No product truly sells itself. It doesn’t matter how brilliant or unique or game-changing the goods in your ecommerce store are. If no one knows about them, you can’t move them.
Fortunately, as an online seller, you have myriad options for capturing the attention (and dollars) of consumers all over the world. Digital marketing comes with the ability to tailor your advertising to be more personal to your buyer’s experience. It allows you to target consumers right down to where they live, what they value, and whether they prefer Bruno Mars or Fleetwood Mac. You can engage personally through social media, inspire them with video, and nudge them to take the step from consideration to conversion.
But you have to have a plan.
You have to clarify the right objectives for your company at this moment in time. You need to know your customer persona, where to find that person, and how to connect with them. You need to have an eye on your competitors and an eye on the constantly evolving culture. You need analytics tools so you can routinely monitor and optimize your digital marketing strategy.
This is, admittedly, a lot to think about. If your business isn’t large enough to handle digital marketing in-house, you may need to reach out to a local digital marketing agency. However you approach it, one thing is for sure: your ecommerce business will not grow without a thought-out strategy.
Here are the absolutely essential marketing strategies every ecommerce store needs.
Before you do anything else, take the time to review your analytics, evaluate your business’s current performance online, and check in to see what your competitors are doing.
If you want your new digital marketing strategy to actually boost your conversion rate, this step is non-negotiable. Thorough strategy research arms you with the knowledge you need to make smart, profitable choices. You’ll discover what type of content is already boosting user engagement, the demographics of buyers who frequent your ecommerce site most frequently, and at what point you lose potential customers.
Even if you’re about to launch your ecommerce store for the first time ever, you cannot skip this step. In fact, by choosing to do your research before designing a strategy, you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of competitors who are still throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. If you don’t have your own analytics to review, check out what your competitors are doing. There are tools that will give you priceless insights into their social media campaigns, keywords, target audience, and what kind of buzz they’re creating.
Also make sure you’ve taken the time to develop your business model canvas, and let that snapshot of your objectives, customers, and resources inform your digital marketing strategy. Every choice you make should serve that overarching vision in a deliberate, specific way.
Optimize Your Website
Your website is where the magic happens. Before you delve into the many tricks and tactics for driving traffic to your site, you need to be sure it’s optimized for a stellar user experience.
If you’ve done your strategy research, you now know where there are weaknesses in your site and you know what your competitors are doing better. Use this information to make sure your website is easy to navigate, on brand, and up to the standards of modern buyers. You don’t want to overwhelm visitors with bells and whistles, but you also need to make sure your e-commerce site is professional, makes a statement about your brand, and looks like it was updated more recently than 2005.
This is also your opportunity to find ways to improve conversion rates. Do your product pages or checkout process involve opportunities to upsell with product upgrades or suggested purchases? Is there a “keep shopping” option when your customers place an item in their cart? What about wishlists, shopping lists, product reviews, and live chat?
There are countless ways to build trust and credibility, and even more ways to gently nudge buyers to click that “add to cart” button.
Mobile Site Optimization
It is projected that by 2021, 54% of all ecommerce sales will be made through mobile devices.
More than half of all purchases made online will happen via mobile device . . . in only two years.
You’re already at risk of losing major selling opportunities if your site isn’t optimized for mobile. But even if you’re getting by with a less-than-ideal mobile setup now, you should know those days of getting by are numbered. Take time now to make sure your ecommerce website is easy to read, easy to navigate with a thumb, includes a crystal-clear checkout process, and loads quickly. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and Mobile Usability report are great options for evaluating whether your mobile site is up to snuff.
It doesn’t matter how big your budget is for paid advertising, search engine optimization is still crucial in raising the visibility of your ecommerce store. As effective as advertising is, buyers will always be more wary of anything with the word “sponsored” attached to it. In fact, almost 80% of Internet users skim right past the ads and prioritize the organic rankings in search results.
Admittedly, SEO is a more complicated skill than it used to be. You can’t just load a page with your chosen keyword and land on the first page of search results. Search engines are more sophisticated now. They note everything including keywords, meta descriptions, and headlines. They have more advanced algorithms to judge the readability and value of your content. It should also be noted that they tend to boost websites that have video content.
If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. But we can assure you: It’s well worth it.
Speaking of SEO, content marketing is a great way to boost visibility for your ecommerce store. What to do we mean when we talk about content marketing?
Well, content includes blogs, podcasts, and even long-form, downloadable content like buying guides. Video falls under this category as well, but we’ll cover video in its own section later on.
Content marketing benefits your store in a lot of ways. Oftentimes, it’s informative or entertaining and can draw someone to your site even when they weren’t looking to make a purchase. Blogs and videos are likelier to be shared across social media than the products pages that typically make up an ecommerce store. Content also provides an opportunity to establish a brand voice, humanize your business, and frame your company as a true expert in whatever pain point would inspire users to buy from you.
Why does video marketing get its own section?
Because we need to drive home how singularly essential video marketing is in 2019. Even if you haven’t consciously come to this conclusion, you most likely know it on a gut level by now. Would you rather learn about a product from a description or a video? Do you feel more connected to a brand after seeing an Instagram photo or a 30-second video ad?
Whether it’s an explainer video or an emotionally compelling video that connects to your brand in theme only, a strategically created video can inspire engagement, build trust, and drastically increase brand awareness.
Social Media Marketing
That said, the reasons do go on. It is much easier to target an extremely specific audience through social media than it has been through any other platform in history. Facebook Ads offers the most notably detailed targeting options out there, because the platform has such specific information about its users. You can create target segments right down to geography, interests, profession, and relationship status.
Social media ad designs are also especially friendly to ecommerce stores, with options like carousel ads to show off several products at once. Not to mention, a social platform is a great place to boost visibility for your video marketing efforts. If you take the time to create an engaging video that resonates with your audience, that content can get passed around fairly quickly.
The ROI for email marketing is notably high for almost every industry. But think what email marketing can do for you as an ecommerce store . . . especially in the age of automation.
With the right email marketing strategy in place, you can send reminders to customers who left items in their cart without following through on checkout. You can tempt buyers with an email telling them more about a product they viewed. You can alert them with discounts on items in their wishlist or send emails recommending new products based on their past purchases or browsing history.
You can even connect with buyers the old-fashioned way, by sending emails and newsletters to educate them about your company and products or share content that’s meaningful to them.
The vast, vast, vast majority of users visiting your site for the first time will leave without buying anything.
For one thing, it’s estimated that around 92% of your visitors come with no intent to make a purchase. Whether they were researching your company, comparison shopping, or just browsing out of boredom in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, they often will not buy because they simply never meant to in the first place.
Your job is to turn their casual browsing into an eventual conversion. You need a strategy for retargeting these very same users. You should have an automated system for ads that will help usher each potential buyer through the marketing funnel, first reminding them of your store, then inspiring further consideration, then motivating them to buy with special offers.
Without a retargeting strategy, you are leaving a heaping mound of money on the table.
As an ecommerce store owner, you should put every one of these strategies into practice. But also remember: Your store will never reach its full potential if you test these tactics haphazardly. You need to do your strategy research. You must have a deliberate plan to optimize all the incredible marketing tools available to you in the digital age.
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help you design an expert digital marketing strategy to help you finally start getting the conversions your business deserves.