eCommerce Marketing: How to Grow Your Online Store

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eCommerce marketing helps millions of retailers achieve more success everyday. It brings in new leads, generates more sales, and improves the reputation of your brand and products. What more could an online seller ask for, right?

Well, perhaps a push in the right direction.

Join us for a deep dive into eCommerce marketing: What options are available to you, how you can get started, and how to measure the success of your future campaigns.

In this guide to eCommerce marketing:

What is eCommerce marketing?

eCommerce marketing is the process of using promotional tactics to drive traffic to your online eCommerce store, convert that traffic into paying customers, and retain those customers post-purchase.

It functions as the tool for achieving your various business goals. Quite simply, without eCommerce marketing, the consumers interested in the products and services you sell would have no way to find them.

eCommerce marketing can help online retailers by:

  • Boosting brand awareness – telling the world about your business.
  • Generating high-quality leads – informing your target audience about the problem they have and the solution your business has to offer.
  • Acquiring new customers – convincing people of the value of your product or service to the point they make a purchase.
  • Increasing website traffic – improving the visibility and attractiveness of your online store through advertising and search engine results pages.
  • Establishing authority within your sector – creating and publishing relevant content that paints you as an expert when it comes to your industry.

There are currently 26 million eCommerce sites worldwide – and growing. During the pandemic eCommerce sales increased by 50% in the US alone, making eCommerce marketing more important than ever before for online sellers.

ecommerce marketing tips

eCommerce marketing helps businesses to reach a wider audience and make more online sales.

8 common types of eCommerce marketing

There are many ways to market an eCommerce business.

Often the best method will depend on a business’s specific monthly, quarterly, and annual objectives. From online to offline, direct to indirect: There’s at least one method of marketing for almost any business goal imaginable.

Here, we break down what each type of eCommerce marketing strategy is best suited for, so you can decide which options will serve your current business goals.

1. Social media marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing uses social platforms to build brand awareness, increase sales, and drive traffic to a company website. Content is tailored to each social media platform to promote your business and drive consumer engagement.

The advantages of social media marketing for eCommerce:

  • You can connect with your customers wherever they are, whenever you like.
  • Plenty of opportunities to gather reviews and customer feedback.
  • It allows you to express your brand personality to the world.
  • Some social platforms like Facebook have highly effective technology for testing, segmenting, and targeting different audiences.
  • Less formal than other methods; you can show your fun side!

2. Email marketing

Email marketing is a strategy where targeted messages are sent to a subscriber audience. It’s used to increase engagement, educate customers on the value of your brand, and helps to keep them engaged between purchases.

The advantages of email marketing for eCommerce:

  • Email marketing outperforms all other strategies.
  • You can fully customise and target messaging.
  • It can be largely automated.
  • It improves customer engagement.
  • Email makes it easy to track repeat purchases via email marketing links.

3. Content marketing

Content marketing focuses on the creation, publication, and distribution of valuable, targeted, and consistent subject matter online. Content marketing aims to attract and retain a clearly defined customer base by providing them with useful information to help solve their problems.

The advantages of content marketing for eCommerce:

  • Organisations that publish good quality, consistent content are rewarded by search engines with better ranking.
  • Content is essential to driving inbound traffic and leads.
  • Content marketing is a profit centre and increases sales.
  • It attracts greater customer loyalty.

4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation aims to get your product pages and eCommerce store in the top 10 results on search engines like Google, Bing, Firefox, and Yahoo. The primary difference between paid advertising and SEO is that SEO involves the use of specific keywords included in content to generate an organic ranking, without paying to be in that space.

The advantages of SEO for eCommerce:

  • SEO increases quality traffic, allowing consumers to find information on products they want or need when they want or need it.
  • You can create evergreen content that continues to bring new leads indefinitely.
  • It’s unpaid and found organically, leading consumers to trust it more than a paid ad.
  • Content that’s been written for SEO can be recycled and reused in other spaces, such as social media.
SEO marketing for ecommerce

SEO makes it easy for customers to find your eCommerce store – even if they’ve never heard of it before!

5. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing uses internet celebrities (influencers) as brand ambassadors who promote your eCommerce business and/or products in their own online space and social platforms. This helps to build brand awareness and reach new audiences.

Influencers are paid through discounts, free products, or cash to promote your brand.

The advantages of influencer marketing for eCommerce:

  • It enhances reach and can target a specific audience much easier.
  • Time effective – you don’t need to create ad campaigns.
  • You can generate great engagement depending on the influencer’s interaction with their followers through comments, likes, and live streams.
  • Influencer audiences may comment on the post about the product and create a conversation around it.
  • Increased sales – followers follow influencers because they like these people and enjoy their content, therefore they like to purchase the same products influencers use and wear the same clothes they buy.

6. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a mutually beneficial arrangement between two parties. Affiliate marketing first started as two businesses using cross-promotion to market one another and expand the reach of each brand.

With the growth of eCommerce, affiliate marketing has evolved to where individuals use an affiliate link to promote a business’s products in exchange for a commission when a sale is made.

The advantages of affiliate marketing for eCommerce:

  • Affiliate marketing is commission-based, meaning that you only pay affiliates for the sales they bring in.
  • It’s very low cost and low risk to both the organisation and the affiliate marketer.
  • Affiliate marketing is high performing and on a growth trajectory.
  • Its performance-based, therefore it encourages affiliates to promote the brand and improve the benefit to them.

7. Word-of-mouth marketing (WOM)

Word-of-mouth marketing is when a consumer talks (positively) to friends and family about your products or services, leaving reviews on websites or sharing recommendations and reviews on social media.

The advantages of word-of-mouth marketing for eCommerce:

  • People trust recommendations from friends and family
  • When a customer or an influencer is extolling and promoting your products or business, they become much more trustworthy, which increases the likelihood of others purchasing the product and supporting your brand.
  • It builds loyalty and a following.
  • You receive immediate feedback from people and can quickly address any queries or negative responses.

8. Referral marketing

Referral marketing makes use of recommendations and word-of-mouth to grow your brands’ customer base through the networks of existing customers. A referral marketing strategy seeks to encourage loyal customers to be brand ambassadors directly referring their friends, family, and social network to your business.

The advantages of referral marketing for eCommerce:

  • It allows you to reach your target audience by using your customers as company advocates.
  • It can improve customer retention rate.
  • Easy to track progress via referral programs.
  • Increased brand awareness and reputation – allowing your customers to market your product to others creates a more legitimate and reliable product that resonates more with the consumer.

How to build an eCommerce marketing strategy in 5 easy steps

eCommerce should be a fundamental component of any business looking to capitalise in the online space.

Therefore, an eCommerce marketing strategy is crucial to ensure that marketing tactics align with online selling and work cohesively to deliver results over time.

ecommerce marketing strategy

The first step to building an eCommerce marketing campaign is defining your goals and strategy.

To build an effective eCommerce marketing strategy, follow these 5 steps:

  • Define your goals

Establish SMART objectives. These need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Are you trying to boost web traffic, expand product lines, increase repeat customer numbers, or grow your revenue?

  • Define your audience

Determine who your target market is and focus your marketing efforts here. Who is your ideal customer? Consider demographics such as age, gender, location, income, interests, buying behaviour and specifically social media preferences so you can meet them where they are.

  • Research competitors

Identify who the main competitors are, what products they’re selling and how they’re engaging with consumers. Conduct a competitor analysis to determine your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and identify any gaps that provide opportunities to foster a competitive advantage.

  • Create content

Decide which eCommerce marketing methods to focus on first. Capitalise on emerging trends and content that solves consumer problems. Determine where the highest ROI can be achieved. Is it influencer marketing, short-form video, email marketing campaigns or social media direct messages?

  • Measure results and performance

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to help determine the success of your eCommerce marketing activities. Review areas such as organic traffic results, conversion rates and customer acquisition costs. Use this data to make necessary adjustments and to inform future eCommerce marketing strategies.

eCommerce marketing methods and tips

One of the main benefits of eCommerce marketing is its cost- and time-effectiveness. It’s also relatively easy to implement and can be automated, duplicated, and readily tracked.

Here are a few actionable tips for getting started using the eight marketing strategies mentioned above.

Social media marketing

The number of social media users worldwide is predicted to hit 5.85 billion by 2027, making it one of the fastest growing marketing channels available.

Social media marketing is critical for building brand awareness and connecting with your target audience. It also provides a place for you to gather reviews, see what your customers are interested in, and promote your latest products or sales campaigns.

Social media marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • Fit in but stand out – create content that naturally matches the format of each social platform and make it pop!
  • Don’t shy away from video content.
  • Schedule posts ahead of time so you don’t have to think about what to post every single day.
  • Post plenty of user-generated content.
  • Show off your brand personality.
  • Aside from paid advertising, focus less on selling products and more on building brand trust.

Email marketing

Email marketing is almost tailor-made for eCommerce. Often it can be integrated with your sales channel, allowing you to send automated email sequences (flows) based on specific customer actions, such as adding a product to their cart.

With the ability to collect emails using an opt-in form on your website and break your email list out into segments, this method can be highly effective when done right.

Email marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • Be authentic – use a real reply-to email address and have contact details in the signature block.
  • Ensure emails are smartphone friendly by optimising for mobile devices.
  • A/B test subject lines to determine which one performs the best.
  • Tailor promotions based on customer shopping history.
  • Segment subscribers to offer discounts and other services.
  • Keep your customers informed of new products.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a modern approach to promoting business.

Today’s consumers value information, communication, and helpfulness when they’re looking for resources online. If you can nail all three, your customers will love you for it.

Content marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • Know your target audience. Understanding the wants and needs of your target audience is important to creating relevant and valuable content. Content that does not solve consumer problems is just spam!
  • Know where your audience goes for information – is it blogs, magazines, YouTube … the library? This is how you determine where to publish and distribute your content.
  • Develop your content marketing strategy before your social media strategy to ensure every piece of content across all platforms is worthwhile for your customers.
  • Formalise and schedule everything in a content calendar to ensure consistency.
content marketing for ecommerce

Content marketing is an effective way to build a rapport with your eCommerce audience and establish yourself as an industry expert.

SEO

SEO is a cheap and effective long-term strategy that can be neatly tied into your overarching content strategy.

By showing up on the first page of search engine results, your brand can organically increase website traffic and gather new leads through the same piece of content for months or even years.

SEO tips for eCommerce:

  • Audit your website for issues and improve website loading speed. You don’t want prospective customers to head to your website only to have technical issues.
  • Produce expert, authoritative, and trustworthy content that will remain relevant for years to come (evergreen).
  • Research and include relevant keywords in your product descriptions, blog posts, and URLs.
  • Create audience-grabbing titles that tell your reader what, why, and how. This will drive more qualified clicks.
  • Naming your products after popular search queries can give you a competitive advantage – especially if the query is included in your H1 title and product page URL.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a modern method that makes use of an internet celebrity’s prestige and their fans’ engagement.

It’s a great way to side-step the narrative of “boasting about oneself” and allow external parties to speak about your products without obvious bias.

Influencer marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • Research your target audience and find an influencer who fits this niche.
  • Select your influencer carefully; working with the wrong influencer can result in more harm than good for your brand.
  • Provide a clear brief of the features and benefits you’d like the influencer to focus on.
  • If you’re looking to save money, consider alternatives to cash payment – free products or cross-promotion, for example.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is an especially profitable strategy, as you’re only required to pay affiliates once they’ve brought in a sale.

This makes it low-cost, low-risk, and highly attractive for young businesses starting out.

Affiliate marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • This is a competitive market – use the right technology and software to ensure the greatest results.
  • Develop your analytical skills as you will need to research and analyse data and trends to find a niche that will work for you.
  • Select and build a good relationship with affiliates that support your brand, and they will market your products for you.
  • Create a following on social media to share links and have a fan base to promote your products to them. 

Word-of-mouth marketing

As with influencer/affiliate marketing, WOM marketing offers the attractive possibility of having other people speak highly of your brand. Add to that the fact it can be achieved without incentives and it’s obvious why this is such a popular method for many businesses.

Word-of-mouth marketing tips for eCommerce:

  • The first step to improving your word-of-mouth marketing is to provide customers with exceptional customer service and exceed their expectations.
  • Use visual and emotional triggers that the consumer wants to share; be unique.
  • Generate word-of-mouth among influencers and through user-generated content.
  • Push for product ratings and reviews.

Referral marketing methods

Like the above, referral marketing relies on existing customers to do the talking about your products and brand for you.

The key difference is that referral is a more hands-on approach than WOM marketing, as it requires actively incentivising and tracking customer referrals.

Referral marketing methods tips for eCommerce:

  • Identify and target your most loyal customers.
  • Establish a good network and customer database; they will do most of the advertising and marketing for you.
  • Establish joint venture referrals – collaborate with other businesses by promoting their product in return for a commission on sales and vice versa.
  • Reply to all queries and address all concerns. These customers are your marketing, so they need to be satisfied and happy to successfully promote your business.
  • Track referrals so that you can customise a personal experience for the customer helping to keep them engaged in your content/product/business.

Measuring the success of your eCommerce marketing

Measuring your eCommerce marketing results is much simpler than measuring traditional marketing methods. Metrics are easier to track, and eCommerce platforms provide a host of reporting and analytical tools for businesses to use.

Accurately measuring the success of your eCommerce marketing campaign comes down to the metrics you choose to track. KPIs should align with the goals and objectives within the marketing strategy.

ecommerce marketing metrics

It’s critical that you track and measure the right eCommerce marketing KPIs so that you can make data-driven business decisions.

Important eCommerce marketing KPIs to measure

  • Customer satisfaction score – how satisfied the customer was with a product, service, or customer support interaction
  • Net promoter score – the likelihood a customer would recommend a product, or a service to a friend or colleague
  • Refund/return rate – the percentage of the total transactions that were returned/refunded during a set period
  • Complaint resolution time – the time it takes to satisfactorily resolve a customer’s complaint once received
  • Return on investment – the percentage of net profit compared to the total cost of the investment
  • Sales growth – the revenue from eCommerce marketing activities compared to a previous fiscal period
  • Profitability – the degree the marketing activity has yielded a profit or financial gain
  • Audience growth – the number of new followers/consumers gained
  • Product growth/expansion – other markets reached in addition to the target market
  • Net profit – the income earnt after deducting all operating, interest, and tax expenses
  • Net sales – the total number of sales achieved after discounts, customer returns, and other deductions
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who enter then leave the site without continuing to view other pages
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate – when a potential customer starts the checkout process for an online order but drops out before completing the purchase

eCommerce marketing tools & software

There are a variety of marketing tools and software solutions available to help with your eCommerce marketing.

Many offer free trial periods or free versions, such as Canva, which makes content creation more accessible with its easy-to-use drag-and-drop graphic design platform. Photo and video editing tools enable you to create consistent-looking content automatically sized for different social media platforms.

For any business new to the eCommerce industry, Shopify is highly regarded.

The eCommerce platform is an easy-to-navigate, all-in-one eCommerce tool. It’s straightforward and intuitive to set up and build your eCommerce store. In addition, it is optimised for mobile devices, supports all popular payment methods, and integrates with external platforms and third-party apps.

Integrate your eCommerce marketing software and inventory data for optimised growth

Give your eCommerce marketing strategies a boost by integrating sales platforms with Unleashed eCommerce inventory management software.

Unleashed has a variety of tools to help with purchasing, pricing, inventory, and sales to avoid stockouts and ensure quick order fulfilment.

A real-time inventory management solution, Unleashed can support marketing strategies to improve overall customer experience and encourage positive word-of-mouth. This helps you to build brand loyalty and establish an eCommerce business that influencers and affiliates are eager to promote.

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Oliver Munro - Unleashed Software
Oliver Munro

Article by Oliver Munro in collaboration with our team of specialists. Oliver's background is in inventory management and content marketing. He's visited over 50 countries, lived aboard a circus ship, and once completed a Sudoku in under 3 minutes (allegedly).

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