When it comes to understanding how to grow an online business, there are many eCommerce marketing strategies that can play a part in building brand awareness, generating website traffic and driving sales.
That’s why we’ve compiled together a list filled with some awesome digital marketing tactics and included a variety of top marketing tips from eCommerce specialists ready to boost your business growth for 2019.
Let’s get started.
1. Boost website traffic with an inbound marketing strategy
Chances are you’ll have heard of an inbound marketing strategy and know what’s what – the online retail industry relies heavily on it for attracting visitors and for SEO.
In case not, it’s the bit where site visitors finally become your coveted customers (hooray!).
If not, leading conference Inbound by HubSpot has certainly brought the word to light. If that doesn’t ring a bell, the phrases lead generation and lead conversion may be more familiar to you and your team.
Essentially, an inbound marketing strategy is where you create a marketing campaign to draw people to your site and they follow through with a purchase or another action.
One way in which your wider inbound strategy can be brought to life first is through the creation of content and content marketing.
Think of a blog.
Not only a simple way to build customer relationships and improve your equity, it can be organised into topic clusters if you use a customer relationship management system such as HubSpot. An open source alternative is Mautic.
At the same time, however, think beyond the blog.
Think of your content from a more holistic perspective; how it can conveniently be ordered into new pages or categories of content entirely.
Here’s some food for thought:
This video is by the folks over at RocketMill and describes why it may be time to get rid of your blog and start creating and organising content into themes or categories.
2. Focus on creative content to drive more sales
Highly targeted digital content that demonstrates a deep understanding of your audience can create judgements and feelings towards your business, which helps to create a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and customers.
Of course, brainstorming for content marketing ideas can seem like a Herculean task at times. You should try and aim to put yourself into one of your customer’s shoes and really get into the nitty gritty of why he or she shops at your website.
This is where target audience analysis and market research come in handy. After all, if you want a profitable eCommerce business you will need to begin from the ground up, and where better place than your own customer analytics and data.
Consider what keywords will drive people to your website. Think beyond your products and more towards the holistic vision that you have for your overall business.
That said, what you really want to be hitting hard with is creating innovative content that drives your target audience to exactly where they need to be – on your website. Due to content saturation, it’s no longer enough to have a blog that you update once in a while.
Take a look at some similar brands you admire to get your creative juices flowing.
Furniture company Living Spaces has an entire tab dedicated to inspiration puts new ideas and advice into the hands of every shopper.
Style features, decor tips, how-to articles and more teach shoppers about a diverse range of topics, from apartment decor on a budget to how to clean leather furniture. Shopping basics also walk consumers through less familiar terms and concepts.
Another we recommend is Heath & Heather, a herbal tea business. On the business’s website, they have interactive content that enables customers to filter via health benefits or forage by flavours.
Remember that content doesn’t have to cost the earth to resonate effectively with an audience. One business that gets this perfectly is Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.
Jimmy’s mission statement – “we do stuff to keep your chin up” – is translated into a truckload of lifestyle social media snaps, photos of their staff and witty one-liners that are positive, empowering and relatable. The big man behind it all lives and breathes the brand.
2. Increase customer engagement with a brand advocate strategy
Whether you know them as social media celebrities, influencers or even micro-influencers, brand advocates are hard to come by – especially if you’re looking to keep business costs to a minimum.
Thankfully, there are ways around this.
First of all, you need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages to choosing employee advocacy and customer advocacy. Choosing staff may keep your costs lower but may not be the best option for an online retail business, unless they have a suitable following already.
That said, this does depend on who your target audience is. If you’re a B2B brand then an employee advocacy focus would make most sense, but that requires diligent employees who live and breathe the business.
Take for example our rising star Emily.
She creates informal and chatty social media videos to pull in more leads and touch base with a variety of eCommerce influencers, which was achieved organically. To do this, you’ll need a deep understanding of the platforms and your customers.
In comparison, most eCommerce B2C brands will test the waters through carefully selected influencers and micro-influencers. This can be done at very low cost if the influencer in question doesn’t have a big following.
With that in mind, you’ll need to remember to assess how engaged an influencer’s community may be. Don’t take someone off your list simply because they have less than 500 followers – if it’s an engaged community it’s likely to be worth its weight in gold.
You’ll also need to take a close look at what channels you should be on. Go beyond Facebook and Instagram and look at the plethora of ways we communicate to one another.
Whether that’s Reddit, Quora or Mumsnet, you may find an ideal influencer in the most unlikely of places. Tread carefully and play nicely if you’re looking for low cost promotion; engage in activities such as sharing their content or become vocal in their conversations and posts.
4. Reduce customer churn
Customer churn rates can be deflected in a number of ways. If you weren’t sure what a churn rate was exactly, it’s when a customer (e.g. subscription-based businesses) stops all of their engagement with a particular company.
For all eCommerce business owners, it’s standard practice to count a customer as churned after an agreed amount of time has passed since his or her last interaction with the site.
There’s lots you can do to reduce your customer churn rate.
Whether it’s proactive communication with your customers to maintain your relationships or engaging in some offers to a targeted pool of newsletter subscribers, a holistic style of thinking can add great weight to reducing your customer churn.
And, as we’re sure you’re aware, you can also make use of strategies to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate. This is a pretty big task for the vast majority of eCommerce marketers and business owners out there.
5. Explore your opportunities with conversational AI
Conversational marketing is hitting the headlines in most countries now. Helped up by the boys over at Drift, conversational marketing is here to make your customer service impeccable and your customer’s life a dream.
Email is dying.
Did we say that fast enough?
Thanks to GDPR, we have no better place to live right now than in an automated playbook on our website, and we’re not talking about those standard chatbots either.
What we’re talking about is a pretty big move for an online retail company to consider, as we find it’s not without its faults. That said, there are plenty of case studies on Drift’s site that back up why it might be a move to consider.
These playbooks (i.e. think of a flowchart style) can be “coded” with certain actions being performed at particular points of the conversation. Your goal might be to increase email conversions, boost your sales or act as a helpful FAQ section.
Alternatively, consider creating a chatbot to help your potential customers find items of interest.
For example, Levi’s has a chatbot to help buyers find the perfect pair of jeans suited to their needs and requirements through a series of questions.
Need more inspiration for how to use AI for your online business? Check out these 19 Powerful ways to use AI in eCommerce.
6. Offer gated content to drive more sales
Another way in which you can improve your eCommerce marketing strategies is through gating valuable content for your customers to download in exchange for data such as their email addresses and names.
Gating content is an incredibly powerful tool that, if leveraged correctly, can add great value to your business. Consider what forms of content could be a good fit for your company.
Typically, these include:
- White papers
- How-to guides
While this type of content may not be a solid fit for B2C eCommerce retail brands, there are other ways you can gain customer data while still collecting information.
Try out the following:
- Monthly email newsletters
- Discount codes in exchange for email addresses
- On-site competitions
As you can see on Free People's website, they offer another incentive for signing up to their mailing list - free delivery. They can then target their customers with more content and offers.
Remarketing is a marketing strategy in which you serve advertisements across the internet to potential customers who have already visited your website.
In other words, it allows your company to “follow” people around the internet by showing them as on the websites or platforms (e.g. Facebook) that they use the most.
Otherwise known as retargeting, remarketing benefits both your potential buyers and your business in three key ways:
- You can target audiences at every stage of their path to purchase
- Online shoppers see more personalised ads that are also more relevant and timely – therefore enhancing the online experience
- Businesses are likely to see increased revenue since remarketing has a high return on investment
Remarketing works in the way that, when someone visits your website, a few lines of code from whichever platform you’re tracking them through an anonymous cookie is dropped into the user’s browser.
This cookie (a small file that stores various information) then tracks the site visit and when the person leaves you website, the cookie tells your chosen ad platform when the user visits another site.
Generally speaking, these ad platforms tend to be Google or Facebook.
Facebook is a great channel for making use of retargeting. It’s easy to set up and with two billion active users, you have a great opportunity to be where your potential customers already are.
By showing ads that display products that your visitors were previously interested in, you have a better chance of grabbing their attention and closing a sale.
In fact, one study has found that people are more likely to interact with something familiar than something completely new. With remarketing, the attention of people is caught and drawn to products that they recognise.
Other studies from Wishpond have found that website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert and nearly 60% of online shoppers say that they have noticed ads for products they have viewed after leaving a site.
8. Create a promotional video series
More and more eCommerce brands are starting to see the value of video.
Punchy and short or informative and content-drive, videos can provide an excellent way to increase engagement with your customers and potential buyers.
What’s more, they can act as social proof in that when you showcase your products, they are real products being used or worn by real people, therefore increasing trust and the likelihood of more conversions on your website.
You could create product showcase videos, how-to videos or any subject matter that ties into your brand values and allows you to show your brand in an authentic light.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Begin your videos with a greeting that’s true to your brand’s personality. Show your human side but be brief – you don’t want to lose their attention. Try engaging viewers with an interesting question or thought-provoking statement.
Grab their attention
Use storytelling techniques (e.g. sharing a personal anecdote) and grab the attention of your viewers with something enticing. This could be a free eBook, cheat sheets, book chapters or even product discounts and giveaways. The choices are endless.
Be concise and clear
You should aim to always ask yourself “what’s in it for the customer?” at every stage of the video being created. What are 3-5 reasons why someone would choose to watch your video over brands that you’re competing against?
End with a solid call-to-action
Your videos should be concise – the shorter the better – and have one clear objective or step that you want your potential customers to take after viewing your video. Whether that’s landing on a specific product page or completing a purchase is up to you.
We also recommend that you think about your wider opportunities with other marketing channels other than YouTube, such as Instagram, Facebook or even Snapchat. Go where your customers are likely to be hiding.
9. Enable guest checkout function
While not strictly a marketing strategy, enabling a guest checkout function may do wonders for your online business. Nowadays, so many eCommerce websites require a shopper to sign up for an account – and it may be doing your business more harm than good.
Potential buyers may shy away from creating yet another account unless there’s a clear benefit for doing so. A guest checkout option enables shoppers to complete their online purchase quickly and with ease, which may increase the likelihood of more sales.
This function is most beneficial to eCommerce businesses who are least likely to have frequent orders from the same customers. A guest checkout can help these infrequent shoppers place their orders and be on their way again.
If you want to try and turn these customers into frequent shoppers, there are plenty of marketing strategies that you can try – forcing account creation is not a good method.
That said, there are some disadvantages to creating a guest checkout function:
For starters, you may have difficulty in reviewing, modifying or tracking orders and customers won’t be able to reorder products all that easily.
In terms of customer service, you may also find it more time-consuming or difficult to help these infrequent shoppers with their orders, should any such situations occur.
10. Send reminder emails to reduce shopping cart abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is a tough challenge to overcome for many online sellers.
In fact, SalesCycle reported that approximately 75% of carts were abandoned in 2018.
The same study confirmed that the number one reason for cart abandonment were due to users “just browsing,” closely followed by issues with shipping and comparing products with your competitors.
Meanwhile, a separate Statista survey has found that over a quarter of online shoppers admit to abandoning shopping cats due to a change of mind, with 36% dropping out of the checkout because they found a better deal elsewhere.
The good news is that something can be done about shopping cart abandonment.
Sending automated reminder emails to your online shoppers is a tried and tested way to reattract your audience to your site and can lead to increased conversions. These emails can also be triggered when a shopper abandons the checkout process.
Here are five best practices for your shopping cart reminder emails:
- Getting the timing right is essential
Aim for the first hour after abandonment; waiting too long may mean that shoppers loses the urge that got them to add your product to their shopping carts.
- Use high-converting subject lines
You want to attract attention and increase your open rates and click through rates – it’s best to get straight to the point with an enticing few words.
- Include images of the products
Including images of the products that were abandoned can serve as a reminder to the customer as to what they’re missing out on and increase the likelihood of a sale.
- Make use of a call-to-action button
Keep in mind that you need to get these potential buyers back to your website quickly – make it as simple as possible to grab their attention.
- Use persuasive copy
After all, your aim is to make sure that these shoppers go and complete their purchases with you, make your copy enticing but keep it simple.
11. Make good use of personalisation
Personalisation is yet another effective digital marketing tactic to drive online sales.
According to data from BCG, personalisation can lift sales as much as 10% but the opportunity is even greater than that. Only 15% of companies are using personalisation technology to its full extent.
What’s more, nearly 50% of online shoppers say they’ll spend more with a brand that personalises their eCommerce experience.
It’s interesting to note that many eCommerce brands aren’t making the most out of the customer data that they have on file. Instead, they fire out one-size-fits-all emails, which increases the likelihood of a decreased click-through rate as it’s less relevant to the buyer.
Consider using the customer’s first name in emails or even their age and gender to make your emails seem more personal to each of your individual customers. This can be done with relative ease with the right software.
It may seem obvious but using basic details can make your marketing more relevant.
Through dropping snippets of information about your customers as you go, your brand is able to reinforce that you know who your customers are and care about getting it right.
12. Create a collaborative collection
If your brand is big enough, something you may want to consider is creating a collaborative collection of items with a like-minded brand, to sell across your channels.
These collections are often limited edition and benefit from the exposure to two audience’s – the main brand and the secondary brand. This helps with increasing brand awareness and closing final sales.
There are many reasons for brands joining forces.
For starters, it helps amplify your message and reach new audiences. Sometimes, you may find that you break into a new niche and create a bigger impression than you would on your own.
Many global retail companies have partnered with smaller-sized retailers as the benefits go both ways. It allows the global brand to penetrate a more intimate community of customers, and for the smaller brand it allows them to reach a huge new audience.
For example, both Vans and Adidas partner with several small skate brands to reach a highly engaged and loyal audience with their limited edition items.
13. Reward loyal customers
Focusing on customer retention is a great way to increase your sales from your most loyal customers. It costs on average one fifth of the price that it takes to acquire new customers.
One way in which you might go about rewarding your customers is through a customer loyalty programme.
You could offer a points-based programme or something similar for each purchase a customer makes and then exchange these points for money off future purchases or discounts for repeat purchasing.
This gives customers an incentive to keep purchasing with your retail brand.
Other ways in which you can reward loyal customers include tailoring offers to suit their needs and requirements. The more you know about your customers, the better you can define and tailor your approach to increase your sales.
Customer relationship management software allows you to view a customer’s purchase history so that you can effectively determine which kind of offer will be the most appealing to an individual, which will increase relevancy and have a higher likelihood of securing sales.
Personalisation, as discussed above, is also a great way to retain your most loyal customers and can go some way in boosting the profitability of your business.
14. Build trust using social proof
Using social proof is a way to build your business for long-term success. The use of it helps to instil trust in your brand, which can then increase the likelihood of more sales.
What forms of social proof exist?
These include the following:
Pepper in customer testimonials on your website to create trust with new customers and potential buyers.
Reviews are a simple yet effective way to build more trust into your business and are by far the most common type of social proof available.
- Endorsements from influencers
Endorsements from the right people with the right following can increase your sales tenfold. If you can secure them, these are worth their weight in gold.
- Social media
Your customers can be loud when singing praises about the products you sell, and where better place to find customers that are happy than on social media. Scour your social networks for positive mentions of your brand.
- “As seen in” media
If your products have been featured in magazines or other websites then make sure to boast about it in a highly visible location on your website.
We also recommend that you keep a file of all the social proof you can find.
That way, it’s stored somewhere safe and anyone on your team can have easy access to it should they need to share your positive feedback with any potential customers.
- Use an email folder to save emailed compliments
- Use the favourite button on Twitter for any complimentary tweets
- Take screenshots of other positive online comments
15. Invest in branded packaging
One way in which you can increase customer retention and enhance brand awareness is through having your own branded packaging.
As an online store, you’re unlikely to have much physical contact with your customers, but the unboxing experience is a great way to increase your customer’s satisfaction and engagement with your business and products.
Check out these four examples to get your creative juices flowing.
What’s more, attractive packaging is much more likely to lend itself to social media, therefore increasing the likelihood of more exposure and awareness for your brand.
When used creatively, custom packaging can help your business to create a lasting impact among your customers – particularly important for marketplace sellers.
Go forwards with business growth
Now that you have a sizeable list of marketing strategies to generate website traffic and boost your sales, it’s time to bring your online business up a level.
Have you tried any of these eCommerce marketing ideas? What were your results? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.
And, if you’d like even more marketing tips, download our guide – 50 ways to grow your online business – it’s filled with lots of ideas and best practices for business growth.