This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Ecommerce marketing is when businesses advertise to consumers in an effort to get them to buy products through online platforms (like your own website or Amazon, for example)—this includes both traditional and digital marketing tactics and promotions. Building an online store is a great way to drive more awareness and sales for your retail business. But to effectively grow your store and online sales, you’ll need to use an ecommerce marketing strategy.
Even as a retail business owner with a physical store, it’s essential to build an ecommerce marketing strategy as well, so you can create an omnichannel retail experience that puts your business in front of more prospective customers while simultaneously ensuring existing customers keep coming back.
Here are 12 tips to help you create an ecommerce marketing strategy for your retail business:
1. Leverage Email Marketing
Email marketing can be a cost-effective strategy to generate and nurture leads.
Find an email marketing tool to automate your messages and send targeted campaigns to segmented audiences on your list.
With an email list, you have complete control over your audience—unlike social media, which uses algorithms to limit how many people actually see your content.
Since you’ll need some kind of permission before you can send an email to a subscriber, it’s likely the person is already familiar with your business and interested in products or services you sell or render.
Here are some ways you can use email marketing for your ecommerce marketing strategy:
Build an Email List
When it comes to building an email list, quality is more important than quantity.
Instead of fixating on the number of subscribers, focus on how likely the subscribers are to engage, do business with, and buy from you.
To build a strong email list of quality subscribers, add opt-in forms on checkout pages, in post-purchase communications, and on popular pages of your website. You can also create an interactive quiz as a lead magnet to prompt people to submit their email addresses.
Send Abandoned Cart Emails
Abandoned shopping carts happen when an online user adds products to their cart and leaves your site without completing the purchase. These are a major blow to retailers because these users are likely high-intent, so it’s theoretically an easy sale. But the shopping cart abandonment statistics don’t lie:
- The average documented shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.8% according to Baymard Institute.
- A widely reported statistic pegs the annual ecommerce loss from shopping cart abandonment at $18 billion.
To curb these losses, you can send abandoned cart emails. These kinds of emails remind your customers about their almost-purchase and encourage them to finish the transaction. In the emails, you could offer free shipping, a discount, or even suggest new products as extra encouragement.
Offer Great Content in Your Emails
There’s a level of trust that comes with customers handing over their email addresses to you. To maintain that trust and build a strong relationship with your customers, offer value in your emails.
Since “value” is subjective, it’s essential to understand what your customers care about and create content to meet those interests in your emails. Generally speaking, though, you’ll want to set up a welcome email series that helps customers get to know your business and understand expectations. You could also offer promo codes exclusive to your email subscribers, share relevant product tips, and even ask for feedback.
Use Customer Emails to Create a Lookalike Audience
Another great use of email marketing is to create a lookalike audience based on your list. A lookalike audience is essentially a clone of your ideal target audience—in this case, your list of email subscribers. Since your email subscribers are already interested in your business, creating an audience based on that list is more likely to lead to conversions.
To create this lookalike audience, you’ll first need to segment your existing list and download it as a CSV file. Next, upload the CSV file into your Facebook Ads Manager and select identifiers to help Facebook create the lookalike audience for you.
Ecommerce Marketing vs Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is specific to online marketing channels but may promote either online or in-person sales. Ecommerce marketing is simply advertising through online platforms to get consumers to buy your products.
2. Cross-Sell Your Products
Although simple, companies like Amazon and McDonald’s have seen a considerable increase in revenue because of cross-selling. You can try the same tactic for your store.
If you sell apparel, you can cross-sell a wallet to go with a nice pair of jeans. Or a pet shop might sell vitamins as a complementary item to dog food.
For cross-selling to work, the product you’re offering should complement the items your customers have already bought.
Similar to cross-selling, you can also upsell customers on a product that’s slightly higher-priced than their intended purchase. An example of upselling would be if you convince a customer who is buying a $100 pair of jeans to purchase a $200 pair instead, or to convince the dog owner to purchase the premium food instead of the generic brand.
3. Use Social Media
Building an ecommerce marketing strategy cannot be complete without mention of social media.
Every day more people turn to platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter to entertain themselves and shop for products.
As an ecommerce business, you can easily position yourself to be the one your audience finds when they turn to social media.
Take Advantage of User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is any piece of content created by people—in this case, customers—instead of a brand. UGC posted on social media serves as free marketing and exposure for your ecommerce business.
When people see your customers post pictures of themselves enjoying your product, it helps them trust your business. Aside from images posted on social media, UGC could also be in the form of reviews and recommendations. When done right, UGC drives traffic to both your physical and online stores.
Instagram allows ecommerce business owners to integrate their product catalog with their Instagram business profile. This means you can launch an Instagram store to build a shopping channel in your posts, stories, and Explore page.
You also get a Shop tab on your profile, which serves as your Instagram storefront. In this Shop tab, users can see all the products you have for sale, the product’s price, and other details.
As Instagram’s parent company, it’s no surprise Facebook also supports ecommerce marketing on its platform.
Over 33% of Facebook users in the US use the Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell products every month.
4. Improve Existing Product Pages
Your product pages have two main functions—to attract and to convert.
To attract your dream audience or customers, you need to optimize the page for keywords your audience uses when searching online. Best practices for optimizing your product pages for traffic include proper meta tags, alt text, headers, and keywords.
Once you have a steady traffic flow, your next objective is to optimize your product pages for conversion. To do this, you’ll need to write product descriptions that appeal to your audience’s emotions or pain points and position your product as the solution. Monitor performance over time to learn what works and improve what doesn’t.
5. Prompt Customers to Leave Reviews
Customers love to buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. But it’s not always easy to build trust, mostly because prospects don’t believe a company would give an unbiased view of its products.
On the flip side, 79% of consumers trust online reviews from your customers who have tried a product.
To encourage your customers to leave reviews, you could send them a post-purchase email to rate their shopping experience. Or you could send them an email after a reasonable amount of time (preferably after they’ve had time to use your product) asking them to rate how well the product is working for them.
If your audience isn’t particularly open to giving reviews and feedback, you could incentivize it with a discount on their next purchase.
6. Publish Valuable Website Content
Setting up a blog could be an ecommerce marketing tactic that works to attract new and existing customers. When you regularly publish valuable blog content, you might rank higher in search engines as well as provide more opportunities for your audience to engage with you.
Tip: Even though a majority of businesses invest in blogging, it takes time to see traction—blogging is generally a long-term strategy.
On your blog, you can address the needs of an audience at the top, middle, and bottom of your sales funnel by creating content for informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial search intent.
For example, let’s assume you run a shoe retail store called RunZ. Writing a blog post like “how to prepare for a marathon” is a purely informational piece of content that would most likely attract anyone who intends to run a marathon. This type of content is best suited for prospects at the top of your sales funnel.
When your audience types something like “RunZ website” into search engines, it means they are already familiar with your company and want to navigate to your website.
To attract an audience who searches with transactional intent, you’ll need to add phrases like “best,” “coupon,” and “shipping” to your product. That way, when someone searches for something like “best air force 1 shoes,” your product pages can show up on search engines.
7. Run Contests and Giveaways
Everybody loves free things. You can capitalize on human nature by running contests and giveaways for your business. However, since you might be attracting all kinds of people for a giveaway, it’s essential to include a way to collect and segment your giveaway audience data to identify those who might eventually become customers.
Once your giveaway is over, analyze the results to know what channel brought you the most qualified traffic. Then look for ways to double down on those opportunities through different promotional tactics.
8. Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Customers love to feel appreciated. One of the best ways to appreciate your customers is to create a customer loyalty program where you offer special offers and incentives to your most loyal customers.
For example, you could reward customers with points whenever they buy anything from you, give you a positive shoutout on social media, leave an online review, or refer a new customer to your business.
With a customer loyalty program, you can spend less on customer acquisition—which is generally more expensive than customer retention.
9. Partner With Another Brand
Collaborating with a brand that sells a complementary product to a similar audience is another excellent ecommerce marketing strategy that exposes your product to a whole new audience. For instance, if you own a body soap store, you could partner with a business that sells body creams and lotions.
Then, you can promote the collaboration online—via your websites, email marketing, social media, and other existing channels. This can build your audience as well, creating long-lasting and indirect impacts long after the collaboration has completed.
10. Make Your Online Store Mobile-Friendly
Every year, more consumers use their mobile devices to shop online—and it doesn’t look like that will slow down anytime soon, if ever. As such, it’s crucial to think about the mobile experience when creating an online store.
Your store’s design should be responsive and come with large buttons that don’t require customers to zoom in on their phones or tablets. You should also optimize your online store for website speed to avoid losing prospects who despise slow-loading sites. Luckily, any ecommerce platforms and website builders include mobile-responsive features out of the gate.
11. Collaborate With Influencers
Influencer marketing can be a great alternative to running pay-per-click (PPC) or social media ads. Choosing the right influencer for a campaign would improve brand awareness and land your product in front of an already engaged audience.
The most common kind of influencer marketing involves the influencer making a social media post on the platform where their engaged audience is. You can also ask the influencer you’re working with to do a product review.
When working with influencers, remember to prioritize quality over quantity. Lots of followers doesn’t always mean lots of engagement or sales. Though a lot of this is subjective, look for influencers who seem authentic and also have a lot of positive two-way interaction on their posts.
12. Use SMS Marketing
Along with emails, you can also collect customers’ phone numbers and send them marketing text messages. Considering that your customers get a ton of emails every day, many of which eventually go unread, sending SMS messages can serve as a perfect alternative.
You can use SMS marketing to send push notifications or promote time-sensitive offers to your customers. Location-based notifications can also remind them to make a purchase when in-store, provide additional product information, and promote exclusive in-store promotions.
There’s no one-size-fits-all ecommerce marketing strategy. It’s vital to consider the kind of products you sell and what type of customers you have—and how much time and budget you’re willing to invest.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Pick a couple of tips and give them a go. Ditch the ones that don’t work and experiment with new ideas as you go along. The best part of owning your small business if you get to decide how to run it.