Digital Marketing Strategies For Ecommerce Brands

For every e-commerce brand you hear about, there are many more producing great products that never see the light of day.

A generous e-commerce marketing strategy isn’t superficial or easy; if it was, anyone could – and would – do it. But the good news is that every quality product can succeed if it’s accompanied by great marketing. 

Additionally, you can significantly increase your chances of success by setting a solid foundation that is aligned with your mission and vision. Once you have a vision for how your e-commerce marketing strategy ought to look, you can gather the right tools and personnel to execute that strategy.

Ecommerce campaign strategy: An overview

Ecommerce marketing typically involves a thoughtful integration of several pieces, such as product design, production, advertising, sales, and customer service. Launching a product through an online store is a little more complicated than crafting a product description page.

Before you build your digital marketing plan, let’s take a moment to define the following components:

  • Your product – What is it?
  • Your audience – Who are they?
  • Your channels – How will people find you?
  • Your campaigns – How will you reach them?
  • Your performance – How do you know if it’s working?

Your product(s) and services

It’s important to position your product and or service in a way that makes sense to your audience. So before you launch your marketing campaigns, you should brainstorm your product descriptions, pitches, and unique selling points (USPs).

Read Also: Why Inbound Marketing Is Not Working For High-Value B2B Sales?

Your audience

The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to pitch your brand to them. That’s because you’ve created your online shop to serve a particular crowd with a shared set of problems and lifestyle goals.

The success of your marketing comes down to your ability to build relationships with that audience.

The best way to establish who your audience is is through an exercise called the Buyer Persona. Your goal is to identify your ideal customer.

Once you know your target audience and customer niches (segments), you can tailor your message to those niches and put each message in the right place for the highest number of impressions, engagements, and conversions.

“Brands trusted by consumers aren’t just trendy, they’re more valuable. This is because of the ‘halo effect’ that trust and authenticity create: Trust improves conversion rates across the entire marketing mix, delivering higher ROI on marketing investments.” – GRIN, Authentic Influencer Marketing

Your channels

Once you know who your audience is, you can figure out where those people are talking about the problems and/or personal goals that your products address. 

For example, consumers frequently use search tools to get answers to questions or find a particular product/service. There are search engines (i.e., Google), as well as search tools within platforms like Amazon, Reddit, Discord, etc.

Most likely, you’re going to find a lot of relevant online chatter on social media. Try to note which social channels your target audience is most active on.

Your campaigns

When building an e-commerce marketing plan, you’ll be organizing your initiatives by campaigns. Some of those campaigns will be temporary, such as a BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) sales event or Mother’s Day.

But you will probably have a campaign (or two) running nonstop. Marketers often refer to these campaigns as “evergreen” or “always on.” For example, if you opt to build out a content marketing and social media strategy, you need to maintain a consistent flow of engaging content for your audience, regardless of the time of year.

As you consider your campaign options, it’s critical that you understand your full marketing funnel. Conversions and sales are the ultimate goals, but e-commerce marketing success comes down to understanding how your customer got from point A – having never heard about your brand – to point B – completing a purchase.

Your marketing funnel reverse-engineers the buyer’s journey and allows you to see exactly which customer touchpoints are most essential to your brand’s bottom line.

Your campaign performance

Some of your campaigns will succeed, and others will not. The key to increasing your ROI is knowing which marketing initiatives are working.

For the low-performing strategies, you can pick apart the reasons why those campaigns failed to meet your expectations. Conversely, high-performing campaigns show you where to invest more marketing dollars.

To track performance, you’ll need the right marketing tools to gather metrics that align with your e-commerce goals.

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What different e-commerce digital marketing strategies are there?

Search engine optimization (SEO)

What is it?

Search engine optimization is the process of improving web page performance on Google and other search engines. 

How does it work?

The key to SEO performance for e-commerce is building relevant product description pages (PDPs) that are easy for Google to index (that is, crawl your page and understand what it’s about). Ideally, you’ll want to work with an SEO expert that understands e-commerce to help you structure your pages correctly.

SEO is also a critical factor when setting up product pages on Amazon, Google Shopping, and other e-commerce marketplaces. Search engine bots use your product descriptions and alt/meta text (images descriptions) to refer your products to those using a search tool to find what they are looking for.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Contributes to organic website performance
Cheaper than paid ads
Strengthens your website overall, as well as the user experience
Demands consistent, long-term effort
Requires expert input from quality SEOs and copywriters

Pay-per-click

What is it?

Pay-per-click, or PPC, is the preferred method of buying digital ads online. PPC is available on the leading search engines and social media platforms.

How does it work?

PPC is an auction (known as real-time bidding, or RTB) setup, and you pay per click or impression. Your online paid advertising success often depends on your budget, who you’re trying to target, where you’re targeting them, and adding keywords.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Performance-based costs
Reach targeted audiences
Helpful in every stage of the marketing funnel
Can be costly
The complexity of many PPC platforms (you might need to hire an expert to do it right)

Remarketing

What is it?

A few PPC and paid social platforms allow you to place your ads in front of consumers that have visited your website or social media page. This is known as remarketing.

How does it work?

Remarketing helps you remain front of mind with those that have interacted positively with your posts or web pages. It is a great way to move prospects through the marketing funnel.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Refines paid ad spend
Keeps brands front-of-mind with interested consumers
Consumer privacy law and cookie changes could negatively impact remarketing results

Social media

What is it?

Social media marketing includes building your brand on specific social channels by creating a business account (or profile) and engaging audiences with relevant content

Currently, the top social media channels for e-commerce are:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

How does it work?

While social media platforms often include their own paid plans and sponsored post options, a social media strategy usually refers to the work you invest in organic social growth. It is a great way to provide a “behind the scenes” look at your brand.

Additionally, social media is the perfect place to build brand communities, engage your audience, and recruit influencers. Successful e-commerce brands should take social media seriously because it is often the fastest way to generate word-of-mouth for products online.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
It’s free
Connect with audiences on an emotional level
Nurture user-generated contentDrive organic brand growth
Opportunities to connect with influencers
Requires consistent participation for best results

Social commerce (s-commerce)

What is it?

Social commerce is a collection of e-commerce selling tools on certain social media platforms.

Currently, the leading social commerce features exist on:

  • Facebook/Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google Shopping
  • Amazon (while technically not a social platform, Amazon does offer some of the most advanced e-commerce tools for brands)

How does it work?

Depending on which social channels you use, you may have the option to create a store on those channels. For example, Facebook Marketplace allows e-commerce brands to offer their consumers in-app shopping so that they don’t have to leave Facebook or Instagram to make a purchase. Also, Pinterest and Google Shopping are pioneers of shoppable image ads.

These s-commerce features integrate seamlessly with your organic social, paid social, content, and influencer marketing strategies. It is also the latest virtual contribution to omnichannel retail.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
It’s often free to create a store on each platform
Seamless integration with organic  social media and influencer marketing
A better shopping experience for social media users
Some s-commerce features come at a cost
Can be challenging to manage inventory without the right e-commerce tools

Influencers

What is it?

Influencers are social media power users who promote the brands that they love to their online communities.

How does it work?

Influencer marketing allows brands to reach engaged audiences through the compelling content of social media creators. Currently, it is the most impactful strategy for DTC e-commerce brands.

“Influencer marketing can be top of the funnel because you’re hitting people that might have never seen your brand before… It could be mid-funnel, meaning someone has seen your brand somewhere else before, then they see one of their favorite influencers post about it. Now they’re like, ‘Oh, wait. I’ve seen that before. Cool…’ It can be very bottom-funnel... They know the brand and the influencer gives a call-to-action, like, ‘Swipe up now.’” – Ethan Frame, Chapter 3, 0-100: Getting Started with Influencer Marketing

The key to an effective influencer marketing strategy is choosing the right influencers to promote your products. Transactional creator relationships will nurture distrust among consumers. However, genuine, direct relationships with influencers that love your products can help you scale your e-commerce business at a surprisingly fast rate.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Immediate access to compelling, authentic social content
Automatic user-generated content
Lower cost than traditional marketing
Genuine brand love
Difficult to track without the right tools

Content marketing

What is it?

Content marketing is using all the various content types to attract audiences to your owned media channels. It is often a critical part of a wider inbound marketing and sales strategy.

How does it work?

“The Adobe survey also found that consumers are not only engaging with digital content more, but 55% are doing so across various devices simultaneously.” – Adobe, “Consumer demand for personalized content reaches all-time high”

In any content marketing strategy, the more effectively that a brand can wield various types of content to nurture its audience, the greater its ROI will be. That’s why it’s critical that you experiment with different forms of content to find the ones that do the best job of authentically showing off your brand.

While the list below is not exhaustive, here are some of the most popular content types that can help you build a robust content marketing strategy:

  • Blogs
  • Live video streams
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Long-form video (vertical and horizontal)
  • Short-form video (vertical and horizontal)
  • Case studies
  • Downloadable guides
  • Infographics
  • Lifestyle images
  • Studio images
  • Memes and gifs

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Focused on organic growth (vs. paid)
Lower cost than PPC
Drives inbound web traffic
Demands consistent, long-term effort

Email & SMS

What is it?

Email and text message marketing use each channel to nurture audiences once they’ve subscribed to receive brand updates, discounts, or newsletters.

The “drip campaign” approach allows customers to convert even if they’re not yet ready to buy. By subscribing to your content, they’ve indicated that they see the value of your brand and want to hear more from you.

How does it work?

Due in large part to consumer privacy laws and the TCPA, the FCC no longer permits brands to spam consumers with cold calls, texts, and emails. But as long as brands adhere to email and SMS compliance standards, consumers can opt-in to hear from your brand even after they’ve left your ad or website.

Email and SMS are perfect for nurturing audiences in the middle and lower parts of your funnel. Additionally, they are great for encouraging repeat purchases or retrieving abandoned carts.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Email marketing is free
Two-way SMS ROI is among the highest in digital marketing
Prospects are already interested in your brand
Engagement with leads after they’ve left your website
Deliverability issues can impact open, click, and engagement rates
While 10DLC SMS is cheaper than dedicated short code, it still comes at a cost

Affiliate marketing

What is it?

Affiliate marketing is leveraging third-party relationships to generate brand awareness and sales on behalf of a brand, business, or organization.

How does it work?

Closely related to influencer marketing, brands can lean on affiliates to drive sales. 

Some of these affiliates are industry experts who act as consultants for their audience. Others are simply brand ambassadors who are also influential customers on social media.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Cost is commission-based
Affiliates act as an extension of your sales team
Automatic user-generated content
Direct impact on sales/revenue
Consumers may cannibalize affiliate discount codes
Strictly focused on conversions
Commissions lower profit margins

Localization

What is it?

Localization, or local marketing, focuses on reaching buyers within a specific geographical area.

How does it work?

Local marketing used to be a strategy primarily for service-based businesses and brick-and-mortar retail. However, many e-commerce businesses have learned that they can fulfill orders more efficiently by targeting regions.

Also, many brands deliver time-sensitive products. For example, more meal-planning brands have launched their business online during COVID-19. And in order to serve their customers, they must ship fresh ingredients to those within a certain mile radius.

Localization techniques focus on online directory listings, as well as geo-targeting for PPC and influencer marketing campaigns.

Pros & cons

ProsCons
Dominate specific, local markets
Easier fulfillment & returns
Expand to new markets more strategically
Smaller audience
Difficult to grow market share if competing with national or international brands

Crafting your e-commerce marketing mix

When it comes to your e-commerce marketing mix, it’s never “either…or” – it’s always “yes…and.”

In other words, you will be most successful if you build your own combination of various strategies, mediums, and types. When one marketing initiative complements another, both produce better results.

Your marketing mix may not include every strategy listed above. But for best results, you’ll need to experiment with several to come up with your own recipe for success.

In conclusion – It’s always about the relationship between you and your customers.

Ecommerce brands that focus on pushing ads and sales often miss the bigger picture – it’s about the connection between you and your audience.

Consumers today want more than a product or service. They want to improve their quality of life, join a community, and see their spending make a difference in the world around them. 

That’s one reason why influencer marketing has exploded in the last decade. Influencers and social media creators give consumers a deeper look into real-life problems and inspire them to take action.

And thanks to how fast the creator economy is growing, many of your best influencers may already be your customers. By nurturing long-term relationships with your influential customers, you can use your e-commerce marketing budget to build thriving brand communities that lower your acquisition costs and increase customer loyalty.

Ruben Harutyunyan

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