extreme cases, this can deter engagement with your business altogether.
As such, it’s important for businesses to stand out from the crowd. Ecommerce marketing strategies make this possible, whether by highlighting key selling points or just reducing friction during the shopping experience itself.
While “strategy” can refer to individual steps towards raising brand awareness, it also refers to our broader plan for a business’s marketing tactics. This can seem daunting, but breaking an ecommerce marketing strategy down into small steps is often helpful.
Good marketers start with the customers themselves – the ones they have or the ones they want to attract. If you already have some data on customer actions, try to find out how many new buyers you’re getting. You should also learn how frequently people buy things from you and how much they spend, as well as other characteristics like gender, age, and location.
Another vital consideration is why people are buying from you in the first place. People make purchases based on some kind of desire, which the product or service will (presumably) solve. Don’t be afraid to ask customers directly about their buying choices – how they use your products, and the problems they’re trying to solve with them.
Finally, it’s worth trying to learn which platforms (such as Twitter or Instagram) your target audience uses. An impeccable marketing campaign is useless if your target audience never sees it, or isn’t exposed to it as much as possible.
By learning more about your customers in this way, you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of them. You may, in turn, be able to put them in different groups based on common behaviors. Some people may buy your products spontaneously. Others may buy after some time has elapsed. Some people buy with emotion, others follow careful research, and so on.
While everyone is different, identifying broad behaviors like this can help you create different marketing campaigns for different groups. This ensures that your wider marketing efforts are more fruitful.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best ecommerce marketing strategies for today’s ecommerce sites. When deployed properly, they can dramatically increase your chances of gaining exposure and making those online sales.
It’s important to see ecommerce marketing tactics as dynamic and interconnected. Our success in one area may depend on success in another. If we push people to a site via social media, for example, we need to make sure that the site is doing everything it’s designed to. You might want to consider services like Affise Reach when attempting to drive website traffic.
Advertising on social media is a solid starting point for any marketer. The most obvious benefit is sheer numbers: as of 2021, 3.78 billion people are on social media. That number is projected to climb to 4.41 billion by 2025.
That said, social media marketing offers other advantages. Over the last few years, several social media platforms have evolved to streamline the shopping experience – a crucial aim for ecommerce marketing. In many cases, retail functionality is a natural fit for that platform’s format.
For example, Instagram’s shoppable posts allow people to make purchases directly from a social media post instead of an online store. These posts can be accessed from multiple places within the app itself, making the shopping experience easier still. Social commerce is one of the major ecommerce trends in 2021, and is likely to grow in the future.
According to Instagram itself, this option is remarkably popular. In one survey, 81% of respondents said Instagram helps them research products and services.
Other platforms can help you approach customer engagement from a different direction. Twitter allows for quick, easy conversation with potential customers, allowing you to foster positive attitudes towards your brand. You can also run giveaways, draw people in with attractive images, and – of course – link directly to certain products on your website.
While popular, social media marketing frequently relies on bright, attractive images to draw in prospects. As such, it’s particularly suitable for products that can be shown in such a context. You may also need a specific account type for business reasons; shoppable posts are only available through Instagram Business accounts, for instance.
The storefront of an ecommerce store says a lot about your business, even if you don’t intend it to. As such, it’s important to make sure your website is visually appealing. Do some research into current design trends, and – if necessary – give your website a facelift.
This is particularly important if you haven’t updated the appearance of your ecommerce website in a long time. A website that looks old-fashioned can raise concerns about website security, or even make you appear fraudulent – regardless of your security practices.
The best product pricing and site security are pointless if the site surrounding them seems dodgy. That’s why it’s important you make a good impression on first-time visitors.
Data breaches are still a fact of life for the modern internet user, although their numbers have been trending downwards over the last few years. Even if they’re relatively benign, like the recent Twitch data breach, users are rightfully wary of risking payment details and other sensitive information. So ensure your site aesthetics are high quality and avoid turning online shoppers away.
Ecommerce website functionality can be tweaked in many different ways, but another useful update is responsiveness. Simply put, this means the site appears properly on any modern devices such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones. It’s likely you’ve touched upon this already, but revisiting it may help boost your visitor numbers a little.
Another way to make your business mobile-friendly is to build an app for it. Mobile devices are how most people access the internet nowadays, and they have been for some time; mobile internet use passed desktop use in 2016. From that perspective, a dedicated mobile app is a smart choice.
An app may not be preferable for a small business, but for a large company, they’re worth considering. Apps offer a few different advantages over a mobile site. They typically load quicker than a website counterpart, reducing both waiting and shopping times. They also allow customers to view products more easily than searching in a browser app.
Another key advantage is push notifications. These let you tell online shoppers about sales and other promotions. If a product they wanted to buy is out of stock, you can even use an app’s push notification to tell them when it comes back in stock.
While mobile apps take time and money to develop, the broader popularity of mobile devices can make them a worthy investment. Regardless of your choice, though, make sure to maintain a mobile-responsive website. This is especially important for a small business; since only 18% of small enterprises have one, a responsive site is an easy way to stand out.
This refers to nudging a customer towards a better product than the one they set out to acquire. It’s an ideal tactic if you’re looking to get more business from existing customers since the probability of selling to these is 60–70%.
Upselling typically refers to replacing one product in a customer’s basket with a slightly more expensive one. It may also refer to encouraging purchase of a complementary product. In some situations, cross-selling may be a better description for this latter practice.
To upsell a product, there are some things you must be mindful of. For a start, you need to sell something quite similar or related to the original item. If somebody wants to buy an oven you won’t be able to upsell them on a dishwasher, for example.
You also need to consider the customer’s anchor price. This term typically refers to the first price a customer sees on your website, which invites comparisons with other products. If there’s no good justification for the more expensive product, your upselling will fall flat.
As such, you need to offer detailed information about the products you sell. Where possible, you also need to tie these details to tangible benefits for your customer. Above all, don’t push your luck; upselling can only go so far, particularly since many expensive items are researched carefully beforehand.
One of the most frustrating aspects of ecommerce is shopping cart abandonment. While it’s a fact of life for business online – regardless of industry – it’s no less frustrating for retailers. In March 2020, 88.05% of online shopping carts were abandoned. While automotive sales lose out the most, all industries are vulnerable to cart abandonment.
Fortunately, the commonality of the problem means we have good ideas for fixing it. To do so, we need to understand why people abandon shopping carts in an ecommerce store in the first place.
A major factor in shopping cart abandonment is the checkout process itself. Long, complex checkout procedures are sure to deter many shoppers on your site. While payment methods like Apple Pay can streamline things, we can’t rely on these for everyone who wants to shop with us.
Another problem with the checkout process is long delivery times. Even if waiting times are a factor for any online sales more generally, there’s still a ceiling to what shoppers will tolerate.
In other cases, the problem may be less with the checkout and more with the site surrounding it. If people have to create an account or the website frequently crashes, this can increase the chance of cart abandonment. A perceived lack of security (as we touched upon earlier) will definitely deter a notable chunk of your customers.
One way to reduce shopping cart abandonment is to remove barriers to returning things. For instance, you might want to offer a money-back guarantee on products, as well as clear, simple return policies for your shoppers.
This can make people more likely to buy something if they know there are few barriers to changing their minds later. Offering live chat (more on this later) can help resolve any lingering questions they might have.
It’s also important to remember an abandoned shopping cart doesn’t have to mean a lost sale. Consider enticing people back with an exit intent pop-up. When a customer moves their cursor away from your store a pop-up appears, which offers them some kind of deal or incentive to stay on-site.
If a customer has already left the site, another strategy is to send a customer an email welcoming them back. The problem may be that – for whatever reason – some questions about the product went unanswered. Offer to answer these questions for them now.
Another customer deterrent is a lack of information about what you sell. This is something that can stop people from even adding things to their shopping cart in the first place.
The solution is to write product descriptions that serve the needs of your customers. You also need to balance this with the needs of search engines, which means considering a broader SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. Luckily, these two things don’t need to be in competition with one another.
Product descriptions will work in slightly different ways for different products. For instance, if you’re selling an item of clothing you’ll need to provide some kind of size guide. If you’re not sure what to include, try to – within reason – supply as much information as possible. Product dimensions, basic features, and anything else you think is helpful will make an impact.
A second advantage of detailed descriptions is a reduction in returns. Many returns are due to the product not matching the product description. Providing these crucial details eliminates this problem. You can reduce returns further with other measures, like making sure products are accurately portrayed in photographs.
In addition to product descriptions, you might want to include testimonials from other customers. These are highly trusted online by first-time shoppers, but only introduce them if you’re confident about the results. 62% of online shoppers won’t buy from ecommerce brands that censor site testimonials. If you’re concerned about this, working with influencers is another way of generating positive reception.
SEO is a very broad area of expertise, which requires some time to understand properly. With regards to product descriptions, though, adding keywords can aid visibility in search engine results. Remember that keywords must be surrounded by high-quality content to make an impact.
Shipping costs – or rather unexpected shipping costs – are a thorn in the side of the online customer, regardless of the target audience. Even if they’re not particularly high, an unexpected one can be a big deterrent for people who thought they knew what they were paying.
It may also contribute to your site’s overall bounce rate. If you haven’t already, make sure to learn about bounce rate vs exit rate during your marketing research.
The simplest solution to this problem is to tell people about your shipping costs as soon as possible. While you likely have this information on a dedicated delivery page, not everyone will consult this.
Writing your delivery costs in a prominent place (on a landing page, for example) lets people know what to expect right away. If your delivery costs are more complicated, make sure to tell people about delivery costs at the start of the checkout process, rather than the end.
One option to consider is charging a flat shipping rate for online sales. This will help you convey it to a greater number of customers more easily. However, if this isn’t practical, being upfront about different shipping charges will still be appreciated.
Another option is to do away with delivery costs altogether. Even if you then raise product prices, this may still have a notable psychological impact on your customers and boost ecommerce sales. The flipside of this is that repeat customer may notice the price rises anyway, so think carefully about your choice.
Unclear payment methods are a further deterrent for customers. They’re naturally a frustration for people during the checkout process, given the clear intent to buy at this stage in the game. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to address in ecommerce.
Start by adding the logos of your accepted credit cards to your website. Work to accept as many different payment methods as you can; the more you add, the more customers you’re going to draw in. New payment methods are one of 2021’s mobile marketing trends, so it’s worth taking a close look at them. As with delivery costs try to put them in a prominent place, or at least within the checkout itself.
As ever, don’t forget to consider security concerns; if people don’t feel safe, they won’t pay. Take a look at your broader website security, and see if there are any relevant logos you can add to your website. Some kind of security seal – placed in clear view – will put many customers’ minds at ease. Make sure you actually have the security to back it up, though.
Since we’ve established that cart abandonment is a big issue, reducing roadblocks in the checkout process should also be addressed. There are a few ways to approach this.
Start by considering the shape of the checkout process. We’ve acknowledged this already as a factor in cart abandonment. How many steps must new customers take? How much time elapses during an average checkout experience? Consider going through the process yourself; can you identify any major frustrations, and ways of fixing them?
You may also want to consider offering a guest checkout option. This is for two main reasons.
The first is that being asked to create an account for an ecommerce brand is a common headache in online shopping. It’s time-consuming, and has historically required some kind of password verification in a separate window, which many of us simply can’t be bothered with.
The second reason is that – for various reasons – we each have a lot of passwords to keep track of. In 2020 the average internet user had 100 passwords to remember. Removing the need for one on your site will make a huge difference to customers.
Of course, the flipside of this is that customers who guest checkout often lose access to certain features (like item tracking). In the unlikely event of an order problem, make sure your customer service is robust enough to handle complaints about ecommerce sales.
Streamlining the checkout process in this manner is an example of flexibility in the wake of market trends. Services such as Affise Reach help you embrace this idea more effectively.
This simply means that we allow customers to continue shopping after adding something to their basket. This in turn can encourage people to look around your site once more before they complete their purchase, and possibly spend more than they would otherwise.
It’s likely that people will do this anyway, regardless of what you sell. However, facilitating this can still help you to get more sales from a single customer. At the very least it’s an added degree of flexibility for your customers to take advantage of.
Even with detailed product descriptions and plenty of info elsewhere, it’s impossible to anticipate every question your customers have. But worry not; live chat is a ready antidote to this problem.
While live chat is (or should be) available to all of your customers, you can also hone in on shoppers more receptive to it. You can nudge someone who’s been on a certain page (such as a product page) for a certain length of time. You can also target somebody who’s come to your site from a certain location, such as an email newsletter.
Once live chat has been initiated by a website visitor, work to answer their queries quickly and authoritatively. The more rapidly you can do so, the more likely you are to secure a sale. This in turn can help improve the overall reputation of your ecommerce brand, boost sales elsewhere, and increase the number of loyal customers on your website.
While it’s clearly worth looking into new strategies, some older marketing channels are still useful. One example of this is email marketing; while one of the more traditional marketing techniques, it’s likely you can reach most customers with it. Who doesn’t have an email address, after all?
A solid starting point is building an email list via an online store. Ask people to subscribe to your emails, and provide a form for them to do so. This has a few different advantages; there’s clear interest from subscribers, meaning there’s probably more interest in what you have to offer.
It’s also cheaper than some other marketing tactics. On social media, for instance, we must pay for advertising. In an email, it’s free of charge. Moreover, email campaigns can be a more reliable form of communication than social media platforms. While rare, outages do occur on social media from time to time. Emails are relatively more stable and ensure you can communicate with customers without fear of interruption.
That said, social media can be useful in increasing email signups. For instance, you might want to run a social media campaign to collect email addresses. You could then offer some kind of promotion as a reward for doing this.
It’s important to think about email marketing with a bit of nuance. While you can send out an identical weekly newsletter to your whole email list, it’s likely you may get a little pushback (or even unsubscriptions). This is because a newsletter can’t be all things to all people. You run the risk of most information in the newsletter being irrelevant to many of your subscribers.
The best thing to do is send different emails to different customers; a degree of personalization is likely to increase open rate and improve brand engagement. The sign-up form can help us gather relevant information, as we touched upon at the start of the article.
Ask people about their favorite product categories, and the kinds of promotions they’re interested in. This can help you determine broader trends, and shape the newsletters you write.
Even if website visitors don’t sign up for newsletters, emails are still a major element of the customer experience. A key component of any ecommerce platform is email automation, from which customers benefit when they perform (or don’t perform) certain actions.
Most of these will be familiar to you; if a customer abandons their cart, you can send an abandoned cart email nudging them back to it. You can also send an email to someone when they first sign up for communications from you. This is a great opportunity to convey some brand values (as well as expressing your appreciation).
A particularly useful kind of email automation relates to purchases. There are a few of these; you can send an email confirming that an order has been placed, and – later – that it has been shipped. You can also send an email confirming delivery, and ask for feedback on a product once some time has been spent with it.
Email lists are ideal if you want to nurture leads from partner marketing. This is an excellent strategy if your products are more complex, or you want your marketing to be more cost-effective.
Email marketing is often an example of personalization – a key component of today’s ecommerce efforts. 60% of today’s shoppers say they will likely become repeat buyers with a company following a personalized shopping experience with an online retailer. That said, it’s important to think about the concept in a little more detail.
Personalization has become a big part of how we interact with many digital services. On streaming services like Netflix, we get recommendations based on our viewing history. This allows us to find what we like more easily and streamlines the overall viewing experience.
That’s essentially what personalization gives us in ecommerce – a removal of obstacles to getting something we want. When we communicate with customers in a way that isn’t personalized, it’s likely to frustrate our customers rather than boost sales. This is usually because we’re sending them information that’s irrelevant; it clutters up inboxes and makes it harder to find what they’re looking for.
While we’ve seen how personalization works in emails, it can also improve the buying process itself. You may recommend certain products or content types (or even new products) to someone, based upon their previous purchase history or physical location. This can be done via email or on the website itself.
This, in turn, is where the aforementioned data collection comes in handy. If you don’t have this data to hand, consider asking new customers what they’re looking for. It’s likely customers will provide this information if they think it’ll improve their broader shopping experience.
A key part of data collection is where the data you use comes from. It’s important that you only work with data that customers have freely given you, and that you don’t get too intrusive with your personalization efforts. Some personalization that improves the buying experience is one thing, but if it delves too deeply into a customer’s personal life it’s more likely to repel loyal customers than attract them.
While personalization is a great way to bolster brand reputation (and therefore broader awareness) it’s not the only way to do so. Consider tools like CPAPI if you want to work with advertisers during your marketing efforts.
When you’re writing marketing messages, you may be wondering if they’re as strong as they could be. Of course, without some kind of comparison, it’s impossible to know for sure. That’s where A/B testing comes into play.
A/B testing involves comparing two digital elements to see which one resonates best with their customers. You can do this with many aspects of a website, email, or product page, like product descriptions, page layouts, and subject lines. If you pursue content marketing you can A/B test the headlines you write. It also has its uses in other areas, such as affiliate programs.
But how does it work in practice? One way to undertake A/B testing is to show two versions of one variable (like a product description) to different groups of site visitors. When we do this, we often show different variables to different groups simultaneously; say, variable A to group 1, and variable B to group 2.
Once this is done, you can track metrics for each variable and see which one was more popular. To return to the example of the product description, you might track which one resulted in more conversions over a given period. The product description with the most conversions would then be used for that product.
A/B testing comes with many different advantages. It helps you to identify and address problems your visitors are facing, and get a better return on investment from your visitors. It also enables you in reducing your website’s bounce rate.
A major advantage of A/B testing is its low-stakes nature. A/B testing lets you tailor marketing messages without making wholesale amends to your broader website. This makes refining your overall marketing strategy much easier.
Given the power of data in marketing decisions, you may want to consider tools like Affise BI in your marketing efforts.
We’ve already touched upon SEO as a consideration for today’s websites. But another concept that’s easy to grasp is the SEO plugin.
A plugin is something that adds new, specific functionality to an existing piece of software. For instance, we might build a website in WordPress before installing compatible plugins. These in turn give us useful functions for our specific website.
There are numerous plugins that can improve our SEO strategy for a website. Some may examine your website and identify things that jeopardize your search ranking. Since this list is rather long today, a plugin such as this can be extremely useful.
Other plugins may help you alter a product’s meta tags more easily. Having good meta tags is important as it helps your product stand out in search results. A good SEO plugin can help you edit titles, descriptions, and what people see in results pages more broadly. Some will even generate meta tags automatically.
If your site has a lot of images (but an outdated SEO strategy) an SEO plugin can update text associated with images. This has significant SEO benefits, and may also aid other things like site accessibility.
All that said, it’s important to understand that – broadly speaking – plugins aren’t a silver bullet for website problems. Many are designed to identify problems instead of fixing them. This is because many of these problems require human insight to fix, so be sure to factor this into your plugin hunt, to avoid disappointment going forward.
As this list of ecommerce marketing strategies confirms, an ecommerce business can use these ecommerce marketing strategies to keep up with (or even surpass) competitors. It allows them to respond to customer behavior, whether it’s specific interests, social media use, or broader queries about what your business does. These tactics are especially important if you’re a small business.
A failure to pursue ecommerce marketing strategies means you don’t have enough information about the success of your marketing efforts. It’s also highly likely you’ll fail to draw customers to your business in the first place.
A wide ecommerce marketing strategy is a key consideration for any ecommerce business. The marketing industry demands that we take a look at our own activities and broader digital trends, as well as how we respond to problems and questions when they arise.
Creating (and sticking to) an ecommerce marketing strategy is a significant undertaking. Tasks like SEO, live chat, and A/B testing need constant investment. Others, like design updates and app development, are more freeform. Task management tools can help make a complex digital marketing plan more workable.
By pursuing these strategies with a clear purpose you’re likely to dramatically increase your website visitors, boosting your conversion rates and brand awareness in the process.
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