This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Ecommerce marketing is the practice of driving brand awareness, traffic, sales, and conversions to your online store. For example, ecommerce businesses can create email marketing campaigns, build loyalty programs, collect customer reviews, and offer personalized recommendations as part of their marketing strategy.
Creating an effective ecommerce marketing strategy is crucial to growing your online store. Here, we’ve compiled a few ecommerce marketing tips for your retail business.
1. Leverage Email Marketing
Email marketing can be a cost-effective strategy to generate and nurture leads—it gets you nearly five times more buyers than social media. Find an email marketing tool to automate your messages and send targeted campaigns to segmented audiences on your list.
Learn more about our suggested email marketing tips for retailers.
Here are some ways you can use email marketing for your ecommerce marketing strategy:
Build an Email 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.
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.
Clothing retailer Everlane, for example, incorporates a simple, straightforward design in its email opt-in form, using a discount coupon to entice shoppers. Its crisp design and strategic placement on its website ensure that it is easy to notice and navigate.
Everlane displays its opt-in via pop-up, permanently in its footer, and as a rotating announcement banner on its website.
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, 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 or a discount or suggest new products as extra encouragement.
For example, an email sent by a leather luxury goods brand in the image below is straightforward, reminding the shopper that they’ve “left something behind.” Moreover, it suggests three related products, a great cross-selling and product recommendation strategy. We also like that the email’s overall design is similar to the shopping page design to keep the shopper experience consistent.
Create & Improve Email Campaigns
Now that you have built an email list, you need to send regular and valuable emails for the channel to be an effective ecommerce marketing strategy. 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. Here are some email ideas that customers will actually appreciate receiving:
- A welcome email (or series) once a customer makes a purchase
- Exclusive promo codes and free gifts
- Regular newsletters to alert subscribers of new discount offers, product tips, and company news
- Relevant content to help customers get the most out of their recently purchased items
- A thank-you email for your repeat and loyal customers (a personal note expressing your appreciation is best)
- Survey and feedback forms (ask about their purchase experience and how you can improve it)
2. Cross-sell Your Products
For cross-selling to work, the product you’re offering should complement the items your customers have already bought. 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.
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.
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 convince a dog owner to purchase the premium food instead of the generic brand.
Read more cross-selling tips and techniques you can implement for your retail business.
3. Use 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. Here’s how:
Take Advantage of User-generated Content
User-generated content 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.
User-generated content (UGC)
is any piece of content created by people—in this case, customers—instead of a brand.
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.
Calvin Klein saw the UGC campaign highlighted below connecting more deeply with its target audience—young people—than influencer posts or paid ads. The brand gained millions of followers across Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms in no time.
Set Up an Instagram Store
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 tab, users can see all the products you have for sale, along with price and other details.
If you rely on visual imagery for promotion, Pinterest is another social platform that you can take advantage of. Learn how to sell on Pinterest using our guide.
Sell On Facebook Marketplace
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.
TikTok is the trending social platform to sell on these days, with Shopify partnering with TikTok for in-app shopping. Learn how to sell on TikTok using our guide.
4. Improve Existing Product Pages
Your product pages have two main functions—to attract and 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 are also optimized for SEO to appeal to your audience’s emotions or pain points and position your product as the solution..
5. Prompt Customers to Leave Reviews
Seven out of 10 shoppers usually read between one and a dozen customer reviews before purchasing. 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. Start a Content Marketing Program
If you’re already creating content for your social media platforms, we recommend also adding a blog to your online store. When you regularly publish valuable blog content, you might rank higher in search engines and 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.
Meanwhile, to attract an audience who searches with transactional intent, you’ll need to add phrases like “best,” “coupon,” and “shipping” to your product content. That way, when someone searches for something like “best air force 1 shoes,” your product pages can show up on search engines.
There are more ways to do content marketing other than just creating blogging posts. Consider the following:
- Start a podcast to show expertise or build a stronger community.
- Write guest posts on other websites to build awareness and generate backlinks that also help with SEO.
- Create long-form content and guides in the form of videos, e-books, and email campaign series to help customers use your products more effectively.
7. Run Contests & 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.
There are different ways to host a giveaway. However, the main point in doing all of these should serve a purpose, whether it be to collect email addresses to build your list, monitor customer sentiment or feedback, or increase engagement and promotion.
One example is outdoor lifestyle brand Oru Kayak’s giveaway, in partnership with Sunski. What’s great about this giveaway, shown below, is that it leveraged brand partnership and included the dollar value of the prizes in the giveaway landing page. This hits two birds with one stone—providing information about the giveaway and introducing its products to promote them in a subtle way.
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.
Alternatively, you can also collect customers’ email addresses even if the giveaway has ended, similar to what luggage brand Bellroy did with theirs.
You can see how the brand triggers FOMO (fear of missing out) with customers by saying “Don’t miss out again!” and encouraging them to sign up to their newsletter.
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 with special offers and incentives for 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. Leverage Brand Partnerships or Collaborations
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, ecommerce platforms and website builders include mobile-responsive features out of the gate.
11. 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.
12. Personalize Your Marketing Strategies
If you haven’t employed personalization in your strategies and automation, the time is now. Nearly 90% of retail marketers are using personalization for their business, and those who use advanced personalization strategies see up to a $20 return on every $1 they invest.
With personalization, you can use your site visitors’ behavioral data to promote products according to their past actions and preferences. You can also use their location to create an experience specifically catered to where your customers are in the world. For example, a shopper from the West Coast may look for bathing suits in October while those shopping from the East Coast will be looking for coats.
Note that shoppers expect personalization, with 91% of consumers more likely to buy from brands who remember them and provide relevant offers.
It is easier to implement this than you think, thanks to a variety of apps available on most ecommerce platforms. Here are some ways to personalize the shopping experience for your customer:
- Offer personalized guides in the form of on-site assistance to your visitors (quizzes, size and style guides)
- Display recently viewed items
- Personalize product pages based on location
- Send birthday greetings via email
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 is you get to decide how to run it.