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How to Write eCommerce Marketing Plan_blog

Tips & Guides — 07 Jun 2022

How to Write eCommerce Marketing Plan

How to Write a Simple Ecommerce Quarterly Marketing Plan

Online shopping is no longer a new trend, but it’s certainly one that’s still growing. In fact, revenue from ecommerce retail is projected to reach over $1,300 billion by 2025.

Simple Ecommerce Quarterly Marketing Plan
Source(statista.com)

How do you make sure that your online store is taking its fair share of that revenue? Marketing is a good place to start. But for your marketing to be successful, it needs to be well planned. That’s why it’s essential to have a quarterly marketing plan in place.

But what is a quarterly marketing plan for ecommerce? How do you make one? And how do you make sure it’s right for your business? Let’s take a look and find out.

What Is an Ecommerce Marketing Plan?

An ecommerce marketing plan is simply a device to guide your business’s marketing efforts. It gives you a rough outline for how you intend to drive traffic to your online store, and convert both inorganic and organic traffic into paying customers.

Your ecommerce marketing plan may take many forms. It could be a single sheet, bullet-pointed  PDF, or a multi-slide PowerPoint presentation. The important part is what it contains, rather than how it’s presented.

When devising a marketing plan, there are five words to always keep in mind: what, where, when, why, and how.

  • What are you trying to sell?
  • Where are you going to advertise it to the most potential customers?
  • When are you most likely to engage your target audience?
  • Why should they visit your ecommerce store over your competitors’? 
  • How are you going to measure the success of your campaign?

These aren’t the only questions you’ll need to ask yourself, but they’re a good place to start. Keep those five words in the back of your mind while creating your marketing plan, and think of it as the what, where, when, why, and how of your marketing.

Done correctly, your marketing plan will also help you overcome any difficulties in executing your marketing strategy.

Most Difficult Tactics
Source(torquemag.io)

What’s the Difference Between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy?

To most people, a marketing plan could easily be mistaken for a marketing strategy. However, there are distinct differences between the two, and it’s important that your business has both. In fact, your marketing plan will be informed by your marketing strategy, which is in turn informed by your overall business plan.

Ecommerce marketing strategies are a broader concept. They focus on the marketing theory that will help you fulfill the overall strategy of your business. Your marketing plan, on the other hand, will focus on the smaller details that will help you make sure you’re following your marketing strategy.

It will be a comprehensive roadmap for how your digital marketing will run across different channels at different times and will help inform your marketing budget. It should focus on the what, where, when, why, and how of your marketing strategy. 

It will ensure you always know where your marketing efforts should be concentrated at any given moment, and help you plan for what’s coming next.

Quarterly Marketing Plans vs. Annual Marketing Plans

So why should you make your marketing plan quarterly? Surely it’s better to plan longer term, and know where your marketing is going? In some ways, this is true. 

You should always have a good idea of what’s next for your marketing strategy. But there are advantages to breaking up your calendar into smaller, 90-day chunks when thinking about your marketing.

Firstly, it allows you to be more flexible. Things can change fast in the world of marketing. Trends such as partner marketing or social commerce can emerge, which may require you to change your marketing plan. This is harder if you’ve already got a year’s worth of marketing already planned out. 

Social Commerce Sales
Source(statista.com)

Changing your plan for just the next 90 days will cause you less long-term hassle and stress. It means you can remain agile, and pivot your marketing efforts more quickly. It will also allow you to integrate these changes into future plans more efficiently, meaning your plan for the next 90 days will instantly be more current and less dated.

Secondly, a 90-day plan allows you to track KPIs in real-time, and respond accordingly. Measuring results over a shorter time period means you can react to successes, and failures, more quickly. If some aspect of your marketing hasn’t performed as well as you’d like in the last 90 days, you can change it for the next 90.

Finally, focusing on smaller chunks of time allows you to remain focused on your priorities, and plan in greater detail. Any targets you set will need to be met faster, as deadlines will rarely be more than 12 weeks away. This will keep your marketing teams on their toes. It will also mean that plans can focus on every detail, helping you to achieve those targets.

7 Steps to Creating Your Quarterly Marketing Plan

We’ve seen why marketing plans are important, and why it’s a good idea to focus on shorter periods of time when planning your marketing. Now it’s time to look at how to actually draw up your quarterly marketing plan template.

Here are seven steps to follow when creating your marketing plan. They might not all be relevant for your business, and you might not do them in exactly this order, but keep them in mind when planning and you won’t go far wrong.

  1. Define Your Business’s Purpose

This will give you a central idea around which you can plan your marketing. Having a mission statement to refer back to helps you make sure all your efforts have a purpose. What is your business there to do?

In most cases, the answer will be to sell a product or a service. But that’s not all to consider. How do you want to go about doing that? What image do you want your brand to project? What impact do you want your business to have on the world?

This will help inform your overall marketing content strategy. You can then revisit it every quarter when you draw up your marketing plan. How did you perform in the last quarter in terms of achieving your business goals? If not, what can you do differently this quarter to get closer to your targets?

Setting a mission statement will give you a short, succinct phrase you and your employees can always refer back to. For example, PayPal’s mission statement is:

“To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution”.

You can see how, in one sentence, the main goals of the company have been set out. PayPal’s employees can refer back to their mission statement and are constantly reminded of their company’s core values. How’s what they’re doing making payment convenient, secure, and cost-effective? How is their marketing conveying that to their customers?

    2.Assess the Current Situation 

A great place to start when you come to drawing up the actual details of your plan is to look at where your business is now. How did you perform last quarter? How does that compare to your business model? Which were your best-performing marketing channels? Were there any opportunities you missed?

Assessing your strengths and weaknesses will help you focus your efforts where they’re most needed. Then you can plan to make sure you’ve got the resources to seize those opportunities this quarter. 

It can also help to take stock of where your direct competitors are in relation to you. What have they done that has really worked in the last quarter? Has their online marketing been more effective than yours in any area? If so, can you alter your plans to try and replicate that success?

There are several helpful planning tools that can help you do this. One useful option is the SWOT analysis framework.

 

S – Strengths

  • Existing brand
  • Existing customers

W – Weaknesses

  • Brand awareness/perception
  • Technology/skills

O – Opportunities


  • New markets
  • Collaborations

SO Strategies


Use strengths to maximize opportunities


Attacking strategy

WO Strategies


Counter weaknesses by exploiting opportunities


Build strengths for attacking strategy

T – Threats


  • Competitors
  • Marketing channel Conflicts

ST Strategies


Use strengths to counter threats


Defensive strategy

WT Strategies


Build defensive strategies to counter weaknesses and threats


Build strengths for defensive strategy

 

    3.Set Your Marketing Goals

When you’re an online business, your marketing is the only way customers can find out about what you offer. There’s no physical store they can stumble across on their way to work, and no salesperson they can talk to to have products recommended to them.

This means that your marketing goals need to be clear and precise, to make sure your marketing is doing its job:

  • Bringing in new customers
  • Persuading them to buy your products/services
  • Encouraging them to return and purchase from you again

Depending on the age and success of your business, you may wish to focus on one of these marketing objectives more than the others. This is where your marketing goals come into play. Let’s take a look at a few different business models below. 

  • A new startup or small business looking to develop a loyal customer base will wish to draw in lots of new customers. This means their marketing goal will be to increase traffic to their website. 

Action: set a target to increase their first-time website visitors by a set percentage by a certain date.

  • A more seasoned business that wants to increase online sales may be more concerned with showing off new products or advertising special offers. 

Action: set a goal of increasing their conversion rates by a set percentage over a set time frame.

  • A well-established business may wish to encourage repeat purchases from their already well-established customer base. Their marketing efforts would be more focused on enticing lapsed customers back with discount codes or other incentives. 

Action: increase their percentage of customers who make more than one purchase by a set amount.

By setting goals and targets like the examples above, you can continually refer back and see whether your marketing efforts have been successful. You then know what to change, and what to keep the same when planning for the next quarter.

    4.Identify Your Target Market

Once you’ve established what your marketing goals are, it’s time to determine how you’re going to communicate with your customers. In order to know how to do this, you need to have an idea of who your ideal customers are.

A good way to establish this is to draw up customer personas. These are general representations of the types of people who are likely to want to purchase from you. They will cover the motivations, preferences, and purchasing behaviors of these personas. This will allow you to develop marketing methods that will specifically target them. 

In order to develop these personas, you’ll have to do a bit of research. Market research is incredibly important in any area of an ecommerce business, such as looking at purchase order examples before drawing one up for the first time. It’s no different when it comes to marketing. 

Marketing research could be done with customer surveys. The more information you can gather about your customers, the better. This will allow you to build up more detailed personas, and allow you to better plan your marketing tactics. What are your customers’ ages, genders, shopping habits, and pain points? 

It can be helpful to know which social networks they use, so you know where to find other new customers with social media advertising.

Identify Your Target Market
Source(hubspot.com)

    5.Grow Your Audience                   

Alongside your key demographics, there may be other types of customers you wish to reach who may not be aware of your brand. It’s a good idea to consider not only how you’ll reach your key personas, but how other customers will find your business, also. 

In order to catch the attention of potential customers, you’ll need to develop your key brand messages. You can focus on awareness, familiarity, and purchase intent. This will help you make people aware of your products and services, inform them about what you offer, and persuade them to purchase from you rather than from a competitor.

It’s important to target customers at all stages of their customer lifecycle. This is commonly split into five stages:

  1. Awareness – potential customers first learn of your brand.
  2. Acquisition – potential customers give you their contact details, forming a direct link to them.
  3. Conversion – the customer decides to purchase from you.
  4. Fulfillment – the customer receives the goods or services they’ve purchased from you.
  5. Loyalty – the customer leaves a review or makes another purchase.

By optimising marketing that targets customers at every stage of their journey, you can make sure you’re pushing them through your sales funnel as quickly as possible, and not losing them to a competitor along the way.

    6.Identify Your Key Marketing Channels

There are so many ways to connect with potential customers, it can sometimes be hard to determine which is the best way to do it. Some of your options include:

  • Email marketing
  • Website/organic search
  • PPC (pay per click) advertising, such as Google ads
  • Pop ups
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Partnerships with other ecommerce businesses 
  • Influencer partnerships
  • Testimonials
  • Offline marketing like TV ads or magazine ads

Some of these channels will be better suited to reaching certain types of customers than others. That’s why it’s important to develop your buyer personas, and know the stages of the customer journey, so you can determine which channels to use and when. There are tools available to help you analyze data from your different marketing channels.

Identify Your Key Marketing Channels
Source(activecampaign.com)

Spending on digital advertising has never been higher and continues to grow year on year. Social media ads can also lead new customers to your online store. Platforms such as Amazon and Shopify even have tools that allow you to easily create adverts for social media platforms such as Facebook.

Partnerships with influencers are likely to reach younger, more tech-savvy consumers. They’re a great way to initially introduce these customers to your brand. If they feel like the people they admire are advocating your high-quality products, they’re all the more likely to want to purchase them themselves.

Partner marketing also comes into play here. By working in collaboration with other brands that your target customers are also likely to shop with, you can increase revenue for all parties. 

There are plenty of tools available to help make this process seamless. This could be done by offering discount codes to customers of your partner brand or promoting each other on your websites or podcasts. 

Email campaigns are used after acquisition, once a potential customer has become a lead on your email list. You can then try to entice them with personalized communications, advising them of special offers, or advertising new products. 

In order to drive conversion, you could send out cart abandonment emails to target customers who never made it to checkout. Other techniques could include optimizing landing pages and product pages to drive sales.

Sending customers informative updates about their order is a good way to keep their attention through the fulfillment stage. At this point, it’s all about impressing them with how great your service is, in the hope they make further purchases in the future. If you have an app, providing order update notifications is a great way to do this.

Finally, keep your customers coming back time and again by continuing to advertise to them at the loyalty stage. Rewards schemes, customer loyalty programs, and referral schemes can all come into play here. 

As you already have your customer’s details, you could send them a discount code to use around their birthday. Personal touches such as these make customers feel valued and help to build a lasting relationship.

    7.Keep It Going: Analyze & Repeat

Once you’ve conducted your marketing using the criteria we’ve outlined, it’s time to measure how successful it’s been. You can do this using the metrics you established as part of your planning, as discussed earlier in this article. 

However, there are numerous other KPIs, (key performance indicators), that you can use:

  • Cost of customer acquisition – how much it costs your business to acquire one new customer, including any paid advertising. 
  • Marketing ROI, (return on investment) – how much revenue is generated for each dollar spent on marketing. Also taken into account in your gross profit margin formula.
  • Revenue by channel – how much revenue is generated from each marketing channel.
  • Customer lifetime value – how much the average customer spends over their time as a customer with your brand.

All these metrics will give you an idea of how successful your marketing has been, allowing you to focus on methods that are successful, and move away from those that are less so. This will help with customer retention and customer acquisition going forward. 

On top of this, you could use marketing tools such as Google Analytics to examine the impact of your paid ads and SEO exercises, allowing you to invest in search engine optimization services, or better-paid advertising, if necessary. Statistical analysis can also help determine the value of influencer partnerships and partner marketing.

As your customer base grows, so will the data you have access to. This will give you a bigger sample size to analyze and will help you draw more accurate conclusions about the success of your marketing. This will allow you to further refine each marketing campaign as you conduct them. All campaigns will start with a small amount of trial and error!

Keep It Going Analyze & Repeat
Source(digitalmarketingcommunity.com)

Takeaways

Hopefully now you can see the importance of an ecommerce quarterly marketing plan. Not only does it help you follow your marketing strategy and your overall business plan, but it also gives you the flexibility to quickly react to changes in the market, and constantly reevaluate your marketing efforts.

Remember to be aware of who your target customer is, and cater your marketing plan to them. Make full use of all the tools and marketing channels available to you to reach your target audience, and draw them through your sales funnel.

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Nick Shaw - Brightpearl

Written by

Nick Shaw has been Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Brightpearl, the number one retail-focused digital operations platform which encompasses sales and inventory management software, accounting, logistics, CRM and more, since July 2019 and is responsible for EMEA Sales, Global Marketing and Alliances. Before joining Brightpearl, Nick was GM and Vice President of the EMEA Consumer business at Symantec and was responsible for a $500m revenue business.Nick has written for sites such as Hubspot and G2.

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