The ecommerce industry is thriving, forecast to generate $653 billion in sales this year according to The Statistics Portal. But as more businesses move online, competing for customer attention is more important than ever. We’ve gathered insights from experts to give us their takes on the best ecommerce marketing strategies that can help any business gain an edge on its competitors.
To help your store grow to its fullest, here are 27 ecommerce strategies from the pros to incorporate now:
1. Make Payment Convenience a Priority
Jeff Weisbein, Founder & EIC, BestTechie
Be sure to accept payments via PayPal (in addition to credit/debit cards) – it makes a huge difference. It turns out a lot of people like to pay using PayPal. Your site should also offer free shipping or at the very least a free shipping threshold. Studies have shown that this can increase orders by up to 90%. Finally, encourage customers to leave reviews (offer a discount code as an incentive to leave reviews) as customer reviews lead to increased conversions.
2. Develop an eCommerce Strategy That Incorporates All Platforms
Amy Kilvington, Head of Content Marketing, Blinds Direct
Include everything from email marketing and paid search, to content creation, and digital PR. An overarching approach to marketing is vital for businesses that want to succeed online as it covers all bases. Focus plenty of attention on your social presence and aim to grow an engaged audience. Maintain these relationships by posting regularly, starting conversations and giving exclusive offers and competitions to your followers. Secure return customers by building a strong brand reputation. A successful eCommerce strategy is one that sees customers returning, not just new wins!
3. Take Advantage of Branded Links
Swati Maheshwari, Content Marketing Manager, Radix Web Solutions
Did you know that every time you share a link on social media, you can brand it with your business name? Instead of using generic URL shorteners such as bit.ly and goo.gl, you can use custom branded links. Most URL shortening services allow use of custom domains. Branded links can be edited anytime, and will build credibility for your business, allow you to track how many people clicked on these links, and overtime, enhance your brand visibility and brand recalls.
For example, to share this link: https://medium.com/@RadixRegistry/7-small-changes-that-will-spruce-up-your-website-2649afaa2df1 you can shorten it on Google to this: https://goo.gl/JDZe7K or instead, you can brand it with your business’s name like this: https://radix.press/web.
4. Up Your Copywriting Game
Carmine Mastropierro, Owner, Mastrodigital
Small changes in sales copy can lead to big changes in revenue. One of the key areas of an ecommerce store is product descriptions. Always focus on benefits rather than just features in your copy. For example, you could say the clothing you sell will attract attention and boost confidence. That’s much better than only stating fabric and color. Purchasing is an emotional process so you have to elicit feelings through your writing.
Want to know which products are popular with online customers? This Fit Small Business list of product ideas from the pros should give you inspiration for your online store.
5. Improve Your Checkout Process
Bart Mroz, CEO, SUMO Heavy
Surveys show that shoppers’ most desired features are related to convenience and time saving, and the checkout process is a major cause of friction for ecommerce sites. In fact, 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. For example, if customers are forced to fill in too many fields, move through too many pages, and perform too many actions, the customer will lose patience, and leave. Additionally, if customers receive unpleasant surprises at the end of the checkout process, such as unexpected shipping costs or having to create an account, they will abandon the shopping cart. To get the most out of their online store, ecommerce retailers need to focus on reducing the rate of abandonment and increasing sales by streamlining the checkout process.
For example, e-commerce sites can reduce shopping cart abandonment by allowing consumers to buy goods as guest visitors, instead of needing to create an account. Deploying mobile payments is also a good way to remove friction and streamline the checkout process.
6. Understand Conversion Rate
Mark Aselstine, Founder, Uncorked Ventures
If I could give one single tip to other ecommerce store owners, it would be to learn what a conversion rate is, along with how to improve it. We talk so much about traffic and how to get more people in the front door, or onto our sites, but often don’t have any understanding about how those people decide to buy from us, or not. Learning how to split test and how to work to improve conversion rates is an incredibly important skill.
7. Influence the Influencer
Mark Tyrol, P.E., President, Battic Door Energy Conservation Products
My most effective and profitable marketing method is an “influence the influencer” marketing program to drive awareness and traction for the business. For several of our products, our customers are home builders, general contractors, and insulation contractors. I targeted building code officials and architects for our influencer marketing program to drive awareness and gain traction for these products. Then I executed our influencer marketing program by exhibiting at several trade shows and by direct mail. I also exhibited at a building code officials trade show and expo, and at an American Institute of Architects trade show and expo. In addition, I contacted architects by direct mail with product literature and requested them to specify my products. As a direct result of our influencer marketing program, my sales have increased +50% in each of the last two years. I picked up dozens of new accounts that continually purchase products.
Many customers tell me they were referred to us by their architect or code official, confirming the success of our influencer marketing program.
8. Include Unique Elements on Your eCommerce Site
Jonathan Poston M.E., eCommerce Marketing Lead, Income Store
Some of the unique elements that take ecommerce to the next level include a homepage video, quickly telling the story of each business. There’s also the subscription model which is all about serving customers for a lifetime, as looking to the CLV (customer lifetime value) metric helps us make decisions that are in the best long term interest of the store and its shoppers. You also need amp (mobile) pages that are fast and Google friendly wherein the responsive site is also a bit move toward being as UX optimized as possible. We are also looking into AI chatbots, but currently have a great customer service chat available.
9. Leverage Twitter for Customer Support
Simon Zaku, Twitter Marketing Specialist, Simonzaku.com
In 2018, more and more ecommerce stores will leverage Twitter for its unique purposes. In fact, Twitter is now turning into a customer support platform as customers and users are using it more frequently. Twitter reports that customer service interactions have increased by 2.5 times recently. Social media is already the preferred customer service for millennials, and this trend is growing in popularity for older groups too. This is a unique strategy you should jump on and leverage in order to grow your store’s fan-base, awareness, and customer loyalty in 2018.
10. Include Explanation Information About Your Products
Stuart Ridge, Chief Marketing Officer, VitaMedica
Modern consumers are always conducting research before making a purchasing decision. Provide consumers with the additional information they need to make their decision. If your product descriptions contain technical or unfamiliar terms (such as a method of production or a specific ingredient), create pages explaining them. This content should go beyond blog posts to minimally-branded static pages with factual information. In addition, your product pages can include supplemental information for after a product is purchased.
For example, while a customer is likely familiar with roses, they may not feel comfortable purchasing a rose that has a long-life guarantee without information on the process of keeping the rose alive. In this example, your product pages could also include other resources on roses and flower care.
11. Set Up a System to Recover Abandoned Carts
Christian Sculthorp, Owner, VaporizersDirect.com.au
People think that you can only recover abandoned carts if you collect the person’s email. That isn’t true anymore! With a plugin like Beeketing, you can prompt users to allow you to send them push notifications. If they say yes and they add something to their cart that doesn’t convert, you can notify them right on their desktop. It’s a genius way to convert more people who have already added something to your cart.
12. Create a Marketing Calendar
Jacklyn Deans, eCommerce Consultant and Founder, Flash + Color
Creating a comprehensive, year-long ecommerce marketing calendar is the secret to steadily growing your online business. Many businesses sell their products in a reactionary fashion. They scramble to create site assets, emails, or social media posts at the last minute before a holiday or event. Sometimes, even worse, they completely miss the marketing holiday and selling opportunity! Small business owners need to take a more proactive approach. Create a marketing calendar that includes all major holidays, shopping holidays (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.), obscure holidays (International Boss’ Day, National Underwear Day, etc.) and your company events such as pop-ups and trunk shows. Having this calendar will ensure that promotions are set up in advance, and that you always have a reason to connect with and sell to your customer.
13. Apply Customer Journey Maps to Your Strategy
Jordan Harling, Chief Digital Strategist, Wooden Blinds Direct
One thing that’s commonly overlooked in ecommerce is that a customer’s goals and yours as a business are often the same. They want to find and purchase an item quickly, and you want to sell those items. As such, focusing on customer experience through journey maps is an effective way for both of you to achieve your goals. To convert your website users, you need to make the process as efficient and as streamlined as possible. Customer journey maps allow you to do this. To create effective information architectures, it takes a level of empathy, knowledge of your users, and many many tests. Start by planning out what you think the ideal path would be from your perspective, and then put it to the test.
Internal tests are a good place to start, but once you feel you’ve got a good base – then open it out externally. Keep iterating and refining until you have something that your customers love.
If you’re still unsure on how to begin selling online, check out Fit Small Business’ article on ecommerce business plan for a quick and easy guide to start off your online business.
14. Implement a One-Click Cross-Sell App
Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager, Moriarty’s Gem Art
One of the best things we have ever implemented was a one-click cross-sell app. Unlike other cross-sell apps, we chose one that gives you a huge discount off adding another product after your purchase, not before. This way it doesn’t get in your way of the buying process. They don’t have to enter credit card information again or anything; they just click a button and they add it to their order. We have seen a 20% conversion rate on the offers we give through this technique. Apps like this are available for Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce websites.
15. Have a Strong SEO Strategy
Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager, Maple Holistics
The key to building a successful ecommerce store is to implement a strong SEO strategy. While your store, products and pricing may be on point, that won’t mean much if your store can’t be found by potential customers. By ranking for your key search terms and product names through Google, consumers can organically discover your products and become aware of your store and business. Creating and maintaining an informative and relevant blog can also help in this regard. You will be more likely to be found on search engines, and can become a voice of authority within your industry at the same time.
16. Reach Your Niche Demographic with Long Tail Keywords
Dave Hermansen, CEO, Store Coach
There are many pages in a website, thus many opportunities to rank for search terms that may not have the huge number of searches that a more generic search phrase may have. But with qualifying words, the longer tail phrase becomes something you can actually rank on page one of the search results for, while still targeting the main, harder to rank for term as well. Fifty pages that you can rank for, that all target something and is searched for ten times per day, is better than one page with 500 searches that you have no chance of ranking for. For example, ranking on page one for the term “trampolines” would be pretty difficult.
Optimizing a page around “backyard trampolines for sale”, however, gives you an opportunity to rank for the much easier search terms “backyard trampolines” and “trampolines for sale” as well as the much harder “trampolines” phrase along with various permutations of all of the words.
17. Answer the Questions Asked and the Questions that Should Be Asked
Liz Weaver, Co-Founder, Learning Success
Start by putting together a list of questions that are commonly asked around a product, or better yet, the problem that product solves. Start by looking at similar products on Amazon. What are the questions asked? What are the complaints? Can the complaints be rephrased as questions? You can also look through competitors Facebook posts (and your own) and look for these common questions. Forums work as well. Now, using your expertise on the subject, put together a list of questions that were not asked but should have been. Categorize the questions by the buyer journey. Are they relevant to when someone is just information gathering or are they “wallet out”? Weave the “wallet out” questions and answers into product description, FAQs, and sales pages.
Weave the information gathering questions blog posts. The unasked questions are especially good for blog posts as they demonstrate expertise on the subject.
18. Focus on Providing the Best Shopping Experience
Andrew Maffettone, Director of Marketing & Operations, Seller’s Choice
One of the more popular approaches we’ve taken is giving the customer an experience as opposed to just giving them a place to shop. Competing with Amazon can be very tough, especially for a new seller, but if you give your customer a fun experience, they tend to enjoy shopping with you, and will begin tell their friends about it. For example, one of our clients sells dog accessories so we started using GIFs of dogs throughout their website to give the customer a more fun experience but when they finally purchase they start getting fun emails of funny dog facts and cute puppy pictures instead of just constant discount codes. This has shown a large increase in engagement since customers have started sharing the emails we’ve sent them with their friends.
19. Build Your Store on Shopify
Kevin Simonson, Co-Founder & CEO, Metric Digital
Unless you have major customization needs, build your store on Shopify. This will make it easier than most other platforms for non-technical business owners to get up and running, make changes on an ongoing basis, and set up analytics and tracking for marketing. Set up Google Analytics, and place the tracking pixels for Google Analytics, Facebook, and Google Adwords as early as possible. The earlier you set this up, the more data you will have about your site visitors, and the earlier you will be able to do retargeting, which is one of the highest ROI forms of advertising.
20. Make a Conscious Effort to Be Different
Roman Zrazhevskiy, Founder & CEO, Ready To Go Survival
Stand out and do something different in order to drive customer loyalty and industry attention. Look at your top competitors and determine how you can stand out and be better. Get out of the building and spend time with your potential customers. Ask them questions, get feedback, and ultimately ask them to buy your product. If you can’t sell your product face to face, you’re not going to be able to sell it online either. You should also have an expert develop your website with an SSL and premium hosting right from the get go. Having to do this at a later stage of the game can bog you down when the priority should be generating more sales. Lastly, build your authority by networking with as many journalists and bloggers as possible.
There are many places to shop online, and new stores will always be looked at with skepticism. When you can show that you’ve been featured on the Wall Street Journal or another big publication, it builds trust and social proof for your brand, and raises overall conversion rates.
21. Consider Ecwid for Your Shopping Cart
Renea Hanks, President, Candles by Me LLC
As a business consultant, I always look for getting the most out of the best price. My advice to fellow small business owners is to use the Ecwid shopping cart. We always struggled with the way we wanted our shopping cart to work and look, especially for SEO. We use the Ecwid shopping cart now. It makes it easy for the small business owner social and sell on Facebook, Etsy, Ebay, Google Shopping, and Amazon to integrate the shopping cart. Our cart was simply imported to Facebook! This just takes all the guesswork out for small business owners.
22. Monitor Sales Performance of Competing Products
David Mercer, Founder, SME Pals
For retailers working in ecommerce, it is possible to measure your success (or lack thereof) of marketing and advertising in real-time via Amazon. If, for example, you drop the price of a product and send out this message via social media, it is easy to see if this has a material impact on sales (provided you are using an in-depth, hourly sales and price tracker). In this way, you can obtain real-time feedback on online ad and marketing campaigns. Online sellers track their own products to both monitor their sales and the effect of their campaigns, and also gather data to improve going forward. But tracking competitors sales offers new opportunities for marketing. For example, if you see your own product is outselling your rivals, and you have a data driven chart to prove it, you’re able to show evidence of success.
In this way, sales (and price) tracking helps retailers understand and keep track of their niche market, gauge how their own products are competing, and identify and focus on marketing strategies that are proven to work.
23. Always Be Upselling
Craig Griffiths, Managing Director, SearchUp
Making your first sale will be one of the best feelings ever, but you may still be missing out on even more if you don’t have upsell offers from day one. Customers who are already making a purchase are much easier to sell more products to than getting another customer. As well as meaning you’ll have a much higher average order value, you’ll also increase your profit and lower your cost per sale. Just make sure that the upsell is relevant to what the customer is already buying. For example, if you have a general electronics store and someone’s buying an expensive digital camera, it makes much more sense to upsell them additional batteries and a case than it would to try and upsell them a pair of headphones!
24. Allow for Filters
Kyle Therriault, Executive Vice President, Auto Accessories Garage
Allowing customers to filter our site to their own liking has been a great tool for converting browsers to buyers. Especially in the automotive industry where there are hundreds of part numbers that relate to disparate vehicle fitments, the task of finding something that you like and that you know will fit your vehicle can be frustrating. For us, giving customers the ability to key in their make and model and thus filter the entire site in those few clicks is essential. This also allows us to anticipate a customer’s needs in the future. If we know the last time a customer visited our site they filtered for products that fit a Ford F-150, we can now shuffle quarter-ton truck related products to our homepage when this customer returns.
This educated guess on a return customer’s search queries helps make our site friendly and usable by making an individualized experience for this customer.
25. Offer Overnight Delivery Service to Your Customers
Stanley Tan, Digital Marketing Specialist, Selbys
A trending tactic that I’ve been seeing lately is the “Order before 5pm and get your order tomorrow.” In today’s world, everyone wants things fast — if not right away. This tactic actually taps into that desire. Plus it helps you stand out among the competition (if you can do it). Your competitors are taking one week to ship their orders. You take one day and that is a huge competitive advantage.
26. Select the Right Platform
Darren Schreher, Digital Manager, INTO THE AM
My best advice is to make sure you select the right ecommerce platform. Shopify was the best decision we ever made. The platform is so much easier to use, and we’re able to focus more on selling our products to our customers instead of dealing with technical issues. In other words, you don’t have to be a developer to launch your ecommerce store with Shopify. Everything is easy to understand, straightforward, and to the point. The platform also has a ton of useful apps that you’re able to download. Unlike some other platforms, you can trial and error with as many apps as you want without the risk of breaking your site. In terms of security, Shopify is once again a leader.
There are many threats to ecommerce businesses including hackers obtaining access to your store, or perhaps a DDOS attack that would keep your store offline. Shopify protects you against those threats because they are Certified Level 1 PCI compliant, which means they ensure the safety of your customer data. Having that peace of mind is incredibly valuable as an ecommerce site owner.
27. Use USPS For Small Shipments
Liz Hull, Lead eCommerce Writer, Merchant Maverick
Because United States Postal Service’s expenses are subsidized by taxpayers, you may benefit from lower rates than you would with UPS and FedEx. In particular, the USPS is great for merchants who ship small and light packages. Typically, USPS will ship a package under two pounds at the cheapest rate. And, in terms of pricing, the USPS can’t be beat for packages under 13 ounces.
Bonus tip: Increase Sales by Selling on Multiple Channels
Chinh Nguyen, Co-Founder, Finale Inventory
Sophisticated online sellers increase revenue by obtaining more visibility by selling on additional selling channels (e.g Amazon). Selling on multiple channels increases the inventory management complexity as it becomes challenging to update correct stock quantities to the channels to prevent overselling. Inventory management software removes the manual process and auto-update stock levels throughput the day to prevent overselling on your online channels.
Over To You
Having just another standard ecommerce store will not get your business anywhere in today’s landscape. Consider these tips when managing your own online store to get your business noticed by your target market today.
Did we miss out on your favorite ecommerce strategy? Let us know in the comments below.